Stuck Ball Stern Star Trek Question

Single ball play, the kickback was lit, ball activated switch and plunger and somehow wedged the ball as shown. Ball could not be shook loose after 4 ball searches.

Is this a failed kickback and results in a drain or does the player get the ball back?

I would think count as stuck ball, place ball on left flipper or compensation ball if you can’t open the game.

Part of me wants to rule that the same way as if it were on the inlane/outlane post. Failed kickback is also an accurate ruling in this case. The player cannot free that based off its location, though if they could it would almost certainly drain.

Buh-bye :slight_smile:


They can try and nudge back into play or TD can drain it for them.

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I think the question is too vague without saying what ruleset you’re playing under.

Assuming IFPA rules, the Stuck Balls section says this:

But then we have this:

So I think this hinges on how you interpret that part. I don’t see this as “in” the outlane, so I would consider it straight-up stuck and go with the first paragraph above. If you do consider this “in” the outlane, then it’s a tight call whether “any portion of the ball is below the outlane post.”

In other words, I have no idea. :slight_smile:

Side question: does “below the outlane post” mean “below the top of the outlane post/rubber” or “below the bottom of the outlane post/rubber?” That might want to get clarified.

Just out of curiosity, I tried to recreate the positioning… can’t find any way to do it without some of the ball being below the top of the outlane divider post (which I think is the intended interpretation of that passage from the PAPA/IFPA rules … though I agree with @unsmith that the wording could be improved).

Next paragraph is the ‘no get out jail free cards’ paragraph.

“A ball which has come to rest on top of a center post, an inlane-outlane post/guide or a lamp insert/playfield divot directly above an outlane will not be considered a stuck ball.”

Pretty much if there’s a path the ball can take that results in a drain, it’s full on “you’re f*cked” rules.


Wow, surprised at the same time not since it is in the outlane. It is interesting that everywhere else that it is a ball placement on the right or left flipper but it stuck deemed in the outlane then you have to play as is or drain. I get why the rule is that way but it does lead to interpretation that the ball if in fact in out lane when it is in position like this one. Good to know!!!

As always, remember that what’s being described is just one popular ruleset (PAPA/IFPA rules). Tournament officials are always welcome to make their own rules for situations like this… just make sure your tournament’s rules are well documented and readily accessible to players.


This one is extra spicy. For at stuck ball in the outlane, if the natural path of the ball involves hitting a switch that will cause sustain of ball-in-play, the player should not be ruled to end his turn. Right? That is the rule I go by, anyway. The ball saver or kickback is triggerer -> ball on a flipper -> continue play.

But on this one, is the natural path of the ball hitting the switch or not?

Is the IFPAPA rules ambiguous one this?

Being allowed to continue play is one thing. But games may award points from the outlane that are conclusive for the outcome of a match.

Any ball that comes to rest in an outlane, where any portion of the ball is below the outlane post, is not deemed a stuck ball. In these instances, players will have the option of attempting to free the ball themselves or to ask a tournament official to place the ball in the drain for them without triggering any additional switches. Please note that when this happens in multiball, in no way will a player be allowed to take advantage of this situation by continuing to play any other balls currently available. The situation of this ball that has come to rest needs to be dealt with immediately by either the player or tournament director. Also, please note that any ball coming to rest on the apron is considered as having come to rest in the outlane and should be treated as such.

A ball which has come to rest on top of a center post, an inlane-outlane post/guide or a lamp insert/playfield divot directly above an outlane will not be considered a stuck ball. Players may choose to free balls resting in these positions through nudging of the machine, or request that an official end the ball in play by manually placing it in the drain for center post incidents, and the outlane for inlane-outlane incidents. If an automatically-triggered kickback exists that will send the ball back into play upon draining it in the appropriate outlane, that feature will be manually triggered, and the ball will be treated as a stuck ball from that point and placed on a flipper or other suitable location. Player-controlled kickback features, such as mini-flippers, posts, or manually-controlled kickbacks that send the ball back into play, do not count toward establishing stuck ball status in this case, and the player will not be permitted to utilize these features or touch the game until the ball has reached the ball trough. If the ball is stuck on any playfield element that is located between the flippers, the ball will be considered a stuck ball if there is no chance of a drain from the ball rolling off of its resting place.

In this situation the kickback was already triggered and worked properly. It simply didn’t send the ball into the ‘expected area’.

I would totally drain this ball by triggering the left outlane switch. Had Rescue been light again for whatever reason, then we would have manually triggered the kickback and put the ball on the left flipper.


Good catch . . . we’ll clean this up. You should definitely trigger the outlane switch . . . for example on High Hand . . . where you’re just hoping to have a stuck ball in the outlane somewhere :slight_smile:

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Which is why I pointed out single ball play. Could not be relit by other balls in play.

There are occasionally unusual outlane configurations, for example:

  • ALIEN has two switches in the left outlane.
  • WoZ has the State Fair pop.

For those kinds of situations, I would drop the ball at the top of the inlane/outlane divider and then let the ball fall freely.


This feels a little slippery. I gather the intent is to let the ball conclude as naturally as possible, but why would this only apply from the point the ball was stuck? If the kickback would naturally have put the ball back into play, why not simulate that and put the ball on a flipper?

Getting an extra outlane switch via ruling seems a bit pyrrhic when you’d still be playing if the kickback hadn’t malfunctioned in the first place.

Kickback didn’t malfunction . . . switch/coil seem to be working as intended.

Kickbacks aren’t designed to put the ball back into play in any specific area. The job of the coil is to fire when the switch is detected. Sounds like that’s exactly what happened.

I owned a Firepower that would every so often go Kickback --> Right Outlane like a basketball player making a free throw . . . “That’s pinball”.


Excellent point! Tag Team has a similar L outlane to Alien’s with one (or both, I think) outlane options lit for a ball save.

Or what about EM’s that have multiple outlanes with possibly vastly different scoring awarded by the multiple outlanes on that side: Gottlieb Atlantis left outlanes, Royal Guard both side’s outlanes, etc? Which switch does the TD trigger if the ball comes to rest on the top of the sling’s triangle?

I’d love the opportunity to shake that loose for you as TD :slight_smile:

Worst case I tilt your game and you get ONE FRESH BALL ON A NEW GAME . . . [insert evil laugh]