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TheDragon
02-12-2004, 03:23 PM
I really haven't played very much pool the last few months. To be honest, I really haven't played nearly as much as I should have the last two years. In the last month I might have averaged 5 hours a week. Even when I have played, its mostly been banging balls around on a friends home table or playing in tournaments that I've exited quickly. Lately, I've even stopped playing in the weekly handicapped tournaments that I used to place in every week because my dad makes me give up weight that I can't win against anymore. As a result of playing this little I'm playing very poorly, and thats what I expect and deserve.

The main reason I stopped playing was because of disappointment. I've always had a shaky attitude that tends to crack when I play bad under pressure or when my dad comments on my poor play when I'm angry. That attitude has always gotten me in trouble, but this time it cost me a trip to Derby City. That was extremely upsetting for me, as I had been looking forward to that event for several months. I didn't play for two weeks after that, and when I did start to play again I wished I hadn't. I played in three tournaments where I never won more than a match, and then lost $100 (the most I've ever lost)the first time I played for money again.

But I'm ready to start playing again. I want to win the weekly tournaments that I used to win every other week, and also win some other tournaments I've been playing in. I want the confidence I used to have to play every single player in my dads poolroom for money. I want to qualify for the junior Nationals in Valley Forge, and also play well there on the challenge tables. I understand that this isn't going to magically happen playing 5 hours a week, and thats why I need to start playing.

I think that taking a few weeks off, feeling some disappointment, and losing money might actually end up being good for me. Just about everything that has ever been disappoing for me in my pool life has sprouted from my terrible attitude and/or temper. I feel more ready to get rid of my bad mental game than I ever have before in 6 years of playing pool, though I have to note that this task is much easier said than done.

So here's where I need your help. I get bored in practice, mainly because I don't know how to practice, and usually quit after 20 or 30 minutes. Because of the lack of practice, I'm doint terrible in tournaments, and because of that I've basically quit pool. A pretty vicious cycle to say the least.

How do you practice? Whats something that I can practice for hours and take seriously without getting bored and going home? People tell me to do drills, which doesn't help when I don't know how to set up drills and which drills to practice. Should I keep playing in tournaments, or should I wait until I'm playing better? I need some outside help because I don't know myself, and I already know exactly what my dad or my friends at the poolroom would say to those questions almost to the precise word.

-TheDragon

Wally_in_Cincy
02-12-2004, 03:34 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote TheDragon:</font><hr>
...How do you practice?...<hr /></blockquote>

Have you heard of a book called Black Belt Billiards?

TheDragon
02-12-2004, 03:41 PM
no i haven't. Is it a good investment?

Wally_in_Cincy
02-12-2004, 03:56 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote TheDragon:</font><hr> no i haven't. Is it a good investment? <hr /></blockquote>

Best $20 you'll ever spend.

http://members.aol.com/blkbeltbilliards/

One question first. Do you enjoy practice at all? Or have you really never had structured practice?

Rod
02-12-2004, 04:01 PM
If I gave you some drills you might not like them. One drill I do like however (from Jim Rempe as I recall) is shooting all 15 balls in without the c/b touching a rail. No object balls closer than a ball distance from the rail.

I think an important part of improving is to set goals. Don't make it to easy but not unrealistic either. As an example early on I use to practice 14-1. My starting goal was low but in a short time I increased that to 50 balls. If you can run 50, you can run a hundred. I know that game is seldom played anymore but it teaches you C/B control and many other aspects that carry over to other games.

So no matter what you decide to play, give your self a goal. Once you reach your goal( say you have 2 hours) go on and play what you like. Don't try to stay with one thing to long unless you are enjoying your time.

Rod

Popcorn
02-12-2004, 05:32 PM
I have to say, I don't entirely get you. You dad has a pool room, you can play all you want. Most guys are trying to budget their money just to practice. When I was you age I could not play enough, practice or otherwise. You may just play because your father has a room and don't really care much about the game, I have seen that many times. If you did you would not be talking like this. It sounds like your goals are more wishful thinking and not really goals you are willing to work toward. If you don't like to practice I could not think of anything to tell you, there are no magic formulas. The first prerequisite is to love to play the game and I don't hear that from you.

