Monday, June 24, 2002

Budweiser and Foosball

Newsgroups: Date: 2002-06-09 15:19:52 PST

I have a very cool t-shirt I got in 1977 with the T.S. rainbow logo and Schlitz logo in the middle.  Schiltz Brewing Co was once a tour sponsor for the 1977 Tournament Soccer pro tour, but it was not a financial sponsorship as most people would expect.  It was more an image sponsorship and like Budweiser explained to you, it had something to do with localized promotions done via area distributors.  Kathy Brainard at NATSA can fill you in on that one.  But Budweiser, no.

However, to the surprise of most players, there is always something being worked on by Dave and Link at Valley.  Unfortunately, due to so many other things going on (they are also responsible for pool and other product sales/promotions) and being understaffed for as much as they need to accomplish, they have not to date been able to devote the kind of time required to land the sort of sponsorship we would all hope for.  When I worked at the factory in the mid 90's, there were a few good leads, a few meetings, etc. but nothing really panned out at the time.

Foosball has always been competing with much better publicized, more spectator oriented sports, so its not so easy as everyone thinks. Still, if I owned Valley, I would have created two new full time staff positions: Publicist, and Sponsorships/Fundraising Director.  Anyway, the point is that there may or may not be sponsorships "brewing" as it were, but those working the issues never want to get people's hopes up unnecessarily.  If we're lucky, maybe someday they'll have a big announcement to make.

So, regardless of what many might argue, Dave, Link, and others that matter at Valley actually do love the game, they have devoted their lives to it, and despite being under the thumb of corporate budgetary constraints imposed by Valley as a company (which is further constrained in massive detail by its owner, Fenway Partners, Inc in New York), they are doing everything they can to help the sport's future.  Right now, its our job to give them all the support we can, and to do the same for the people of NATSA and any other organization that has taken on such a massive task.

Take care,
Larry "Euro-foosin" Davis

Friday, June 21, 2002

Front Pin 101

Newsgroups: Date: 2002-06-20 18:42:10 PST

Someone was asking about shooting an open-handed front-pin. I'm no master at the shot (I use it when I have no other choice) and it's difficult to execute on a Tornado because the table offers very little pin control unlike other (mainly Euro) tables. I'll just write what some European players have taught me.

Three things you have to be comfortable with to execute the shot well: Grip, Ball Control and open-handed strike.


Grip the rod like you are giving someone "a thumb up". Your thumb should be on top of the handle and the other four fingers are reaching down the handle. Your wrist is almost perpendicular to the handle. From that grip, you roll the handle downwards until it reaches the bottom of your palm (close to your wrist) then when you strike the ball you just lift and catch the handle like you do on a regular snake shot.

Here is a link to a video from Dieter Thiele's website that shows you the proper grip (speaking German is helpful).

Ball Control

I think this is the most important part of the shot. You need to be comfortable controlling the ball from a front-pin position to execute the shot well. Here are some things to practice:
  • Using that same grip (explained above), practice rocking the ball as wide as possible without losing the ball. You can start by using grippy balls instead of Tornado balls just to get the feel then practice with Tornado balls.
  • Walk the ball from one side of the goal to the other with your wide rocking motion.
  • From a font pin position (whithout putting too much pressure on the ball) pull and push the ball so it would move on a straight line then try pin it again while it's moving. When you move the ball make sure the man is in contact with the ball as long as possible.
Striking the ball

Before you shoot you move the ball either to the pull side or the push side (except for the straight option) with keeping the man in touch with the ball as long as possible then you strikes the ball. Make sure you have your timing right and get your man all the way behind the ball otherwise you will spray your shot. Don't put too much pressure when you initiate the shot because you don't want to tell the goalie "when" you are going to shoot. Make sure everything looks the same, to accomplish that, you need ball control. Most Belgian players I've seen use wide rocking motion that will
  • Disguises the take-off of the shot 
  • Makes moving the ball to the push side or the pull side faster with less pressure.
The push side

Typically will feel more unnatural than the other options and will spray more often. If you watch how Frederic C shoots the push side he always follow the shot with recoil to the near wall, he doesn't recoil as much when he hits the near side. Best video to watch is the latest Vegas 2002 Frederic vs. Rob Morez, Oh baby, did he shoot deep to the far corner on Rob or what.

It will need long month of practice before you see some results. During that time don't be hard on yourself and remember the table is bad for this shot. I think Tornado needs to make some adjustments to the table design before you see the front-pin become as common as pull or snake shots, I just hope they know that. Maybe someday when more players want to use the shot it will influence Tornado to support the shot.

More Front-pin multimedia
Hope that helps,