Content from rec.sport.table-soccer FAQ6 v 1.2-1.3
Guide to the Snake and Pull Shots -- (Long Instructions)
(C) 1995 Robert Uyeyama http://www.foosballheaven.com/
Permission granted to foosmanchu.com to publish in modified HTML format.
- The PULL SHOT (alias the Hammer)
A) FOR BEGINNERS: If you've never seen the pull shot, here is the
rationale: It can be shot VERY fast, fast enough to race a stationary
defense to any hole which is available. In other words, if the defense is
blocking the straight shot and any direct angle, simply move the ball around
the defenders, and shoot it straight in. When you practice the shot, you
are practicing to get the maximum speed at maximum lateral momement.
You will even practice the straight shot and a short pull to the middle of
However at the very first stages of learning the shot, the most common
mistake, like with the Snake shot, is to shoot the ball too soon in an
attempt at speed without actually completing the full lateral movement.
The speed comes from completion of the entire shot stroke as fast as
possible, not by short-cuts.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE PULL SHOT: Push your three bar all the way
to the far wall, and place the ball on the right side of the center man.
This is the starting position, or "pull setup."
From here, you pull the rod and the ball laterally toward you. As
the ball moves laterally across the playfield, the center man lifts,
accelerates, moves behind the moving ball, then shoots it straight in.
The ball's path from start to finish is roughly "L"- shaped.
If the defense is covering the straight and angle shots from the
setup-position (the left side of the goal), this L-shape must be long
enough to go around the defense men to the "far" hole (right corner of
NOTES ON BALL SETUP: The rod begins from a maximally-pushed
position. Any less than that, and you are handicapping yourself by
giving the defender less goal to defend, and a better chance to block
your shot; this is often ignored by beginners learning the shot and by
intermediates with less tournament experience. To put
the ball in this ideal starting position next to the man can be tough.
One can repeatedly nudge the ball until eventually it is set-up.
This is fine, but in regulation play you have only 15 seconds to set-up and
shoot the ball, so there is a faster method: push the ball with the
near 3-man so that it is lightly passed to the center man. As the ball
reaches the (right edge of the) center man, push the rod gently so you
slowly decelerate and "cushion" the ball to a stop at or very near to
the ideal set-up position. Make any minor adjustments as necessary.
HOW TO SHOOT: Right now when practicing the shot, simply place
the ball in the correct starting position by hand, and don't bother
wasting your practice time setting the ball up; concentrate on the
shooting part. Place a defending two-man directly in front of the ball
(leave the goalie rod lifted up). Always begin the shot stroke with
the center 3-man touching the ball; if you start not touching the ball,
your shot will be unpredictable (because of the small bounce upon
contact), especially later when you practice your fast and long pull
shots. Now, do the shot very very slowly in two separate motions:
- Pull the rod so that the ball moves past the defender
- Lift your man, and quickly move it behind the rolling ball, and shoot it in
Do "1)... pause... 2)" with a BIG pause for now.
Now that you get the general idea, try to do it in a single fluid
motion, so that you are lifting your man AS you pull the ball; still
keep it slow for now. You will in essence be "tracing" the rear
outline of the ball-- you begin at the ball's left side, a you pull
(never losing contact with the ball), you lift your man to trace the
rear curve of the ball, and when you reach the direct rear of the ball,
you shoot it in with a wrist flick. Remember that since the man you
set the ball in motion with is also the eventual shooter, you must
ACCELERATE and go even faster to get behind the moving ball to shoot
it! You may find that practicing with a SLOW acceleration period at the
beginning of the shot makes it MUCH easier to learn the motion.
However once learned, eliminate this slow acceleration and
execute the entire stroke quickly.
- Lift your man as you pull (described above)
- Push the rod as you shoot, so the entire stroke is like a "J", or "hook" shape
- At the end of the stroke, always shoot the ball as hard as you can
- Once you learn the motion, practice the shot fast or not at all
Eventually the entire pull shot motion should eventually be
done in the space of a quarter-second or even less! Can you
even make a "J"-stroke that fast with the rod yet?
