View Full Version : Instructor?
08-25-2005, 07:42 PM
So I have been reading this forum for quite some time and I think it's awesome. One thing I've noticed is that most people hear are very convinced that the only way to get really good at pool is with an instructor. Now I'm not great by any means, but I love pool as much as anyone, I play whenever I can, and I read a lot about the fundamentals, the strategies, and the physics of pool. What I have never done is get professional instructions, mostly because I'm a poor college student. What I'm wondering is What’s so great about pool instructors, (no offence to pool instructors in this site) Isn't the main thing a instructor does is make sure you're stoke is strait. After that, isn't a pool instructor just a practice motivator and strategist? After the first lesson can't you replace a expensive instructor with a good book and some discipline? and why can't you just get a really good pool player to tell you if you're shooting right, or buy one of those stroke trainers (those are a little spendy for me too). basically what I'm asking is if it is really that advantages to get personal instructions, and if so, why, and where can I get some at the lowest cost possible? Thank you for any feedback you can give me.
First off, Welcome to CCB. Lots of great information here and many great pool players.
OK, on instructors. First, No, Straight stroke is NOT the only thing a pool instructor teaches. They teach many things. Besides the basic fundamentals, there's aiming, banking systems, kicking systems, diamond systems, jump shots, masse shots (real ones, like you'd use in a real game), proper draw, stop and follow techniques, speed control, self diagnostic techniques, controlling your mental and psychological aspect of your game, game strategy for different games (8-Ball, 9-Ball, 1 pocket, 14.1, bank pool, etc.). There are many things that an instructor can do that a book can't. An instructor can answer a question... a book can't. An instructor can see you falling out of your preshot routine, a book can't. An instructor can see EXACTLY what is wrong with your stroke, your personal eye pattern, your grip, your stance, your alignment, etc... a book can't.
Now I think some books are great, in that they offer a plethora of information... some good info, some bad info, and you sometimes have to sort through it and take some as gospel and some with a grain of salt.
The most important thing about an instructor as opposed to a book, tape or DVD is that your learning curve is reduced greatly. With the exception of a 14 year layoff, I've been playing pool since I was 8 years old. I learned a LOT from just experiencing it. I learned a LOT from books. I learned a LOT from tapes and DVD's. I had no idea what I was missing until 2 years ago when I went to Pool School for three days. I was so impressed with the information that I received that I went back for the Expert Class for another two days. I was so impressed with that, that I went back and went through the BCA Instructors Certification Program... Then the instructor upgrade... I learned more in my trips to Cue Tech Pool School that I've learned in all of my years from books, tapes and playing combined. Yes, instructors DO teach more than a straight stroke. And even if that was all they did teach, if you're missing every shot off to the left a hair, no matter where you aim it, try asking the book to watch and see what you're doing wrong...
I have several ongoing, or continuous students. One guy, a friend of mine, told me he didn't need an instructor because he has every good book there was on pool and a library of instructional tapes... Besides... he's been playing "serious" pool for 10 years, and has read all these books and knows it all. One of my regular students, Darin, has only been playing serious pool for about 18 months. I think he picked up his first cue at 30 and he's 33 now. He gives Mr. Instructional Library the Orange Crush playing 9 ball and beats his brains out. Darin isn't a natural, he isn't an exceptionally talented poolplayer, he's just dedicated enough to learning that he practices the way he's told and practices WHAT he's told.
What I'm saying is that Darin has learned more in his few sessions with me (probably 20 sessions or so, 1 to 2 hours in duration), than Mr. Library has in 10 years. He knows shots that Mr. Library has never seen or heard of. He didn't learn them out of a book... he learned them in Pool School.
Again, welcome to CCB. Hope you enjoy it here.
08-26-2005, 01:40 AM
Cane's response covers your question well.
I just wanted to add a few things. Our brains "know" a lot without any input from us. A pool stoke is a fairly simple action yet some people start out light years ahead of others pocketing balls like a machine when they first pick up a cue and others take years to achieve that same level. You can call it talent, visualization, self awareness, eye-hand co-ordination, or whatever else you want but it's there none the less.