JohnnyP
02-12-2004, 06:02 PM
Tap, tap, tap.

Keith Talent
02-13-2004, 12:50 AM
Dragon,

Sounds like you've gotten a little too wound-up and frustrated. I can see where Popcorn's coming from, saying why don't you take advantage of this great opportunity for table time. But then again, you're at that age, whether you realize it or not, when you just HAVE to rebel against authority (namely dad) to establish your own independence. So, even though he might know best -- and I'm willing to bet he's giving you fair weight in those tourneys just to try to get you to play your best and not slide by -- still, you've got to try to do things your own way, because that's what teenager has to do to, as they used to say, become your own man.

My old man made it especially hard for me ... not by being strict or holding me back ... but by letting me know up front HE understood all this stuff and that it was OK. He'd quote whoever said, "A young man who's not a rebel is an idiot." Or even, and it was only meant metaphorically, of course, "every young man's got to kill his father" to come into his own. So how do you rebel against THAT? I mean, I had to prove him wrong on that score somehow ...

Anyway, I'm guessing you and your father are going back and forth some in the most normal way ... and pool's in the middle of it all.

Drills can't really be your problem, though I could tell you I hate to do them myself and almost never bother with them. But you've got to enjoy the time you get on the table ... me, I can easily spend 5-6 hours just throwing 7-9 balls on the table and trying to run them, always starting from shots that give me some trouble and repeating them until I feel comfortable. Or mixing it up with a little 14.1 and trying to get past my old high run (and 50 sounds like a good goal, as Rod said)... and maybe some abbreviated safety practice. I don't need to play a competitve game, though I'm glad when one comes up. Tournaments are great, too ... haven't played in more than a handful since I took up the game again a year ago, but I finally finished in the money in one a couple of weeks ago. But that shouldn't be the end-all.

Good luck getting back your enthusiasm... and don't hold it against your old man too much for giving you a little tough love. He just wants to see you get the most out of your talent.

CarolNYC
02-13-2004, 03:13 AM
[ QUOTE ]
One drill I do like however (from Jim Rempe as I recall) is shooting all 15 balls in without the c/b touching a rail. No object balls closer than a ball distance from the rail.
<hr /></blockquote>
Hey Rod,
This is the only drill I do-its on Jim Rempes "How to run 100 balls" tape-do it two weeks straight,faithfuly,guaranteed to improve your game-very hard at first, but once you start doing it ten outta ten times, it feels good!
Take care!
Carol /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif

Frank_Glenn
02-13-2004, 06:15 AM
I set up all 15 balls on the diamonds like this:
START(
%Ag7I4%Bg6V2%CU5V2%Da2V1%Eg6O1%F[5V3%G[5O3%Ha4I6%Ia2O0%J[5I6
%KO3O2%LU5O2%MO2I4%NO2V3%OU7I6%Pk9X4
)END

http://endeavor.med.nyu.edu/~wei/pool/9egg/

Take ball in hand and try to make all of them with no combo's, no banks, no ball including the cueball hits a rail. You will learn to control the cueball and you will learn patterns.

bluewolf
02-13-2004, 06:36 AM
Dragon,

I can relate to your disappointment. I have a pool table in my house and am not working so could conceivable play hours a day. When I have felt down about my performance, I would make excuses to not practice.

In spite of that, I kept improving even though I did not practice a lot at times.
I guess i hit a point, where, when I competed, I was totally relaxed. Even if I was not shooting lights out, I had confidence in my stroke and I just don't worry anymore about winning or losing. This lack of nerves has given me an edge, often against much better shooting opponents.

Fast Larry once told me that when he was young and shooting so well, he expected to win all of the time. One of his instructors told him you will win, lose, win, lose. And then he worked on the mental game, the relaxation and concentration aspects. The reality is that sometimes I lose (even the top pros do that), and if a person beats themself up when they lose, how can they be calm and composed when they face the next opponent? So it is not being so lackadaisical that they do not want to win, it is that they have learned to take it in stride.

I know that drilling certain shots will help with those shots, but it is the ability to not only be good at strategy,shotmaking and shape, but to remain cool and relaxed, even when one is down in games, that means that I rarely choke. No matter how good I am shooting, if I do not have mastery over my emotions and thoughts, I am going to lose, even to someone not quite as good of a shooter.

