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View Full Version : Need tips on playing better defensively in 8 ball.



ElectricEye
02-24-2004, 01:12 PM
I started playing pool at around age 5 and played alot thru my teenage years, though always just for fun and love of playing. I am 35 now and for the last 15 years or so I probably have shot pool on the average of 2-3 nights a month at a local bar where I find the competition better than most. Over the years I would say I am above average for a bar player and find myself staying on the table long periods most nights.

Anyhoo, a couple months back my friend who's not quite as good as I joined a 8 ball league where the competition is tough, his teamates say they are APA 5 - 7 players. I played them a little bit one night and they are good, they will run out quite often if left the chance. I realize these guys play at another level but from what I have observed, I can shoot and play position just as well, I saw nothing really astonishing about their game but what I feel I need is a new strategy.

I have always viewed pool as a offensive game, if you have a shot, you take it. If you can make 5 balls in, make em then when they miss, run the rest out. The problem is, they don't miss much. I have a bad habit of breaking and running 4-6 balls then leaving the table wide open!! Thats really the way I lose most times. I know they say to get rid of trouble balls early but I always feel the urge to shoot as many balls in as I can and worry about them the next turn, which sometimes doesnt come when playing these guys. I have been practicing daily at my house about a hour a night for the last 2 months or so and my game has improved steadily. I now run out from the break or run all 8 balls atleast once a night and have done so as many as 5 times in a night, just to give you some idea of how good or bad I am. I want to learn to play at a new level of pool, can you give me some hard and fast tips that may help me elevate my 8 ball game. Any thoughts or comments will be gratefully appreciated. Thanks so much.

Wally_in_Cincy
02-24-2004, 01:24 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote ElectricEye:</font><hr> ....The problem is, they don't miss much.....<hr /></blockquote>

/ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif Yeah I hate that.

There are 2 good books on this. "The 8-ball Handbook for winners" by Larry Schwartz and "How Would You Play This?" by George Fels.

These books basically state "If you can't run out, play safe immediately". While that is the truly smart way to play it can make for some very long games. Personally I prefer to be aggressive and try to break up the clusters and try to run out, within reason. It's just more fun to play that way.

There's a lot of 8-ball players here who are waaaaay better than me so I will step aside now and let them comment.

cycopath
02-24-2004, 01:32 PM
I would recommend picking up a copy of The 8 Ball Bible.

8 Ball Bible Website (http://www.8-ballbible.com/)

It's really a well written book, with lots of illustrations. I would highly recommend it to any level 8 ball player.

Fred Agnir
02-24-2004, 02:02 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote ElectricEye:</font><hr> I realize these guys play at another level but from what I have observed, I can shoot and play position just as well, I saw nothing really astonishing about their game but what I feel I need is a new strategy.<hr /></blockquote> Read this sentence over and over again. A lot of the answers are right there. Pool is a funny game. If you can't see what is better about their game, keep looking. I hear lesser players say all the time, "he doesn't impress me..." blah blah, yet "he" is winning everything in sight. Impressiveness doesn't equate to much. Winning does.

[ QUOTE ]
I have always viewed pool as a offensive game, if you have a shot, you take it. If you can make 5 balls in, make em then when they miss, run the rest out. The problem is, they don't miss much. I have a bad habit of breaking and running 4-6 balls then leaving the table wide open!! Thats really the way I lose most times. I know they say to get rid of trouble balls early but I always feel the urge to shoot as many balls in as I can and worry about them the next turn, which sometimes doesnt come when playing these guys. <hr /></blockquote>You need to take these lumps until you figure out that you either have to run all the way out or you'll end up losing when trying and not getting out.

IMO, the better players are better because they know how to run out when it's time to run out. It *is* something astoninshing.

Fred

ChrisW
02-24-2004, 02:03 PM
There is just so much you can do at your level.
The best probably is taking lessons from a credible instructor.
Then there are books like the ones mentioned already.
Practice the drills from those books.
Go to a pool hall where the best shooters are without your cue, just sit and watch them. Look for different styles of strategy ,take notes if you want, or even get to know some of them.
A lot of the time the guys that really shoot well are willing to give you some tips without taking your cash.

Good Luck
Chris

Anonamus
02-24-2004, 03:03 PM
You mentioned wanting to shoot the shot and not worry about breaking out trouble balls. You should be able to do both. Practicing straight pool will really help your 8 ball game. Learn how the clusters break apart as well. You don't want to break up a cluster just to have the balls roll together somewhere else.

Don't put yourself in a situation where you have 1 ball left but you can't get to it because your opponent keeps hooking you. If you come down to where you should run them all but get out of line on the last ball, slow roll the ball so that if you miss it stops in front of a pocket leaving you a shot for your next turn.

If your opponent has a bunch of balls in front of a pocket, try to block the pocket with your ball. That will slow him down and give you opportunities to get your balls in.

Another thing you can do if you think you can't run the whole rack is to tie up your opponents balls. Making clusters with his balls will give you a better chance at getting back to the table.

Good luck!

CaptMorgan
02-24-2004, 03:24 PM
Until about 5 years ago I never took defensive shots either but as competition gets better, strategy must change. When I first started taking defensive shots it was pretty ugly. I didn't really get a good feel for it until I just started practicing defensive shots. I mean all the time, I'd play defense on ppl when I didn't have to against friends all the time. I'd just explain to them that "hey man I'm working on defensive shots so don't get too ticked off alright". They'd understand and after awhile I picked up a friend who actually enjoyed the new game and we'd spend entire sessions just trying to lock each other up. What you learn is that whether you have 7 balls or just the eight ball left, there are options out there that can get your opponent in trouble and you can get you shot back. If you're playing against good people, they will respect your defensive strategy instead of getting mad. I love seeing good defensive shots, it's an art, and when it's done right, it's a thing of beauty. Just practice, practice, practice. There's always an option. As soon as I have a shot where I miss shape bad enough on my original intent I automatically think "ok, where's my defensive shot" and then after that's decided I'll play out my offensive options.

bluey2king
02-24-2004, 04:11 PM
Great topic, Thanks to all posters!! I too am learning the Beauty of a Defensive shot! /ccboard/images/graemlins/cool.gif

Ralph S.
02-24-2004, 04:38 PM
Defense is must. I play agressively myself, and found I was beating myself out of games I would usually win. Once I incorporated defensive play as part of my game, my win totals rose dramatically. I still play for the run out, but only when I am certain it is available.

tateuts
02-24-2004, 06:34 PM
Congratulations - this is the advanced part of the game and you've just arrived there. You've learned that there is more to being a good player than being a good shooter.

The question you are asking is very complicated because it covers a wide range of issues such as experience, psychological make-up, knoweldge, and actual skills.

If the chances of running out are good, of course I'll try it. The hard part is knowing if the chances are good - that takes a lot of knowledge and experience. I don't think you're there yet.

There's a book I like called "The Lesson" by the Monk. If you practice the shots and safes he shows, you will have a pretty good start on being able to see and execute safes. He also shows some reliable ways to route the cue ball around the table.

Now, that being said, being able to see and execute the safes and the shots will do you no good until you believe, and I mean truly believe, that pool at the highest levels is a learned game of strategy and nerves. Nerves come into play when you are competing and they cause both jerky reflexes and mental mistakes. I've seen so many good shooters held back for years because they panic and take too many risky shots. They sell out time and time again and wonder why they lose. They clearly miss game winning safety opportunities to take risky shots. These are bright people too, their nerves or agressive instincts, maybe even panic, are just controlling them too much.

The issue then becomes, if I can't run out, where can I play safe? Well, unless you know the safes, you can't do that. So, first learn how to play the safes (in the books), then learn when to play them from experience.

In eight ball and nine-ball too, you want to play the easiest, simplist, least returnable safety you can as soon as you can. Sometimes this involves breaking up balls when you execute the safety, to clear the table for your future run out, while at the same time locking up the cue ball.

Fred points out something very interesting about what your opponents are doing. If you can't understand why they are winning, then there is a knowledge gap. I look at it like this - the more strategic your game becomes the stranger it looks to the less knowledgeable opponent.

If I were you, I would give 100% to this important phase of your game.

Chris

Barbara
02-24-2004, 09:03 PM
Congratulations on discovering the other half of the game!

All the books mentioned will help you round out your new game.

I never fully appreciated the game of 8-ball til my first BCA Vegas event in 1996. I read the rules book on the plane ride there and tried to figure out how I'd apply the rules to play. Like the stalemate rule. That could be a game saver. I finished 17-24th in a field of 300+. One opponent dissed my safety play after I beat her from being down 3-1, but I told there that there are two sides of this game and that she should get used to it.

Of course, in the bar league I play in, playing safely can draw a few choice phrases, so you have to "dumb it down" and make it look like a miss. Heck, they don't even have a legal hit rule! LOL!! What a league!!

Enjoy your new game!

Barbara

ElectricEye
02-24-2004, 09:42 PM
Thanks for the replies, I appreciate them all. What kinda gnaws at me and intrigues me is that I just wonder how much better I could get if I actually played or practiced pool daily for a period of time instead of playing just every now and then. I certainly won't improve doing that.

