June 14

Front Pin Shot Tips

Rocky, I will have to ask you for some advice about shooting the front pin sometime as I have taught myself an open hand front pin. O.K. I’ll offer the best info I can.

I have largely given up shooting pulls and rollovers even though I suck with the front pin, because it’s more fun to shoot and play with. As I don’t practice those shots anymore they suck for me now.

I always liked the front pin because it was not as boring to shoot as the set shots. It brings the game to a level of deception rather than just speed & power. Unfortunately, a good goalie can counter this advantage by disassociating themselves from what you are doing with the ball and playing somewhat of a random defense. When someone plays this way, you need the speed & power shots to hit the open holes quickly.

Some of the better players can somehow avoid being juked by the moves and at the same time race you to the open holes. I have the worst problems with these players.

I initially learned the more natural pull side. Could hit it very quickly and long, fairly consistent, but had not options. Learned a straight (not flipover, still with backswing). Then after a long time, learned the motion for push side and practiced almost exclusively that to really get it down. Now I hit the push more consistently than the pull, which often either doesn’t move enough laterally, or mishits and sprays wide. WTF is that all about. I remember going through this learning the rollover, where I learned the push and started losing the pull…

Sometimes when you practice one option the other goes away somewhat. This can be for a number of reasons.
(1) Sometimes the one option is much like the other option. For instance when I practice the cut-back split, it is much like the long option on the front pin series and I soon find myself shooting cut-backs when I am trying to shoot longs. I DON’T THINK THIS IS THE CASE IN THE SENARIO you mention. The front-pin pull and front-pin push are totally separate strokes so this is unlikely.
(2) Sometimes when you practice one shot exclusively and tediously, you will fatigue your arm or make certain muscles sore, which with throw off your original option. This may be the case here, but more likely is:
(3) When you start shooting another option you slightly change your grip or stance, so that a new one feels more natural to you and when you start shooting the old option (in your case the front-pin pull) you are trying to shoot it with a new stance or grip. This naturally changes the delivery of your shot.

Under any circumstances, the remedy to the condition is to practice shooting both options alternatively so you can hit them both at the same time. I have had to do this because I have experienced the same problems you eluded to.

The bad thing is that there’s really no players here to learn anything about the front pin. So even if I have the mechanics of the shot, no insight in terms of how to best utilize the shot, the best looks and fakes to put on when walking the ball etc. which is all the cool stuff really about doing a pin anyway, the versatility and different possible looks. Otherwise its a slightly less powerful and equally boring version of the rollover. There is one guy here, Jim B, an old timey player with some skills who shoots a pin, but his series is very asymnetric with all the power and speed being to the pull side. I don’t like that kind of series much, might as well shoot a pull to my way of looking at it.

What’s the best way to learn about this shot? Watch a bunch of Frederico tape? Live in a French speaking country for 5 years? Move to Norfolk, VA or North Carolina?

— Steve Shiue,
Average Bar Player
San Diego, CA

I would say that your best bet is to watch Fredrico’s moves. I was surprised that my moves–developed without much help from europeans–are nearly identical to his. The mechanics are the same. I think his edge is that he plays against a lot more defenses than I do, and plays more seriously than I do. He can better choose which moves to use in a particular situation. He also seems to have a slightly better variety than I do.

Unfortunately, I play against far too many average Joe players and not nearly enough top players to develop my shot effectively. Hope what I’ve posted here helps.

Good luck with the shot, Steve.

— Rocky Willson

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