[If you don't know how to wrist-flick (shoot hard): You should
have a fairly good wrist-flick to do this shot. In other words, you
should be able to hit a stationary ball hard with your man. If you
can't do this yet, practice this: hold the handle with your right
hand, then ignore your hand, but don't let go. Just think about your
wrist. Try to "throw" it as hard as you can in the down direction
toward the floor past the handle; your wrist doesn't hit the floor
because obviously it is attached to your arm and hand. Since your hand
is tightly holding the handle, the motion will stop abruptly just as
you lock your wrist joint. This is the wrist flick. Practice this
motion fast and hard, and you will notice that the men on the rod will
hit any ball quite hard. Remember to stand a little to your left, away
from the rod, to give your arm and wrist good leverage. Even if it
doesn't seem to help, keep practicing, and you will soon get it by
Practicing a LONGER SHOT: Now we'll practice pulling the ball
farther laterally (horizontally). In the exercise above, you hit the
pull shot by going around a defender sitting directly in front of the
ball's set-up. This time bring (pull the 2-rod toward your right) the
defender toward you an inch or so. Practice pulling and shooting
around this position consistently; your lateral motion must be longer.
Once this is easy, move the defender farther out. Eventually, put the
defender in the center of the table, and practice pulling around it.
Advice on this "longer" shot: Although the shot is one fluid
motion, it still contains two components; remember not to shoot the
ball until it you have pulled it past the defender you have set up.
This seems obvious, but it often is a problem when practicing speed on
a long shot. Try tracing the shot stroke without the ball at the
desired speed. Also try choosing the point on the playing field where
you will shoot the ball from-- then keep your eyes on this point and
execute your pull, shooting only when the ball reaches this point.
In other words, keep your eyes on the playing field, not on
the ball nor on the defense (for practice).
"Final advice": The following advice on the pull is very,
very important: At the point when you shoot the ball, the ball should
be slightly behind the rod. Why? If the ball is slightly forward, the
shot tends to angle outwards and hit the wall to the right of the goal.
Having the ball slightly towards the back helps the ball shoot straight
in (by keeping the "angle" in the L-shape 90 degrees or less-- this is
known as "squaring off" your shot as opposed to "spraying" it).
B) FOR INTERMEDIATES: The intermediate pull shot section will be
divided into three parts:
- Mechanics of the pull shot
- Practicing the pull shot
- Options against a live defender
1) MEHCANICS OF THE PULL SHOT
General Advice: Again,
practice everything in a) smoothly and FAST. Remember especially to
have the ball slightly in back of the rod when you shoot. Also remember
to have a shot that the opponent can't predict when it is coming; hence
don't give it away with a slow accleration period at the beginning of
your pull, and don't give it away by always shooting it after a
consistent amount of time has elapsed after you've setup the ball (i.e.
don't do: setup, one, two, shoot... "a 2-second pull"). Always begin
the pull motion as fast as possible, and always practice developing a
faster pull-shot motion, sometimes by tracing your shot stroke without
Other things you can do: Use your third and fourth fingers mainly
when you wrist flick to shoot the ball. Also, you can experiment with
the starting position (backwards or forwards) of the ball; just
remember if you start it forward to "lift" the ball (by lifting your
man) backwards as you pull it so that it is in a slightly
behind-the-rod position when you shoot it.
On standing: Your stance can matter: try standing with
your weight on either leg, and try facing your body to the right or
diagonally between your opponent and your right. Remember to stand to
your left slightly so that the 5-bar is near the middle of your body so
that your arm has the correct leverage; ask your defenseman to step
back and push his rods out of the way if necessary. Vary your
shoulder's distance from the table. Your goal is to find the optimum
way of standing and holding the rod so that your "recoil" for your long
pull is smooth.
Recoil, the most important thing: What is "recoil", and
why is it so important? The idea is to train your arm motion to be the
smoothest and fastest "whip"-motion, like the end of the "J". The reason is
to improve your accuracy by squaring your shot off when you shoot a
very long pull as fast as you can. This is what happens to the
foosball table: as you shoot the ball after pulling it, the rod is
PUSHED so that your center man ends up near the center dot at the end
of your motion.
