How To Play Pinball: 4 Essential Techniques

Do you want to become a pinball wizard? Knowing how to play pinball is a rite of passage for anyone who works in our Weybridge showroom, because we spend our days surrounded by some great games.

Many a lunch break has been frittered away in the blink of an eye on one of our vintage or brand new pinball machines, and it’s fair to say we’ve picked up a thing or two along the way! Become a pinball wizard in no time with our top tips on how to play pinball...

Learning How To Play Pinball: The Basics

Learning how to play pinball requires the mastery of some essential skills. Take a look at the basics that you need to know before you get started:

 Use the flippers 

If you want to become a pinball wizard, you need to learn how to use the flippers. No matter whether you’re playing a bespoke LaFerrari or a Beatles Gold Edition, everything centres on the flippers. They’re your primary tool for controlling the ball, and once you’ve learned how to properly control them, you’ll find that much less of the game is left to chance than you might have once thought.

 Only use one flipper at once 

Knowing how to play pinball is all about reflexes and instinct, but one vital hint we can give you is to only ever use one flipper at once – don’t “double-flip”. To become a pinball wizard, you’ll need one flipper for shooting, and the other to use defensively in case the ball bounces unexpectedly. “Machine gun flipping”, cool as it sounds, is also to be avoided – it’s the term given for hammering both flippers in a panic, which is a quick way to tank your high score! 

Note: If you’re interested in a pinball machine like the Twilight Zone Pinball Machine, bear in mind that it has magnetic fields that replace flippers in areas so it’s good to master both.

 Don’t rush your decisions 

Those who know how to play pinball, know that you need to stay calm under pressure. Remember, every time you shoot the ball, to some extent you’re putting it at risk. Take your time, and have a goal in mind for when you shoot – don’t necessarily let the game rush you into a decision, or you’ll never become a pinball wizard. Shooting at a specific target increases your chances of hitting one! (As you can see in the case of the Getaway pinball's playfield, you've got a lot of options...)

 Keep the ball under control

Keeping the ball under control is important when learning how to play pinball, so don’t hesitate to take a moment to do that either; we’ll go into specific ways to do it in just a moment. Bear in mind that the closer the ball is to the base of the flipper, the more it will angle towards the centre of the table. It’s simple physics!

How To Play Pinball Well: Top Techniques 

Once you’ve got to grips with the basics of how to play pinball, it’s time to learn how to really play. These top pinball techniques will take your game to the next level and help you become a pinball wizard.

Post Pass

Sometimes, you find that pesky ball always ending up on your right side, when you want it on your left, or vice versa. There are a couple of ways to deal with this, and the post pass is one of the easiest. Lightly tap the flipper when the ball is at its base, which should cause it to bounce off a post and over to the other side. It takes a few tries to master, but it’s worth it when you do!

Hold Pass

Another pinball passing technique, this one is particularly easy to pick up – mainly, it just requires good judgement. If the ball is heading down the opposite inlane at a fairly heady pace, just hold up your least desired flipper to allow the ball to skip straight over it to the other side, allowing you to take your shot at a specific target - like this legendary target from the world-famous Addams Family Pinball. If you’re having trouble visualising, you’re basically using your alternate flipper to form a ‘bridge’ of sorts!

Drop Catch

Pinball is an immensely quick game, and this is an excellent trick to slow the ball down. Have your flipper raised ready to meet the incoming ball, and drop it just as the ball makes contact. Done right, the move will take all of the momentum from the ball, rendering it more malleable to your next shot!

Live Catch

This is the opposite of a drop catch, and requires an exceptionally deft sleight of hand, so don’t worry if you don’t make it right off the bat! It’s done by raising your flipper as the ball comes into contact with it, catching the ball at the very end of the shot. Think of it like a football raising their foot from the grass to meet an incoming football. This is classed as an advanced pinball technique, so it’s well worth trying a good couple of times!

So, now that you know how to play pinball, there’s no substitute for practice – get cracking and have a go on your own pinball machine at home! And if you’ve not yet got a pinball machine at home, well we’ve got just the solution for that. Take a look at our brand new pinballs or our vintage pinball machines for sale today. Alternatively, you can read up on Give us a call on 01932 282 123 for any questions you might have, or feel free to come visit us at our Weybridge showroom to see what we’ve got in stock!


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