Break me down. Pick me apart.

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Break me down. Pick me apart.
« on: April 06, 2011, 11:48:42 AM »
Hi all,

[apologies in advance for the long post]

I humbly ask for your help in analyzing my game.  Here're a couple of games I played yesterday in a league.  I'll say that it wasn't a good day for me overall - a bad night's rest got the better of me resulting in poor execution and misfires.  Excuses aside, if you have time and patience to watch the two videos, I'd love for your input to improving my game.

In both games, I'm on the left.
(sorry, crooked camera on a broken tripod)


I can execute a brush series and stick series.  On offense, I do a pull shot and push-kick (which wasn't working for this video).

Execution isn't generally a problem.  What I do find myself having trouble with for players with maybe Amateur/Expert level defense is analyzing the defense on the fly and timing my passes and pull shot based on what I see.


The player I'm playing against is a very solid pull-shooter here (doesn't recoil).  He's very good at timing and finding holes in general, so I usually have a hard time defending against him.  I also have a harder time solving his defense than other people.

I learned afterwards that he feels I shoot more long pulls and straight-ins with less middles.  But looking at the video, I thought was still shooting some middles.


In the two games, I squandered 6-4 and 6-5 leads to lose 6-7 (race to 7).  But several of my goals were sloppy.


For the feedback, let's first ignore execution (it was an off day). And in fact, let's ignore the push-kick altogether.

But here's what I'd like to hear about, if you feel so inclined:


a) Telegraphing/tells: Am I telegraphing my passing (wall / lane), my pull shooting (long/short/middle)?

b) If you saw his defense, where would you shoot?  I know it's so hard to answer this because it's all about how he's defending at the moment. If you can tell me time-stamps, that'd be helpful. If a defense is too random, I really end up overwhelmed and making an unadvised Hail Mary shot - usually long pull.  I think I'm a faster pull-shooter than him, and at least as accurate.  So assume speed and accuracy are not problems.

c) Are my passing or shooting times too consistent? Not taking enough time off the clock?

d) Anything else?


a) I did blocked his pullshot OK here and there, but there are other times where he scores.  Are there obvious holes in my defense?  Since I can't get into his mind, I don't know what he's thinking or looking at.  He does say that he'll shoot at the spot that's less frequently defended.  Did he do that here?  I honestly don't see it (other than catching me leaving my straight-in open a couple of times. tsk tsk.)  Was my timing easy to catch or was I leaving any place open too much on specific defensive sequences  I also think he waits for a man to move away from the spot he's been watching. I suppose if that's the case, then I need to do more criss-crossing defenders or moving away and back very quickly from a certain position.  I haven't figured out a good pullshot defense.

b) Is he telegraphing his shot?  Is he shooting at consistent times?

c) Is he telegraphing his pass?  He does mostly brush up and down, and a wall stick pass.

How to Analyze:

When playing a player first time, I know I should move the ball around more to see how s/he reacts to understand their defense. But I'm not putting it together right.  Could be something like seeing them go to the wall if I bounce the ball off the wall with my 5-bar - but soon forgetting that fact.  Or not turning that information into something I can use against him/her.

So, what's the process here.  How should I break down someone's defense?  Either on passing or shooting?  Seriously, I might be even looking for a "Foosball for dummies" version, like:

1a. Tic tac on the 5-bar and bounce the ball off the wall.
1b. If opponent follows the ball to the wall, then next time, you can [execute this skill].

2a. Do long tic tacs on the 5, and see where the opponent goes as you do it.
2b. If the opponent [does this], then you can [do that]
2c. If the opponent [does this], then you can [do something else]
2d. If the opponent ....

3a. Do short tic tacs on the 5, and see whether the opponent comes off the wall to defend
3b. as above
3c. as above

In other words, what are specific things I can watch for?  And what are possible things I can do if they react in certain ways?

Sorry that I have so many questions. This is something I've been struggling with lately playing against better defenses.  Getting blocked more and more, and having trouble with reading defenses as they improve.


Re: Break me down. Pick me apart.
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2011, 12:05:43 PM »
I just watched part of Zeke's match against Collignon, and realized how terribly boring my video must be.  Sorry to put anyone thru it. Just know you'll be doing me a huge service by giving me some helpful tips.