However good you are when you start there are a tremendous amount of things that you don't know. No matter how many books you read you may grasp what they are saying but you may not fully comprehend them. You may apply all of the things you read to your game/stroke and still not do them correctly. You may think that you are doing them correctly but that doesn't meant that you are. An experienced player to give advise and a video camera to record you shooting will go a long way toward improvement but an experienced instructor (along with willingness to learn from the student) will save any new player, and many experienced ones, years in reaching their potential. If you don't see it right away go see a different instructor later.
To go back to what I said originally our brains know many things that we aren't aware of. Many of them are downright wrong and are not good for our pool games. A good instructor, or coach, as I prefer to call them, can spot the things that we can't and help us to improve. There are players with poor fundamentals who have never gotten instruction that play at a very high level but if you take that path be prepared for years of struggle.
If you want to be a champion, you have to beat other champions. They are almost certainly getting coaching. Look at Tiger Woods or Pete Sampras or every major league baseball player or every NFL player. They all get extensive time with a coach or coaches. Complete beliefe in ones self at the table is an asset when competing but it will forever prevent you from getting better if you belive that no one can help you to learn new thing or improve.
08-26-2005, 05:39 AM
Great answer! Our backgrounds are very similar. After nearly 40 years of playing, I thought I had a pretty good handle on this game. 3 days at Cue-Tech taught me so much that I hadn't ever considered. And my game picked up at least two balls within a couple of months of applying the things I learned there.
I have a student who took the advanced course from me, only because it is a requirement to enter the instructors program. This guy owns a pool room, and there are probably only one or two regulars in that room who can give him a serious match. He told me after the course that he couldn't believe how much he learned. He has been recommending my class to all of his league players now. He will be entering the instructor program in October when we bring the Pool School Road Show to Charlotte, and he and I plan on holding regular classes together after that.
You will get to meet him when you come to town for the class. (You are still planning on being here, I hope!)
As our favorite mentor is so fond of saying..."They don't know what they don't know".
08-26-2005, 06:13 AM
Hey thanks for the advice, I think I get it, so is the cue tech pool school the way to go? Is there one around St. Paul Minnesota? How much does something like that cost? is there any other schools or options for getting quality pool instruction?
08-26-2005, 06:37 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote 9inthecorner:</font><hr> Hey thanks for the advice, I think I get it, so is the cue tech pool school the way to go? Is there one around St. Paul Minnesota? How much does something like that cost? is there any other schools or options for getting quality pool instruction? <hr /></blockquote>
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote pooltchr:</font><hr> Bob,
<snip> You will get to meet him when you come to town for the class. (You are still planning on being here, I hope!)
Steve <hr /></blockquote>
Steve, YES, I'm definitely planning on Charlotte in October. Only thing that my change... if gas gets to $3 a gallon, I'll be driving the G6 instead of the Motorhome! LOL At 7 miles to a gallon, that Southwind can eat me up pretty fast!
08-26-2005, 08:07 AM
I would say that cost wise, it is probably much less expensive to go to an instructor. Some of the books which contain certain systems are rare and can cost several hundred dollars each. You will not find these things in the $20 books on pool.
Also some of the best things I have found are in old books on billiards. But again; rare and expensive. I have one called "Dainty Billiards - 1925". Best book I have ever seen on how to barely tap the balls. This will be excellent for safety play whenever I get around to reading it and practicing the shots. But I doubt you could find a copy for sale anywhere.
An advantage to having the books though is that you can learn about and try several different systems to do the same thing. Then use the one which works best for you.
And then there are the "secrets". I get the feeling that some pros may not "tell all". What they teach and what they use for themselves may be two different things!
So how would I pick an instructor? Well I would find the best players in my area and ask who they learned from. For example there is a player in my area who usually kills me at the table. He told me he went to a big name pro who charged a fortune and the instruction was useless. He also told me about someone else who really helped his game and also had reasonable rates. So that is the person I intend to go for instruction when I get the time.
08-26-2005, 08:22 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Cane:</font><hr> I'll be driving the G6 instead of the Motorhome! LOL At 7 miles to a gallon, that Southwind can eat me up pretty fast!
Bob <hr /></blockquote>
If you drive the MH, let me know...there are a couple of campgrounds within about 2 to 3 miles from the room.
08-26-2005, 10:02 AM
If I may ... All the responses are quite good.
I would like to equate it to learning music just from a book or a dvd. Those things work well after you have a good referance or base to work from.
08-26-2005, 11:49 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote 9inthecorner:</font><hr> ... What’s so great about pool instructors, (no offence to pool instructors in this site) Isn't the main thing a instructor does is make sure you're stoke is strait. After that, isn't a pool instructor just a practice motivator and strategist? After the first lesson can't you replace a expensive instructor with a good book and some discipline? a... <hr /></blockquote>
Fundamentals are important, you probably have flaws in your technique, and you probably can't see the flaws yourself. If you play with those flaws in place, you will make them a part of your game that will be hard to get rid of later. You will probably layer on other flaws to fix the first ones.
To diagnose any major mechanics problem should not take more than an hour. For you to fix it, if you really do have a problem, will take much longer.
As for the rest of what an instructor can do for you, one of those things is to teach you to diagnose your own problems and to make your own drills. How to do this is discussed in the September and October 2004 articles at http://www.onthebreaknews.com/JewettIndex.htm
Also, most intermediate players -- run out a rack of eight ball maybe once in a two-hour session -- have a hard time seeing the different ways to play position in actual game situations. For those players, working through racks with an instructor is useful.
As for expense, pool instructors charge anywhere from nothing to $300 per hour. In my experience, the amount charged has little to do with the quality of instruction. I know one person who paid over $2000 for lessons and didn't even learn how to draw the ball realiably. Whether an instructor can teach you depends on you and that instructor.
About books, there are lots of bad ones on the market these days. They will waste your time and money. Stick with the good ones.
08-26-2005, 07:25 PM
Play for money,and you will be supprised how cheap and valuable an instructor is. Its like how to books on sex,do it once,and you can throw out most of the books. Don't play to win,play to destroy.
08-30-2005, 08:54 PM
There are many good replies from the other instructors here, so here's the abbreviated version of my $.02 about your question(s).
1)Instuctors train a straight stroke, yes. How it gets that way, stays that way, and how to teach a student to do some level of self-diagnosis after the lesson(s).
2)Other fundamentals and physics come with instruction. Strategies are in the genre of coaching (read: experience based perspective, hopefully with the benefit of people, coaching, and training skills) and there are many flavors of top notch strategies and styles that accomplish the same goal from very different directions.
3) Motivation is everyone's responsibility... hopefully we're interesting enough to pass on the passion to a receptive person!
4)Good book? Books? Which one and for what purpose? Whose writing style? Which body of information? Whose recommendation... maybe an instructor... which requires that first lesson you mentioned that might be the last one. The information I find valuable shows up in pieces, often surrounded by and covered by less accurate and less valuable things that can be made attractive only by an author's exitement and belief in what they are spreading (and good wordsmithing).
5) Good pool players know how to play. Many teach or coach specific shots or strategies with above average skill. The value of the instructor is a person who should have much knowlege and references to choose from based on individual needs. A player usually has a much smaller base, because they only need to understand things one way... the one that makes sense to them. An instructor should be able to explain the same thing a few different ways to adjust to a student's learning aptitudes and personality.
6)Learning to shoot correctly from your random good pool player is russian roulette for your pool game.
7)Stroke trainers come in all shapes and sizes and the best ones are usually humans, which brings us back to instruction.
8)Cost is an odd duck. I think it's Bob Jewett who addressed that in this thread. If you find good instruction cheap (what's cheap for who?), soak it all up as much as possible. At the very high-end you are also paying for an experience around the training environment, be that location or high-profile personalities or events.
At the last, if you are looking to do this on the low-down super-cheap: good luck. A good instructor at any level knows their limitations to a high degree, and will refer you to more experienced, active, working instructors who are: independently wealthy and teach for the love of the people and the game, retired and teach for the love of the people and the game, or cost a bit more because they spend many hours a week teaching or learning how to be a better instructor for the love of the people and the game. Part of what is paid for is the ability of that person to pursue knowlege and training skills that the rest of the pool world cannot, doesn't have time for, or won't because of a preference for playing. Most instructors also play, and some play very well by any standard. I would hope that most of us see the world through the eyes of a playing instructor and not an instructing player, although it's a fine line that shifts quickly when not teaching (for me).
All that for less than $.02 of electricity, plus your time to read, and I'll get off my soapbox now!
Best wishes in your quest for improvement,
08-31-2005, 05:34 AM
Very well stated!
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