How to develop recoil: Your entire arm should feel like a
whip and the "crack" of the whip (at your elbow and wrist) coincides
with the shooting of the ball. This means you begin the reversal of the
whip-motion before you shoot, i.e. as you are pulling. You can think
of this motion as a shoulder & elbow PUSH which you begin as soon as your
wrist begins the PULL motion. This push motion will travel down your
arm like a whip and reach your wrist, which will then also begin moving
in the push direction. This is when you should shoot the ball; this is
also the "cracking of the whip." Learn to time the entire shot motion
so that the ball and man are in the correct position to shoot your long
shot just as your wrist snaps the recoil. Thinking of violently
"throwing" your elbow in the push direction as you simultaneously pull
with your wrist may help-- other players think of lifting the elbow
outwards so that it has leverage to snap the arm forward, somewhat like
a karate punch.
The other important part of recoil is body positioning. You must
be standing so that your arm is free to snap back and forth smoothly.
Hold the 3-rod handle and try the recoiling whip-motion back and forth
repeatedly, without a ball and not even pretending to shoot. The
motion should not be awkward and should be very fluid even if you
continue to whip back and forth. Find a good stance so that your arm
is free to do this. You can experiment with standing lower, or more to
your left, and make sure your right shoulder is not too close to the
2) PRACTICING THE PULL SHOT
A list of exercises:
Concentrate on shooting three primary pull options flawlessly. (If
you think you're flawless, try shooting as many of that option as you can in
1 minute and see how you do under the strain. Can you get in a groove? Can
you do 10 out of 10?) The three options are: long, middle, and straight.
Even straight is important, otherwise a smart defender will leave straight
slightly open and bait you long, where you may want to shoot since it's may
seem more impressive to you. The defender is cheating and you'll be left
wondering how they blocked your long and middle. Don't fall for it. Have a
kickass straight, and after you hit it a few times, your long or middle will
be wide open next time.
- STRAIGHT SHOT PRACTICE:
You can learn when the straight shot is just a few millimeters open... some
defenders won't even think it's open! You may not, unless you read this: Set
up for a perfect pull by pushing your rod all the way to the far wall. Lift the
defending goalie. Set the defending two-bar as follows: ignore the far 2-man
by your setup for now, and place the near 2-man so that its near edge is flush
with the near edge of the white painted goal line which leads into the goal.
FAR <-------------------------------------------------------> NEAR
Now pull the 2-rod a little bit nearer so that the near edge of the near 2-man is
just past the outside edge of the goal line by 1/8 of an inch. The straight shot is
open. Try it, and shoot slowly and very carefully if you need to. Now adjust the
2-man so it is 1/2 inch beyond the outside of the white line. This shot is
****wide**** open. Now you know. Even 1/4 inch is wide open. Practice
diligently at 1/8 or 1/4 of an inch past the line. You may need to sweep with
a push recoil on your shot to avoid spraying it into the far 2-man. Can you hit
10 out of 10 at 1/4 inch? 1/8 inch? Of course, during a real game, now you
must have a perfect pull setup to take advantage of this fraction of an inch!
- LONG SHOT PRACTICE:
Yes, the pull-shot can be done deadman. (or on a non-Tornado, a one-finger
pull should be possible). For this set of exercises, lift the goalie
rod and ignore it. Begin by positioning the far defending 2-man
(i.e. the one on your left) at the center dot, and see how
consistently you can shoot your pull around this defender (i.e. your
shot should be going between the two men on the 2-rod). Once you
begin to hit 4 out of 5 shots fast and into the goal, pull the
defending 2-rod toward you by a finger width or so and try again. This
will probably be a three finger-widths (3 FW) shot. (This means the
distance from the wall to the 2-rod's bumper on your right is about
three finger widths). Practice again until you can accurately shoot 4
out of 5 shots. Then continue progressing to smaller and smaller FW.
Once you get to 2 FW, progressive by 1/2 FW increments. A fast 2 FW
shot is a fairly good shot, and a 1 FW shot is a very good shot, but
continue practicing, all the way up to deadbar (i.e. 0 FW; the
defending 2-rod is up against the wall; the bumper is touching the
wall; the man is "dead" since it can move no farther).
If you don't believe a deadbar pull can be done: Try this
exercise, which is done slowly: Set the pull setup with the ball
slightly forward. Lift the man against the ball as you pull SLOWLY,
causing the ball to roll laterally at a slight backwards angle;
eventually the ball will roll to be slightly in back of the rod. As
the ball is rolling, lift the man and pull the rod (almost) completely
to the wall. Wait for the ball to reach you. As the ball reaches you
(or on a Tornado reaches the point between the 1st and 2nd dots), shoot
the ball hard as you PUSH the rod-- hence you're brushing the ball in
the push direction with the front surface of your toe as you shoot.