Re: Break me down. Pick me apart.
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2011, 12:48:55 PM »
Any advise or comments can be left here or on the YouTube video's comments section.  Thanks!

Offline alaskan thunder

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Re: Break me down. Pick me apart.
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2011, 01:37:58 PM »
OK I just watched the 1st game but here are my thoughts....

1. Tighten your game up- You need to take more advantage of your possessions. You started w/ a push-kick from the 3 bar, but it did not look like part of a series. Generally speaking, boring foosball is winning foosball. Pick a series and go with it. Also, both of your first 2 bar possessions were just clears. I don't know who your opponent was, but unless they have a pro/promaster zone, you should be shooting or passing 2-5. I am a decent expert who has toured quite a bit in the last few years and my zone is still susceptible to someone who is smart and has a decent 2 bar. Make them prove that their zone is up to the challenge then adjust accordingly.

2. Load up quarters before the match starts. :)

3. Set your pullshot up dead on the wall or damn close to it. You were like and inch off the wall on your setup for your 1st pull.

4. Don't shoot a random push-kick when you are up 3-2 and get a free possession.

5. Again, rolling pull at 4-3. Value those possessions. Take your time, set the ball up, possible timeout...

6. Practice you speed in transition. He got quite a few 2-3 passes, most of which were super slow.

7. Finally, I would say that you need go with more of a series on the 5. Once you get to the higher levels of foos, you will start to realize that there is a constant back and forth, almost like a mind game. Good forwards (Fred, Tony, Ryan, Billy) are the kings of this. If you play one of them it seems like they are know what you are going to do in advance. In reality, they have a pretty good idea because they are constantly setting you up. Now, in order to be able to exploit your opponent's weakness like the masters, you need to lay a foundation. Set up a series and learn options from the exact same setup.

JMO based on the one video I watched. I was typing as I was going, so there are some random thoughts dropped in there. I'm sure some others on here can be more help than myself.

Offline PatRyan

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Re: Break me down. Pick me apart.
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2011, 01:40:16 PM »
Hello Kevin,

I watched your match video.  There are a few things that jumped right out.

first...SLOW DOWN!  You are playing too fast for your game (from what I saw).  You rarely take more than 4 seconds to attempt a pass, and rarely more than 6 seconds on the 3-bar.  

Your defense looked pretty good, based on what the shooter was doing.  Your opponent has a pretty good straight, and a good rolling straight.  and he milked them pretty well.  His long pull is not really long, and he sprays.  I would try to make him quare his shots off, which I didn't see him do during those 2 games.  The "D" looked a little jerky, with lots of extra movement, but everyone has what is comfortable to them.  But overall your blocking percentage was pretty good.

For your 5-bar passing...SLOW DOWN.  Set the ball up (as in stop it from moving). then go into your toss, read the opposing "D", and execute.  From what I saw of your brush passing, you have alot of movement right before you pass, why?  Why not slow the "hovering" down a little bit. Or maybe even try executing the brush passes without all of the hovering a couple of times.  

For your questions regarding shooting on his defense.  You say you get overwhelmed with a good random "D" and shoot a "hail mary" long pull.  Well, lets look at it not as a hail mary.  lets look at this a different way.  You are trying to read his defense and shoot.  It is not working, and you get frustrated.  So instead of "throwing a hail mary", lets turn this around.  Pick a hole to shoot, pick a count, then execute, the opponent is either there or he isn't.  Do not worry about reading the defense (remember, that wasn't working too well anyway).  AND, if I was going to do this (pick a shot and shoot) on this particular defense, I would not go long.  He was racing you long (even though you got a couple by him).  I would pull the ball about 2 inches and shoot a short middle.  But it MUST be square, and it must go around the defender that is blocking the straight hole.  

Things I noticed about your opponents passing series.
Also alot of "hovering"
nice wall pass
But when he hovers he can go either lane or wall, no hovering, quick wall pass.
sometimes cheats out to the lane with the catching rod a little early.
If defending that passing series, I would sit on the wall until he starts the hovering. Then probably flick the defenders toe out and into the lane.  See how that works.  Also noticed that not alot of his lane passes were very deep, so I would definitely keep the defenders toes forward and try to spike the ball to my 3-man.

