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Billiards Instruction

Ten Mistakes I See Made All Too Often

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You asked for it--this exacting billiards instruction! Ten of the obvious (to me, and soon to you) errors pool shooters make to lose games, throw off their rhythm, and ruin and otherwise good evening of pool.

1. Lifting The Cue Abruptly On Draw Strokes

billiards instruction, pool instruction, pool, billiards, billiards pool
Billiards photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to About.com, Inc.
The stick hoists into the air, and so do the balls, and some player's teeth, too. I've given this billiards instruction to 200 players if I've given it once.

Leave the stick low, watch your draw (backspin) shots go... and go well. Roger Federer holds his racket low for tennis, hold your stick low (let it rest where it does naturally) for pool.

Here's more on what I call the triple loosen draw stroke. Few players know this stroke.

2. Misunderstanding How The Pros Play For Position

billiards instruction, pool instruction, pool, billiards, billiards pool
Billiards photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to About.com, Inc.
How does a pro understand where the cue ball will wind up in a moment, from a single glance at the balls? I show you across a variety of articles here at About.com.

Here's a great hint, know the only 4 kinds of balls on any pool table layout.

3. Not Trying New Games That Keep Skills and Imagination Fresh

billiards instruction, pool instruction, pool, billiards, billiards pool
Billiards photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to About.com, Inc.
New games and new practice routines chase away the pool blues everytime. I've invented a number of games including Gopher Eight Ball and Nineation to keep you smiling and keep your interest at the tables longer than before.

4. Being Too Cheap To Buy A Personal Cue

billiards instruction, pool instruction, pool, billiards, billiards pool
Billiards photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to About.com, Inc.
This is surely the most common mistake holding players back at all levels from duffers and beginners to quite skilled amateurs.

Using the same cue each time, your cue, equals using a consistent tip for aiming, and a consistent weight, feel and balance between your hands. Buy a good cue for $70 to $100. Why not?

Read my article called Before You Buy A Pool Cue.

5. Dodging The Mental Side Of The Sport

billiards instruction, pool instruction, pool, billiards, billiards pool
Billiards photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Use your head and think, think, think. The old man over there chewing tobacco who hasn't bathed in a week is looking at your wallet and gloating because since he was ten, all he could think about was running rack after rack of pool.

And though he probably didn't get past the eighth grade in school, his mind owns that table and all its choice angles. We have too many articles on this GuideSite telling you how to think and coaching you in the mental aspects of the game for you to shut down mentally at the tables.

Here's a good example article on what it takes to go pro.

6. Ignoring The Opportunities For Gentle Break Shots

billiards instruction, pool instruction, pool, billiards, billiards pool
Billiards photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Watch enough movies or TV about pool and you'll assume the goal is to smash the balls to Kingdom Come before running out and clearing the table.

But the better the competition across the table, the more likely the skilled, intelligent player will play a somewhat defensive break stroke, especially in chess-like games such as One Pocket and Straight Pool. You need the breaks many times in 8-Ball and 9-Ball too.

Safe break technique with tips...

7. Not Knowing How Or Why The Pro Uses English On Bank Strokes

billiards instruction, pool instruction, pool, billiards, billiards pool
Billiards photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to About.com, Inc.
The pros hit the banks hard and with english more often than not. The closer they lie to the side pocket, the more I drill them in, hard and fast.

The reason why is... oh, just read the linked article, already.

8. Gripping The Cue Until It Or Your Hands Bleed

billiards instruction, pool instruction, pool, billiards, billiards pool
Billiards photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to About.com, Inc.
The cue stick is a bird with wings that must flutter in your hand. Don't choke the life from it. Gripping the cue rather than holding it destroys the stroke. I get more, we pros and teaching pros get more, with less.

As a side benefit, your speed control and positioning skill will increase a great deal almost immediately if you loosen the grip.

How loose? So loose it would clatter to the table if you had any less of a hold on the stick.

9. Crumpling Over The Cue Stick

billiards instruction, pool instruction, pool, billiards, billiards pool
Billiards photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to About.com, Inc.
99 of 100 players stand wrongly to the table, and I stand behind that statistic, 100%! Bending the head over the cue stick is wrong. Putting the cue stick on the line and bending over it is also wrong. Let me show you the beautiful, efficient stance. The blended stance.

10. Not Stretching For Enough Space To Stroke

billiards instruction, pool instruction, pool, billiards, billiards pool
Billiards photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Leave room from the walls and other players to "let your stroke out," at home or away.
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