When is in-game coaching legal?

Coaching one opponent in a 4P game unfairly hurts the other two players’ chances of winning. Not good, even if you’re just trying to help.

This was pointed out to me so now whenever I give tips (away from the machine) or explain a game to someone, I ask everyone else in the group if they want to hear what I have to say. I would say 50% of the time they do, and the other half they DGAF and wave me off like the tryhard I am haha.


If you’re away from the machine, you can do whatever you want. It’s coaching while the player is playing that is frowned upon in most competitions.


Please clarify this for me. Example, playing 4-player match play game, player 2 is in the middle of playing his ball, P1 went to the bathroom.

In this scenario it’s OK for P3 to explain to P4 how to start mummy multiball or how to get the super secret skill shot?

Yes it’s ok I’d say. It’s a personal players choice. I don’t have to tell anyone anything.

Anyone is free to share information or not. It doesn’t matter what the person knows if they can’t make the shot. Just because pinball is a solo sport mostly doesn’t mean I don’t have a team of players that share information, tips or talks. I assume everyone knows a table or has some strategy no matter what. I’d rather lose because someone made more shots than me or better decisions, not that I know the table better.


Yep. Totally fine. And if P4 asks P3 how to do something, P3 has no obligation to help. However, I’ll always help you if neither you or I are actively playing.


The thing you’re describing would be allowable anytime because it doesn’t coach the player who is playing their turn.


Weird. I was playing in Pinburgh last year on TNA up on stage. Never played it before. One of the other players was trying to explain a few things when another player intervened and said they needed to wait until the game was over to explain how to play it.

Yup players commonly misinterpret this rule. I’ve had a player threaten to report me for it at almost every Pinburgh. (I always encourage them to.)


I’ve gone with the “I’m gonna run to the bathroom real quick. You’re welcome to follow me to ensure I don’t talk to anyone about the game I’m currently playing.” :slight_smile:


I’m not a TD, but unless it was your turn, nothing wrong here IMO. Other player is free to talk to you about the game all they want, and it would also be totally fine for them to say “I’ll be happy to show you a few things, but after we play.”

Now if our intrepid 3rd player is trying to intimidate people into not talking to try and preserve some sort of knowledge advantage, that would be the toxic behavior we’re looking for.

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  1. Coaching
    Coaching of any player while he or she is at a machine is not allowed and may lead to sanctions, such as removing the coach from the area, voiding the player’s game in progress, or issuing a yellow or red card. Spectators and other players must refrain from commenting on play in a way that affects the current game.
  2. Reference Materials
    No player may use reference materials of any kind, whether printed or electronic, while playing his or her ball. Reference materials may be used at any other time, however, even during a session or final round.

And who the f— is following Josh to the bathroom!!!

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Probably Jeff Teolis…


Wouldn’t the ‘spectators’ line preclude telling other players about how to play the game since it would affect the current game, regardless of where the telling takes place?

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Pinball is inherently random. Having or not having an understanding of the rules before playing a ball may or may not affect the outcome of the game. But a player who is currently playing the game and has achieved a certain state in the game must make that decision of what to shoot for themselves. If they are trapped up and someones says “shoot the scoop” that is coaching.

For arguments sake, let’s say they finish ball two, walk away from the game and someone says “you should have shot the scoop”. On ball three there is no guarantee that they will get the ball under control and be able to shoot the scoop.

IMHO there is also a huge difference between being told a rule, and knowing the rules well enough to be able to make split second decisions about where and when to shoot the ball(s).

I will usually be happy to tell an opponent anything about the game before the game starts (they still have to execute). I’m less likely to offer detailed game info after the game begins.


Yes, please. I think their is a good conversation to have about this.

For me I fall into the:

  • League - Coach away, just not while the player is actively playing as it slows things down way to much.
  • Tournament - Once the first ball is plunged, I actually don’t feel that coaching should be allowed, especially by any players in the group. Pinball is a game of skill but it is also very much a game of knowledge and strategy. You can get the basics from a lot of sources but some strategy is learned. If a player doesn’t know the best way to take that strategy and get the best score from it that is part of their “skill” of the game and I don’t feel it is fair for the other players to tell them, “hey, be sure to stack that mode in with this MB or you will miss out on a bunch of points” type of things.

I’m all for coaching up until the point of the game starting as you will mainly be sharing game knowledge but when we get into situational knowledge is where I think that line gets fuzzy. In tournaments now, their is real money on the table as well as qualifying points for things like the Stern Tour, which to me, changes the situation a little bit.

Underrated comment, especially in today’s production environment. If you don’t know how to effectively exploit playfield/shot multipliers or stack multiballs, or build up risk/reward shots, etc., you have almost no chance against top players on a modern game no matter how well you are shooting.

There are exceptions of course (TNA is a very simple game but difficult to master) but for just about anything manufactured in the past 5 years or so, you had better come into it with at least a basic strategy or you’re toast.


I got scolded by a player at a Cbar event in December for telling my wife — who participates maybe five tournaments a year — between balls how to get the mini-deadpool multiball in deadpool, all while head-to-head competitors were talking about their strategies on two or three games. He happened to be close to losing and they were replaying a game after a major malfunction caused them to restart one he had been blowing up, and he really made me feel like I could be DQ’ed from the whole tournament for saying anything.

I mention this in this thread because this is the first I’ve heard of this misinterpretation (I’d assumed no coaching at any point) and the opponent — who used to play more frequently than now — really went to town on me for this. It reminds me that even regulars may need an occasional reminder that, hey, if you have an issue, check with a TD first before trying to enforce the rules yourself.


Or maybe it was the person believing that the players were being loud and talking to the point where it would have been influencing or being heard by the player who was playing?

Some people carry conversations ‘off game’ that are so loud they are within clear ear-shot of the player. This is distracting and maybe someone was construing this to potentially be advantageous to the player on the game.

Talking about what the player is doing or not too within ear shot is rude too IMO

Either way… we know the coaching rules :slight_smile:

Only if they were telling the player who was currently playing their ball.

The intention is to make it clear that its not just the immediate players that are bound by this limitation on coaching the live player - not to change the scope of who is allowed to be coached or not.

It’s really easy… only the person who has engaged the machine and currently playing their ball is limited from being coached.

Escher Lefkoff playing while Adam and I watch him . . .

ILLEGAL --> Adam yells to Escher “You have it in Bonus. Don’t tilt!”

LEGAL --> Adam tells me very loudly “Escher has this in Bonus. Hopefully he knows not to tilt.”

YMMV on who your pinball legal council happens to be :slight_smile: