Hopefully you've read part one, tried out the moves, mastered them all and are now eager for more. No? Oh well, here we go anyway.

We've looked at catching and passing the ball and shown some of the techniques. With all these moves, which one you use depends on these circumstances:

- where the ball is,
- how the ball is moving,
- where you want the ball to go.

Obviously you don't have much time to weigh-up these variables and choose your shot. It's a good idea to give yourself more time to decide by trapping the ball, having a think about it, making a pass if needed and then shooting away.

Dead Trap

You can use the Drop Catch when the ball is heading straight at a flipper, but for those times when you need to think about the next shot, the Dead Trap is a good move.

In essence, the Dead Trap is the exact opposite of the Drop Catch. With the Drop Catch, you drop the flipper just as the ball hits it. With the Dead Trap you raise the flipper (purple line) to meet the ball (yellow line), killing all the energy.

Ideally the ball should stop dead on the flipper, but this manoeuvre requires very accurate timing to work properly. Flip too early and the ball will run up the inlane (possibly down the outlane). Leave the flip too late and you'll make a reflex shot in an unpredictable direction.

The Dead Trap isn't an easy move to perform, but if you get it wrong through mistiming your flip it's unlikely to lead to a drain. Get it right and you're set up for either a considered shot or a pass.


Flipper Pass

Not to be confused with the Post Pass, the Flipper Pass is an easy manoeuvre to make but provides plenty of scope to adjust it to the speed of the ball.

You would use the Flipper Pass when the ball is rolling down the inlane with at least a small amount of momentum to it, and you want to pass the ball to the other flipper.

As the ball is in the inlane (yellow line), raise the flipper on the same side. The ball runs along the flipper, over the gap and onto the opposite flipper.

There are several variables you can introduce to control the ball during the flipper pass.

When the ball lands on the opposite flipper you can raise it (purple line) to trap the ball.

Alternatively, if the ball is moving fast enough, you can start with both flippers raised and when the ball hits the opposite flipper you can let it drop and perform a Drop Catch.

But wait, there's more. If the ball is moving too fast for your liking, you can drop the first flipper just as the ball is rolling across it. This makes a kind of mini-Drop Catch - taking only some of the energy out of the ball.

Finally, if the ball's not moving fast enough to cross the gap, you can drop the first flipper very slightly as the ball rolls across it, then raise it again to create a mini-flip. This pushes the ball slightly up the playfield increasing the length of the arc the ball makes.


Saving the ball

So far we've been talking about controlling the ball, but all good games must come to an end and that's when the ball rolls either between the flippers or down the left or right outlane, right? Well, not necessarily.

Of those three ways to lose the ball, two are pretty much fatal, but one of them gives you hope of an eleventh hour reprieve. Your friend goes by the name of "right outlane".

Look at how modern pinball games are constructed. The red arrows are the possible ways to lose the ball.

The yellow lines show the guides that direct the ball into the blue outhole, where the drained ball is registered. The outhole is angled that way to redirect the ball back to the kickout into the plunger lane.

When the ball rolls down the left outlane, it continues straight into the outhole. Nothing much you can do about that, sadly.

The same is true of a centre drain which just nudges the left guide wall at point X on the way into the outhole.

But when the ball drains down the right outlane, it strikes the left guide wall at point X and bounces slightly before falling into the outhole and it's here that you can try to reclaim it.


The Death Save

To get a ball back from that position isn't easy and requires a reasonable amount of physical effort. You have to transfer enough energy from you, to the ball, to push it up the playfield and between the flippers. Basically, you're going to flip the ball.

In order to do this, you need to make the gap between the flippers as large as possible. You achieve this by raising the left flipper.

Then you have to push the whole game forward at the point where the ball hits point X. You also need to push slightly to the right in order to get past the flippers.

Before you try this for the first time, a word of warning. You'll have to push the game reasonably hard and very suddenly. Make sure your arms, wrists and hands are up to the task, and make very sure the pinball game is firmly bolted to its legs and not likely to fall over, do any damage to anything nearby or on top or hurt any bystanders.

Also, don't try to do this in competition or you'll be disqualified, and some casual players may consider it cheating too. You're unlikely to impress the owner of the site you're playing the game at, so discretion is advised. You may also like to ban its use on home games for highscore purposes.

How well the manoeuvre works depends on several factors. Firstly, the ball needs to be travelling quite fast when it hits point X so it gets a little bit of bounce which helps you get the ball moving in the right direction. Secondly the game must be positioned such that you can push it forward and sideways. If it's hard up against a wall at the back or the right side then forget it.

Ideally, the legs of the game should have a little "give" to them without being loose. That way you can probably avoid moving the legs on the floor.

Timing is absolutely critical in this move. You have to push the game just very slightly before the ball hits point X. It's a hard trick to pull off, but once you'd worked it out it becomes much much easier. Give it a try, but only once you've seen the movie above, and remember to take it easy.


There is another manoeuvre of this type called a Bangback which involved slamming down and forward on the lockdown bar, but because it carries a severe risk of wrist and/or hand damage, it certainly can't be recommended and we won't be discussing it further in this article.


And so concludes part deux of our tutorial. There are several other techniques which players use and have developed to suit their own style of play. The key thing is that you feel comfortable in your style of play, as that leads to confidence and better game play. Hopefully you've picked up a few hints and tips in this article and can sprinkle them across your game.

Play safely and try to emulate this ball trap technique!


Back to the learn page

Back to the front page

© Pinball News 2001