Teaching pinball basics as part of a League

What has everyone found most effective in terms of positive feedback from newer players?

  • Dedicated novice/beginner leagues and/or tutorial sessions?
  • Announcing and carving out a time around regular league sessions (immediately before or after league) to offer to teach new players certain skills or pins?
  • Simply teaching newer players that are in your group over the course of a league session? This is what I currently do when grouped with novices. But unfortunately, league formats don’t always match up less-skilled players with more-skilled players who are both willing and able to teach.

Pinballz and @Law held a dedicated 4-week Novice league that incorporated teaching basic skills and focused on gameplay of a particular pin each week.

Just curious how others do this in our collective efforts to grow the hobby.

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We do most of what you listed actually. Most of our members stay after leagues and we all get together and watch each other play. I’m one of our better players, so a lot of time people ask me to help, which I’m always thrilled to do. I also point everyone new to Bowen’s tutorials along with the PAPA flipper skills videos.

We talk game strategy and get together in groups when the operator brings in a new game and share tips. That’s always my favorite part is trying to figure out a new game with a few other members. “Hey, how the hell did you get that?”. “I didn’t know you can backhand that shot”. “Why is that shot flashing?”. Stuff like that…

I’m going to start experimenting with running a single camera so people can watch one of the games being played during league. I’m thinking that might help people see things they never knew were possible. I know I’ve seen things I never knew were possible, or would have ever thought of, watching Bowen’s tutorial videos.

We have experienced players do short tutorials starting half an hour before a meeting. Sometimes we’ll focus on learning a specific game, sometimes we talk about a particular skill. It works pretty well. How many people show up varies a lot based on the subject and who’s doing the tutorial, but usually at least three or four people will come. I think the most we’ve ever had show up early is 15 or so.

With truly brand-new players, moreso than any particular skill or strategy I’ve found that explaining all the cool stuff about a game (how it’s related to other games, funny little secrets and unique things about the game, why it’s relevant in the history pinball) engages people more than just approaching it as a game to be beaten. If your goal is to make them better players immediately, this probably isn’t the right approach, but it’s better at helping them catch the pinball bug from what I’ve seen.

The novice league at Pinballz that I’ve been assisting with has run three four-week seasons now. Retention and growth hasn’t been great (we’ve been running 8-10 players consistently, although it’s new players every time) but attendees have been very positive about it. The format is three games per night with a coached walkthrough of each game, we have the luxury to do that without repeating thanks to the dozens and dozens of games available at the location.

I’m thinking of trying to convince the location to transition this to a weekly “Novice night” where anyone can show up to mentor or learn and the group votes on a game or three to learn/compete on.