Ruling: Listening to the tournament stream while competing

“You got this! Just 40 more multiballs!”


Changing my bar leagues to explicitly allow coaching is one of the best changes I have made. I would highly recommend it to others


Good to hear - Sounds perfect for a less intimidating and more casual competition.

Any type of team-play should certainly allow coaching at any time imo.


Changing my bar leagues to explicitly allow coaching is one of the best changes I have made. I would highly recommend it to others

At most of the events I run, I usually allow coaching and encourage players to explain the games before they start. Some people actually do this, which has definitely raised the level of our beginner/intermediate players.

From what I’ve seen, advanced / top 1000 IFPA players almost never ask for coaching since they know what to do in 90% of the games and 90% of the situations barring some code update in which case I usually just tell them or they look it up on their phones.

Also as a thoroughly intermediate player, I find the stream super useful for the beginning of a match since rules/goals are usually explained, I totally listened to Escher (?) explain OXO during Classics I at INDISC and it helped a lot since I have no idea about most classics games and only have BMU / random Internet resources. It’s certainly not “during play” though thinking about it listening to commentary when your opponents play probably also helps since the commentators will often point out problematic feeds, bricked shots “you want to miss late not early” etc.

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I hear ya, but these are just local house tournaments. Groups run themselves, TDs are usually off socializing if knocked out of the tournament and only show up when someone asks for a ruling or a ball is stuck. There’s no one to enforce anything.

Don’t be worried about listening to the stream - how do you know that those with headphones on aren’t on a Conf call with people in the room. Whilst I haven’t seen anyone talk into their sleeves for a while Discrete mics are common and cheap.

I totally agree with the entourage issues that soren spoke off.

To me this should not even be a question. Player should not be able to listen in live while playing. Period. Getting caught should be an immediate red card IMHO. Granted most players including myself would only be distracted from their concentration listening to the live cast and probably play worse! On the other hand it is definitely coaching and most importantly: is inherently not fair. Maybe the announcer likes a particular player and not another? Or just by luck of the draw might be talking about key strategy while one player is up and talking about hamburgers on the next player. Or maybe they say something that is wrong - whether on purpose on not. Point is that the announcers are not paid or professionals and should not have this heaped on them that they might actually be influencing the outcome. I have put on the headset before and was hoping to do so again in the future. I will not do it if I know the players are listening.


I think everything is fine as is. I wouldn’t want any coaching for the bigger tournaments. If people want to try and listen to a stream, or whatever, go for it. As, @unsmith said, that’s information available to all.

I personally wouldn’t do it. I’m listening to music most of the time when I compete to try to prevent myself from overthinking, or being distracted by someone yelling as their ball drains. I sacrifice machine feedback, for less distraction. That works for me.

I think it’s great though that as TDs and organizers, we can write our own rules as well. My own tournaments there is no coaching, but I also have written that yelling “ball save”, or preventing someone from playing out of turn is not considered coaching.

I’m going to try FSPA league starting tonight, so I’m curious to see if the coaching thing even comes up.

So yeah, I don’t think the IFPA has to change any rules as long as TDs have the right to make the change on their own tournaments/leagues.


I have been guilty of preventing someone from playing out of turn at Pinburgh. And once my facial expression alone accidentally betrayed to the active player that he had a ball save. Neither one of them was intentional, but locally in smaller events it’s considered good manners to at least prevent people from playing out of turn, so it’s just a habit.


I don’t think preventing another player from playing out of turn is coaching and I don’t think it shouldn’t be allowed.

If you’re the next player up and someone is about to play your ball, it’s easy to imagine a scenario where it’s better for you to play the ball rather than getting a compensation ball – or any of the other outcomes possible when someone plays out of turn. I also think that just the general idea of keeping your match from getting screwed up outweighs any degree to which this action could be called coaching.


Agree 100%. I don’t think the IFPAPA rules state anywhere that preventing others from playing out of turn is coaching – at least I hope not.


In neither case was a TD involved, but I was informed that by stopping a player from playing out of turn I compromised the integrity of the match by preventing what should have been a forfeit. I’m not sure what the proper ruling is, but they seemed pretty adamant. The entire exchange lasted 12 seconds and we all decided to play on.

I’ve talked to a lot of players about rulings where they were adamant and also wrong. :slight_smile:

As far as this one goes, I wouldn’t fault a TD for consistently enforcing the out of turn stop as coaching. As a TD, I also would not warn or card a player who did it.


If you are in a three or four player group, you are then making a decision that effects two other players. I understand the idea of good sportsmanship, but I also get why there are tournaments, and tournament directors that enforce that as coaching.

I’m fine with that too, I almost got DQed at my first Pinburgh for doing it, but no one caught on except for the guy I helped, and he didn’t turn me in. The TD present actually asked if someone told the player about the ball save. It was just habit, but I think if you want to play on the big stage, you have to be able to shut that part of your brain off for a few hours.

You are not making a decision that impacts the other players, you are making a decision that impacts you. Allowing one of your opponents to accumulate free points on a dead ball that will then be compensated, is just bad. This is not the same as calling out ballsave.


Isn’t there verbiage that says all players are responsible for ensuring the correct player is playing the machine? That should override any coaching claims.


No. Otherwise, it would be a complete restart of the game when someone plays out of turn…just as there is if a game is started with the wrong number of players (which is in the rules).

From page 9 here:

“In any multiplayer match on any machine, it is the equal responsibility of ALL players involved in the match to ensure that the correct number of players are started.”

Next paragraph starts with: “A player who plays out of turn in a multiplayer game will receive a score of zero.”

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I think this is the best competitive reasoning to not silently stand by as players step up to play out of turn.

Also, calling out a ball save should be ruled as disallowed coaching because the player’s ball is still in play. Stopping them when they’re walking up to play out of turn isn’t during an active ball so I think it’s fine for a number of reasons.


The PAPA/IFPA rule on coaching states…

Coaching of any player during a game, in any round, is not allowed. While not actively playing, players are of course free to discuss features and strategies as much as they like, including between balls during a game, but no spectator or other player is compelled to answer, nor are they responsible for incorrect advice or answers to questions.

(section I.9 Player Errors)

If a player approaches a machine, but hasn’t plunged the ball, then they are clearly “between balls” and are clearly not “actively playing”. Therefore, anything you want to tell them, including “Hey dumbass, it’s not your turn!” is allowed. Not sure why ideas to the contrary continue to exist. It’s been discussed a lot and the answer never changes.

However, shouting “Ball Save” is a different matter. The player is actively playing (even though they think their ball is over). So unless the tournament has a specific exception allowing shouting “Ball Save” (as does City Champ, for example), it’s not allowed.

[Notably, Bowen announced on stage at Pinburgh last year that although it’s officially against the rules, nobody would get disqualified for shouting “Ball Save”. That doesn’t mean you should have shouted “Ball Save”, it just means that nobody would have gotten disqualified. (Everything is subject to change, of course, so don’t assume the same thing next year – always ask your TD.) ]


@zvrabes or another mod: we should probably break this discussion on “Is preventing out-of-turn play deemed coaching?” as a separate thread