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Play Pool - Take Stock Of Your Game

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Play Pool

Play Pool

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Let's move on from the enjoyment we all get when we play pool to follow up on this week's discussion on "turning pool pro." Assess your own strengths and weaknesses using our discussion below and questions from our chat earlier in the week. Mr. Sherman:

Thanks for your thorough and thoughtful response to my questions this week about turning pool professional. Let me try to answer your responses as follows.

I am trim, flexible and in good shape, working out at the gym several times a week. I began playing pool in my hometown when I was about 15. At [address withheld], where I went to undergraduate and law schools, I continued playing off and on and have continued ever since, though more off than on. I have not played competitively at all for many years and mostly just practice running racks of nine ball on my home table without breaking.

I have not played in leagues and don't really care to. I'd guess that on my own table I can run a rack about every 4 to 6 times when I'm "in stroke". In college, I backed a better player and traveled all over [addresses withheld] hustling and in that way became addicted to the game and have remained so ever since.

At the time I learned, the notion of playing safe did not exist so I have only intuitive skills in that area, both in playing the safety and in kicking at it. My bank shots are also by feel and I rarely practice them.

I know the principles behind most pool shots, including the jump shot, but often don't practice them. I've never even tried a jump shot. I'm also not very good at caroms and rail first shots and never use the diamonds for guidance instead relying on feel sighting. When I'm playing well, I have no real aiming strategy but seem to make balls by feel.

Setup for me is critical to shot making. When I get it right it seems I can't miss, wrong and I'm like a beginner. I would say that I'm very much a feel player and resist highly regimented practice. I'd rather play competitively to develop skills and practice in some kind of free style.

I recently watched a few league players ranked by APA at about 9, which I understand to be quite high, and I'd guess that my skills are at least equal to this if not higher. I use English on both axes freely and easily, though I have to admit my long draw is weaker than I'd like. I'd say that I'm a high level amateur wishing to get into the pro level and have the native skills to do so.

One problem is vision. I have to look over the top of my glasses and see the balls as colored blurs, but that doesn't stop me from being a fairly decent shot maker. I will look into getting contact lenses to correct this.

I would say that I have a decent, level stroke, good grip but an inconsistent stance. Sad to say but I am an inveterate experimenter, always changing this and that trying to find perfection, which of course I never find.

I need your help in stopping this nonsense and finally settling on one stance, grip, stroke, bridge length, etc. I very much liked what you have to say in your about.com articles regarding these facets of the game. You make a lot of sense to me and you don't fall into the trap of following conventional "rules".

Believe me I've tried everything but I'm floundering from too much of this. I need to fix a style and technique. I am right handed but left eye dominant.

My Olhausen Billiards table is in good shape but I think it's somewhat slow. I'd like to get it recovered soon with a faster cloth and get some Aramith tournament balls, but I'd welcome your suggestions on these issues.

I play with a Dale Perry cue (actually I have several) that seems fine, although it is quite simple in appearance, not the overly decorative style. I don't have a jump cue but have on my list of things to do to visit Dale's shop and get a new cue and jump cue made.

I think that we both could benefit most if we spent initially two consecutive days of about 4 hours of instruction each day broken into one hour segments with a 15-to-30 minute break between segments for me to practice what you've taught or just take a breather. This may turn out to be too tiresome for us both, but we can adjust as we learn more.

If it's okay with you, I'd like to have you come to my location for the first two days, so you can help with suggestions for the table. Then in later sessions, I'd like to come to you in Florida and play pool on strange (for me) tables.


My response (take stock of your own game within, dear reader):

Based on your responses to my vetting questions I'd be delighted to work with you. Two good coaching challenges come to mind:

1) I understand your billiards addiction and the addiction to fiddling around with stance and etc. as you play pool. I am a past-time fiddler who writes and teaches pool in large part because I wanted to share my discoveries. I went quantum leaps forward in my own play and teaching, once I locked in certain things I share on the About.com GuideSite and in private lessons.

2) And I'd need to assist you to get better without drills as you wrote--my specialty exactly. If we can define terms for your natural feel and touch, some great things can happen. I can specifically work with you on locking in the "what's working/what's right" parts of your game when you do play your best.

I'll communicate with you in such a manner that you can continue play by feel while honing your consistency and knowing what is working when it is working. And I'll help you get to that zone while I'm with you so I can observe you playing your best as we take notes.

3) I can certainly help with carom shots, kicks, safeties, etc. in concrete terms.

Your suggested two day schedule sounds fine to me as it's close to what I'd choose for a weekend agenda for a one-student intensive. I come with a guarantee also as all of my students have improved significantly and rapidly and I'll put in overtime or do whatever is needed if we hit obstacles.

The other thing I can share at this point is that you're going to have a heck of a lot of fun. I have as much fun teaching billiards as playing myself.

And in the interim, if you have any video or photos you'd like to send so I can assess the issues in advance and better prepare, that would be great. If not, I'll fix the issues as we go.

Oh--and hold off on those contacts if you want to as I want to look at your stance and etc. and see whether that is at issue with the glasses. I'm wearing a new prescription pair at the tables myself and I sympathize.

Thank you for joining me (and you, dear readers) in this adventure as we play pool!

Read Part I Of This Article
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  2. Sports
  3. Billiards
  4. Fitness
  5. The Mental Game
  6. Play Pool - Techniques And Tips To Dominate Leagues And Tournaments

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