Oh, almost forgot, when you set up your pullshot, make sure you are sett up all the way over.  Make him block the whole goal!  Also might want to make sure the side of the foot of the man is touching the ball when you are setup.  

Just a few things, got to get back to work now  :)

Hope that helps, and remember, SLOW DOWN and use the clock!


Offline foozkillah

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Re: Break me down. Pick me apart.
« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2011, 02:20:24 PM »
Your opponent seemed just a whole lot more relaxed and decided in whatever he was doing, or he decided very quickly.  Kept it simple and he just kept going back to pass-pass-pass, set up a pull.. set up a pull. 
You seemed to be looking for every opportunity to get quick points.. If that was your gameplan, then I suggest practicing quicksets (pulls, pushk's, whatever) by simply getting the ball to one or other point, and immediately go into a practiced quickset.  You seemed impatient, and it could be you lost passes because you hurried them, although they pretty much looked like sound passing.
Noted on your goal D that you had decent hole coverage, whether jerky or not, but you seemed to flinch a few times as he shot.. and it looked like his spray was synching too well with your flinch. I'd suggest practicing your D to never flinch, which when you did, kinda froze your 2bar and Gman with little or almost no motion for just a split second.. which worked perfectly for his inside sprayout (1/4) and his "long" spray.. 3/4 to long. Your opponent obviously also varied his release times from his pull set.  Good self-discipline.
I guess you could start by absolutely deciding to simply slow down as the others above advised.. stop yourself even if the quickset seems wide open.. as an exercise in control... decide to quickset this time, next time decide to do a longer wait and shoot, and play with the timing.  Lot of missed or mis-hit quickshots, especially after you'd just made one..
Glad you seemed to have lots of fun though...

Re: Break me down. Pick me apart.
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2011, 10:37:56 AM »
Wow, this is great stuff for me (and hopefully others) to work on.

Half of my responses here may sound like excuses, but I did really pick a bad day to showcase my playing.  But I'd rather show my worst side and get more comments. I find analyzing and practicing foosball enormously therapeutic. Maybe most engineers are alike in this sense.

Some comments to the feedback, and then a bunch of new questions below!


1. I do tend to play a faster game, going for the quick kill when the chance is open to me. Against most players here, it works. But this opponent has good defensive position and also knows my tendencies. I'll remember to set up more.

2. I carry usually $30+US in a coin case with me usually. ;)

3. I used to set up better/farther when I was working on my pull. Guess I've gotten lazy. Will pay more attention.

4. Push-kick is a part of my offense and usually works (not on this day).  Often, I'll go for a quick push-kick to catch the opponent off guard. But I guess I should set it up more, and use a more complete series.  I'm usually shooting long, where there's more often a hole. But I should use my mid-range, short kick, and short push more.

7. I was doing something strange that day. Normally, I would do just a standing stick pass series with a few variations. But based on some other feedback, I was moving the ball more trying to read the defense.  But in effect, I was just moving the ball and NOT reading the defense -- because I still don't know HOW to read the D.  More on that at the bottom.



Slow down:  YES! I wanted to make a point of taking more time off the clock that day, but I guess I ended up not thinking as much!  I took some time to time the passing and shooting of both me and William, and found some interesting (to me) results.
Passing times are counted as when the ball is brought to the near-side for a passing series.
Pull shot times are counted from set-up.  So, 0.5s would be almost a rolling pull.

Game 1: 4 3 3 1 3 4 4 2 2 1 3
Game 2: 1 1 4 3 3 3 3 1 5 2 3 1 1

Game 1: 4 3 3 10 6 1 2 2 5 1 4 4
Game 2: 7 2 0.5 1.5 1 0.5 4 4 2 4 6 0.5 1

Game 1: 3 3 4 6 6 3 7
Game 2: 1.5 7 2 5 4 7

Game 1: 1 2 2 5 2 1 1
Game 2: 1 3 3

So, here's what I ended up seeing:
1. For a self-proclaimed pull-shooter, I shot very few pulls.  And I rarely sat on the ball after set-up.
2. I did take my time with passing, but perhaps didn't use that time very well.  I think I might have been just moving the ball for the sake of moving the ball.

