View Full Version : Success in teaching beginning player!

11-20-2004, 10:19 AM
I previously discussed giving my "beginning pool playing neighbor" 7 free ball-in-hand shots for each game she plays with me, Also I stop before I hit in the 8-ball to let her shoot her remaining free shots.

Well she is doing exceptionally well with this system (she has only been playing about 3 weeks). Last night she even beat a friend of mine *without* having any free ball-in-hand shots. He did have a cold and was not playing up to par, but he is still difficult to beat even when he is sick. And she had only 3 balls on the table when I got down to the 8-ball without her using any free ball-in-hand shots. Also she shot and made her first short rail bank shot into the side pocket (on my table which has pocket reducers no less).

What I have done to teach her how to shoot...

Bridge instruction - I tell her that it is important that her bridge hold the cue firmly - not wobbly - but firmly. And that is all there is to it. How she wants to hold her hand is up to her. Just be sure it is stable. And be comfortable with how she is holding her hand.

Stroke instruction - None whatsoever! (See follow through) I concentrate on the results of her shooting, not on telling her how to stand, etc. However she manages to get good results is up to her! (Actually she has developed a good stable stance and good stroke on her own...)

Follow through instruction - I tell her the tip of the cue should stop several inches past the cue ball after each shot and be pointing to where she was aiming. Not up in the air, not to the left or right, but straight at where she was aiming. Then count to 4 before removing cue from table.

Breaking balls instruction - I point to spot on the center of table between side pockets and tell her to leave the tip of her cue there after shooting the cue ball. She breaks 'em wide open with a medium hit. (She was afraid of tearing the cloth, but I told her to feel the tip of the cue and see that there are no sharp edges to tear the cloth, so hit through the cue ball until the tip is resting on the cloth between the center pockets.)

Practice #1 - Throw all 15 balls on table and shoot them directly into any pocket without using cue ball. This has probably helped her the most. This is easy and builds confidence. But thinking about it, she needs first to learn how to shoot the cue ball and aim it at a specific spot. By shooting the balls directly into pockets without a cue ball, she is learning how to aim when hitting the cue ball and how to get the cue ball to go where she wants it to go.

Practice #2 - Line up 4 balls along long rail diamonds (between corner pocket and 4th ball in front of center pocket) one ball away from rail. Then shoot directly (no cue ball) at opposite rail to bank into corner pocket. This teaches her how to aim and use the diamonds for bank shots. (natural bank angles.) But most importantly, it teaches her how to hit the ball dead center. Anything other than a dead center hit (left or right English) will make the ball change its natural direction when it hits the rail. I have showed her how hitting with left will make the ball go to the left of the pocket, and right will make the ball go to the right of the pocket. She had a lot of trouble with this at first - she was not hitting the ball dead center, but she quickly learned where dead center is. Then she had trouble aiming *and* hitting dead center. She would position the cue dead center, then aim and move her tip left/right of dead center when aiming, then miss the shot due to spin on the ball. She learned to look back and forth between the ball for dead center aim and where she was aiming to be sure the aim was correct *and* the tip was pointed at dead center. The only other element was for her to follow through so her tip stopped a few inches past where the ball was and was pointing at where she was aiming.

Practice #3 - Place cue ball short rail center diamond about 6 inches from rail - place object ball 6 inches in front of cue ball - shoot cue ball dead center to hit object ball dead center so object ball hits far center diamond then returns straight back to hit cue ball. This is extremely difficult. This teaches her to hit the cue ball dead center *and* to make the cue ball hit the object ball dead center. She can't do this yet, but it makes her aiming inaccuracies stand out like a sore thumb. This practice is helping her to get more and more accurate with her aiming plus center ball hit practice.

Play - I always thought pool play gave an advantage to better players and kept the beginning players shooting poorly. This is because the better player will shoot in all his balls and keep the table to play the next game. The beginning player may get in one or two balls, then sit down until his next turn at the table. So the better players get the most practice shooting in balls and the beginning player gets very little practice (during games). I feel the beginning player should get an opportunity to shoot in all his balls with each game. This can be done by giving them a number of free ball-in-hand shots to be used whenever they want or by letting them shoot in all their remaining balls at the end of each game. They should also get opportunities to break (loser breaks will accomplish this). I think the most important things are 1. Let them shoot in all their balls for each game. 2. Give them an advantage to where they are close to winning a game, but not quite. 3. Let them break frequently.