It is an attitude thing. You are still focussed on winning certain tournaments where my focus is on playing well in terms of shooting, position and strategy and that calm,ice running through my veins, coupled with that killer instinct. So it is relaxation, concentration, confidence without the emotions interfering.

I would in addition to practice, work on the relaxation part. I think it is your mental game that is killing you rather than your skill. Also, if you are a B player, with expectations of playing A, you are adding so much pressure to yourself that you are 'shooting yourself in the foot'. With, putting that much pressure on yourself, how can you play calm? If you can learn to relax, take things in stride, as you play more, you will get that A game.

Conquer the mental game and keep shooting. You will win more by both the attitude change and by time, potting more balls. Instead of beating yourself up when you lose, why not look at what your opponent did well and try to learn something, so that you will play better next time.

Why not just play for fun, be happy as you improve and learn to relax?

Laura

Perk
02-13-2004, 06:41 AM
Some good points have been made.

For practise I might suggest that you work on one drill a week prior to playing. Grab one of the books mentioned, or use one of your own. Then, after you have worked on 1 drill, start playing Straight Pool starting right off with a breakout ball of your choice. At this point, you will be just running some balls, and working on your CB control. You can set your own goals 30/50/100 whatever level you are at. In essence pool is fun if you are running balls, and straight pool allows that while working on alot of aspects of the game, plus you can monitor your progress. IMO

pooltchr
02-13-2004, 07:03 AM
Dragon,
I know your Dad is pretty close with Allison, and I know she has spent some time up there. Have you ever had the chance to watch her practice? She will set up the same shot over and over for several minutes, then move on to another shot and do the same thing. Sound like fun? Probably not, but the end result is she is the best. I think you really need to ask yourself what your personal goals for pool really are, and then work out a plan to reach them. But it will only work if you believe that the end result (winning) is worth the cost (practice). You have to understand that anything worth having is worth working for.

RUNaRAK
02-13-2004, 07:09 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote pooltchr:</font><hr> But it will only work if you believe that the end result (winning) is worth the cost (practice). You have to understand that anything worth having is worth working for. <hr /></blockquote>

Amen to that. It really feels good to see the results came from hard work too. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Ralph S.
02-13-2004, 12:36 PM
START(
%AH6C8%Bs0O7%CU1[1%Ds0I3%Ea6C8%Fm4Z9%GC6V2%HU3C9%In0C8%JO1O5
%KH6[0%LC6O7%Mr9V2%Na1Z9%OC6I1%Pk0O5
)END

I hope this comes out right lol. I like this drill. I call it the rail shot drill. The object is to run all the balls without missing. Should you blow position, you only have one chance to get back in line. That chance being the ob on the foot spoy, which can be shot at any time. NO combunation shots allowed.

