Lost in the Zone!


Would you not eat like an apple or orange first thing in the morning?


Yeah, drink crazy amounts of water/whatever.

i guess I differ on the food thing - personally I play and feel better when i have calories in me - but they certainly can’t be “heavy.” A couple subway subs for the day + milk and I’m golden for a 12 hour slog.



Water/Pee/Play/Water/Pee/Play . . . the more times I go to the bathroom during finals, the better I’m doing :smile:


HA! I had to use the restroom at expo so much this year’s finals I probably added another mile or two of walking back and forth. Some people had the same idea, as I would keep running into the same people (DJ Riel).


Good judgement comes from experience, experience comes from poor judgement


Play hungover!:wink:


Occasionally I’ll end up explaining a game in depth to a stranger while I play (trying to get them a little more hooked on pinball). I tend to have very good games when I do this…to the point where I’ve considered just pretending I’m doing the same thing during competition (though I always forget to actually do this).

Stopping the ball. Thinking about what the best shot should be. Cradling during multiball. I’m trying to break down everything into simple, easy to explain snippets. They think pinball is difficult, random, and out of their control…so I’m trying to show them the opposite.


Found a nice article from a couple years ago about overcoming anxiety.


The piece has a couple good points, and includes a meditation exercise of focusing on breathing to flush away any outside distractions. This has been where wearing noise-cancelling headphones has really helped me both during, and between games. When I am wearing the headphones, since most everything else is quieter I can hear my breathing better. I just have a better sense of how elevated my breathing is and know that I can take some action to slow it down…and I don’t step up to a game until breathing has been regulated.

Conversely someone might think that hearing their own breathing better might distract them from gameplay. Maybe there is something to say to that point but I have not yet had this problem. If anything it will let me know when I should trap up and take a few seconds to get back on point.


Does anyone know anything about the fight or flight response and how it affects your performance? I’m trying to figure out if it’s a good or bad thing. More to the point, why is it, for example, that some top level players are able to put up scores during finals that are higher than the top qualifying scores?

It’s obvious that in finals your tournament life is at stake while it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the qualifying rounds. I’m wondering if this added stress/incentive is more to the cause of great competitive play than say, being calm and relaxed. For example, JPW or JLS may be more willing to do nothing except shoot the left orbit on batman over and over again for hours if a trophy is on the line than while practicing at home or even in qualifying. Self-preservation might have kicked in from a drain on a previous ball and they’re just trying to do something safe and comfortable.

On a personal level, my best pinball has come when my back is against the wall and am facing elimination. In those situations I don’t necessarily feel calm and relaxed, and my body has displayed some of these fight or flight symptoms (flush in the face, higher heart rate, time moving by quickly, tunnel vision). So is the optimal goal a balance of the two? Being calm and relaxed while still appreciating the magnitude of your current situation? Or should we embrace the ‘superpowers’ given to us by the fight or flight syndrome and just roll with it, even though it is mentally and physically exhausting.


Knowing what you’re going to do before you do it is huge. If you can remove a bit of uncertainty, it allows you to loosen up and your reflexes and focus are more on point. Basically, know your strategy for that machine before going in, and rehearse in your mind the shots you need and want to hit. Visualize hitting those shots.

That said, have a backup plan. If the machine is unfriendly to that first strategy (a backhand shot isn’t working, you’re just struggling to find a specific shot, etc.) be able to quickly transition into a different plan without just letting your mind go into that chaotic, “WHAT DO I DO NOW?!” state. The more you can lean on reflex and that flowing feeling rather than thinking stuff out on the fly, the better I find the shots to go.

I also agree with feeling good physically. Comfortable shoes and clothes, being rested, and a mind free of too many distractions all help. I listen to music when I compete, as it helps me block out anything going on outside of the little bubble that I and the machine exist in.


Just watched this great video on how thinking works. It might also be an explanation as to why some of us crush a game the first time we encounter it.

Now armed with this knowledge, what are some ways we can use it to become better players?