View Full Version : Advice for improvement
Need your experienced input to elevate my game? I started playing pool about 7 years ago at age 48 by joing the APA. Got hooked on the game/competition and have worked hard to improve. I am now a 7 level and can beat probably 50% of other 7 levels(our city has approx 150 teams). The top players/gamblers in our city don't play league as expected so I gamble occasionally with them(small wagers)in ring games sometimes and on occasion come out ahead. Trying to further improve I have been playing a former top player and professional gambler at his house once or twice a week for affordable wagers(for me). We play even(9 ball)and he wins 90%+ of the time. My question is should I be playing him because each session we play and I lose depression sets in and I wonder why I even attempt to play this game. What should I do? A local former professional player told me when I started that I was too old to ever expect to be a top player (locally). Do you think he was right? I apologize for the long post.
04-25-2002, 10:43 AM
Everyone has limits and/or limitations. However, until such tiume as you have exhausted all training and practice options and/or opportunities, there is always room for improvement. You might want to seek out either a Touring Professional or a BCA Certified Instructor for some indepth coaching and training. I have also heard that Randy-G's pool school in Texas is excellent.
You are following the path to become a champion by doing battle with the stronger player. The "You shouldn't play that guy" phrase is a big time pet peeve of mine. Any person that tells you you are crazy, stupid etc. for playing a better player is a player that has given up on their pursuit to be the best they can be. Don't let them affect you mentally.
The only way to get better is to play better players(practice is a given). A touring pro once told me to "Covet my losses". Think about that awhile and you will come to realize that our failures are what make success so sweet.
04-25-2002, 03:19 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Striker:</font><hr> My question is should I be playing him because each session we play and I lose depression sets in and I wonder why I even attempt to play this game. What should I do? A local former professional player told me when I started that I was too old to ever expect to be a top player (locally). Do you think he was right? <hr></blockquote>
First of all, you're never too old. Age is immaterial, except perhaps, that you have the benefit of the wisdom that comes only from life experiences. If you're having physical problems, that may be a different story. Age, by itself, is not a hindrance.
Are you learning anything from playing this fellow who wins 90% of the time? Yes, some people say that you must "pay for lessons" (when they mean lose at gambling), but I believe to be beneficial you should actually be learning something. To sit there and pay to get beat without learning a few things would get old very fast. Perhaps you could ask him to explain how he made a shot that you don't understand, or ask him when it's your turn which shot he would shoot and why or how. Or just ask him to teach you some stuff. Learn when you pay him. Since he's winning all the time, he shouldn't object to this.
If you're just trying to learn to gamble, then by all means adjust the spot. Change the bet. Don't play him "even" if he wins 90% of the time. He should be giving you a big spot.
Hope that rambling helps a little.
As for age, I don't know what the cut-off point is. I'm 57 and I play better than I did 10 years ago. You mentioned getting depressed when you lose. If that's true you shouldn't be gambling. Jim R.
04-25-2002, 06:14 PM
I play simply for the joy of it. I do gamble a little (nothing big), and I do wish to get better, but if it ever gets so that it's not fun, I'll quit. I don't expect to become a pro, just one of the best local players. /ccboard/images/icons/wink.gif
I'm age 50. I hope it's not too late. I'm counting on the fact that it's not.
Thanks for your advice and answers. To clarify, let me say I never get depressed because of the monetary loss as it is never more than $20(I'm a tightwad)and he doesn't beat me as easily now and as a result I regularly beat players now who I thought I may never beat. My game has definitely improved.It's just that I expected to be winning 50% of the time by now and it depresses me that I haven't reached that level. I have no aspirations of being a money player(no courage)but I would like to play as well as they do.
You're definitely not too old to continue to improve and become a great player, as long you continue to have the desire and motivation to do so.
As for how to improve: I think it's good that you're playing that guy. I don't think that's your problem. Judging by your post it sounds like you're not sure if you're improving fast enough. Get the age thing out of your head. You can still learn new stuff until you're half-dead and then when you're half-dead you can learn some more.