Rod
02-13-2004, 12:49 PM
Hi Carol,

Glad you like it to, it puts a premium on c/b control and strategy. One has to be careful of the ball they choose. It could leave you with a dead end. LOL

~~~ Rod, is sure Carol is careful

CarolNYC
02-14-2004, 02:42 AM
Hi Rod,
YEP! My worst habits use to be jumping up and losing the cueball!Plus I knew nothing about straight pool until Danny (Barouty) taught me /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif
This drill,I feel, teaches you "finesse"-I think anyone can draw the length of a table, but ,try drawing one or two inches /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif
Carol
/ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif

CarolNYC
02-14-2004, 02:43 AM
Hi Frank,
I like it!
Carol /ccboard/images/graemlins/cool.gif

Frank_Glenn
02-14-2004, 02:52 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote CarolNYC:</font><hr> Hi Frank,
I like it!
Carol /ccboard/images/graemlins/cool.gif <hr /></blockquote>

Hi Carol, I'm glad you like it. This drill is much harder than it looks, and is a very good way to practice by yourself and keep score, or with a friend as a contest to see who can do the best. If you miss, hit a rail or another ball, or have no shot, record your score, and start over. This can be very frustrating at first, because you run out of shots because you didn't see the correct "pattern". After a while, you will see which balls to shoot and which ones to leave for last. It's a good 14.1 drill for cueball control, but also will help with 8 ball. I don't think it is a good 9 ball drill, for that I play 3 ball (put the 7, 8, 9 on the table and shoot them in rotation). When 3 ball get's boring, go to 4 ball, 5 ball, etc. If you can run 5, you can run 9.

CarolNYC
02-14-2004, 03:23 AM
[ QUOTE ]
If you miss, hit a rail or another ball, or have no shot, record your score, and start over. This can be very frustrating <hr /></blockquote>
Ha Ha Ha-
Hey Frank,
Thats exactly how it starts out,but then,with determination, it becomes easier /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gifWhen I started doing this drill, I remember playing a state championship (placed 5th) using just center ball and allowing the natural path of the cueball to travel its distance with speed control and instead of trying to go "around" balls, blocking my path, I just knocked them out of the way or used them to stop the cue-definitely teaches you more of,I guess, simplicity ,in shooting, and then again, that "finesse"I love to watch players with finesse!
Thanks for the "extra"drill!
Take care!
Carol /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Frank_Glenn
02-14-2004, 11:33 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote CarolNYC:</font><hr> Thats exactly how it starts out,but then,with determination, it becomes easier /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gifWhen I started doing this drill, I remember playing a state championship (placed 5th) using just center ball and allowing the natural path of the cueball to travel its distance with speed control and instead of trying to go "around" balls, blocking my path, I just knocked them out of the way or used them to stop the cue-definitely teaches you more of,I guess, simplicity ,in shooting, and then again, that "finesse"I love to watch players with finesse!
<hr /></blockquote>

Yes! I have been in a slump lately and started using this drill to try to get out of it. It seems to be working. It makes me shoot slower, and "think" about what I'm doing. It is so very hard to have focused, constructive practice. Usually, I just roll 15 balls onto the table and shoot them in to "keep in stoke", but lately that has not been working. The "structure" supplied by this drill is helping me to see what was wrong and "fix" it. Hopefully, I will come up to a new plateau when I come out of the slump (that's what usually happens).

CarolNYC
02-14-2004, 01:00 PM
Hey Frank,
I know how you feel-I think everyone goes through that "slump" period at sometime or another-The best thing is when you KNOW whats wrong and are able to fix it-sometimes I can't comprehend what the heck Im doing wrong,then thats when I go and ask for help-(and living in NY is like a Godsend ,with the caliber of players available and who are also my good friends)-sometimes when a teacher watches you, they pin it out in an instant-and then ,its like, "you gotta be kidding" but , thats when everything becomes clearer and you start seeing things that you never seen before /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif
Believe in yourself and I KNOW you will reach that plateau-you have the HEART!
Have a great day!
Oh, Happy Valentines Day! /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif
Carol /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Chris in NC
02-14-2004, 01:14 PM
Popcorn, excellent advice, and you are very accurate in your perceptions regarding the Dragon. Also great advice from Keith and Laura. I think it should help the Dragon to hear this stuff from other people such as yourselves, as opposed to me - his Dad.

Drayton knows the spots I make him give up in our handicap tournaments is tough, but fair - if he plays his game and his opponent doesn't get lucky, good rolls, and/or play over their head. I think hopefully he also understands that I'm in a position where as tournament director if I don't handicap him tough, others will say I'm showing favortism in the handicapping - which I certainly don't wish to ever be accused of.

