When is in-game coaching legal?


Ideally, you want to make as few changes as possible. So that notes aren’t needed. Notes on the backglass can intimidate noobs. ‘I know how to play IM, but they changed the rules?’

Just like you wouldn’t note that the outlanes have been closed, the tilt has been tightened, or the pitch has been increased, I don’t think you should make notes for the value of EB’s or specials. That falls under knowledge you should already know if you expect to compete at a high level IMO.

Not saying notes are bad. I do suggest using them in moderation though. Don’t scare off the noobs with notes on every game. Make them think your games play just like the games they play down at Crazy Bob’s.


In general I agree, but I don’t necessarily think more information is bad.


Player 1 drains and doesn’t realize he has a Ball Save.

ILLEGAL —> I yell to P1 “BALL SAVE!”

LEGAL? —> I turn to P2 and P3 (I’m P4) and say very loudly (and quickly) “I wonder if he knows he has a BALL SAVE!!!??”


Are these settings? Not sure I’ve ever noticed EB scoring the hang time bonus and I have them off on my Hoops.


I feel much the same way. For one, we cannot control spectators. Second, I feel that pinball, first and foremost, should be a contest of skill, not a contest of rules knowledge.

Yes, I know it will always be a contest of rules knowledge, too, especially given the complexity and software exploits of modern games. But I never withhold rules knowledge when someone asks me, not even from a competitor on the same machine as my current game in progress.


So, I have to ask: why? Or to ask it another way: why do you think that rules knowledge is not a skill?

Sure, modern games tend to have deep and complex rules, where knowledge of those rules is very important to competitive success. But realistically, you can go back decades, long before the solid state era, and rules knowledge is still very important. Is this game primarily a bonus accumulation game? Then I better rack up my bonus and bonus X, and be very cautious about tilting. Or maybe this game is a light-the-spinner-then-pound-the-spinner game? Or maybe the game is encouraging me to complete a bank of targets in order, but that only gives me Special and that’s useless in competition, so I should do something else.

IMHO a big part of the magic of pinball is that it’s a blend of physical skill and strategy. You can somewhat compensate for inferior physical skill if you have better strategy, and you can somewhat compensate for inferior strategy if you have better physical skill… but of course the best players are strong at both.

And this isn’t really different from many other sports. If we’re competing at football (American) or football (soccer) or basketball or anything else, I could hand you my playbook and try to solely base my victory on beating you physically… but why not compete on both physical and mental planes?


Yes, fair enough, I think that’s a legitimate perspective. Personally, I share because some of the best players in Australia were very generous in coaching me, telling me about rules, recommending strategy, etc. And, quite often, they did it mid-game while, potentially, I could use what they just told me to beat them.

So, I choose to pay it forward. I don’t mean to pass judgement on people who choose not to; I agree with you that there is an argument to be made for people to reap the rewards of the research and the time they invest.

To me, winning is important, but not as important as sharing, so I share.


So IMHO what’s interesting about that: if a top-tier player gives you some coaching during a competition, that’s awesome, but you still have to figure: 1) they assume their physical skills exceed yours, and 2) even if they’re not intentionally withholding any information, they have a wealth of subtle strategic information floating in their brains, that perhaps they’d be glad to share with you but it just didn’t occur to them at the time, but that information still helps them to defeat you.

Or in simpler terms: many top-tier players are so far ahead of “the rest of us” that they can afford to share information because they’re still very likely to win in a direct competition.


Yes, agree with that, and what you said earlier. Especially with modern games, there are subtleties in strategy and scoring that are impossible to convey in a two-minute conversation.

Regardless, isn’t that more of a reason to not withhold information?

  • If the player is better than me, me telling him something he doesn’t know already is unlikely to make a difference.
  • If the player is at the same level as me, it’s unlikely to make a difference too, unless my tip is about something really decisive (and, therefore, most likely obvious and known already).
  • If the player is worse than me, it’s unlikely to make a difference because I’m a better player.

But, to me, the feeling of being appreciated and valued when another player helps me to become a better player by passing on knowledge is priceless.


I generally figure that overall player ability follows a bell curve, with a pretty wide body of the bell. I find that there’s not too much real difference between, say, a Pinburgh upper “B” player and a Pinburgh lower “D” player… it seems to be mostly about consistency or lack thereof. So given such tight competition, I’ll take any scrap of knowledge I can, and hope for the best.

If you prefer to share your knowledge in the heat of battle, that’s totally cool, I wish you the best of luck and good karmic returns.


Change the label… do you think a competition should include strategy? I think so… otherwise it’s just like a skills competition like a home run derby… or slam dunk contest.

Rules knowledge and strategy go hand in hand. Coaching would not just be about knowing the rule sheet… it’s about situational awareness and what is the best thing to do now within these circumstances.


Thats all good and I agree, but isn’t that what practice and leagues are for? This shouldn’t be done in tournaments though as that is the time to prove your skills and knowledge.

Addressing your first bullet point. Let’s take a half way skilled player on BM66. They are not familiar with the rules of the game. Are you really sure that by not telling them to NOT collect the super jackpot at the first or second variation of the modes would not hinder yours (or more importantly the other competitors in your groups) ability to win?

I share info all the time in league events and try to help as many people as I can to become better players but I wont do this during a tournament. Before doing so, you may also want to ask the other 2 players in the group their opinion as your coaching can very much impact their ability to succeed as well.

On the flip side, their are also people out their that will play dumb to find out what your strategy is so that they can mirror it (if it’s better than theirs) or try to hinder your strategy if they can. I see this all the time with a couple local players.