Lost in the Zone!

Sometimes when we are playing pinball everything just seems to go our way.

On point
Dialed in
Lost in the zone
Beast mode

It almost can become effortless to make the machine do what you want. So many times though this is not the case, and it’s those rare instances you are striving for. If only there were a button you could push and you’re just dialed in at will…but then everyone would have that ability and it wouldn’t be as awesome.

My question for y’all is…how do you optimize the chances of your highest playing ability when it matters most? Is it relaxing your mind so that you can maintain maximum focus? Is it stimulating your mind so you can maintain maximum focus? How much does diet/personal health come into play? Headphones? If you are using headphones do you listen to music that gets you pumped or calms you down? Maybe not music at all or just white noise? Comfortable clothing? Overall positive feelings of invincibility (pcp and other mind-altering drugs)? Plenty or rest…or sleep deprivation? Just after eating…or on an empty stomach?

All of these outside factors I’m sure have to play a part, whether small or large I have no idea. Please tell me what you think because it has been on my mind for quite some time.



Interested in hearing the replies. Good question Evan

Just have to relax and it will come. Can’t force it. You can do any of the things that you mentioned and still achieve that “dialed” state of play. Some people drink, smoke, exercise, stretch these all work but for me, at least, I have to be relaxed and having fun for it to come. If it isn’t fun, or engaging at least, then it won’t happen for me.


I really liked the book The Inner Game of Tennis, it spoke a good deal about getting into flow and how best to achieve that state.


BUMP. I was hoping to get more feedback on this. Is the question to nebulous? @bkerins @sk8ball any advice would be appreciated.


Whiskey, deep breaths, don’t over think.

I’m not nearly the level of Bowen and those guys, but in my tournament successes it’s come down to playing my own game, not worrying about other players, but rather giving my full concentration to the game.

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At least for this year, my biggest points to myself were “slow and boring” for the slow games, and “stay on point” for the fast games. Focusing as much as possible on the smallest-level tasks you are tackling helps reduce the pressure of big moments, and there are a lot of things you can worry about that do nothing to help you play better pinball.

The only game in finals where I felt personal pressure or playing poorly was the last game on Addams Family, and maybe that’s because there was the deflation of already losing. I’ve been there before (PAPA 10, losing to Jorian) and it’s extra difficult to play well when the goal has already been lost.

I didn’t play nearly as well in Classics finals, and I’m not sure why, I think I was affected by house balls. Not enough short-term memory loss to play better.


It is definitely difficult for me to be able to forget about a misfortune and move on. I wonder how you can mentally practice that?

Personally, I put my hood up to cover my peripheral vision, blast some Krallice on my headphones, and then yes, sometimes drugs help.

The inner game of tennis sports psychology book. You can find it online in pdf for free. Sounds stupid but, it can help!


The more I play, the more I’m realizing how much experience is a factor in staying calm and focused. I’ve lost in so many different ways and have been learning something from that each of those losses. Definitely makes me more mentally aware just having some of those experiences in the back of my mind. It’s more preparation in how to deal with various situations that can come up.

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I picked this up on your recommendation and I am loving it already. Been listening to the audiobook and finding myself yelling “YES!” at the stereo during my commutes. Thank you!

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Just want to support the book “The Inner Game of Tennis.” I’ve struggled immensely with playing in competitive settings, but my competitive game has skyrocketed since reading that book.


I’ll read it this weekend

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Taking care of myself has been helping. I find it easier to stay in the zone if I am not distracted by sore feet, fatigue, an empty stomach, etc.

I practice self depreciating sarcasm until I stop bricking shots. I think Bowen does similar (Nice shot moron! ect…) For finals I always try to play on an empty or near empty stomach and stay VERY hydrated.


What’s with the empty stomach thing? I’ve had other people suggest that, but I’ve never heard the logic behind it.

Eating a Pittsburgh salad (French fries slathered in nacho cheese) before finals can weigh you down a bit :wink:


I always thought it hooked up to one’s lizard brain’s desires. If you’re well fed, maybe your glands are less apt to drip the chemicals your brain needs to get down to business.

Search for info about abstinence before sports competition and there’s plenty of food for thought there.