The Dragon is considered by virtually all the other tournament players here as the most dangerous, talented player in the room and no one looks forward to drawing him in a tournament, even with the handicap they are usually given. However, at the same time he's developed a reputation of being a player who is so hard on himself with such an unstable mental game that if he gets rattled - either by solid play from his opponent and/or even more likely by his messing up an easy out, he is subject to really losing his game and getting beat by virtually anyone. This is particularly the case if I happen to be around watching any of the match - which as owner/proprietor/TD I usually am - even if it's from a distance.

I have told Drayton many times that his mental game is one of the biggest things he needs to conquer if he is to make it to the next level. I think that will come with maturity, though it has taken longer than he'd hoped it would. The other IMO more important aspect, which may end up likely being much more of an obstacle to his continued improvement in the game is his questionable love and passion for pool - which is my only guess as for why he doesn't practice or play much.

As opposed to myself and most of us here, the opportunities for Drayton to play nextdoor to his home in his family's poolroom (for the last 8 years since he was 6 years old) on top quality equipment has always been so easy and available to him that he takes it for granted. He probably doesn't appreciate it - as opposed to what most of us had growing up. It's hard for me to relate to that, because all I can see here is all the things I wished I had (as a passionate young pool player growing up) that he just takes for granted.

Drayton's situation in some ways reminds me of Jean Balukus. Not to in any way compare his game to Jean's, but her childhood of growing up in her Dad's poolroom - having the game shoved down her throat, and pool virtually being her whole life - not really by choice of her own. I think that has alot to do with why Jean burned out and retired so young and still to this day would rather be playing golf, softball or just about anything else other than pool - even though she is likely still good enough if she came back to challenge Allison and Karen.

It's encouraging for me to see the Dragon is still interested enough in his game to write this post. - Chris in NC

Sid_Vicious
02-14-2004, 01:19 PM
Case in point: I was warming up for league last Monday and hitting like crap against another team mate, and just before the games he said that I was ahead of pendulum in my stance. Well I recently have begun getting lower in body behind the shot, and I was inadvertently forgetting to compensate for the shift in how my backhand was ending up. I said an A-HA, went into the matches and did not lose a single game. All it took was someone else seeing that small oddity, and adjusting to it. It will most likely be something small Frank, and you can fix that...sid

Sid_Vicious
02-14-2004, 01:28 PM
"As opposed to myself and most of us here, the opportunities for Drayton to play nextdoor to his home in his family's poolroom (for the last 8 years since he was 6 years old) on top quality equipment has always been so easy and available to him that he takes it for granted. He probably doesn't appreciate it - as opposed to what most of us had growing up."

Oh man! If I could relive my opportunities from the past I would have become such a strong player. I can still remember when I was a kid, many valuable things I simply took for granted, this must be one of the hardest parts of human nature to break for an aspiring young talent. Even at my age today, I find myself wanting to get the praise from my peers so much that I let it smother my style and lose. We all want that praise don't we...sid

Keith Talent
02-14-2004, 03:22 PM
Thanks for the comment, Chris. I was a wee bit worried that my post was over the top. Just trying to offer Drayton some encouragement, and possibly, a little insight.

Rich R.
02-14-2004, 03:23 PM
Chris, I can't say that I always agree with the things you say, but, this is the best post of yours that I have ever read, for a lot of reasons.

I hope the Dragon is reading and paying attention. I also hope he looks around and sees just how fortunate he is and the wealth of information at his finger tips.

Most of all, I hope he finds the fire that keeps a lot of us playing and enjoying the game of pool. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Chris in NC
02-14-2004, 07:29 PM
Rich, thanks for your response. I was afraid that those who read my post might feel sorry for the Dragon, and that I'm too hard on him with my expectations and the pressure he is under being the son of the poolroom's owner - always having to play in front of my watchful eye.

The fact is that he has alot of other interests that will likely be much more valuable to him and more important to his future than his talent on a pool table. As much as I wish to see him improve beyond my level and to his full potential as a pool player, I realize that pool is my life and not his. His passion / dedication to advance in the game is completely out of my control and totally up to him. I do know that many young players are limited by their circumstances and limitations - usually either by a lack of natural talent for the game or by a lack of opportunity to be in an environment where their game can develop. In his case, neither of those reasons should hold him back. How far he wishes to advance his game at least for the next few years is totally up to his desire and dedication.

