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Tips & Advice on Attempting Spot The Ball Competitions

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 10 Jul 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Spot The Ball Techniques Picture Photo

Winners of ‘Spot the Ball’ competitions undoubtedly have luck on their side, but it is not all down to chance, there is certain amount of skill and technique involved too.

What is Spot the Ball?

Entrants to a ‘Spot the Ball’ competition are challenged to guess the position of a ball that has been removed from an action photo of a ball sport – most commonly football. It is not entirely down to guesswork as most contestants attempt to gauge the location using the positions and reactions of the sports people involved.

Although it’s still a popular prize game today - particularly on the internet - its heyday was during the 1980s, when it was a familiar feature of newspaper promotions. It was typical practice during this period for contestants to pay for a specific number of guesses, which would be then marked using a drawn cross. It was not unheard of for people to litter the picture with hundreds of crosses, using a special rubber stamp to help with the job.

The winner is the entrant whose guess is deemed to be the closest to the centre of the ball.

Online Spot the Ball

Spot the ball may have largely disappeared from our newspapers but it is an ever familiar presence in online games, where computer technology allows the contest to be carried out in a more accurate and user friendly manner.

Online action pictures are made up of thousands of individual pixels set out like a grid. Entrants can simply click on a point on the screen, and that will correspond to a pixel with its own unique set of grid coordinates. If the player picks the pixel that the judges have chosen, or the one closest to it, then they are the winner.

Guesswork or Skill?

Spot the ball is seen by some as a more skill-based prize game, because it suggests that an astute judge of the action scene will stand a much greater chance of winning than an entrant who randomly places their mark. In reality, there is a lot of luck involved than skill.

Due to rules stating that it is unlawful to gamble on events that have already happened, the game promoters are free to place the ball location anywhere they like. They might well use the original position of the ball, but crucially, they don’t have to. In theory the winning ball location could be at the opposite side of the picture from the real location. However, this would very misleading and unfair.

It is therefore important when playing spot the ball to use a certain amount of skilled judgement but not rely on it too much; spot the ball winners are not master physicists just very lucky people. During the spot the ball craze of the 80s, most hardcore players didn’t carefully choose their spot, they covered the picture with set patterns of crosses.

Techniques

Although luck certainly plays its part it is worthwhile to carefully choose your spot and not rely solely on chance. Some basic tips to help find that ball include:

  • Observe the body language of the players. Considering the ball is the focus of play, where are all the players’ movements directed towards? Has somebody just headed or kicked the ball?
  • Notice the eyes of the players. Which way is each of them looking? Do their lines of sight converge on a particular point? Mentally draw a line from each of their eyes.
  • Bear in mind distance and perspective. The picture does not show a 2 dimensional scene so be sure to consider the depth of the action. For instance, is the ball nearer the camera than the player?
  • Don’t forget that the picture will show a fast moving scene and so some players may be slower to react to the ball than others. The ball may have passed them before their eyes and body have had a chance to react.

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Hello can I play and win even if I am from Philippines, I hope do so. I believe that there's nothing impossible when you believe. Thank you.
Dodong - 10-Jul-17 @ 11:36 AM
In relation to the comment made some time ago by 'Twister', the reason the pictureof the car in a 54 plate(although it should have been a more recent reg car)is because the model that the winner has chosen as his car is not always available at short notice once the winner is announced. It depends on the local car dealership in relation to where the winner lives or works. Botb cannot have every single winner's car new. That would be impossible as the winner gets contacted and presented with their car within one day of winning.The picture is for promo purposes only. I work in an airport and know the botb guys very well and there have been a couple of local winners. I have also had a number of wins allowing me to have another go. It sounds like some people making comments have had a go and not won therefore thinking it is a con and looking for reasons to doubt the validity. I used to think the the same about big prize competitions until i won 3 USA holidays and a number of cash and goods prizes within a 5 year period. If you doubt it, don't play it. Simple.
Bruce - 23-Nov-16 @ 10:09 AM
Hi. Would just like to comment on this discussion. I was a winner of BOTB last year. (2015) I won an Aston Martin V8 Vantage. The car you win is 100% brand new and also not a stock car. You have the option to spec the car as you wish ( at your own expense) and if there is not one as required then it is ordered for you from the relevant manufacturer. I opted for the car over the cash alternative which is 65% of the cars value excluding Vat. They insure and cover the first service and have recently started supplying a years worth of fuel as well so it was a no brainier really. I'll never realistically own an Aston Martin again! 100% genuine competition which obviously requires skill and a lot of luck, but you have to be in it to win it. Thanks
Gibbo - 11-Jul-16 @ 7:54 PM
I play Best Of The Best every week and look forward to it. I win every week. yes, that's right every week. They pay out a small percentage if your close or they give you your whole amount back if your super close. Being super close is hard to swallow as you just think.....how close was that!!?? No way! But it's good fun. Maybe one day I'll actually win the car if I keep trying. If I'm not in it I can't win it. I guess people play lots of tickets on one game, I dont because that's where you start spending a stack of cash and get carried away. I just play one ticket, they give me some back if I'm close so that goes towards the next week. I only play £3 games so it's minimal outlay for me. Anyone got any ideas on this? A cash alternative is an option at 35% less of the cars value excluding vat. However,Whos to say that if I took the car which hypothetically speaking was Worth £66k I could do what I like because it is now mineand sell it privately for maybe £59k? Which is more than the cash option. Also I watched one of their "winner" video's and that was very recently. End of 2015. The car the guy won was a 54 plate which tells me the cars aren't new that you win.
twister - 20-Jan-16 @ 2:29 AM
I play Best Of The Best every week and look forward to it. I win every week. yes, that's right every week. They pay out a small percentage if your close or they give you your whole amount back if your super close. Being super close is hard to swallow as you just think.....how close was that!!?? No way! But it's good fun. Maybe one day I'll actually win the car if I keep trying. If I'm not in it I can't win it. I guess people play lots of tickets on one game, I dont because that's where you start spending a stack of cash and get carried away. I just play one ticket, they give me some back if I'm close so that goes towards the next week. I only play £3 games so it's minimal outlay for me. Anyone got any ideas on this? A cash alternative is an option at 35% less of the cars value excluding vat. However,Whos to say that if I took the car which hypothetically speaking was Worth £66k I could do what I like because it is now mineand sell it privately for maybe £59k? Which is more than the cash option. Also I watched one of their "winner" video's and that was very recently. End of 2015. The car the guy won was a 54 plate which tells me the cars aren't new that you win.
twister - 20-Jan-16 @ 12:46 AM
Hi, I have tried Best of the Best as well but now also found WINYD - Win Your Dream. They offer Tec-Prizes for cheaper tickets. Maybe good start to practice a bit..
Ned - 1-Jul-15 @ 1:49 PM
@Rod - I'm afraid I cannot advise you on your question, if we knew the knack of winning Spot the Ball, we'd all be rich. Just like the lottery there is a very slim chance of winning and it really is more about luck than skill. As suggested in the article, the game promoters are free to place the ball location anywhere they like. They might well use the original position of the ball, but crucially, they don’t have to.
WinningCompetitions - 18-Jun-15 @ 2:44 PM
Hi. I play a spot the ball competition every week called Best Of The Best and havent one a thing. Please could you help me futher on this as I read you blog. But woulf like more advice please. Thanks
Rod - 16-Jun-15 @ 3:35 PM
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