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View Full Version : Reinventing the wheel - three ball shape practice



SnakebyteXX
11-28-2004, 11:17 AM
I've recently started practicing shape using a simplified rack of three balls. I like the three ball setup because it's quick to set up and without all the other balls to distract me I can concentrate on trying to pot all three balls without missing a shot. This calls for me to survey the table after the break and make a decision as to what order to start shooting - where I want the cue ball to be after a successful shot - and how to get it there.

It's amazing how quickly this little exercise has exposed the glaring weaknesses in my game. Over shooting - under shooting - wrong choice of English - poor choice of which balls to shoot and in what order to shoot them, etc.

It's all there.

I've taken this little three ball practice drill which starts with breaking the three ball rack and proceeds toward an objective of sinking all three balls without a miss and turned it into a simplified game of 'golf'. It can be played alone or with an opponent.

When played with an opponent the game is played in rounds. It calls for one person to break and the second player to begin playing with the lay of the table that results. If the 'breaker' sinks a ball on the break it gets spotted. In any event the guy who breaks the balls stops there and his opponent takes over. The objective is the same as in practice - sink all three balls without missing.

Three balls in a row = a perfect score of zero. Each shot required to clear the table over those three is minus one point. Each player continues shooting until all three balls are off the table and then that player breaks the rack and the challenger begins his turn. Each player has one turn per round. First player to amass ten points loses the games. The game isn't over until this last round has been completed.

Given the many practice drills out there I'm almost certain that what I'm describing has been done before (and much better I'm sure). That's not really why I'm making this post. I don't care if it's all been done before. What I care about is that it's a great way to get me to focus on improving on my ball control and pattern recognition. It adds an element of competition to the practice that I've really needed to keep things interesting and it has provided a meaningful way to measure improvement. It can also be easily adapted to include two players.

Just thought I'd share something that's been helpful to me at my current level of play. It may also be helpful to those of you who are likewise struggling to improve their game and looking for an interesting way to get the job done.

Snake

PQQLK9
11-28-2004, 12:11 PM
Thanks for the suggestion. I have a regular practice partner that I think I will give that a try with.

pooltchr
11-28-2004, 03:33 PM
Run them in numerical order. This is a drill I give to many of my students. Once you master 3 balls, start with 1, 2, and 3. When you make the 1, toss the 4 out and re-plan your run. When you make the 2, throw out the 5. I think you see the point here. Practice this drill enough, and running 9-ball racks becomes much easier.
Steve

TheChump
11-28-2004, 04:26 PM
I would recomend practicing with all 15 balls on the table. Rack them as you would for 8 Ball; break; pocket any ball wherever you like; and then pocket the last 3 balls in numerical order.

You will get lots more of practice this way, instead of racking 3 balls every couple of minutes.

stickman
11-28-2004, 05:19 PM
This is the drill I use. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif I still don't string concecutive racks together, but I run more than I used to.

I start with ball in hand.

SnakebyteXX
11-28-2004, 06:29 PM
[ QUOTE ]
would recomend practicing with all 15 balls on the table. Rack them as you would for 8 Ball; break; pocket any ball wherever you like; <hr /></blockquote>

I had been doing that for some time but the problem with having so many options on the table is that you can screw up your intended position and still have a shot on a different ball. With a 15 ball spread it's easy to convince yourself that you're doing well because you've managed to sink several balls in a row - and with that many choices it's fairly easy to sink several balls in a row. In fact having too many balls to shoot at can mask shape shooting (position shooting?) weakness in your game because if you mess up your position you can keep switching to alternative shots. Narrow the choices down to three balls and those kinds of weaknesses quickly become glaringly obvious.

What got me thinking in terms of three was that time after time I'd break a 15 ball rack for practice - run nine or ten balls and then screw up on the final few. Not being able to control the cue ball well enough to handle those last balls told me that it was position practice that I needed and not just unlimited shooting opportunities.

[ QUOTE ]
You will get lots more of practice this way, instead of racking 3 balls every couple of minutes.
<hr /></blockquote>

The funny thing is that I can quickly 'rack' three balls using only my hands. It's a pretty quick setup - much faster than racking all 15.

