Under general IFPA rules...

It’s always legal to ask questions about any game before a game. It’s legal to ask questions to any player between balls as long as you don’t hold up the game. You can never ask questions about a game with a trapped ball.

Is this correct?

League and special rules aside, is this generally correct? Delay is always up to tournament director discretion obviously. And while you can call a tournament director at any time for a question, obviously repeatedly doing so because you’re obtuse or an asshole can potentially result in a penalty.

Is this at least a generally correct interpretation of the rules?

simply put… no coaching during your ball in play.


I think it’s actually no coaching when it’s your turn, i.e. even before your ball is in play - - no coaching pre-plunge either, including no coaching about the plunge.

how is that enforced if the player isn’t in front of the machine? “ball just drained…STOP THAT CONVERSATION NOW”

Seems impractical and pointless. Why would you allow coaching of their play 10 seconds prior, but not once the game rotates to their player. I get not coaching over the game before you plunge… but you need limits that are actually enforceable and are consistent with achieving a practical result.

Should be, no coaching once you approach the game for your turn. Coaching before they approach the game is no different than getting coached while your opponent plays.


Like everything else: subjectively within it’s social context.

The way I read the PAPA/IFPA rules is that coaching is allowed “while not actively playing”:

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.

I would interpret “actively playing” to be the usual definition of being physically present at and in control of the machine. I would even further interpret thus: if a player is removed from their turn by a TD, say to repair a malfunction, the player is not “actively playing” and is therefore free to discuss strategy with a buddy, until such time as the TD calls the player back and returns control of the game to the player.

What’s not at all clear is what happens if a non-playing spectator just shouts out “shoot the extra ball, it awards 20M and you win!”. The offending spectator might be removed from the facility, but I don’t think it’d be appropriate to penalize the player at the machine. (This might fall to @pinwizj’s favorite: “ask the player if they told the spectator to do that” … yes = DQ, no = play on)

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What’s the rule on the player being at the machine playing and actively coaching the other players as they play?

Your answer is within your post. They’re coaching them, period. It doesn’t matter if they’re playing as well, if they’re texting them from outside, or right behind them. Coaching during an active ball is not allowed.

Would issue a warning for the first instance, followed be DQ/removal if it continues to happen.

No. I’m playing you’re not. I’m coaching you while I play. Think bowen tutorial.

I read “they” as the “other players” getting the coaching. Basically, I thought everyone was playing, maybe on a game next to you or something. “They” and the player at the machine are the same person here; I just misread it. Maybe I’m an idiot. Only time will tell. My brain since the baby got here is less than efficient, anymore. Sorry about that. Anyhow…

I guess while there’s technically no rule against it, it’s not really in the Players best interest to do so and would probably be discouraged from being done by a TD. I would imagine that they could still issue a warning because it would be coaching in some form or another during a Players active ball, whether they are giving or receiving the coaching.

More often than not, coaching comes from spectators/friends/etc… that probably wouldn’t be given to the other competitors at the same time, or at all. There’s an obvious advantage here compared to the active player coaching those that aren’t playing.


I hear ya. For me, as a TD, I am always about pace of play. If we allowed coaching a player while they played, it would take forever. The most insane thing I have seen was on some previous tournament videos, someone pulled out a printed rulesheet and read it while they played. haha. No way that will fly in a tournament I ran. Glance at the rule card in the game for 10-20 secs, but don’t be watching Bowen tutorials on your phone while during your ball and at the game.

I am always playing with newer players that are looking for direction and help, and I always can give that better while I play so they can see what I mean. Then they can try and duplicate that in their play. Since most of us are too busy to meet up outside of our scheduled events, I will help people while I play and they are in my group quite a bit. They watch, I talk while I play (not trapping up and delaying things or anything, just talking while I play to explain why I am doing the things I am). Seems to get the lightbulb to click on for them better.


As a TD, that’s totally your discretion. I think it also depends on the context of the event too. While I was reading this I wasn’t like “WHAT COACHING NEW PLAYERS, BUT YOU CANT!”. At smaller events and gatherings where there isn’t a whole lot on the line, there’s much more room for leniency when it comes to coaching. There’s probably an argument for coaching in certain circumstances!

During my first ever league night when I was still involved with the Pittsburgh league, people were super helpful, even when it was my turn. Of course they were helpful with each other too. But it was the fact that they were willing to help me which was one of the main reasons I kept going back; the people were incredibly nice and wanted to see me improve. There’s certainly a place for that kind of thing, especially with newer, less experienced players. I applaud you for that for sure!

Like you said, If you’re whipping out your phone to watch Bowen, that needs to be done when you’re waiting for your next ball, or before you get to the event. I don’t know what I’d do if I saw that at a tournament!


Why would anyone do that during a competition? That’s weird at best.

You’ve never met me. Haha. I’m all about everyone knowing the same about the game as everyone else. I fully understand this is asinine, but just how I am. I’ve lost plenty of times because of the information I’m sharing with opponents that didn’t know as much as me.

I guess I look at it as we are all against the game first and foremost, then we are secondarily against each other.

Victory is sweeter for me when I know I won because I executed better than you, not because you’ve never seen this game before and I know some goofy exploit because I’ve played the game a billion times.


We ended up adding a section to our league rules to cover this due to some ambiguity in the interpretation of the IFPA guidelines. Our solution probably isn’t the right approach for serious tournaments, but we wanted to do everything we could to help out new players get a feel for the games and interact with people.

(see “Exceptions to IFPA Guidelines”)

Anyways - if your league or event has a rules document then it is a good idea to call out what you are planning to enforce and what is OK/not OK.

Couple years ago I had the misfortune of getting Checkpoint in a pinburgh bank. I was first and I made it clear to my opponents both verbally and demonstrating by play that the easiest way to win that stupid game was to shoot. the. ramp. over. and. over. Spinner if ball on right flipper, then back to ramp. Was probably less coaching and more ranting about how much Checkpoint sucks, but whatever. 100+ ramp shots later I still crushed them all.