Jerky D: How do we differentiate between jerky D and a shaking D? I'm asking honestly.  I do shake to cover more ground.

5-bar passing (extra movement): extra movement like a fast jerky hover?  I think for the brush, I need to slow down the toss too.  Will try taking out the hover sometimes.

Anti-Hail Mary: I've heard about this countdown method when frustrated. I never remember to do it tho.  Will keep it in mind.

Reading the defense: "remember, that wasn't working too well anyway"  Yes... because I really don't know what to look for when reading.  Need a few examples of what to read and what to do with what I see.

Shoot the short middle: I watched the video again, and I see exactly where you're saying.  I think squaring up a 2/5 pull or a 4/5 pull could work.  Thanks for pointing it out.

Blocking his 5-bar: I think I had more success in some unfilmed doubles, where I blocked his 5 with my left hand. Not sure why. Maybe I should stay in the forward position when defending his pass in singles. Bad idea?



Quick points: Yes. Unfortunately, it's a style of game I play. If I'm feeling good, it works well. But on tired days like that one, it ends up with misfires.  I do that in tournaments too... when the game is on the line, I might end up doing dinks, quick push kicks, etc. You're absolutely right. It's something I identified in the past, and told my doubles partner to remind me to go for the kill on the game's on the line.  I've strayed from that.

Flinching when he shot: A good point. There were a few times when I reacted to his movement, which is why I hate blocking pulls. I have much less problems with snakes, because unless the guy walks a lot, I don't pay much attention to what he's doing or his rocking. I'll work on developing nerves of steal.  When you guys defend pulls, do you flinch?  I mean, is it common practice to train oneself to not flinch?

Self-discipline: Yes, this player has had success here because of his discipline and sturdiness. I beat him 30% of the time, but if I were a betting man, I would definitely still bet on him because of his calmer, stable style. Something I should work on myself.


But here's something I'm having trouble with:
For both passing and shooting, if I see a hole, I can hit where that hole was/is.  If I brush pass, I can brush up or down based on the hole that I see at the time of execution. But for someone who has a fast defense or more confusing D, I get lost because holes are there for a lot shorter period of time - which is what a good D should do, I guess.  So, my execution is based on the current situation, and not really from reading something before.

A specific question. What are a few things (opponent's tendencies) I can watch for when I am setting up my pull?
- Whether he covers the rolling pull (and how much of it)
- Whether he covers in front (rolling straight) of the ball as I'm setting up

Thanks everyone.   Seriously!


Offline PatRyan

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Re: Break me down. Pick me apart.
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2011, 02:17:47 PM »
Also, If you want to continue to utilize your pushkick series AND your pullshot, try the following:

(I know I am repeating myself here) Slow Down.  When you go to set up your pull shot, start with setting the ball up in the pushkick position, and take a quick read of the defense, if you don't see anything you like, then toss the ball over to the pullshot setup.  Do this everytime you want to set the ball up in the pullshot position (even if you have no intention of shooting the puchkick.  You should do this so that the defender is used to seeing the ball start in the pushkick position before the pullshot setup.  What this might accomplish (especially when no pushkick is executed for the better part of a match), is complacency during your setup, on the part of the defender.  This slow monotonous setup procedure will make him BORED, and possibly lose focus, which you will notice during the setup of the pushkick and subsequent quick read of the "D".  Then is the right time for the pushkick. 

As for reading the defense and shooting.  You say you can execute to where you saw the hole "was".  but upon execution, the hole was gone.  Ooops.  As you noted, that is good defense, for the way you were reading the "D".  Try reading the "D" this way next time:  read the defense normally, note where the defenders are when you start your execution.  When you get blocked, note which player figure made the block.  Next time, look for the SAME hole in the defense, only this time, when you see the hole...wait for it...shoot directly at the man who made the block last time, you know the man who you expect to MOVE and block  the open hole you see.  So essentially, instead of shooting "at the hole that is there", shoot at the hole you expect to open up when you begin to execute.


