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View Full Version : Need help becoming safety player! [Mental]



Billy_Bob
01-22-2005, 08:52 AM
Ok I've been reading about safety shots and practicing them at home...

Then I go to a tournament and am playing and don't have a shot...

So I think I should play a safety. Then my brain freezes! Can't figure out any safety to play. Then attempt a difficult shot and miss - other player runs out...

While I'm sitting in my chair, I suddenly think about a safety I could have played. Too late!

Part of my problem is that for years I have played in bars where safety shots are a no no. So I have this mind set that you just don't that or you will be severely chastised and no one will play you as you are playing "dirty pool".

Lately I have been playing in tournaments with highly skilled players where safeties are not only allowed, but expected. And when you play a good safety, you are complimented.

What is going on in my mind when I should shoot a safety is...

"This guy is going to think I'm a real prick if I do that to him. I don't want to be that nasty."

Or... "I'm taking too much time trying to think about what to do, can't think of any safeties, maybe I'll just try that difficult shot and let the game proceed."

Or if I have played safeties with my last three shots keeping the other player from having a shot... "This guy is going to think I'm a real jerk if I keep doing this to him."

I guess what would help the most with the thinking part would be a pre-safety routine. Questions I could ask myself so I could more quickly think about what to do.

Maybe...
Can you leave the cue ball in a bad spot?
Can you block a pocket?
Can you tie up one of his balls?
Can you mess up one of his balls (intentional foul).
????

GeraldG
01-22-2005, 09:27 AM
I think the issue can be broken down into 4 mental aspects in your case. I'll give you those, then address each. The following is only my opinion on this....your mileage may vary.

1. A lack of "killer instinct". You don't want to make the other guy angry.

2. You are used to looking at your game in only one way. An "offensive" game only. What you have to realize is that a defensive shot is also an offensive shot...maybe your best one in some cases. The object is to either end up with better position or ball-in-hand, so you can continue with your offensive game.

3. You are not accustomed to looking for safeties. You are accustomed to looking for an open pocket only. Finding safeties is almost as easy as finding an open pocket once you get used to looking for them.

4. You may approach different shots in different ways. Every shot on the table is exactly the same as every other shot on the table.

Aspect number 1: Emotion is a normal part of the game. You need to learn how to let it work for you, not against you. Why would your opponent be more angry with you if you play a good safety on him than if you beat him without safeties? The object is to win the game, playing fairly and within the rules. The rules allow for safety play. It's just another shot and an integral part of having a good 8-ball or 9-ball game. When you opponent shows some anger at being hooked by a good safety, then that shows that your shot did exactly what it was supposed to do. That's good feedback for you. A safety has more than one purpose. It's main purpose (in most cases) is to try to get ball-in-hand for your next shot, or better position at least. The other purpose is phsycological. It is intimidating to play a player who makes effective safeties. It will start to have a mental effect on your opponent's game, tilting the advantage to you a little.

Aspect #2 and 3: You have to look at the total game every time you play. Once you get accustomed to incorporating safety play into your game, it will be much easier. A good way to do that is to play a game of safety play only. Rack up a 9-ball rack and break. Any balls that fall on the break are spotted back up. You will play only with the 1-ball and the cueball. Take ball-in-hand and play a safety. Then your opponent has a chance to get out of the safety by kicking, masse', or jumping. If he misses the ball, you get 1 point for playing an effective safety. Then it's his turn to take ball-in-hand and try for a safety. If a player successfully gets out of a safety, then there is no point for that safety and the player that succesfully got out of the safety takes ball-in-hand to play his safety. The first one to 10 points wins. If the 1-ball ends up hanging in the jaws of the pocket where a safety is not possible, it is spotted up and the game continues. If a player kicks out of a safety and into another CALLED safety, he gets an extra point. This drill will get you accustomed to looking for safeties.

Aspect #4: Your approach to every shot on the table, easy or hard, pocketing a ball or playing safe, should be exactly the same. Same preshot routine...everything. You should take as much time with a straight-in 9-ball as you do with a shot on the 5-ball or any other ball. How many times have you run out to the 9 ball only to have it hang in the pocket? Why does that happen? It's because you mentally finished the game before you physically finished it. You treated that 9-ball shot differently than the 1 through 8. The idea in your head was "OK, I have it now, I don't need to bear down so hard now. I don't need to play position on this shot." Then you let up on the 9-ball shot. You either took you eye off the ball at the last second or stood up on the shot or whatever. You quit on the shot before you were finished. I try to play position on the 9-ball shot to the center of the table. That makes me treat the 9-ball shot just like the other shots.


Another thing that helps me with "choking" on the 9-ball is this. If I'm practicing shots where I'm setting the same shot up over and over, I use the 9-ball for my practice ball. That gets me accustomed to looking at the 9-ball and not thinking about it any differently than any other ball.

cheesemouse
01-22-2005, 10:30 AM
Billy_Bob,

[ QUOTE ]
So I think I should play a safety. Then my brain freezes! Can't figure out any safety to play. Then attempt a difficult shot and miss - other player runs out...