It's just frustrating for me when he occasionally comes to me asking for advice as to why he is in a slump or cannot play better, when the answer is so clear to me - he is just simply not putting in the table time necessary to improve to his game to the level he wishes to play at. Of course that's not what he wants to hear - he's looking for a quick solution, but I think deep down he knows my advice is accurate. Yeah, he may eventually get there (to a higher level of play), but to get there as fast as he would like to is going to take alot more effort and time on his part - which I don't know if he's willing to invest. That decision is totally his. I will love and support him regardless of what that decision may be. - Chris in NC

CarolNYC
02-15-2004, 04:08 AM
[ QUOTE ]
I said an A-HA, went into the matches and did not lose a single game. All it took was someone else seeing that small oddity, and adjusting to it <hr /></blockquote>

Isnt it amazing,Sid?
Good for you-sometimes its just the littlest thing, that can turn your whole game around!
Carol~sees Sid saying "rack'em" /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif

Rich R.
02-15-2004, 08:48 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Chris in NC:</font><hr> I realize that pool is my life and not his. His passion / dedication to advance in the game is completely out of my control and totally up to him. <hr /></blockquote>
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Chris in NC:</font><hr> I will love and support him regardless of what that decision may be.<hr /></blockquote>
Tap, Tap, Tap.

That is what it is all about. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

bluewolf
02-16-2004, 08:36 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Chris in NC:</font><hr> Popcorn, excellent advice, and you are very accurate in your perceptions regarding the Dragon. Also great advice from Keith and Laura. I think it should help the Dragon to hear this stuff from other people such as yourselves, as opposed to me - his Dad.

I have told Drayton many times that his mental game is one of the biggest things he needs to conquer if he is to make it to the next level. <hr /></blockquote>

Chris, I have talked to players trying to give them tools to relax but this is hard to teach. When I face better shooters than me or any other shooters, really, I am kool as a cucumber and I watch many of them fold before my eyes (whether they win or I do), that is proof enough to me how important the mental game is.

While I am not that good of a player yet, in my earlier years (years before I started playing pool), I studied three things extensively:meditaion, creative relaxing visualization, and yoga breathing techniques. Sara Rousey talked about some of these things on another forum too along with a type of self-hypnosis with positive thoughts rather than self-sabotaging thoughts. Looking at her current performance, it certainly seemed to help her.

I have found it impossible to have two competing thoughts, one negative, and one positive in my mind at one time. Negative thoughts, on the rare ocasions that I was nervous, have been pushed out by repeating positive things like 'you have a perfect stroke' or whatever makes the person relax. In my mind, it did not matter if my stroke was not perfect. What mattered was going down on the shot with a perfect, relaxing thought or image in my mind. Then, once on the shot, nothing else was in my mind but the shot. I have found that for me, by mentally preparing myself with positive things enables me to just shoot and therefore choking is a non existent or rare event.

This does not mean I win but it means I can play my best, without my emotions or any negative thoughts keepiing me from playing as well as my skills will take me.

When I went to the Falcon tour In Rockville last year,I got beaten rather narrowly by a player who was much better than I. If she had her mental toolbox in tact, the match would not even have been close. I was even shooting worse than usual, but was there for fun, the experience and good competion so was calm. I watched this very good player literally crumple before my eyes, and even though she won the match 5-4, she was an emotional basketcase by the end of the match.

At that Falcon tounie, I watched the other women play too. It amazed me how many became angry when they missed an easy shot, at least 50% of them played like 'choking dogs' and were ruled by their emotions. I was left with the impression that no matter how good the player is, they cannot go very far without gaining mastery over their thoughts and emotions and developing the ability of relaxation, concentration while still being confident.

My .02

Laura

pooltchr
02-16-2004, 08:59 AM
Chris,
One thing of note is the title of this thread. It says "I'm ready to play" but not "I'm ready to practice".
You have done the instructor course and know the drills. Maybe if you sat down with him and worked out a practice plan for him that would hold his interest. I know it's hard to work with someone you are close to. (My wife is the most difficult student I have!) It sounds like he has the skills, but maybe needs the motivation to practice. Give him a schedule and a plan that will not let him get bored. Then make sure he knows to get the "Play Time" in as well.

Laura makes some good points regarding the mental part. Work with him on ways to stop thinking so much, and just let it flow. (A little bit of "Chalk's up")

Just some ideas that might help.
Steve

denoandrews
02-16-2004, 09:12 AM
&gt;Dragon wants to know how to practice&lt;

