Practicing drop catches...

Are there any tables that offer a ball return after a ramp or something that put you in a position to execute drop catches on a regular basis? I’d like to get some practice. The scoop on AFM sometimes does, but it’s often variable.

The good news is that most any table provides ample opportunity to practice drop catches on random bounces and missed shots. In fact, I’d argue that one of the critical aspects to practice of drop catches and dead bounces is the awareness and quick decision-making on when to use them (without the foreknowledge of an impending scoop kickout).


I agree, and while my situational awareness as to when to execute them is a problem, I suck at the physical action of performing them as well.

Kickout from the scoop on TNA is great practice.


So the AFM scoop… there’s really almost nothing that’s easier, but sometimes it may be too low down on the flipper or too close to the joint. To really practice a move like the drop catch you need to start trying it on ALL feeds, even ones where it won’t be successful. If you see the ball and it’s coming to the middle of the flipper or higher, try a drop catch EVEN if you’re more comfortable with the bounce pass, until it feels right. Eventually you will learn what approach speeds and angles work on all games.

All flipper moves have 2 parts like you say, the execution plus the opportunities, but separating the two when you practice is going to prevent you from developing the skill fully. It may seem nice in theory to go “first I will learn the execution, then I’ll learn when I can execute later” but I’ve seen the best development come from someone who says “i’m getting my ass kicked because I don’t drop catch. Time to learn it” and just going for it.


They can actually be done on feeds you might not expect. The scoop kickout on Kiss can be drop caught (did I just coin that? Paging @FunWithBonus) on most that I’ve played and it’s usually really consistent. It doesn’t have to be that perfect AFM angle, you can even drop catch on reverse angles if it’s high enough on the flipper. For example depending on how your local CFTBL is set up you can usually drop catch from the left orbit feed after shooting the center spinner.

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Another thing that can help is to watch pinball footage back but watch for the flipper skills rather than just following the action. The PNW players Raymond and Cayle both come to mind as people who have very good drop catches. Notice what they do to handle the ball coming to the flipper


I always thought Cayle is more about the live catch. In my opinion (and I watch a lot of videos) Karl DeAngelo has the best flipper skills overall and anything recent by him is worth watching. And indeed watching good players improves your play.


I can’t argue with the general feedback provided here, but just for ease of practice of the skill:

For whatever reason, I find the Start City scoop on Road Show to be exceptionally easy to drop catch. Other Lawlor games of that era (TAF, TZ) have almost identical scoop geometry and also provide good practice, but my experience is that RS is the easiest.


Fish Tales is by far the most satisfying imo. I had to mess with the casters club return wireform on mine because it spit balls SDTM. Now if you make a perfect drop catch you can hit the casters club before the next ball shoots out of the lock and blocks the casters club.


The scoop on Metallica has a tendency to fire the ball to about the middle of the left flipper, so that’s a good place to practice. It’s also the kind of drop catch that will generally require you to fire the ball back up the playfield. That scoop has the added bonus of letting you practice edge-of-the-flipper shots to feed it back into it. I see a lot of people having troubles with those and they end up shooting too early for fear of the ball falling off the flipper.


I’m not good at drop catches either, but one instance I like to use it is at the start of MB on TOM. Drop catch the first kickout from trap door, shoot trunk for jackpot. Very satisfying.

We have a guy in league who does wicked drop catches. His weakness is that he rarely cradles, even when it’s totally called for. He makes Andrei look like a control player. Constantly on the fly. His outstanding drop catches and excellent aim makes up for his lack of cradling and he consistently finishes near or at the top of league. He’s living proof that you can have one weak area of your game and still kick ass.


We used to have a very strong player like that too, not trapping is not much of a weakness if you are very accurate. I did however always think he would be even better if he got into the habit of trapping up.


Hey who is this? Sounds like my style more :slight_smile: i need to be better at control, but one thing I wanna add to this thread is that if you are learning these skills and feel you have them down to some level, you MUST use them in tournaments! I used to feel like I could drop catch or live catch and be scared to do them in a tournament situation. If you don’t start trying when there’s pressure, you essentially don’t have the skill.

So use/try them in pressure situations and accept that you may fail initially. Eventually you’ll overcome the nerves and it’ll truly be in your toolbox. I agree the kickout from TNA is a great one to practice drop catches on. I think you’ll find you’re better at them than you think (I surprised myself). Of course the thing with a drop catch is that you often have to think ahead a shot and know what you want to do with the ball once you have drop caught it…


Much love to everyone that responded. It’s an unusual problem to have somewhat late in a pinball career. I will work on all of the given suggestions.

Ghostbusters prem right scoop is good. I think pro as well, but can’t remember exactly. GB is the game that got me to start drop catching regularly. Advantage is the ball save makes you feel safe.

Whitewater should work and has easy repeatable sequence of shots to feed it.


Hitting Ghostbusters right scoop is harder than drop catching. I often go video mode skillshot if I think 59 odd million dollars might win the round.

Thanks to all that replied. Live catches came very naturally to me. Dead passing wasn’t much harder, though I still underestimate the speed needed to bounce from one flipper to the other sometimes. Five years in, I still suck at drop catches.

Can this also be practiced with the scoop on Aerosmith?

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@Hepatitis_B_Good : another player to specifically watch for drop catches is Jason Werdrick (@JPW). He is not only excellent at drop catch technique, but uses it more frequently than most other players. Use and search for him under the Player field.

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One other comment on a consistently great use of the drop catch: partial ramp shot rejects. Partial ramp rejects happen on EVERY modern machine, so it’s good to have a plan on how to deal with them. Often, on friendly ramp rejects, the ball will go back to the forehand flipper that just shot the ramp. There are three typical player responses to this:

  1. Natural tendency: one-timer on-the-fly shot back at the ramp again. Unless you’ve got a great feel already for this ramp reject, it’s angle, and timing of the flip needed to send the ball back to the ramp, I wouldn’t recommend it.

  2. Dead bounce: but in this situation, it’s likely not the best option for two reasons… (a) a successful DB will result in a shot or cradle on the opposite flipper, so you won’t be set up to try that ramp again (I’m assuming that the rejected ramp is indeed the best shot to be making at this point), and (b) ramp rejects typically have a lot of speed, and the DB might go “high” and bounce to the opposite sling, putting the ball out of control.

  3. Drop Catch: this gives you a more controlled shot right back at the ramp you failed to hit the first time and need/want to shoot.