(Topic ID: 61158)

Let's discuss "Aiming" or shot accuracy‏


By credinger

7 years ago



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    #1 7 years ago

    I posted this on a regional forum & it spurred some decent conversation.

    Such a simple topic, but so hard to teach and describe.
    Why can't I hit a shot to save my life ?
    I understand where on the flipper I need to hit the ball to reach a specific area of the playfield.
    I understand a moving rolling shot vs. a cradled shot.
    I understand practice makes perfect. Yes watching great players helps a ton.
    I can drop catch,live catch, post pass etc etc.
    The problem is, I would put my shot accuracy at 20%.
    I have probably played tens of thousands of games & I still stink.

    So how do you aim ??
    Do you focus on the flipper bat & make the shot ?
    Do you look at the shot you are aiming for , do you use the artwork on the playfield (near the flipper or a little bit out ?)

    Let's see if we can get a decent discussion going, you never know what small tidbit of info, could help out us Z division player.

    #2 7 years ago

    for me (a z level player as well), it's all about "feel"... i don't really focus on one specific thing, i just think "hit that target" and let my reflexes take over from there... it's similar to golf for me... for example, if i want to hit a fade, i don't think "do this, this and that"... i just think "hit a fade" and let my body do it's job...

    i would say my accuracy varies greatly from machine to machine... some targets are just a bitch to hit, whereas others i can hit pretty much every time...

    #3 7 years ago

    I have been trying to bend my knees more so I can get my eye level down closer to the playfield. I am not at Lyman level (since I am 6'4"), but I think it helps see the flipper to the shot you are trying to make better. It is also better since I normally would tend to lean on the machine too much and my wrists would be sore after a couple hours.

    Still a work on progress

    #4 7 years ago
    Quoted from Captive_Ball:

    I normally would tend to lean on the machine too much and my wrists would be sore after a couple hours.
    Still a work on progress

    I do the same thing. It's a tough habit to break, at least for me.

    #5 7 years ago

    I will look at the flipper and shoot, then immediately look at the shot I am going for. Let's say it is from the right flipper. If I miss left I know I flipped too late, miss right then I flipped too early. I have a mental picture of where the ball was on my flipper. So next shot I adjust where I flip the ball on the flipper based on if I missed too early or too late. It's something that I have gotten better at over the years. Now I know that if I miss a shot I need to know HOW I missed it so I can correct on the next shot. By the 2nd or 3rd shot I should be able to make it.

    #6 7 years ago

    Moved to the playing tips sub forum. Good topic!

    #7 7 years ago

    In my mind if I'm going for a shot I break the flipper down into 8ths. Like on acdc for me from a cradle on the right flipper, to hit the left orbit I'll flip after the ball is 7/8ths of the way down the flipper. Left ramp is 3/4ths. Bell is about 1/2. I don't think of this on the fly, just if I have the ball trapped...which I try to do every chance I get.

    #8 7 years ago

    I'm going to try closing my eyes because I stink with them open.

    #9 7 years ago

    You can't try to find a secret spot on the flipper to hit that shot, because the ball always comes in different speeds. Even if you don't see it.
    You can't try to make 2 moves 100% identical, because the real physics and the way too many variables are involved (speed, weight, inertia, grip, etc etc etc) makes it impossible.
    So that only leaves one option:
    Feel... it's all about feel.

    You are not gonna do it with measurements, perfect timings, etc..

    #10 7 years ago

    I'm just glad I'm not the only Z level player out there. I never knew I could be obsessed with a hobby I completely suck at. Good thread

    #11 7 years ago

    I do exactly what Evan describes except I think of it as centimeters for some reason. the flipper is 7 or 8 cm's long. "This ramp is 1 cm from the end of the right flipper from a cradle or slow inlane roll." the backhand is 1 cm down the flipper.

    The key to this technique is to trap up so that speed of roll down the flipper is slow and doesn't introduce another variable.

    aiming well on the fly- there's no substitute for practice and experience there. Although you can apply rational thought and understanding of physics to help with that a little.

    #12 7 years ago
    Quoted from hassanchop:

    You can't try to find a secret spot on the flipper to hit that shot, because the ball always comes in different speeds. Even if you don't see it.
    You can't try to make 2 moves 100% identical, because the real physics and the way too many variables are involved (speed, weight, inertia, grip, etc etc etc) makes it impossible.
    So that only leaves one option:
    Feel... it's all about feel.
    You are not gonna do it with measurements, perfect timings, etc..

    yup, feel...

    also... similar to driving a car... imo, you want to be looking at "where you are going", not "where you are"... this ties back to "feel" as well...

    again, i'm a z level player, but as you point out, there are way too many variables involved to think "ok, i'm gonna do this, this and that"... by the time all that thinking goes on, the shot is long gone...

    11
    #13 7 years ago

    I'm having too much fun playing to be doing something silly like 'thinking'. I leave the thinking for picking out a good beer to have...

    #14 7 years ago

    Also the time that you have to react in most of the situations makes experience and instinct get over your thinking. There we go... back to the feel
    Oh wait!! I invented a new concept!:
    PINBALL INSTINCT!!
    Who has it?

    #15 7 years ago

    So how do you aim ??
    Do you focus on the flipper bat & make the shot ?
    Do you look at the shot you are aiming for , do you use the artwork on the playfield (near the flipper or a little bit out ?)

    Teamwork!

    th-1.jpeg

    #16 7 years ago

    #17 7 years ago

    Consistent aiming means shooting a cradled ball in my mind. Any moving shot is done by feel/instinct/prayer.

    So aiming starts with stopping the ball, after that I think that the shots I have mastered are all done through timing and not by looking at distance along a flipper. A backhand to the chest in PotC, the ship, the ramp, and the left lane each have less tolerance for error as the ball gains speed rolling down the right flipper but they all have their own 'release..shoot' or 'release.....shoot' timing. The chest is a 99% shot since the ball moves so slow from the right flipper but it's 33% from the left flipper since it's moving a little quicker and the margin of error is smaller.

    Either way I don't look down for a cradled ball, since they are all identical it's all about timing and I want to watch where it goes. It's also way too hard to identify the exact spot along the flipper that I made a deep shot at since the ball is moving so quick, and my hand/eye timing isn't instant. Where I can look up the table and be consistent about the pause....shoot timing and make the little adjustments necessary for a Quorra shot for example.

    For moving shots I always look at where the ball is on the flipper, that's just instinct/feel for sure. Two things I suck at lol

    Are there good videos that cover aiming that anyone can link? I'd love to know how to do it the right way

    #18 7 years ago

    AIming a shot with a moving ball is not just instinct/prayer; like other shots, it is a skill that can be refined. There are more variables (ball speed, and angle if the ball is being hit on the fly), but you can develop some good accuracy from moving balls. And it's a key skill for improving your game.

    In fact, shot accuracy is far more important a skill than ball control imo. If you can make your shots consistently, then ball control is largely a non-issue on most machines, as you can make shots that retain control. Plus, you can get the critical shots to start modes, score big points, etc.

    On a side note, I wish more games had multiball rules that penalize the player for trapping balls. It take a lot more skill to keep 2+ balls in play than to trap 1 or 2 balls on a flipper and make a 'safe' shot with the remaining ball from the other flipper. WWFRR had a nice use of such a penalty in the RR multiball.

    #19 7 years ago

    After playing a certain game a lot, timing and finesse are easier to come by. You obviously have to have some common sense about where on the flipper to hit a ball to go in a certain direction, but it basically comes down to instinct. That being said, watch the videos from some of the tournaments. It's much easier to hit the right things when you have control of the pinball. I have fun just knocking it around the playfield, but when something is more important I slow it down and catch and cradle it more before trying to make a shot. You can teach yourself to play better, but there will always be people that just "get it" easier. If you have crappy reflexes at everything else, you'll probably have crappy reflexes at pinball too. If you are clunky at everything else, there's a good chance that you'll also be clunky at pinball. Play some old school twitch video games to get some reflexes. I also tend to play better on DMD games after playing on EM machines. EMs usually require better flipper control to have good games. Early SS Gottliebs like Sinbad are also very good at teaching you better flipper control.

    #20 7 years ago

    After watching LOTR_breath play at the GA Pinball Open, I decided I really needed to work on ball control during MB. This meant learning skills like cradle separation, and a crude form of juggling (e.g. "here comes another ball, so I'll shoot my cradled ball at that ramp over there and then do a drop catch on the one that's coming").

    Aiming is inseparable from getting the ball under control. If I hit my shot, the ball usually comes back in a semi-predictable way. On some games, a made shot can be just as dangerous as a missed shot (e.g. the right side of the microscope on CSI). But usually the game is designed so that missed shots are way more dangerous.

    I enjoyed reading about how other folks improve their aim. For me, it's mostly about being in a frame of mind where I have enough focus to get the timing right. I like LOTR_breath's idea about paying attention to where the ball went (how you missed).

    I seem to aim best when I know I have other work I should be doing.

    #21 7 years ago

    Here is my secret:

    I have learned to enjoy playing poorly.

    #22 7 years ago

    I line up shots sometimes but mostly go by memory. I play a lot if AFM and the fan layout is great for practicing aiming as it is very straight forward. It is usually the game I warm up on before league nights. I try to not shoot so much on the fly anymore as the ball speed is a bitter harder to judge.

    #23 7 years ago

    Shooting from a cradle is obviously easier as the ball will be rolling slower, and thus wider margins for error in the timing required to make your shot.

    Any other type of shot is going to have too many variables for someone to "calculate" when to flip, thus I believe those shots do rely mostly on feel.

    I fear that much of this "feel" is innate, and only partially learnable. For example, on my machines at home, I have fair to good shot-making consistency. But on a machine new to me, my shot making will suffer greatly, even though I play and practice on other machines all the time. A world-class player will not have such a problem, and I am doubtful that it is because they learned that skill. Ball control, yes. Shot making, I am skepical.

    10
    #24 7 years ago

    Run. And. Gun.

    Cradles are for babies.

    #25 7 years ago
    Quoted from Captive_Ball:

    I have been trying to bend my knees more so I can get my eye level down closer to the playfield. I am not at Lyman level (since I am 6'4"), but I think it helps see the flipper to the shot you are trying to make better. It is also better since I normally would tend to lean on the machine too much and my wrists would be sore after a couple hours.
    Still a work on progress

    When I actually do bend over and get my face close to the lock down. It does give you a slightly better idea on where the ball needs to leave the flipper...and 8 out of 10 times I can get darn close to the shot I actually want. Not saying I make it, but it sure helps.

    I'm not very good either hahaha. But each machine will be different as well.

    #26 7 years ago

    I have found taking an atheletic stance but being in a relaxed position has helped recently. I think it is more mental than anything, but getting in my "pinball stance" makes me take it a bit more serious and if things are clicking then I make more shots. That said, if things are going bad they go bad quickly.

    Being slightly closer to the flippers seems to help also and I have been practicing on return to same flipper shots (i.e. left ramp on CFTBl. Also like the M A P ramp on Congo since the diverter changes the flow after every 3rd shot) to continually hit a specific shot.

    #27 7 years ago

    lol I feel the same way Noah, and that's why I will never win any tournaments

    #28 7 years ago

    I don't live in a cradle, I put the ball in one.

    #29 7 years ago

    Good shooting is all about timing.

    Some people have good timing, and some people don't.

    It is most-definitely a skill you can hone and get better at, but some people are more natural at it than others.

    I used to do a lot of voiceover work in radio and tv commercials. I would have to speak a paragraph of text and make it fit into 5 seconds or 17.5 seconds, and if I went over or under, on the re-take, I had to "self-adjust" and calculate the timing to make the text fit. Pinball is very similar. Based on the speed of the ball, you have to adjust your timing of the flippers. There's a "feel" to it that centers around having a solid sense of timing (and the hand-eye coordination to flip exactly when you want to).

    #30 7 years ago

    I think aiming is feel and getting used to a machine. The ramps on Spiderman are totally different than the Metallica I have sitting right next to or any of the other machines I've played. So it's just spending time making the shots. What's more important to me is recovery and save skills. I spend most of my time working on saving balls so that's it's second nature. That way I can have a lot of attempts learning the aiming on a machine.

    #31 7 years ago

    I play by sense of smell.

    Tommy.jpg

    #32 7 years ago

    I like your style! Why disrupt the flow of the game?

