Pinball is a skill game that requires focus, dexterity & familiarity w/ the playfield. As your are playing be sure to keep an eye on the ball & have an idea where you want to shot & place the ball on your next shot. Having a general understanding of the rule-set is absolutely necessary to progress further into the game objectives. Knowing the rules is essential, as you wouldn't play a game of Monopoly or Blackjack without knowing what to do.
Focus the majority of the time on that steel ball! A pinball machine can be very distracting w/ the lightshow, DMD & music/sounds. Though those shades of atmosphere add to the pinball experience, it is essential to watch that ball like a hawk.
Control that ball! When approaching a machine observe the layout & have an idea how all those obstacles (bumpers, ramps, orbits, etc.) will affect a pinballs trajectory & speed rate. Let the ball come to you & don't flail or double flip. A dead bounce & ball cradle will allow you to effectively line up the next shot.
Hit your shots & aim accordingly! When playing Houdini, I know that if I need to hit the ramp then the ball needs to be launched on the left flipper approximately half way down. On the flip side, I am able to backhand the inner loop w/ a quick jab on the right flipper. Having an idea when to flip w/ close precision will help advance you towards sharpshooter status.
Focus, control & aim are absolutely the keys to becoming a better player. But not withstanding, relax, enjoy & most importantly ~ have fun. When approaching a machine just take in the complete atmosphere & nuances that a title provides. Let the gameplay take hold, as the therapeutic ambience will temporarily take you away to the WOZ. Just enjoy the experience, as pinball is absolutely escapism at it's finest!