Time for some honest truth: you’re not as good at Skeeball as you think you are. There’s no shame in that — few people are. Everyone is incredibly confident in their skill, having honed their skeeball skills over decades, but as soon as they step up to the ramp, that all falls away as those merciless balls ricochet down to the 10 point hole. There is hope, however. We at Replay Lincoln Park are looking out for you, so we’ve compiled a few Skeeball tips and tricks so that you don’t horribly embarrass yourself next time you decide to throw the gauntlet down and challenge your friends.
Replay Lincoln Park’s Skeeball Tips and Tricks
#1: Aim High
A common rookie mistake is to aim for the easy targets and try to build a score in a low-risk, low reward way. Pros know that this is somewhat of a fallacy. The first of many Skeeball tips that we gleaned from them was to think of that middle row as if it’s that carnival game where you throw a ring at a big group of empty bottles — meaning that just because there are a lot of targets doesn’t mean they’re easy to hit.
All this is to say, if your aim is a little bit off while aiming for the middle row, your ball will likely ricochet off of the plastic boundaries and sadly roll down to the 10 point hole. Aim for the high-value targets at the top left or right of the board — the points that they offer mean that even if you only sink one shot, you’re still likely to beat your friend given the amount of points that one shot ends up being worth.
#2: Get Low
This one might seem a bit odd, but this Skeeball tip actually comes from somebody that makes a living going to arcades to play the game, winning prizes and selling them (they’re called advantage gamers — we’ll probably tell you a lot more about them in a week or so), so you know it’s legit. Though he remained anonymous, he did host a reddit AMA where he gave away a few Skeeball tips, and this was his first: get low down to the machine.
Whether that means leaning over very far, or literally playing from your knees (yes, this is a real strategy that real Skeeball players use) the key is to have your eye level relatively close to the point at which you’ll end up releasing your ball. The thinking behind this Skeeball tip is that since you are rolling your ball with an upward trajectory, having your eye level lower will help with your aim and allow you to more accurately judge your vector of attack. It’s up to you whether the added aim is worth your friends laughing at you for playing from your knees.
#3: Spin to Win
It’s a trap to think of Skeeball as a bowling game, as counter-intuitive as it might seem, and this is why. One of the anonymous pro’s most key Skeeball tips requires you to divorce the Skeeball-rolling motion from the standard bowling-ball-rolling motion you may be used to.
The key, he says, is to let the ball “roll off the tip of your fingers”, applying forward spin to the ball. This means that if you misjudge your power and end up hitting the front lip of the hole you’re aiming for, your ball should bounce or roll up into the hole anyway. It’s kind of like a failsafe.
#4: Master the Bank Shot
This one will take practice, but so does anything worth doing well — like playing the guitar, running a 5k, or drinking shots of Malort without grimacing. There is a relatively fool-proof Skeeball tip that will help you sink that top left or right hole every time, and it’s fairly simple.
All you have to do is bank the ball off of the opposite side of the lane, and ideally into the hole on the ricochet. You likely won’t sink it on your first handful of tries, but at this point, the goal should be to find the lane’s “sweet spot”, the point you need to aim to hit that will cause the ball to ricochet into the hole. Once you’ve found that point, your shots will become infinitely more consistent. The pro says that the most important Skeeball tip he can offer is to build muscle memory, and having this focal point is the first step to establishing that consistent motion.
Now that you have an arsenal full of professionally-approved Skeeball tips at your disposal, it’s time to put them to the test. Chicago’s SKEE League is the city’s premier group for competitive Skeeball play, and they have year-round leagues at multiple locations around the city. If you’re looking a bit closer to home, however, we host weekly Skeeball tournaments every Thursday right here at Replay Lincoln Park where you can show off your newly minted skills for awesome prizes. It’d be a shame to let your talents go to waste, right?
Oh, and speaking of The SKEE League and Replay Lincoln Park, we’ve teamed up to put on a multi-day, winner-take-all Skeeball event on June 27th and June 29th from 7 to 9 pm, so that you can test your mettle against real Skee-ballers. You won’t want to miss this, so come visit and we’ll get rolling.