Recommended minimal clearance?

I was skimming the TD guide on and couldn’t find anything about spacing of machines. I really hate having my hand brushed (or hit) by the player beside me. I tend to be a fairly slappy flipper (i have been called Slappy Joe jr.) so I like my space.

Anyway, I think it would great to have recommended clearance. That has ideal spacing and recommended minimums for spacing between flipper buttons and behind the player for walking or for another machine.

Ideal spacing would have space for a machine tech to fix issues with the machine beside you without interfering with you. Minimum would be the space recommended to avoid interference between adjacent players with reasonable play styles.

I will avoid calling out any specific players, but there are certainly a wide variety of stances, don’t know which is the largest. It would be nice to know what size box on the ground you need to accommodate everyone.

I make a fist with each of my hands and put them next to each other, then make sure I have around that much space between the flipper buttons of neighbor games.

Other than not leaving enough space in general, I think people can get tripped up trying to leave a uniform amount of space between heads. Widebody games and even sizing variations between systems and manufacturers make doing it that way pretty tough, unless we’re talking about a row of System 11s or something like that.

I don’t think it’s practical in most cases to space games such that a machine can be worked on while the one next to it is being played, but YMMV.

If I’m tight for space during setup, I usually just stagger the games pulling them forward or pushing them back so that the flipper buttons are not parallel to each other for the games.


I don’t think it would be in many people’s best interest to try and officially regulate something like this, but I do agree that it’s important!

One of the worst feelings as a “slappy” player is accidentally hitting the hand of the player next to you, even though you were just playing your normal style. Unintentionally breaks the focus of both players.
On top of that, it’s really hard to re-focus when part of you is now concentrating on not hitting that person again.

Just don’t set them up with the backboxes touching or almost touching, please! Leave some room to breathe.

Also, when setting up games that are facing eachother, I make an overly long stance and measure the distance between the front of the game and the back of my foot. Then double that measurement, and try to make sure the distance between the front of both games is at least that much. Only thing worse than being slapped while you’re playing is being kicked!

I have my row of SS games pretty close together out of necessity. It’s the difference between having 13 games (actually 14 right now, someone buy my Space Station!) in the house or 11 and frankly, I prefer 13. I’m sure it’s occasionally annoying when someone gets their hand hit while playing—and I usually try and avoid the possibility by using games that aren’t next to each other—but it would be far more annoying if I felt I couldn’t host league events because my games were almost touching.

You can’t really come up with official clearance specs because every setup is different. Biggest factor being the type of flooring. If you’re have a tourney using EM’s (which generally get a looser tilt) on a slippery concrete floor, games are going to move a lot.

At PPE for a couple of years, the leg placement was marked with painters tape on the floor. After you shoved the hell out of the game, you were expected to slide it back into place after the game was over. Games would typically be moved several inches because of the slippery floor. It was a lot of fun. If you have non-slip carpet with new games and tight tilts, you can place them a lot closer together.

Like the games themselves, no two locations are alike. Setup using what your space (and games) allows you.

1 Like