June 24

Airball Shots

Bruce Nardoci wrote:

We also had some other games like “aerial assault” (nothing but air-ball shots allowed, from any bar), and “meatball” (which later came to be known as “oneball” on Tornado tables).


Thor Hoberg-Petersen wrote:

Bruce,
when you were playing aerial assault, which shot did you make? In particular, what shots can you do with the five bar. Were you allowed to hit the surface (to get a bounce).

Just curious,
thor


Actually, we played it various ways – just goofing around, never had a tournament on it. The rules usually were if you did a “real” airball – i.e., one that you could legally do in a game (and made it of course), you got a point. However, you were also allowed to do illegal air balls, but a made one was only worth a 1/2 point. BTW, the opponent was only allowed to “defend” any air ball shot using his 2 bar and goalie rods.

Legal Airballs:

Just like the method you do for the common real airball shot (on French style tables like Bonzini & Rene Pierre) of shooting/knocking it backwards into your own back WALL (on the ramp section) with top spin from the 2 bar (the ramp and top spin causes it to bounce off the wall into the air, similar to using “english” on a shot in pool); you can also do air balls shots by knocking it off a MAN hanging down behind you with the same motion (For you Tornado players, the French table men are made of aluminum and not balanced, so they hang down unless someone is holding them up). That last maneuver works from any rod to any man (yours or your opponents), making it possible to do an airball shot from the 5 bar or anywhere else, not just the 2 bar.

My favorite, which I sometimes use in singles when I have a big lead, is from the middle man on the 3 bar off one of your opponents 5 bar men (whichever is closest to the middle of the table) – since he has to defend against potential other shots normally by putting both hands on the goalie and 2 bars, his 5 bar man has to hang down unattended. A friend of mine got good at using the far man on the 3 bar to knock it off the far man on his own 5 bar (squeezing the 5 bar into the wall so the far man’s foot would automatically cut the ball when it went in the air at an angle towards the goal rather than straight into the end wall). Other ones were from the 5 bar off the back wall, etc. We even tried some airball banks by knocking it backwards from the 2 bar off the back wall at near the side wall at a sharp angle so that they’d rebound (bank) off the side wall on their way up.

A couple more elaborate ones I tried once in a while was to shoot the ball (with top spin) from the far man on my 2 bar forward to the front end (not my back) wall, having it bounce back in the air to my 2 rod, and when it gets there knock it towards the goal (either in the air or on the floor, depending on how high it was when it flew back to the 2 bar). The other one was similar, except I shot it into the forward wall from my 3 rod so that it’d rebound (in the air) back to my 5 or 2 rod, where I’d use my left hand on the 2 or 5 bar to try to knock it in the goal. Never actually made either of those shots, but came close a few times.

Another way of doing the airball shot was to knock it back with your 2 bar into the back wall, and as it rebounded off the wall slightly in the air put your 2 bar man in the way so it’d pop up off the man and land on TOP of the goalie bar (which on Rene Pierre/Bonzini tables is only about a 1/2 balls width from the wall, so the ball easily will sit on top of it). That was the difficult part of this shot. Then you simply moved the goalie rod so the ball rolls towards the goal opening, and just as it gets there put the goalie man about horizontal to catch it (laying on the back of the man) from falling into the goal. Then, with the ball laying on the man, just maneuver the man to wherever you want to shoot from in the goal hole area and flip it forwards, throwing the ball in the air to the other goal.

We also attempted some other ways of getting the ball airborne, such as jamming/pinching the ball between the man and the wall and slapping the end of your handle into the wall; “walking” it up the side of the wall trapped between the side of the foot and the wall to where you could get the foot under it; or squeezing/pinching the ball between the tip of the foot and the floor so that it’d pop up a little as the pinning slipped off enabling you to hit the ball airborne like a drop kick. However, these were rarely successful in getting airborne, much less making them.

Illegal Airballs:

These were things like setting the ball on the floor in front of a man, and slapping the floor with the palm of your hand causing the ball to rebound up in the air a little, where you could do a normal swing to “kick” it in the air. We’d also do stuff like laying it (by hand) on the front ankle portion of the man’s legs, holding the man somewhat horizontal. From there you had 3 main options:

  1. just using a normal shot motion to flip the ball in the air,
  2. doing a “drop kick” by dropping it on the floor and then as it bounced off the floor hitting it with the normal shot swing, and
  3. (my favorite) flipping the man UP so the ball would be lobbed above the man’s head, and then swinging the man backwards so the foot would come around (360 degrees) and hit that ball forward over the mans head.
  4. I’m sure there were others, but its been so long since I’ve messed with anything but the basic airball shots I’m sure I’m forgetting some. Frankly, remembering it now, we must’ve been an insane bunch of foosers to even come up with some of this stuff :-).

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