Offline foozkillah

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Re: Break me down. Pick me apart.
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2011, 11:56:44 AM »
Flinching when he shot: A good point. There were a few times when I reacted to his movement, which is why I hate blocking pulls. I have much less problems with snakes, because unless the guy walks a lot, I don't pay much attention to what he's doing or his rocking. I'll work on developing nerves of steal.  When you guys defend pulls, do you flinch?  I mean, is it common practice to train oneself to not flinch?
As common as training horses and military pack animals not to flinch or get spooked by loud noises, gun and artillery fire.  Sure some shots are extremely loud and can be very unnerving... but if you change or get spooked into freezing or otherwise screwing up your D because of reacting to a shot, then duhhhh.. you've already lost a big part of the battle. If you don't learn not to flinch and how to keep doing a D that you basically have to believe in, then why even bother with the D?) .. yes you mustn't flinch.  That was a rhetorical question, right?
Otherwise just sit on either side or in the middle waiting for the shot and just race to where they're shooting.  Flinching or abandoning a D and its philosophy at the time of the shot is pretty lame, like the comical sidekick in an action movie. Just think of it like a batter protecting the strike zone against a power pitcher in baseball, or a hockey goalie or soccer goalkeeper defending a breakaway. You better stay cool, execute and do whatever D you've been practicing. If you don't have a heavy pair of really heavy stainless steel ones down there, then grow 'em. There is no IF.

Re: Break me down. Pick me apart.
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2011, 12:12:53 PM »
Ok here i go. I am writing this as a watch to it will be in fragments.

First Game:
-You try to move way too fast in transition. More control.
-Stop shooting that push kick in matches. (I dont care how good you think you are with it)
-You need to take WAY more time on all of the rods.
-I like your D for this guy so use that all the time.
-For your zone, adjust your hads from on the rods to the handles. (you will get better control.)
-The rolling Pull on 4-3 was a HUGE mistake.
-On the 5 practice using the same toss every time, the person you are playing can tell what you are going to do just by the way you oive the ball around. If you are going to do a stick you move the ball fast. If you a brushing you slow down.
-Practice your middle on your 3 bar, you did shoot it, but it did not cut back enough.

But all in all you played ok, I woudl give you a solid B to B+ Since you are a Exp, not bad. 

Offline foozkillah

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Re: Break me down. Pick me apart.
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2011, 12:17:46 PM »
A specific question. What are a few things (opponent's tendencies) I can watch for when I am setting up my

- Whether he covers the rolling pull (and how much of it)
- Whether he covers in front (rolling straight) of the ball as I'm setting up
Cheating on covering Rolling Pulls and Quicksets
Defense A: Defender immediately goes into a smooth, practice shuffle whether you're set to fire or not.
- Ignores your back and forth and simply covers the goal area against likeliest lanes...
>>>> Yes the Rolling Pull and Quicksets are covered by this Zone D.
Defense B: Defender likes to anticipate your setup and follows your back n forth setup motion.
- Jerks to a stop if you slow the ball, ready to jump.
>>>> Slow the ball to a pull stop at long, 3/4 or middle, then shoot a hard 1.5in or less quickset pull from just past either defender. SMOKE THIS LOOZER!
Cheating on the Straight
If the opponent's pull D is a standard "claw,"(2bar feet towards the goal, goal pointing outward) with the far 2bar covering the short/middle and the goalman covering the middle/long:
Watch the foot of the near 2bar (nearest to you, the one not blocking the goal) in relation to the penalty (or larger box line) ... any time that 2bar's feet pass outside the box, the straight is open.
If the pull D is the crossover or reverse "claw," daring you to shoot square (goalfigure defends the straight):
Move the goalfigure in so there's a ball's width at the straight and remember where the wingers are.. it's easier to remember where the winger (G3 on the opponent's goalrod) nearest you is with the straight open.

Re: Break me down. Pick me apart.
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2011, 04:15:50 AM »
Thanks again for the responses.  The wife and I have been busy moving house (moving country), so I haven't been able to look at this for a few days.  I'll get back at it in about a week... much appreciated!  We have our ITSF Pro Tour event here in May, so I'll work on all the feedback I've gotten.  Although there's one very clear message: slow down.