View Full Version : How do people do it??

12-22-2003, 11:05 AM
After talking to a few pro players, and semi pros, I have come to the conclusion that the only way to advance my level of play considerably is to put in lots of table time.
They said around 40 hours a week.
When I practice, I have a very well structured practice routine, working on cue ball control,shots that are tough for me, cueball control, stroke and speed control, cue ball control, and did I mention cue ball control?
What I want to know is how do most people do it?
I put in 53 hours two weeks ago, and my lower back and neck were killing me for days.
I'm by no means out of shape being 6' 2" tall, and 200 lbs, and I take good care of myself by exercising regularly, and eating healthy, and getting my 8 hours of sleep every night.
I know I'm not 18 anymore, being 33, but this is annoying. it's tough to concentrate when I'm in pain.
Is it just too much too soon, or does anyone know any little stretches, or exercises that may help with getting rid of this? I used to practice about 15 to 25 hours a week with no problem.

I am also curious on how much everyone practices per week. Maybe I'm just doing too much.

12-22-2003, 11:24 AM
What I think it amounts to is, you can't really improve much if you are not in dead stroke. The amount of practice most players put in, does little more then maintain their speed, if that. It takes a lot of extra play to make a jump in your game as well as a lot of good competition. Even with a lot of practice it is not possible to become a top player practicing in a vacuum. You have to be around good players, competing and lots of practice. Being around the good players is the most important. Much of what you learn is almost by osmosis. I have seen big jumps in players games by just hanging in a different room where the good players go.

12-22-2003, 11:34 AM
Suggestion for the lower back pain. Try bending less, and moving your back foot further back than normal in order to get down on the shot. It puts a lot less stress on the back. Take it from one of the "old guys".

12-22-2003, 12:27 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote c.holtz009:</font><hr> I put in 53 hours two weeks ago, and my lower back and neck were killing me for days.
<hr /></blockquote>

I'm 50 and I could play pool all day every day and my back wouldn't hurt (my feet would probably be a little sore). So, something's not right.

I know players with bad backs who can't play to their potential because of the pain and positions they can't get themselves into. It really hurts your game. Break shots are hard on the back and neck if you put your hips into it - maybe you hurt yourself practicing break shots? Are you a golfer?

The other thing you might want to look at is your stance - to take pressure off your back and neck. Here's one way to do that. Align so that your hips and feet are more open to the shot, with your hips aligned well left of your line of aim (if you are right handed) and weight centered between your feet with both legs bent at the knees - more of a squatting position (like Efren) instead of a leaning position. That almost eliminates pressure on your lower back and gives you a very stable platform to keep centered.


12-22-2003, 12:53 PM
To quote Tateutes.. "to put your hips into it" seems to me that he might be suggesting that you play from the hip!

Pool is not a martial art.

Power is derived from your stroke, technique, and follow through.

If you put your body to any task it is not used to and not allow rest between excercises it will hurt. Like any 'sport' train your body to get used to it. This means slowly, over a period of weeks, making your body accostomed to the stance and movement of playing the game.

The best thing I can recommend is to go have a read of a good sports psychology book at your loacl library or better yet your consult your local sports coach.

12-22-2003, 03:21 PM
I don't think you read my post correctly. If you did, you didn't comprehend it. What does a sports psychologist have to do with bad backs?

Next time you have a plumbing problem, I would like to recommend a good electrician.


phil in sofla
12-22-2003, 08:19 PM
I'm similar to you in height and weight, and have 17 years on you. I've had some challenges physically playing long hours, but mainly a strain in my bridging shoulder, not so much in the neck or back areas.

You said you USED TO practice 15-25 hours a week with no problems, but was that what you were doing at the time you popped it up to 55 hours? Or had you significantly cut back on that time for a while before trying the marathon week? In either case, I'd guess you should have only more gradually increased the table time per week. Even had you been doing the 15-25 hours a week, you more than doubled it. If you had been doing less, you may have tripled or quadrupled it. Any time you radically increase an activity, you're asking for soreness and stiffness.

If you really want to do so much time per week at the table, you have to ease into that physical challenge a little at a time, maybe increaing no more than an hour a day a week, or something like that.

Besides doing the gradual upping of the hours, you might want to look into a good stretching book, and start doing stretching both prior to and after a practice session, specifically in the areas that are giving you trouble. Then examine your stance to try to make it as effortless as possible. I'd disagree with the knee flexing advice, because that means every shot is straining your quadracepts (front thigh muscles). The classic style, with a more locked out back leg, would seem more conducive to longer playing sessions, although I'm open to disputes on that theory.

12-22-2003, 08:42 PM
It is easy to put stress on your body when playing pool.Other sports in someways are not as hard because so much bending over and sometimes stretching for shots which can stress the low back if one is not careful, is not required.

Sometimes it is not that easy to figure out what part is hurt because with your back and neck, when you stress one part, other parts work overload attempting to compensate for the part that is hurting.

I recently had a low back problem but it felt like both sides, muscle spasms all the way up from my butt to my head when I even tried to shoot a little.So in that instance, I was having neck spasms, midback spasms on both sides due to a slight low back injury. One of those lovely, 'I put my back out doing nothing' things that are quite irritating but temporary.The answer was right in front of me and I did not see it. The right side was hurting due to taking on more stress than normal, but it was the left side that was injured. So I decided to try shooting with my right foot forward. Atypical yes, but at least not hurting.

