If possible, it is usually a good idea to send the ball above the bricks, doing so you will have a smaller chance of losing the ball. Sometimes you need to first make a small hole in the layer of brick to accomplish this. The smaller the hole, the smaller the chance the balls comes back down.
When catching the add ball gift it is wise to not fire it right away but to keep in instead, in case the other balls are lost. It is also advisable to not catch a sticky bar gift in such a case, as doing so would force you to fire all balls.
When receiving a next level gift you may not want to catch it if you know that there are add life gifts in the level.
In levels where there are a lot of hidden bricks there may be a way to win the level without having to destroy most of them.