    #33 7 years ago

    Pinball is pavlovian as it gets, therefore it is self training. When you do things right you get rewarded when you do them wrong you get punished. Try to do more good and less bad each game you play.

    I use all 5 or even 6 senses while I play, its important to maximize feedback. When you smell you are playing good you are there.

    For example... I hear the in-lane switch sound, then after some amount of time based on the ball speed my eyes picked up upon my brain just 'knows' when its time to flip for whichever shot I'm going for, no need to look at anything but the target shot at that point.

    #34 7 years ago

    I have 2 different styles of play. "Run and Gun" when I'm having a beer and not trying to accomplish anything, "Control Freak" when I'm competing (with myself or others). It's more fun to hit balls on the fly, but it makes for lower scores unless I'm REALLY in the zone.

    #35 7 years ago

    Great topic. I just hope thinking about it doesn't stuff me up! When first learning a game I concentrate on what angle the ball has to leave the flippers to hit a certain target. Depending on ball speed the timing has to be adjusted, but if the ball gets sent off on the right angle it will hit that target, and you've got to watch to see if you were a bit early or late or spot on. After a few bullseyes I start to get to 'know' where that particular target is. After that it's practice, practice and of course some shots are harder and more fun than others.

    #36 7 years ago

    It will be interesting to see if any of the world class players around here (Elwin, Bowen, Cayle, Donovon, Josh, etc.) will chime in, and if any of them will admit they have a "gift".

    #37 7 years ago
    Quoted from StevenP:

    AIming a shot with a moving ball is not just instinct/prayer; like other shots, it is a skill that can be refined. There are more variables (ball speed, and angle if the ball is being hit on the fly), but you can develop some good accuracy from moving balls. And it's a key skill for improving your game.

    In fact, shot accuracy is far more important a skill than ball control imo. If you can make your shots consistently, then ball control is largely a non-issue on most machines, as you can make shots that retain control. Plus, you can get the critical shots to start modes, score big points, etc.
    .

    yup, definitely agree... the more you play, the more that skill gets refined...

    re: shot accuracy vs. ball control... i'd consider ball control to be a function of accuracy, not necessarily a separate skill... but i could be wrong there... i only have em's, and (imo) ball control is a combination of shot accuracy and "machine control"...

    #38 7 years ago
    Quoted from alveolus:

    It will be interesting to see if any of the world class players around here (Elwin, Bowen, Cayle, Donovon, Josh, etc.) will chime in, and if any of them will admit they have a "gift".

    i would hope they would admit it... "talent" is to be praised, not scorned...

    all of us can refine our "skills" to get closer to our "talent" level... sadly, talent is fixed in stone... you either have it, or you don't... i can go to the driving range 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, and i'll never be a pga tour player...

    #39 7 years ago
    Quoted from ccotenj:

    i can go to the driving range 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, and i'll never be a pga tour player...

    But if you had started when you were six, you would have a better chance. Same with pinball. You can't cram 40+ years playing into a short time. Development also includes breaks in the action.

    #40 7 years ago

    Does anybody know how people like Keith Elwin practice?

    Does he practice individual shots over and over, or just play lots and lots of games?

    In Pinball 101 there are these rulers put on the flippers. I wonder if he originally practiced with marks on the flippers and identified exactly where the ball needed to be on the flipper to hit a particular shot?

    #41 7 years ago

    Use the force, Luke.

    #42 7 years ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    But if you had started when you were six, you would have a better chance. Same with pinball. You can't cram 40+ years playing into a short time. Development also includes breaks in the action.

    yea i agree... i'd have a better chance of maximizing my available talent, no doubt... practice does make perfect, and there's no substitute for 'sperience...

    that being said... i played a bunch of sports in my yute, and played with/against guys who eventually got paid to play (unfortunately, i was not one of them )... raw talent is readily evident when it comes to that, because your own two eyes tell you, "i, and no one else here, cannot physically do what that person does"...

    i believe that the guys who are the top pinball players aren't actually given enough credit for their raw talent because there isn't anything that readily stands out... people watch them play and figure "with enough practice, i could become that skilled and hit those shots consistently and control the ball like that"... that's doing a disservice to the talent...

    heck, i read a thread about papa when some young dude was handling himself very well against guys who have played 10's of thousands of hours of pinball... that's talent there, and it can't be taught...

    op, sorry for the off tangent post...