But remember, you get better at pool one shot at a time. Set your focus on learning one new thing every time you play that guy...whether it's something he did on the table that you hadn't thought of, or an error you made that cost you the game. Then take that one thing to the practice table and work on it.
Never try to work on your entire game at the same time. You'll wind up in the nut house.
04-25-2002, 08:44 PM
From what I've read here, the surest way to get to the next level is with professional instruction. I haven't done it myself, but plan to get some instruction tommorrow. I can't wait! Scott Lee is coming through my area, I think he made a detour for me, WHAT A GUY! From what I have heard from others, I have no doubt that it will be both productive and enjoyable meeting him at last. I suspect it will be the best thing I've ever done to improve my game. We'll let you know.
phil in sofla
04-25-2002, 09:07 PM
I'm just a little ahead of your schedule, now 48 with maybe 4 or 5 serious years behind me in this game. Probably would be an APA 6, although I don't know since I don't shoot APA. Kato, a contributor here sometimes, was a 6, is better than he was when he was rated that, and we play fairly even.
Early on, I started a regular Friday session with a guy who first gave me the 7/8, and later bumped the spot to the 6-out. No wager involved, just bragging rights on the night's results for races to 10. Wasn't that close for a long while, and then I eventually worked up to winning maybe half the races, and competitive in all of them.
He left town maybe 2 years ago, and I continued to improve but without such a better player to play against with any frequency. I miss him, and miss the opportunity to see the spot weedled down.
This week I matched up with a better player, and after 4 hours, he was 15 games up on me at $1 a game at closing time. While I put some racks together, this guy was winning maybe 3 or 4 to my 1 overall, and he's no former top player, just a steady player who gets out. My goal is to play him a lot more, pick up on why he's better, and use the challenge to tighten up my shooting and strategies. I figure it's a very cheap investment in my game to do so, no more than entering some of the more competitive tournaments where I might go two matches and out (which I'll still do for the experience).
Don't be that hard on yourself, considering your opponent may have 20 years experience on you, and perhaps have forgotten more than you know. The men's NCAA tennis champion cannot normally beat the pros right away, without seasoning and experience. You're getting a LOT of valuable experience playing him, even if it doesn't seem that you're making a dent in his advantage with you.
Playing better players with your eyes wide open is one way to improve. Drilling is another. Even just putting in the years and pocketing thousands of balls is another, if done with a purpose and attention to results.
Most likely, your game's top end is limited only by your interest and desire, and not much at all by your age.
04-25-2002, 09:35 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote:</font><hr>Trying to further improve I have been playing a former top player and professional gambler at his house once or twice a week for affordable wagers(for me). We play even(9 ball)and he wins 90%+ of the time.<hr></blockquote>
I think you have an excellent deal going. You say the wager is affordable and it maybe his way of charging you for the lessons w/o your paying a set amount per hour. If he is helpfull and actually instructs you on how to improve I don't think you can improve on the situation. I would advise you to continue your session as long as you both enjoy it. You and I are about the same age and I can tell you one thing that is for sure. If you want to beat the best in your area in your local tournaments work on your staying power along with your game because playing five or six matche in a row can really drain you and when you get tired at our age the focus required to win is easily lost. Good luck.
the most interesting thing to me about billiards is that the best players tend to be much older than in other sports. touring professionals have very long careers. in nearly all other sports one's career performance diminishes after 30. in billiards and chess one can still improve. all of our best New Orleans players but one are well over 30. you have room to continue improvement and, as another poster mentioned, barring any physical issues, you shouldn't have a glass ceiling by age alone. i expect that within the year you'll split the games with this gentleman that now you mostly lose. Your wagers are far less than lessons so savor your predicament.
04-26-2002, 12:43 AM
Striker, don't let the age thing get ya. You're only as old as you feel. I play regularly with a guy that is in his late 70's and in his early days was a very good road player. Granted, time has caught up with him, but the games we played together is one of my greatest learning experiences. I felt much like you do at times, but with a little coaxing and coaching it has made my game excel drastically from where it had stagnated and stalled. Relish the opprtunity you have because you never know how long it will be there.