I know for a fact these guys he plays with play 6-7 nights a week and have been doing it for many years so I know that to be able to play at there level I must play more often to further develop my game, create the needed muscle memory, get a consistent stroke down and to be able to see situations in games night after night and recall them at will when needed.

Whether I can devote that much time is the big question, and as of right now, family and child obligations will certainly prevent this. That's fine, maybe someday I will get more time to devote to playing but I am hoping that in the meantime I can keep making incremental improvements in my game and just be satisified with those goals. Hey I still want more tips so by all means keep them coming!!

Wally_in_Cincy
02-25-2004, 07:33 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote ElectricEye:</font><hr>
...Hey I still want more tips so by all means keep them coming!! <hr /></blockquote>

OK one more.

If your league has a ball-in-hand (BIH) rule don't be afraid to play safe if you have BIH.

Let's say you have 3 balls clustered together. Once you know what you are doing you can break those up with BIH and still leave your opponent hooked.

02-25-2004, 11:11 AM

RailbirdJAM
02-25-2004, 11:20 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote whitewolf:</font><hr> In 8 ball, at your level (and mine), counterpunching is more effective...The best strategy IMO, is to let the other players get their trash off the table. Be creative. Think of creative ways to miss. Play bad position so that you can't run out. Make yourself look stupid...Good luck....<hr /></blockquote>

Very, very bad advice, and anyone who follows this "theory" will need all the luck they can get.

RailbirdJAM

02-25-2004, 11:24 AM

RailbirdJAM
02-25-2004, 11:42 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote whitewolf:</font><hr>Well, you just joined the club of people who don't get it and most likely never will /ccboard/images/graemlins/tongue.gif /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif <hr /></blockquote>

Words of wisdom coming from Whitewolf. /ccboard/images/graemlins/crazy.gif

I may not have a "pathetic break" and I have never produced a pool instructional video, but I don't sucker-punch and ridicule pool players who have mastered a skill that I do not possess either. /ccboard/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

RailbirdJAM

Perk
02-25-2004, 12:02 PM
One way to think defensively is the "Double D". If you play ball in hand rules, try to get ball in hand the first trip to the table. Make a ball and set your self up for a good lock safety. Alot of people do this, then they try to runout, but I like to think in two's (hence the double). You can break out your next cluster (if applicable), and lock a safety again, then you probably can runout. Obviously there could be more or less clusters, but if you think 2 in a row, you should be able to eliminate your issues, and even if your opponent makes contact with his balls, you have enough available to runout.

Just another theory to add to a defensive position. One way to practice is to play yourself in 8ball. One player goes for the runout, no matter what, and the other makes a ball and ducks until the runout player has 2 or less balls on the table. Keep statistics on your 'own' games and the defensive player will win more games. IMO

peet234
03-03-2004, 10:48 PM
I have been told this repeatedly by a team member: "At your level, you need to learn defense." Then he never really demonstrates much. I sometimes get my brain stuck in a circle, like "If I could make all the shots I wouldn't have to play defense and if I was good enough to know where and how to stick or hide the cue ball, I'd probably be able to make more shots." Bad thoughts, I know.

I am sometimes very good at leaving opponents horrible shots, but it isn't intentional, except when I have a chance to leave them down table. Usually, it doesn't get me BIH it just makes the rest of the match very, very draining. Like a match I had once against a very good 6. It went 17 innings. But then I get distracted by that whole "What if I miss?" thought, wondering where I'll leave them the cue ball and it feels like I'm setting myself up to fail. Good post here, I was just thinking about this last night.

RonMont
03-07-2004, 10:20 PM
You've got the prize one here. I try to pound into my team players, "The only thing better than a easy run out is a easy runout with ball in hand!"

Best, Ron.

Pelican
03-07-2004, 10:49 PM
Ah-so, cuefewsus say, don't make 7 if you can't make 8. /ccboard/images/graemlins/crazy.gif

1Time
03-07-2004, 11:04 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote ChrisW:</font><hr> There is just so much you can do at your level.
The best probably is taking lessons from a credible instructor.
Then there are books like the ones mentioned already.
Practice the drills from those books.
Go to a pool hall where the best shooters are without your cue, just sit and watch them. Look for different styles of strategy ,take notes if you want, or even get to know some of them.
A lot of the time the guys that really shoot well are willing to give you some tips without taking your cash.
<hr /></blockquote>

You can take what ChrisW said to heart. I'm one of those guys if you're ever in Vegas.