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The following article was originally posted on the news group and is re-printed here with the permission of the author, Robert Uyeyama

Guide to Passing


Chapter 1 - 5-3 bar passing, advice for beginners

Chapter 2 - 5-3 bar passing, guide to brush-passing

Chapter 3 - 2-3 bar and 2-5 bar passing, preliminary guide



The reason for this file's existence is its Chapter II, describing brush-passing. You do not need to read Chapter I to learn the brush pass described in the second chapter. My recommendation is to simply ignore (or skim through) Chapter I, which has some basic concepts and a few tricks. The brush-pass, however, is a very important technique for competitive play, so freely skip to the second chapter and go to the first Chapter only for an occassional quick-to-learn trick. Chapter III on 2-5 and 2-3 passing is only intended as a very general guideline.

Regarding table brands, the brush-pass can be adapted to most types of tables, although this file was written with the hard surfaces and toe-shapes of the Tornado table in mind. If your table (for example a Dynamo) is much "stickier", you may find that the brush-pass attempt simply ends up in a pinned ball. In this case adapt the technique, starting the ball not quite so far back, and it should work fairly well. With the Tournament Soccer and similar tables (e.g. Premier Soccer), the men's toes stand further from the playing field, so again, the answer is to move the ball slightly forward (from the recommended near-back-pin distance). Among almost all types of tables, the strategy of being able to shoot a quick wall _or_ lane pass from the _same_ position (and having the skill to catch such a fast pass) is universal. Note that the alternative stick-pass series is not described here, and probably will be included in a later version of this file.

I. 5-3 bar passing, advice for beginners

At first, when seeing players much better than yourself for the first time, it seems most tempting to concentrate on learning their seemingly awesome shots, and how to defend against them. However, eventually even this sort of knowledge will be insufficient, especially in any level of competitive play; for even if you possess an unstoppable three bar shot and your opponent a medicore shot, but if you cannot get the ball from the five bar to your three bar, and your opponent can, you will lose the majority of games. Of course, without ball control and a fairly high-percentage (i.e. "good") shot on the three bar, passing it here will do little good. So once you've developed enough ball control to set the ball where you want on the three bar, and once you've learned a pretty good shot, you should cease most shooting from the five bar and concentrate on getting the ball to your high-percentage scorer, the three-bar.

The easiest pass, especially for use against other beginner opponents, is the "wall-pass." This pass can be done either on the near or far wall. The near wall description follows: Pull your three bar all the way to the wall, and DO NOT move it off of the wall: the ball will be travelling near the wall to the three bar, and if your three bar comes even a hair off of the wall, the ball may roll past you between your near man and the wall-- remember the bumper on the wall prevents your man from actually being in contact with the wall, so that "on the wall" actually means almost a full ball-length away from the wall!

To facilitate catching a fast pass, angle your three bar forward, about at the angle at which you would be able to front-pin an imaginary ball, i.e. head backwards, toes forward. This way the man absorbs more of the impact of a fast moving ball, instead of causing the ideally fast pass to simply ricochet out of reach, probably to your opponent's five-bar region.

Note: (For a more advanced catching technique, see part II "Guide to Brush Passing", which explains a wrist flick that is done with the catching bar at the same time as the pass, so that the maximum extension of the men is at the forward angle I have just described in the previous paragraph.)

To pass a wall pass, position the ball an inch or two away from the wall along the five bar (but don't put the ball ON the wall, since your man is _not_ on the wall), and "shoot" it straight and hard to pass to the near man on your three bar. Note a few points: 1) this pass, if done correctly, deposits the ball squeezed in the space between the near man on the 3-bar and the wall; 2) but even if passed directly onto the man's toe, the pass is easily caught; 3) However, if passed into the space described in 1), it is possible to EASILY catch a pass that is as fast as your fastest five-bar shot! (although such a high-velocity pass may also be caught, with more practice, directly on the toe of the man); 4) also note that this "wall" pass can be done with the ball's starting position even up to and past a full ball-length away from the wall; 5) Note: with most beginner level opponents you can wait until they flinch away from the wall, and if you can do the fast version of the pass, you can pass it through that fraction-of-a-second flinch. 7) Note than in a fast-paced game, you will eventually be able to immediately do a wall pass when you catch the ball on your five bar, e.g. when your five-bar blocks a two-bar shot. (However in competitive play, all tournament level opponents would easily intercept such an on-the-fly wall pass.)