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Striker:</font><hr> Need your experienced input to elevate my game? I started playing pool about 7 years ago at age 48 by joing the APA. Got hooked on the game/competition and have worked hard to improve. I am now a 7 level and can beat probably 50% of other 7 levels(our city has approx 150 teams). The top players/gamblers in our city don't play league as expected so I gamble occasionally with them(small wagers)in ring games sometimes and on occasion come out ahead. Trying to further improve I have been playing a former top player and professional gambler at his house once or twice a week for affordable wagers(for me). We play even(9 ball)and he wins 90%+ of the time. My question is should I be playing him because each session we play and I lose depression sets in and I wonder why I even attempt to play this game. What should I do? A local former professional player told me when I started that I was too old to ever expect to be a top player (locally). Do you think he was right? I apologize for the long post.<hr></blockquote>
All of us are distinct and different individuals.The main thing is to enjoy yourself as you learn.
And you NEVER stop learning.
I would suggest one fine point to add to your pool endeavors.Continue to play the best in town BUT you need to handicap your abilities with the better players.There's no sense in always losing.If your playing partners have a grain of decency,they should make these sessions somewhat of an even battle.They need the workout as much as you do.
If you feel compelled to just give the cash away, do it with competent instruction.I stress competent.This way you'll get the full benefit of questions and answers as you progress.
Continue as you describe,you're on your way to lifetime enjoyment.All the best.BS
04-26-2002, 03:23 AM
First let me say, the age thing doesn't matter. I suggest you look up a BCA instructor for some lessons on the side. Work on the areas he or she prescribe.
Playing this guy is teaching you nothing if you don't know what to look for. If he's never taken lessons he probably mastered his own mechanics and you could be observing bad habits. It could be that he's just taking advantage of your mistakes.
I suggest the instruction and after fine tuning your game then, look up this guy and play some. Give yourself the opportunity to get where you want to be.
The age thing hurts only when you are unteachable. That's when you give up and resort back to your old ways of doing things. I showed a guy some things and told him, how to correct them. He was disturbed to see he was missing more, with the corrections made, than before. So, he reverted back. Now he's stuck in the same level and wonders why he can't improve.
Sometimes you take a step back to jump 2 steps forwards. If an instructor gives you lessons. You must stick with them. Once you give up then, your back where you started from. This is being unteachable. This is where the saying, "You can't teach an old dog, new tricks" comes from. IMHO Please don't think I'm regarding you as old. Look at Willie M. Your only as old as the women you, awe forget that, your not OLD. LOL
Doug's 12 point step program....(If this doesn't improve your pool game, start drinking):
1)Review all foundamentals (stroke, grip, stance, bridge, etc...). Have others (qualified) look at your foundamentals. Also read books and watch accustats matches and watch how they perform.
2) play regularly on a 9-foot table (that bar box crap will do nothing for your game).
3)Learn and play all the major pool games. One-pocket, straight (especially recommended), 9-ball, eight-ball, and lastly...bank pool. All these games will teach you something which will help you in all the other games.
4) Find a great player who is willing to "spar" with you for free or for table time. Observe their game...even if you never get to shoot.
5)Go ahead and gamble, but negotiate a spot where you are each winning about half the time. I wouldn't just give away money (unless you want to move to my town and I can help..LOL).
6)Spend some of your pool time on drills. They are probably not a lot of fun, but necessary.
7)Master follow and draw. Practice Q-ball movement in increments (15 draws each: 1 inch, 3 inches, 6 inches, 1 foot, 2 feet, 3 feet....table length,etc...). Practice until these shots become a regular repetoire in your game.
8)Develope a "pre-shot routine"
9)Show no emotion (elation or anger) when you play. You should be composed and in control.
10) Shoot all shots with confidence. (Even if you have no clue what you are about to do).
11) Make all your decisions standing up. When you are down for your shot...you should only be executing the decision that you made while standing. (ie - low, left english, hit the ball soft)
12) Did I mention play ALL the games!!! Enjoy...Doug
Again, thanks so much to each of you for your responses. It is obvious from reading your answers that you gave my request more than casual thought and then took the time to respond intelligently with helpful advice. I will rededicate my efforts and let you know in a few weeks what my progress has been.
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