While I'm sitting in my chair<hr /></blockquote>

If you have ever played the game of chess this suggestion will be easily understood. When playing chess and it is the other guys move what do you do while waiting your turn?...the answer is you run scenarios of his possible moves and what you can do to counter them. This is exactly what you should be doing on the bench while playing pool. What are the benefits of this type of thinking?
&lt;your always up to date
&lt;you rarely ever get caught off quard because you anticipated the move while sitting in your chair
&lt;you will start to see these neat little moves you can go too if need be. I call them traps or escapes. You maynot need them but they are there none the less.
&lt;your overall pace of pool will be quicker and more natural. This quicker response time gives the impression of intelligence and confidence. These impressions can imtimidate your opponent, which is a good thing

...and all you have to do to reap these benefits is pay attention to the table while riding the bench...hope this helps....good luck...

Billy_Bob
01-22-2005, 11:38 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote cheesemouse:</font><hr> ...When playing chess and it is the other guys move what do you do while waiting your turn?...<hr /></blockquote>

Boy do I feel silly! I have played chess in the past and it was "take no prisoners". I did sit there constantly thinking how I could mess up the other player...

And come to think about it, last night I was playing 8-ball and watching my opponent run the table and saying to myself that he was bypassing a certain ball because it was his key ball (last shot to get position on the 8). Well he messed up and I had one chance to shoot. Of course he left me without a shot. I could have shot one of my balls into his key ball and made things more difficult for him...

Think chess!

I should be thinking... Which of his balls are in a position to help him win the game? How can I change that?

Thanks.

Billy_Bob
01-22-2005, 11:58 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote GeraldG:</font><hr>
2. You are used to looking at your game in only one way. An "offensive" game only. What you have to realize is that a defensive shot is also an offensive shot...maybe your best one in some cases. The object is to either end up with better position or ball-in-hand, so you can continue with your offensive game.
<hr /></blockquote>

Yes that's it exactly. I have no defense. I've been playing lesser skilled players and winning with a 100% offensive game.

But I've taken everyone's advice to seek out and play the best players to improve my game. And I have done this. But without any defensive skills, I'm sunk with these sharks!

That is a good suggestion to look at defensive shots as offensive shots. Adding the killer instict will be easy. I'm getting tired of these guys running over me like a steam roller and I feel something building inside.

Also at first I think it is good study and learn from these excellent players - learn how they win - learn how they play defense, etc. It's like I'm learning an entirely new game, a totally different way to play...

Stretch
01-22-2005, 01:21 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Billy_Bob:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote GeraldG:</font><hr>
2. You are used to looking at your game in only one way. An "offensive" game only. What you have to realize is that a defensive shot is also an offensive shot...maybe your best one in some cases. The object is to either end up with better position or ball-in-hand, so you can continue with your offensive game.
<hr /></blockquote>

Yes that's it exactly. I have no defense. I've been playing lesser skilled players and winning with a 100% offensive game.

But I've taken everyone's advice to seek out and play the best players to improve my game. And I have done this. But without any defensive skills, I'm sunk with these sharks!

That is a good suggestion to look at defensive shots as offensive shots. Adding the killer instict will be easy. I'm getting tired of these guys running over me like a steam roller and I feel something building inside.

Also at first I think it is good study and learn from these excellent players - learn how they win - learn how they play defense, etc. It's like I'm learning an entirely new game, a totally different way to play...
<hr /></blockquote>

All very good advice on this thread. Defence wins games. So does kicking and banking skills. The ball in hand really raised the stakes that much. I really like the chess analogy. 8-ball "developes", as in chess there are the opening moves, mid-game, and end game. You can only do what the table gives you sometimes. If your balls are tied up in clusters and rail shots the runnout is not "on" you know what i mean? There are lots of ways to make life miserable for your opponent none the less. The key is patience. You need to use all your safety skills to not only leave your opponent tuff, but to develope your balls to where they are all makeable shots. In chess you don't "make your move" till the trap is set. Same in 8 ball.

Some tips on safety play...
-decide which ball you need to control. The cue ball, or the oject ball. It's amazing how easy it is to mess up by divideing your attention on two balls when your playing safe so decide which one SPECIFICALY that will get the job done.
- Learn the half ball hit! You can do more with this hit than with any other, it is also a cinch to aim. Another cool aspect of it is that by playing it with natural rolling cue ball, after contact the object ball will travel the same distance as the cue ball. So now you have a way to control both the cue cb AND ob.

- Practice thin cuts. That's how you get great distance safes. When you have weight to go from end to end with a thin cut you can hide the ob plus get the cue ball far away and buried as well.

- In 8 ball practise banking at pocket speed. Most people play banks too hard. If you miss, you want to block that pocket out. sometimes a jarred ball is more faluable up than in.

Here's a great and easy safety drill. Just use a cue ball and a 9 ball. Start with the cueball behind the head string and put the 9 ball up against the middle of the foot rail. Now play a safe, and keep shooting till you sellout (an easy makeable shot). See how many times you can shoot safes in a row. It's a great way to learn all the safety routes comeing off one, two, and three rails as well.