Two more things to think about: 1) You DEFINITELY SHOULD start now to make it a habit to keep your three bar in the front-angled position at all times, always ready to catch a moving ball, esp. from an on-the-fly wall pass. 2) If your opponent learns to cover the wall pass,your five-bar angle shot may be open, and if so, you can shoot, or even try to pass through that hole. This type of pass is called a LANE pass (i.e. passing through the space between the first and second men on the opposing five bar when it is on the wall.) This is a tournament level option here; if you can pass both a lane or a wall pass from the SAME position, and if you can pass the ball at high speed, you have a tournament-competitive pass. This option is described in the next part, II: 5-3 passing, Guide to Brush Passing. But for now, if you are only beginning, practice your ball control, your three-bar shot, and your fast wall pass.

One other beginner pass: Roll the ball down toward either wall. At the FAR END of the 2nd man's reach (i.e. the closest the 2nd man will reach toward the wall), pass the ball lightly with the 2nd man, angling it toward the wall (where your three bar resting). This angle is easy, since it is in the same direction as the ball's original direction of motion.

Rationale: Beginning opponents will tend to follow the ball, and as they also bang their rods against the wall, their 2nd man can no longer guard the ANGLE-pass you just shot OUT OF its reach; only the 1st man can guard it and he just banged into the wall as your opponent followed the motion of the ball!

TWO TRICK PASSES that are good to know, but taken by themselves are useless to depend upon... i.e. if you're going to practice a pass, skip this section and practice chapter II's brush pass instead): 1) begin with the ball (slightly to the rear of the rod), between your first an second man of the near side. In one single fluid motion, pull the rod then flick your wrist. This will result in the 2nd man passing the ball to the 1st man (a "kick" or lateral pass), which then immedietaly passes the ball along the wall; this can be done VERY fast; practice this fast or not at all. Placing the ball slightly toward the rear helps make a smaller lag time between the kick and the wall pass, and in general is a good habit in passing. 2) bounce the ball rapidly between the 1st and 2nd man. On one of the bounces, lift your man as the ball approaches the 1st man and pass it, either along the wall, or along the lane. Practice the wall pass version first, since it's similar to pass "1)". This works because with every bounce you are potentially moving the ball in position for a pass; your opponent can't react to every bounce effectively, nor can he easily tell which bounce will be the real pass. Note that you can bounce it back and forth by mostly moving the men to meet the ball, rather than bouncing the ball the full possible range between the two men; note also that this motion can be done with the ball bouncing in a range rather near the wall, or away from the wall, or both in unpredictable succession. This bouncing is the basis for the "stick-pass" series, which is not described here.

PRACTICE TIPS FOR EVERYONE: Most beginners don't know the ranges of each man's reach on the five bar, and don't know very well the _edges_ of the men's reach on the three bar. So: Lift the opposing five-bar, and just pass back and forth between your five and three, doing ALL angle passes. The straight passes are easy to learn and intuitive, but intercepting an angling ball with the five bar is the part that is the hardest and needs the practice. Most people just wake up one morning after practicing the night before and find that their brain has figured it all out!

For defending against passes, you can either angle your men forward and attempt to "swat" at the passes, so that they bounce to your three bar or back to your five bar... Or you can angle your men backwards so that you will catch any blocked passes, so that now it is your turn to pass-- you don't want your opponent to keep regaining possession of passes you have blocked! But don't angle them too far back, because you'll unknowingly be leaving the wall pass _always_ open! The general motion is an unpredictable back-forth motion done very rapidly to swat away all slow- and medium-speed passes. See the "learning-foosball" faq (#4) for more tips on 5-rod defense.