Snake &lt;-- trying to say, "It's not quantity - it's quality."

landshark77
11-28-2004, 07:21 PM
We used to play this as a ring game at the bar...rules were a bit diffrent, but all in all a fun game/practice and if you were good enough you cashed in. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

catscradle
12-01-2004, 06:45 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SnakebyteXX:</font><hr> &lt;/font&gt;&lt;blockquote&gt;&lt;font class="small"&gt;Quote:&lt;/font&gt;&lt;hr /&gt;
would recomend practicing with all 15 balls on the table. Rack them as you would for 8 Ball; break; pocket any ball wherever you like; <hr /></blockquote>

I had been doing that for some time but the problem with having so many options on the table is that you can screw up your intended position and still have a shot on a different ball.
<hr /></blockquote>
<font color="blue">I've played a form of 8-ball where you call your NEXT shot and you have to shoot that shot next. Why not do the same thing with the 15-ball drill always decide which ball you will shoot next after the current shot and then shoot that ball (picking the one after that) no matter how you screw up your shape. Just a thought.
</font color>
[ QUOTE ]
With a 15 ball spread it's easy to convince yourself that you're doing well because you've managed to sink several balls in a row - and with that many choices it's fairly easy to sink several balls in a row. In fact having too many balls to shoot at can mask shape shooting (position shooting?) weakness in your game because if you mess up your position you can keep switching to alternative shots. Narrow the choices down to three balls and those kinds of weaknesses quickly become glaringly obvious.

What got me thinking in terms of three was that time after time I'd break a 15 ball rack for practice - run nine or ten balls and then screw up on the final few. Not being able to control the cue ball well enough to handle those last balls told me that it was position practice that I needed and not just unlimited shooting opportunities.

&lt;/font&gt;&lt;blockquote&gt;&lt;font class="small"&gt;Quote:&lt;/font&gt;&lt;hr /&gt;
You will get lots more of practice this way, instead of racking 3 balls every couple of minutes.
<hr /></blockquote>

The funny thing is that I can quickly 'rack' three balls using only my hands. It's a pretty quick setup - much faster than racking all 15.

Snake &lt;-- trying to say, "It's not quantity - it's quality." <hr /></blockquote>

SnakebyteXX
12-01-2004, 01:53 PM
[ QUOTE ]
I've played a form of 8-ball where you call your NEXT shot and you have to shoot that shot next. Why not do the same thing with the 15-ball drill always decide which ball you will shoot next after the current shot and then shoot that ball (picking the one after that) no matter how you screw up your shape. Just a thought.
<hr /></blockquote>

Good idea, I'll give it a try. In the meantime we've taken the 3 ball practice/game to a new level. Now in order to get a perfect score of zero you must read the layout after the break and call all three balls, the order you intend to shoot them and their respective pockets before you start shooting. This increases the degree of discipline required and ups the ante on cue ball control. Failure to complete the turn as planned and you lose a point - even if you make all three balls in succession.

By reducing the practice balls on the table down to three I've discovered that there are some shots that I tend to commonly miss - now when I see that happening I've been using those little circular ring binder re-enforcers to mark the position of the cue ball and target ball before I take the shot. Then if I miss I can set the shot up and repeat it until I get it right. I've found that just as I have the tendency to misspell certain words over and over again with certain shots and certain angles I have chosen the wrong contact spot to hit the cue ball over and over again until it has become habit. Clearly this has led to a predisposition on my part during normal game play to miss the same shots again and again. By marking the position of the balls and repeating the missed shot I can try different contact points (and stroke speed) until I get it right. I must say that it's very gratifying when that time finally comes and the cue ball actually ends up where I want it to.

Honestly? I'm just fumbling my way through the old me-against-me thing in an effort to find a way to stay challenged during practice sessions and hopefully make some much needed improvements along the way. This method of practicing is far from being a 'one size fits all' kind of a deal. But for me at this point in time and at the level I'm playing - it fits just fine.

Thanks for your suggestions.

Snake