Well,there are more than enough drills to fill hundreds of pages and hours of typing, but those are readily available. Furthermore, I am not a pool player, but instead a carom billiard player. So I am going to focus more on the esoteric rather than the nuts and bolts of drills...because if you never understand mentally why you need to practice, your practice will never be enough, nor will it be productive.

I really believe that most players of any cue sport that are not yet very serious don't really understand why practice is needed. Most people when I ask them respond with "because I want to get better." But when I ask them how they are going to get better, they haven't a clue. There is a symbiotic relationship between playing and practicing that I will address shortly.

To play well, what are the key elements? Consistency in ability to make shots under pressure, knowledge of the right moves or the creativity to manufacture something new under pressure, confidence. This is very big picture stuff. Practice addresses all of these things if you allow it to. Start with consistency- to be more consistent, you must reduce the negative variables from your game. For example, if your bridge is too long, you can shorten it to be more consistent. If your stroke is inconsistent in its aim or delivery, working on it will reduce variables. Anyway, you get the message. Knowledge is something that you will get mainly from study and observation, and discussion with better players. But you will also learn on the table, but not as much as fast as if you actually study. Finally, confidence is sort of the result of the first two- ability and knowledge. If you are lacking in either of those two things, confidence will be down, or if it appears to still be high, it is simply a facade, or it is cocky instead of confidence.

Here is how to practice- Work into a practice routine by only scheduling a short amount of time to practice. Let's say to start, simply tell yourself you are only going to practice for 45 mintues today. Then, the MOST IMPORTANT THING is to SET A GOAL for that practice time. So many people practice without a goal in mind. Winning is a goal orientated mission- so should practice! So take a drill, a shot you have had problems with, and a new shot, to the practice table every time you go. Shoot the drill until you either complete it, or do well enough that you are satisfied. Work on the shot you have problems with until you solve the problem, or at least become better to your satisfaction. Start to learn a new shot as well. Finally, you have mechanics to worry about, but that will become more obvious to you as you try to figure out why you miss shots. So limit your practice time so that you are not looking at the clock wondering how you are going to practice for three hours. 45 minutes of real practice is much better than 180 minuts of banging the balls around. What you will find is that you will be going over the 45 minutes quickly and going into the hours, as long as you have a goal in mind.

So, you are wondering where to find your goals aren't you? Here's where- remember when I wrote there is a symbiotic relationship between play and practice? When you are competing in tournaments or gambling, you need to pay close attention to what you are doing right and wrong. Take mental or written note of shots that evade you, mechanics that made you miss (like a crooked stroke that caused a miscue or something), or a thought process that talked yourself out of being successful. It is in the actual playing and competing where you will get your best input for the practice table. So you are learning about the game in play, competition, and even practice...you are building your confidence by practicing those things that you have proven to yourself in competition that you have problems achieving, and finally, because of the cycle, your confidence will rise, albeit slowly...but there will be more substance behind your confidence, thus it will not fluctuate as easily.

So remember, set a time limit for your practice; you can always go over. Set goals to accomplish in practice, and get the goals from actual play and competition. And remember that real confidence comes from building ability and knowledge. One without the other will only get a player to a certain level, and it's not very high on the food chain. And make sure to get drills from everyone who has one to offer. Chart them out on paper so you don't forget them. Finally, you need a new nickname- someone I think already uses "the Dragon" /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif
Deno Andrews

TheDragon
02-17-2004, 01:03 PM
Thanks everyone for all the help and suggestions. I still haven't really started playing again. I spent all weekend at a friends house and now I'm at home, sick. I think I'm starting to realize that the truth is there are more important things in my life than pool. I usually get a ride with one of my older pool friends to play in a tournament 45 minutes away every Saturday, but 4 out of the last 5 weekends I've chose to have fun hanging out with my friends rather than playing in it. This isn't to say that pool isn't important to me, just that at the moment it doesn't get the priority it used to get in say 6th grade.

But today I was suddenly smacked in the face by the fact that Valley Forge is only a month away. I need to win the 14-and-under event to qualify for the Junior Nationals (although I'll be 15 by Summer). Also, my dad is having a big $25 entry tournament in 3 weeks, where I'll be giving up hefty game handicaps in long races. There's no way I'll have a chance in either of those playing as rusty as I have the last few days. So I've got to buckle down and start playing every day, and with your practice tips and suggestions thats all the more possible.

Thank you
-The Dragon