I will begin with a disclaimer. I am a rookie (i.e. beginning competitive level) player, so my knowledge of brush passing may not be entirely satisfactory to experts and pros but know the fundamentals well enough to relate the technique and the conceptual reasons behind them; if you have any suggestions or corrections, please don't hesitate to email me.

As I mentioned briefly in part I, the essence of the brush pass is that you can pass either a wall pass, or an off-the-wall pass (lane pass) from the SAME position; hence your opponent will not know _which_ pass you are attempting until too late if the pass is fast enough. The method I will describe is only the basic "near-side brush pass beginning from a 2nd-man pin." Other variations exist, but I feel this method will bring the quickest results and knowledge enough to learn the other variations (e.g. far wall, off near-wall bounce, 2nd man brush-down, etc.)

Once you feel you understand the concepts, SKIP to "HOW TO PRACTICE THE BRUSH PASS" at the end of this section; this will give the real meat of "getting better". The beginning of this chapter will discuss the intellectual how and why of the pass, as well as the practical (i.e. actual game-usable and USTSA-legal) application of it. The "how and why" section is so detailed because I have observed many people who have tried to learn the brush pass but had great difficulty because they didn't understand what each element of the technique was really doing. Once the player understands "why brush the ball", and "why place the ball so far back", and so on, it is much easier to learn the pass.

First, a commonly used hand/arm posture for the left arm is with the palm facing up under the five-bar handle, and the elbow pointing out to your left. You should lean down slightly so that your upper arm is almost directly above, and parallel to, your lower arm. These techniques provide leverage for the quick push/pull motion required to "brush" the ball and put a spin on it. Make sure that when you flick the rod with this grip that the men follow through to end up at least 45 degrees forward or even parallel-forward to the table. Although you may not be able to swing the man backwards too much, you only need to lift it back enough to just barely clear the top of the ball-- any farther and you are revealing your intentions to the opponent as well as compromising the power of your pass. Try to avoid rolling the handle along your fingers with an opened-palm when you are passing. It will feel strange at first, but keep at it.

Rules: Since passing from a stationary ball is illegal, you must set the ball in motion. Since passing IMMEDIATELY w/the same man you set the ball in motion with is also illegal (like a pull-shot-pass), you must pass it (or at least touch it) with a different man. Hence, we will set the ball in motion pull-direction with the near 2nd man of the 5-bar, and pass it with the near man:

***First position your 3-bar on the near wall; make this a constant habit. Then on your 5-bar back-pin the ball with the 2nd man from the near side, men slightly forward. Adjust the pin (tapping the ball and rocking it slightly) until it is about to slip out with increased pressure. Now roll it laterally and VERY SLOWLY toward your near man. The near man will then pass the ball by putting a spin on it using a "brush" motion, to be described.

Notes: 1) The ball is placed to the rear of the rod because this provides a better position to put spin on the ball once it is moved laterally to the passing man. It is the spin which will result in the angle in the ball's motion; 2) if the ball is rolled from a really solid back pin (i.e. ball too far back) the near man will not be able to put a spin on (the back of) the ball, and will most likely only pin (the top of) the ball again, or briefly pin then squeeze out the ball unpredictably; we want to pass it, not pin it again. 3) Make sure the pass to your 1st man is perfectly lateral, so that it reaches the 1st man at near the same almost-back-pin distance it started from. 4) The slowness of the lateral motion is OK, because this is NOT the part of the motion which is intended to deceive your opponent; great care in setting up the ball position with this motion, and the longer time-window to choose among your impending passes are the two reasons for the slow roll to your 1st man... keep it _slow_.