Just about all problems start in my neck for me, while some have more in the low back. Sometimes i do not think age has much to do with it. Like lots of young people, when I was a kid, I thought I could do anything athletically and actually injured my neck when I was 12, then that old injury reared its ugly head at age 30, and some who in their youthful strength lifted things in a way that puts stress on the low back ended up with low back problems later,even as early as 20 or 25.

It seems like you might need to just pay attention to your stance and head position relative to feelings of pain until you figure out what takes the stress off of your body.

Going from 15-25 hours practice to 53 is also quite a leap. When I was in shape at 30 and maybe doing karate two hours a day, if I suddenly started doing it 8 hours a day, feel sure that my body would have gone on strike. /ccboard/images/graemlins/smirk.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/smirk.gif


12-23-2003, 04:54 AM
Maybe someone can help me remember exactly what issue or magazine it was in. But sometime in early/mid 2003 I believe it was Billiards Digest that had an article about different stretches you can do before playing pool and some exercises that may help. I know it was a fairly long article, if you can get ahold of it, it seems to be something you could use.


12-23-2003, 07:30 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote phil in sofla:</font><hr>
...I'd disagree with the knee flexing advice, because that means every shot is straining your quadracepts (front thigh muscles). The classic style, with a more locked out back leg, would seem more conducive to longer playing sessions, although I'm open to disputes on that theory.

<hr /></blockquote>

I agree but for a different reason. Changing from a locked leg stance to a flexed knee stance, to me, is a MAJOR change. I don't think one should make such a big change solely for the sake of logging more table time.

12-23-2003, 10:20 AM
If you have good insurance get a MRI done. I have degenerative disc disease and have a lot of pain from bending to shoot. You might want to look into it.

12-23-2003, 11:25 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Wally_in_Cincy:</font><hr>
I agree but for a different reason. Changing from a locked leg stance to a flexed knee stance, to me, is a MAJOR change. I don't think one should make such a big change solely for the sake of logging more table time. <hr /></blockquote>


I made this stance change myself and it was easy. I found it to be more stable for me. I have long legs in relation to my torso, so the traditional stance is not so stable for me - I feel like I'm doing the "splits". With the weight centered more over the feet, it's also a lot easier on the back. In any case, it didn't hurt my game.


Ralph S.
12-23-2003, 11:33 AM
Pelican, I beleive the exact name for the condition you are referring to is Shermans disease. I was diagnosed with this about 4 years ago. My doctor said that the discs in my lower back were deteriorating more rapidly than that of the average person. This is a hereditary problem. My mother had four major back operations before the age of 45. The specialist said I will most likely require a like procedure by the time I am 40, I am 34 at this time.

Any back trouble is no good at all, but it becomes a real beast when in the lower portion of the back which is where the majority are located.

12-23-2003, 11:54 AM
CJ Wiley teaches more of a squared up foundation, plus the snooker players coming over here definitely uses it as well. I can imagine that some stances, such as the familiar "water crane" or the "locked-knees/tripod" replica you see with some players use, would eventually gravitate down to the loser back for troubles soon or later, later being the dominant word here. I personally took CJ's advice, plus I moderated a little toward the snooker stance, and it wasn't a difficult change for me either. Makes for one hellova solid foundation, especially for breaking(IMPO), but I do not move my body into the break stroke like many do, so I'd understand that you'z "leapers" during the break would find it a deficiency. Different strokes for different folks...sid

12-23-2003, 11:55 AM

How do you cope with it while playing?

I was trying to help a man with a very bad back learn the game, but it was pretty much hopeless - he simply could not support himself over the ball to aim.


Ralph S.
12-23-2003, 12:07 PM
I usually keep a pill bottle with some stuff in it. When I get to hurting I will take a Celebrex{helps with inflamation} and an Ibuprofen for pain. This keeps me from getting whacked out until I get home to take the good stuff. /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif If I am still in a relative amount of discomfort once home, I then take two{2} 750 mg Vicadans. Those Vicadans will tranqulize a small horse, so I don't take them while at the hall.

I also dont push too hard. My back will tell me when it is time to call it a night. I will let my opponent know before any money match that I may pull up due to back pain. They usually have no problem as they know me, and this alleviates any hard feelings should I happen to be on the winning side. If I do pull out while ahead due to this, I always offer them the first match when I play next so they have a fair shot at getting any lost wagers back.

12-23-2003, 01:01 PM

12-23-2003, 01:17 PM
Then I hurt my lower back a month ago. I am just now beginning to play a little, and I had to find a stance that would take pressure off of that injured lower left side.

It is pretty funky looking,both legs bent,the back one that is injured actually on my toes and the 'wrong' leg is forward, but my shooting is about the same so it will have to do until that part can heal.

You gotta do what you gotta do.


12-23-2003, 04:57 PM
Vince Lombardi said it best, practice does not make perfect,
perfect practice makes perfect.

Ergo, cut down on the time of just banging and more on the
mental concentration for each shot, speed, cb movement.

Plus take a tip from the people who are telling you how to
take some of the strain away from your back.

Mental concentration when practicing is the key.