Remember the the ball must be FAR back when you shoot, almost so far
you can back-pin it. Doing this fast is much harder, but this should
help give you a clue how to do it; to shooting it fast, hitting the ball
at the extreme point, and the push-recoil and the backwards ball
position are essential, as is shooting the ball accurately between the
first and second dots.
If you are up to practicing your 1 fingerwidth to deadbar shot, and
working on speed try this method, which is a modified version of an exercise
described by Todd Loffredo. You can setup a 1 FW defense with the 2-bar if
you want. Then place the ball between the first and second near dots on your
3-rod. You will practice shooting the ball in without actually pulling the ball.
Set the rod up for a normal pull except tilt the men back up so that your near
3-man doesn't disturb the ball you just placed by the first two dots. Have a
very loose grip concentrating on your fourth and fifth fingers. Now pull the rod
as fast as you can and snap the ball in as hard as you can, again concentrating
on the fourth and fifth fingers only. Don't worry about recoil, and just hit it
as hard as you can straight in. See how many you can hit in in 30 seconds.
Can you shoot 10 out of 10? Now try the same motion with a regular setup
where you start with the ball on your far 3-man, and use the same loose grip,
extra-fast pull, and hard snap between the 1st and 2nd dots.
- PRACTICING YOUR MIDDLE SHOT
Try the same motion from the last paragraph from "practicing your
long shot." Think of your arm and fist, and pull in and push out like a punch in
one motion as fast as you can. In other words, as soon as you've started to think
of moving the ball, you should already begin your hit/push-recoil. This shot
should be absolutely unraceable. Practice going around the 2-man but threading
the shot so that it doesn't spray into the nearby goalie man; set up a tight shot
corridor that you can hit a straight through, and practice it diligently with your
middle pull. Remember that your push-recoil is the most important here...
concentrate on the push-ending rather than the pull-beginning. Continue until you
are 10 out of 10, or can do a decent number in a 60-second "shoot as many as
you can" groove test.
- PRACTICING FOR REAL TOURNAMENT PLAY
You must be proficient at all three options. If you can hit any hole
reliably, you will keep the defense guessing. If you burn a long, the straight may
be open the next time around, or vice-versa, as they try to protect the shot you
just hit. Conversely, if your previous shot looks good again (wait a full 10 seconds
to be sure) and the defense just isn't learning, shoot the same shot over and over,
even if it's the straight. Be careful about giving away your shot by tensing your
arm or your shoulder, or dropping your elbow. Also be careful about shooting after
a predictable amount of time has elapsed, for example 3 seconds: setup wait 3 shoot;
setup wait 3 shoot; setup wait 3 shoot. If this happens the defense can open a hole
wait almost 3, and close it, and your fastest shot is blocked by the defense's brains.
Be smart, and vary the time between your setup and shot execution. Use your full
10-15 seconds often to get a good look at the moving defense; otherwise you may
be falling into for a defensive timing bait. Sometimes shoot just after or during
3) OPTIONS FOR THE PULL SHOT
In general you should be able to race a
moving defense, and especially a set-defense, to the far post. If the
defender begins on the far post, the split (center) or straight shot
should be open. If you can't race them to these holes, you should
practice your shot speed, rather than relying on tricking your opponent
with too many "shot options".
Your main options will be the hairline-accurate straight shot or the
very-long shot, so continue practicing your long-pull until you can
reliably hit the dead-man pull, or more realistically for non-pros, a
one-finger pull. Practicing the straight shot so that you are
confident in shooting it every time the hole opens by even 1/8 of an inch of
the near 2 man past the outside of the white goal line (see above, PRACTICING
THE STRAIGHT SHOT).
These other options are for those times you have a "slow" day, or encounter
a defense which can usually stop you for some reason, or for variety on
non-tournament nights, or a tricky option to show off. The options described
will be: brush-split, the dead-man "straight," and various fakes. Remember
these are mostly tricks and not the essentials needed for tournament wins.