Before I describe how to pass the ball with the 1st man, here is a paragraph of comments on the pass: Remember you want to have the option of either wall-passing or lane-passing. Ideally then, you want to start the pass exactly between the wall and the lane. So figure this area out by watching the near man's range of motion as you push and pull the rod all the way. The general center of this left-right distance is where you will begin your pass. Important note: Here, and on the far man, is the LARGEST distance guarded by only a single man on the entire five bar; there is no 6th man beyond the wall to come to the rescue to block a wall pass-- this is why passes are done near the wall; also the near wall is more easily visible, so we begin with this version, rather than the far wall. The path of the wall pass seems simple enough; angle the ball toward the wall, and if there is enough spin the ball will hug the wall all the way down to your three-bar. But where is the lane? Pull the opponent's five-bar to your near wall. See the opposing 2nd man? He can't go any further! The ideal lane pass is just out of his reach; the only man who can block it is the 1st man, who is also busy guarding the wall pass!

Okay, now the hard part. Remember approximately where you are going to pass the ball from (between the wall and lane). This is really only approximate, since you will wait for an opening, and then hit it, and the ball will be rolling slowly while you are deciding. CENTER your near man just behind the rolling ball and follow it. If you rolled it correctly from the 2nd man's tenuous-pin, your near man should look like it is about to pin the ball; it should not be obviously far up in the air away from the ball. Since the man is centered on the ball and following it, the opponent can't tell which pass you are preparing for, since at the center you are prepared for both! How so? From here, you "brush" the ball, either in the push (aka brush-up) or pull (aka brush-down) direction. Usually a few fakes are thrown in for good measure, but let's practice without fakes for now.

What does "brush" mean? Try to "scrape", or "brush" the BACK or BACK-TOP very edge of the ball with your man as hard as you can, while applying the LEAST amount of pressure possible to the ball, but maintaining contact and DO THE BRUSH MOTION FAST. Remember to follow-through after the brush; don't stop and let your 5-rod follow through all the way to the near (brush-down) or far (brush-up) wall. I repeat: always do the the brush motion fast; don't even practice it slowly just to "get the feel of it", because you won't. The brush will result in a SPIN on the ball, which angles the ball in the direction of your brush (i.e. a brush-down pulls it toward the wall, a brush-up pushes it toward the lane).

Finally, the two most common mistakes: 1) none of this will work unless at the time you brush the ball, the ball really is towards the back of the rod, i.e. just forward of the line at which you could back-pin balls securely. Really. So if you aren't getting this, try doing a brush-down to a stationary ball, and begin with trying a pinned ball. Then progressively move the ball forward and try it again; the best brush often works where many beginners think it will actually be pinned. The ball-positioning to that back position maximizes the spin resulting from the brush. 2) the other common mistake is to "swing" at the ball, as if to shoot it forward; the brush motion is mostly a sideways motion with very little forward swing-- at first try to err on the side of too little swing (i.e. _no_ swing while maintaining contact for the brush), then adjust from there; the ball will move forward if you brush it right anyhow, and any swinging at the ball, or follow-through, is done near the _very end_ of the brush motion-- but at first, don't even try to swing as a followthrough and just try to isolate the fast brushing motion.

Once you get the hang of it, it is VERY IMPORTANT to always be aware, especially with Tornado men (with subtly angled toes), of the exact area of the toe which is intended to brush the ball; it is usually along the subtle _angle_ of the toe-- you probably didn't even notice this shape before did you? If your pass doesn't seem to be working, concentrate on the bottom of the two surfaces of the toe on either side of this edge. (The bottom one is gridded with horizontal and vertical hatches, and the top one has only vertical hatches-- these vertical hatches on the top side help impart spin upon brushing.)

If done correctly, the brush will result in a significant spin (good), causing it to whizz away at an angle; in the case of a brush-down/wall pass, the ball will angle into the wall and _hug_ the wall all the way to your waiting three-bar. Practice the pull-brush wall-pass first and note: the first time you do it right, YOU WILL KNOW; the ball will move in a very counter-intuitive way, seemingly disobeying the laws of foosball Physics; it will seemingly be about to bounce off the wall, but instead it will hug the wall as described all the way to your 3-bar. When this happens the first time, remember how it feels like-- and try to reproduce it. Again, always do the sideways brush motion as fast as possible, and minimize forward swing. For now you can practice this by putting the opposing 5-man about a pencil-width from your near wall; remember this is in addition to the width of the bumper, which is nearly an entire ball-width.

