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Developing Skill at Birkball

In Birkball, two hands do three tasks: acquire steel balls, aim the chute, and release steel balls down the chute. There are several common techniques to address the ball release aspect of the “3 with 2” challenge. Let’s call them “Tips”, “Cup”, and “Forefinger”.

Using fingertips to release ball

Tips - One hand sequentially holds steel balls between the tips of a thumb and a forefinger, to release steel balls one-by-one from the top of the chute [Advantage – easiest for beginners; Disadvantage – the time it takes to transfer another ball from the hand to the finger tips, which is done for each additional ball launched]

Cupping ball in the hand before release

Cup - One hand cups steel balls with finger joints, to release one or more steel balls. If the other hand helps with steering (as shown), then no hand is collecting balls. Some players steer with the hand in the cup position enabling the other hand to gather balls simultaneously. Some players feed gathered balls into the top or bottom of the cupped hand, without that cupped hand leaving the chute.

Controlling release with a forefinger

Forefinger - The forefinger of one hand releases one or more steel balls down the chute. The other hand may steer the chute from the bottom

Gather balls with one hand while steering/releasing with another

or it may gather balls since the other fingers on the forefinger hand may steer the chute from the top.

All of the release techniques may be used while the other hand aims the chute by holding the chute with fingers extended at the bottom, which is the most accurate way to steer the chute. (See top three photos above.) However accurate steering may not be as important as gathering steel balls simultaneously, so players might choose to limit use of the most accurate steering technique to only the first few balls of a point or other crucial moments.

Transferring steel balls from one hand to another

If a player uses a dominant hand for steering and release, steel balls gathered with the other hand will need to be transferred to the shooting hand. (See photo to right.)

Another style of play is to alternate the hand that both shoots and steers at the same time. Meanwhile the other hand is gathering steel balls for use when it's time to switch.

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