    #43 7 years ago

    If you guys want to get better, spend more time on a HARDER machine. Time spent on a machine like BSD or BK2K will help improve your reflexes much faster than playing on STTNG.

    Stop trying to cradle the ball for every shot, but instead work on feeling the flow of the machine. As for multiballs, don't feel like you have to make a targeted shot with each ball. It's fine to attempt a shot with one ball, while juggling the others, don't have to hit a jackpot with each ball of a multiball!

    #44 7 years ago
    Quoted from ccotenj:

    i believe that the guys who are the top pinball players aren't actually given enough credit for their raw talent because there isn't anything that readily stands out

    I agree raw talent is a starting point, but these guys also have the ability to concentrate and focus. I believe my skills are pretty damn good, and sometimes I amaze myself, but I also get sidetracked as if it really doesn't matter if every game is better than the last. I think the top competitors probably play like every game could be their last.

    #45 7 years ago

    I'm sure practice does help, but it's interesting to me that some of my best games ever have come after big pinball layoffs. Last month I played my first game of LOTRLE in 8 months, and my first game on any machine in 3-4 months. An hour later I was at the precipice of Valinor for the first time. I was getting so close to it on Ball 2 that I ran upstairs to get my daughter to come down and watch since I knew she'd want to see it. I've also had similar things happen on WH2O. Got Vacation Jackpot on first ball one time after not playing it for a year. I've also had similar games on The Shadow and TAF. I guess for me what I'm saying is that sometimes too much play makes me go backwards and freshness makes me do better. You can make yourself better by playing enough, but nothing beats reflexes and finesse. I'll probably never win any A League pinball tournaments, but pinball was just something that I've always felt came naturally for me from the first time I flipped as a kid in the 70's.

    #46 7 years ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    I agree raw talent is a starting point, but these guys also have the ability to concentrate and focus. I believe my skills are pretty damn good, and sometimes I amaze myself, but I also get sidetracked as if it really doesn't matter if every game is better than the last. I think the top competitors probably play like every game could be their last.

    agreed again... i include the ability to concentrate and focus under "raw talent"...

    building on my earlier golf example... when tiger was "TIGER", his ability to consistently produce under pressure was unequalled (in any sport, really)... he would literally "will" shots to happen and putts to go in, all when they meant the most... he could do this because (besides having ridiculous physical talent) he could maintain his focus/concentration (staying in the moment and not caring about the result) when others (who realistically, didn't suck from a physical talent standpoint) couldn't...

    i'm not so sure it's about "playing every game like it is the last" as much as it is the ability to stay in the moment and not care about the end result... the more you think about results, the less brainpower you have to focus (concentrate) on the task at hand... we see guys choke in sports all the time... they lose that focus on the task and start thinking about the result... it's the guys who don't choke that are the rarity...

    #47 7 years ago
    Quoted from ccotenj:

    he would literally "will" shots to happen and putts to go in, all when they meant the most... he could do this because

    That's before they took away his harem.

    #48 7 years ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    That's before they took away his harem.

    which had to suck... i'd be in a funk too...

    #49 7 years ago
    Quoted from StevenP:

    In fact, shot accuracy is far more important a skill than ball control imo. If you can make your shots consistently, then ball control is largely a non-issue on most machines, as you can make shots that retain control. Plus, you can get the critical shots to start modes, score big points, etc.

    ^^ absolutely

    I haven't been playing as long as many of you, but I've come to rank pinball skills in this order:

    1. Make your shots (aim).
    2. Keep the ball in play (saves/nudging)
    3. Control the ball (cradling/post-pass/dead-pass)

    If you (1) make your shots, you'll have less trouble (2) keeping the ball in play and inherently (3) control the ball better. You can be great at ball control -- getting the ball to the correct flipper for that jackpot shot -- but it doesn't do you much good if you can't make the shot.

    I constantly see people in our league rack up huge scores despite the fact that they have nearly no ball control skills. They are just amazingly good at nailing twitch shots.. and shots are what scores the points.

    #50 7 years ago
    Quoted from cheezywhiz:

    I've come to rank pinball skills in this order:

    2, 3, 1.

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