Notes on doing it wrong: 1) If the ball is too far back when rolling, you will pin the ball, and it may even squeeze out in an unpredictable direction, or simply stay pinned. 2) If the ball is too far forward, your brush motion is a) too transparent to the opponent and b) you will have to mostly swing at the ball and therefore the spin will only be mild resulting in a mild angle (perhaps missing the wall or lane and colliding with the opposing man) and little wall-hugging behavior.

Practical notes: 1) at first, you may not find it easy to center your near man behind the rolling ball, so remember to roll the ball slowly; at first if you are intending a brush-up, you may be inadvertently positioning your man slightly to the right (near side) of the ball, giving away your intentions to the opponent, and the mirror image also applies for the brush-down (pull-brush). Once you are well-practiced, you will be able to spin the ball w/your brush in both directions from directly behind the ball, or insert a series of fakes before you brush, for example fake up-down, up-down, in rapid succession, followed by "up", or "up-down" to really pass. 2) experiment to find the best 2-man back-pin degree. The previous paragraph explains too-far-back, too-far-forward, and just-right. Again, always be aware of the brushing surface of the toe at whatever angle you choose; 3) To catch a wall pass, just leave your three-bar on the wall in the front-angled position described in part I. 5) To catch a lane pass, begin with your 3-bar ON THE WALL, then move it off of the wall AS you pass; don't make a habit of leaving it in position to catch a lane-pass before you pass. 6) The lane pass is more forgiving if it has less spin; you may even be able to just "swing" at it with only medium brush/spin and get away with it if the opponent is adamantly guarding the wall; this is only a crutch, and will not work in the higher levels of tournament play; still it'll serve you well at first. 7) Experiment with a variety of fakes, especially doing an "up-down-up-down" motion behind the ball before you pass. 8) Use your brain; figure out which pass your opponent wants to guard, and shoot the OTHER pass! 9) Once you understand the concept by reading this, skip to "HOW TO PRACTICE THE BRUSH PASS" at the end of this section.

NOTES ON CATCHING THE BALL: Catching the ball using the simple front-angled position of the three-bar (described in Part I) is eventually going to be "not good enough". To catch a _really_ fast, spinning, angled pass, you should begin with your men straight down, then flex them forward as you catch the ball, and here's one good way to do this:

1) for the three bar (right hand), find the correct position on the handle, so that at the maximum end of flicking your wrist all the way (as if shooting), your men are positioned in the front-angled ready-to-catch position. 2) Now keep your hand in this grip, & bring your men down so that they are standing straight again; now you are ready to flick your men forward as you catch a fast pass! 3) On a Tornado, forget 1) & 2), and just put your thumb along the _narrow_ part of the handle on the bevel one or two away counterclockwise from the top bevel (i.e. about 11 o'clock) when the men are standing straight-- keep the men standing straight, then as you catch a pass, flick your men forward (keeping your thumb on your chosen bevel). Your thumb here prevents your wrist from swinging the 3-bar too far forward. This motion _greatly_ enhances your chances of catching a fast pass on any table, so now make it a habit to assume this grip (relative to the rod's rotational position.) This type of catching will be absolutely essential once you begin to practice faster and faster passes; don't ignore!

The description above was about how to execute the pass in a real game, why the brush pass is good, and how it works. This section will help you develop the "brush-up" and "brush-down" motions themselves. The brushing exercises will all be upon a stationary ball (which in a real game would not be legal), and again remember it's important to set the ball up a little to the rear as described. The fakes included in these exercise are an essential part of what you actually do in a real game.

HOW TO PRACTICE THE BRUSH-DOWN (pull-brush) to the wall: First position your 3-bar on the wall, ready to catch a wall pass. Then, place the ball about three inches from the near wall (along your 5-bar, slightly to the rear of the rod, not quite so far that you would pin it). Finally, do the exercise: 1) Position your 1st man behind the ball, and do four rapid fake-brushes, just barely behind, but not touching the ball: down-up-down-up. 2) Continuing this, brush "down" and pass the ball along the wall.