BRUSH-SPLIT (SLICE): This shot is an angle shot used especially
when the defender uses his far 2-man (the one farthest from the ball's
setup) to guard "long" and the goalie to guard "short". The angle shot
between the two men are open. Instead of chipping a sharp angle shot,
which tends to be inaccurate at high speeds, you will brush-down
(pull-brush) the back of the ball with the front of your man's toe.
The resulting spin will angle the ball correctly, your control of the
shot will be great with practice, and to the opponent the brush
movement looks misleadingly like a genuine attempt at a pull. You can
vary the aim of your angle, but in general you can aim somewhere near
the far post by aiming at the receding edge of the moving two-man who
is guarding long. This is also called a "slice".
If you don't know what a "brush-down" is: The idea is that you put
spin on the ball which causes it to roll at an angle. The spin is
created by scraping the back of the ball gently but _as fast as you can_
with the front of your man's toe. An _extremely_ subtle wrist flick
will help improve velocity as well as the severity of the angle.
FAKES AND VARIATIONS: If your pull isn't fast enough to beat the
defense try fakes now, and practice a faster shot later. A "lift" fake
is when you suddenly lift the man, not touching the ball, hoping for
the defense to flinch, opening the straight shot. A "roll" fake is when
you lift the man and brush the ball slightly backwards (but not very
far laterally), hoping for the defense to flinch from the straight
shot; the "roll" fake is often effective if the defense has seen too
man lift-fakes and is simply waiting for the ball to move :). A far-man
fake is like a lift fake except you lift the man and pull the rod all
the way, not touching the ball, and shooting the straight shot in with
the far man. Also, you can do a lift fake then immediately do your real
far-post pull shot as the defender is recovering from flinching; this
is often very effective when the defender is successfully racing you to
the far post. The next fake-variation is most satisfying at the end of
this series: First do a fast far-post pull and "burn" the defense
(i.e. race them successfully). Now, since the defense is expecting a
fast, long pull, for your next shot do the far-man fake, and shoot the
straight shot in with the far man as they flinch. Now, they will be on
guard for this far-man fake, so do this: lift your center man and pull
the rod as if attempting another far-man fake; the defense will not
flinch from the straight shot. But as the far-man approaches the ball,
instead of shooting the straight shot, kick-pass it laterally to the
center man, who is waiting to shoot it into the far post.
DEADMAN STRAIGHT SHOT: This is for when the defense is using the
near 2-man (from your perspective; on your right) to guard
the short pull instead of the other 2-man. For practice, simply have
the defense pull its 2-rod to the wall (push to your left from your
point of view). You will find that hitting the straight shot is barely
impossible from the pull setup. If only you could move the ball a
little to the left! Here's how to do it: Very gently but quickly
PUSH-brush the back edge of the ball, then immediately PULL-brush as
you shoot. This will cause the ball to move slightly to the left,
clearing the dead man, then angle in toward the near post of the goal.
Other pull setup variations include: 1) pull the ball, but don't
shoot it. Instead pass it from the near three-man back to the center
man, who shoots it straight in from the original starting position. 2)
pull the ball, go around to its right side and execute a push shot. 3)
shoot a bank shot from the pull set-up position. 4) shoot an unexpected
pull to the far post while apparently cushioning your ball to the pull
PULL SHOT PSYCHOLOGY: Just consider what the defense is thinking,
and shoot appropriately. If they are insistent on an ineffective
race-defense, stick with your long shot. If you have just hit a split
shot to the middle, they may be more cautious next time about the
middle, leaving the long or straight open again. And above all don't
underestimate the straight shot, for it will be there more often than you
think, especially if you have practiced the 1/8 inch straight.
Also, don't let the defense out-think you. If you are suddenly being blocked
consistently, examine yourself. Are you ignoring the straight? Are you
shooting a pull 3-seconds after your setup every time? Are you giving away
your shot motion by your shoulder dropping? Remember to use your full 15 seconds...
SUMMARY: To begin getting a good competitive "tournament" shot,
simply master the FAST far post pull and the straight shot, and later, the split
shot.. The brush-split (slice) is also moderately important. The roll
fake may also come in handy for a point at the most. The other
variations and fakes are only if your pull shot isn't performing, or
you just wish to show off.