Hence, the entire motion will be: down-up-down-up-DOWN, the last "down" being the real brush-down pass. The pace (of the d-u-d-u-d) should be leisure-rapid-- in other words, not so fast that you are concentrating on the rapidity, and definitely not slowly since these are supposed to be fakes. Remember to concentrate on putting spin on the ball and being aware of that angled-surface of the toe which is actually in contact with the ball, since your fakes can distract you from your technique. At first, just push the opposing 5-bar to the far-wall, but as you get more confident, bring it in closer and closer to your near wall as you practice your series.

HOW TO PRACTICE THE BRUSH-UP (push-brush) through the lane: Place your 3-bar on the wall as before, and place the ball in the same place along your 5-bar also as before. Now: 1) do the SAME four fake-brushes behind the ball: down-up-down-up. 2) Continue with down-UP, doing a real brush-up on the final "up". 3) As you brush up, move your 3-bar off of the wall to catch the pass through the lane.

Hence the motion will be down-up-down-up-down-UP, looking practically identical to the brush-down exercise's down-up-down-up-DOWN. The difficult part is catching the ball, so you really have to practice holding your thumb on that 11 o'clock bevel (on the narrow part of the handle) and flicking your men forward as you catch the ball-- and don't cheat: _always_ begin with the 3-bar on the wall!

So, practice about 100 of each version, or at least 25 if you're not used to practicing yet. Once you have learned the techinque, you can practice 20 brush-ups followed by 20 brush-downs (or 10 and 10) until your series of 40 (or 20) passes are flawless; make sure you pass hard and completely catch each pass; don't get caught in the common mistake of practice the pass but not the catch. Experiment later with placing the ball at different distances from the wall; for example with the brush-up, if the ball is very close to the wall, you will need more "brush" and less "swing" to angle the ball into the lane, while if the ball is farther from the wall and more directly in front of the lane, you will not need as much "brush", but more "swing" to execute a fast pass. And the brush-down can be executed anywhere from near the wall to (eventually) the farthest reach of the near man away from the wall. So vary the position once you've learned the brush motion, and that way you'll have a larger "strike-zone" from which you will be a threat to brush pass in either direction.

PRACTICING THE SETUP: This will be two similar exercises-- Begin with the 2nd-man back pin. Then move the ball toward your first man. Execute a series of fakes, about six: down-up-down-up-down-up. Then intercept the ball before it hits the wall by moving the near man in the path of the ball. Return the ball by tapping it back to the 2nd-man and begin again. That's all. The other exercise is similar except, after d-u-d-u-d-u, tap the ball lightly into the wall with the right edge of the near man. As it slowly bounces off, execute another series of fakes: d-u-d-u-d-u. Then stop the ball with your second man, and begin again. In a real game situation, a common technique is to bounce the ball off of the wall then immediately do a very steep brush-up into the lane as the opponent hopefully slams his rod to block the wall pass. Also, these two exercises are useful in a real game so as to allow you to bring the ball into position repeatedly, waiting to find the perfect "open" pass.

PRACTICING TWO MORE OPTIONS: 1) Practice the steep brush-up immediately after a bounce off of the near wall. 2) Practice the 2nd-man brush-down through the lane to the wall. One way to do this is a variation on the exercise of the previous paragraph: after you use your near man to bounce the ball back to the 2nd man, the 2nd man can then brush-down. The ball should travel steeply through the lane (bring the opposing 5-rod to your near wall for practice) and end up on your 3-bar near-man on the wall. The other option from the 2nd man is a brush-up to your _middle_ 3-bar man.

One final note: there are many passing options with brush and stick passes. Learning the near-wall brush-pass series is an essential first step, and even it alone can be extremely effective. Among other options are learning the same series on the far-wall, learning tic-tac stick passes, and learning a blindingly quick kickpass to the wall. Hopefully, the stick-pass series will be described in a later version of this file. All right, that is it for brush-passing! Practicing will give you a knowledge of spin that will be useful later on in other types of passes and shots, especially for tournament play on the hard surfaces of Tornado tables.

Part III: 2 to 3 passing.

Most importantly, you should master the essential skill of the 5-bar to 3-bar brush pass described in Part II before practicing too much in this section. This section is going to be pretty brief and sparse in strategy. In a doubles game: Of course the five bar needs to be raised, preferably horizontally, since upside-down brings the men's heads in striking range for the commonly slightly airborne passes and shots. The three bar should always be placed along one wall; pick one, the far or near, and just LEAVE IT THERE and practice passing to the three men in this position only for a while. Be sure to angle the men forward to catch passes from the two-bar. If the passes are slower (i.e. less than fast shot speed), keep the angle fairly high off of the playing field. However, for fast passes (i.e. FAST shot speed), the impact can be so great so that the ball "muscles" its way underneath and past the three-bar. Hence, for fast passes, hold the front-angle LOWER, even close to 45 degrees! However this is not the key; the key is TO HOLD THE HANDLE LOOSELY. If you are holding on too tightly, the pass will simply ricochet off of your man. However, if the rod is held loosely, and at a low forward angle, the ball will "muscle" the man's angle up, coming to rest in a front pin. So 1) Hold it correctly for the expected speed of pass, i.e. if the pass is slower, hold the man up higher and 2) Keep it on one wall, and don't move it, so the defense knows where to expect the men to be.

The two-bar's easiest pass, of course, is the wall pass. Make sure to start the ball maybe a ball's length off of the wall, since otherwise you will bank the ball off of the wall and into the 3-man's lane; remember that bumper on the rod won't let your man get directly behind a ball that is actually on the wall. You can pass to the 3-bar men which are not on the wall also! You can either practice hitting these specific men, or just ignore the men and shoot your shot-- there is a mild chance that a missed shot will be a great pass! You might as well do something with your missed shots! Eventually the opponent will begin to block your wall passes, so you should also practice angle-passes which go through the five-bar lane(when the opposing five bar is against the wall, guarding the wall pass), and angle right to your three man sitting on the wall.

Two variations: 1) when the ball on the 2-bar is set up for a push or pull, the 3-bar should be placed _off_ of the wall so that the 1st man is directly in front of the ball. Hence, if the push or pull is covered, the straight pass through the lane is open. The 3-bar may be "down" or it may be held up "floating" ready to come down in case of a pass. 2) Or, when set up for a push or a pull, leave the three bar on the wall. Do a fake (push/pull), and as the opponent flinches off of the wall, reverse your motion and brush a wall pass.

For a singles game: All of the above applies, and you can alternative pass from the 2-bar to the 5-bar. Developing a good left hand on the two bar is fairly important. Also, if you can actually shoot kicks or push/pulls with your left hand, your opponent doesn't know whether to guard the shot or pass! One passing trick is to back pin the ball with the far 2-man, and pull the rod fast. The opponent will flinch in your pull direction, but the ball will squeeze out and spin in the push direction, in a pseudo-wall pass along the far wall. Lifting all the rods, and practicing angle passes back and forth between your 2 and 3 bar is worthwhile. Also, practicing a 2-5 bar pass can be even more worthwhile.

2-BAR TO 5-BAR PASSING: This is often a more reliable way to get the ball to your 3-bar, in other words by executing a _reliable_ 2-5 bar pass then another _reliable_ 5-3 bar pass, instead of a risk 2-3 bar pass which skips the 5-bar.

Set the 5-bar on the near (or far) wall, and catch passes the same way you would with the 3-bar, with the following exception: The lane pass should be caught with the 2nd man on the 5-bar. Note that the wall-pass is _much_ riskier, so that you will in general always be watching for the lane pass to the 2nd man. Finally, while bringing the ball into position from the center of the field, you should briefly watch for the open stick pass to the 3rd man.

Happy Passing!