View Full Version : Only playing better players is path to improvement

04-12-2006, 11:52 AM
If there was ever a "secret" to becoming a better player, this is it folks!

I've been exposed to some very good players and they have told me to *only* play the best players I can find. And don't play the worst players because they will drag you down*.

*Note: This is as a general rule. I can and do of course play lesser skilled players every once and a while for fun or to help them improve their playing.

Well I have been doing this for several months and have noticed something interesting. My standards are now higher! What I consider to be good playing on my part is now at a new higher level.

Other players will tell me "good shot" or that I am playing great, but I'm thinking I'm playing lousy. I'm thinking that if I were playing one of the best players, I would have lost with the way I am playing and that my playing is not acceptable.

And I have noticed this with the best players. They will win a tournament, yet be disgusted with the way they have been playing. And prior to several months ago, I thought they were nuts. Jeeze they just won the tournament and they are not happy with their playing? I wish I could play so well!

Anyway it seems the reason they feel they are not shooting up to par is because of the really great players they play elsewhere. The matches we don't see.

So I now feel the path to improving is by losing. If at all possible, play the players who can beat you every time. Lose, lose, lose. You will get tired of losing and do something about it! Then one day you will win a game against this player. Then suddenly find that your standards are higher.

The opposite of this is players who always want to win. They always play lesser skilled players so they can win every time. They win, win, win. But they don't improve.

I realized this last night when I was playing someone I consider to be a better player than myself. He told me I was shooting really great. I thought I was shooting lousy. This guy has been playing very low skilled players and yes, compared to those players, I was shooting great. But compaired to the big shots I've been playing, I was shooting lousy.

Anyway I easily beat him twice. Prior to this he would have easily beat me twice. The ONLY difference is my switching to mostly playing the best players I can find. I have not been doing any new drills or practice. This is the only change I have made.

So if someone beats you at the table twice or three times in a row, better think twice about unscrewing your stick and going home. Might want to stick around and play that player all night...

04-12-2006, 01:51 PM
Are you serious??????SPF-randyg

04-12-2006, 03:07 PM
Wasn't true for me. I quit playing altogether for longer than most people have even been playing pool... 14 years. When I quit playing, in 1988, I played every strong player I could with the same idea in mind... after I started playing again about 4 years ago (actually, a little less than that), I did the same thing. Man, I got better for awhile, then I hit this wall that I just couldn't climb over. I QUIT getting better and just stalled out. I had read all the books I could, watched all the tapes I could, talked to all the players I could, etc. I NEVER thought I'd need a lesson, because even though I'd hit a wall, I was one of the best around here... always in the top 3 or so.

One day, I decided that there must be something I was doing wrong, so I decided to contact someone I'd known from the 70's and 80's that played pretty much lights out pool... a gentleman from South Texas named Eddie Parker. EMBARRASSING!!! I called Eddies house and found out that he'd died a year earlier of a heart attach at a tournament in Texas. Well, embarrassing moment over, apologised to his wife and I started looking for the best pool instructor I could find... I finally decided to give Randy Goettlicher a try, so I scheduled time with him, a three day advanced class, and went for it. My game has steadily been improving every since and now, I DON'T THINK THERE IS A LIMIT TO IMPROVEMENT!

What was so great about pool school that turned this around for me??? Well, first, having read all the books, watched all the tapes of matches and having a library of instructional tapes, I didn't really think there was anything they could "TEACH" me, because, playing as many years as I did (from 1963 to 1988 then from 2002 to 2004) I didn't think there was anything on a pool table that I didn't know. I WAS WRONG!!! I learned more in Pool School that I EVER would have learning from playing better players. Of course, I didn't stop with the Advanced Class. I went on to the Expert Class, then Instructor Certification, and have had the honor of teaching alongside Randy both in Dallas and in a few of the road shows since, and every time I go, whether it's as an instructor or as a student, I learn something new, either from Randy, Jerry, Carl or even sometimes from one of the students.

So, IMHO, while playing better players will make you "bring your game", it will NOT give you the knowledge and the skills required to improve your game by leaps and bounds. Sure, it will improve your game OVER TIME, but Hoss, I'm 50 years old, I didn't want to wait until I was 90 to figure out the intricities of this awesome game... Pool school shortened the learning curve by years, possibly even decades.

The MOST IMPORTANT thing getting proper instruction taught me was that I don't know everything. I seek knowledge from everyone who I think has something to offer that will help my game. Thus my relationships and friendships with people like Hal Houle, RandyG, Carl Oswald, Jerry Powers, Curtis Payne (not an instructor, but if you knew Buddy Hall back in the early 80's, you've met Curtis... great hustler in his time). All of these gentlemen have taught me things I never dreamed of about pocket billiards.

I will continue to seek knowledge. I PM'd David Sapolis a few weeks back and want to go to Florida to spend some time with him (a fountain of pool knowledge, that man), I want to spend time with Jerry B., Bob Jewett, Fran Crimi, and a host of other instructors and top players. I talk to and watch James Walden, Gabe Owen, Shane McMinn, David Matlock and others at every tournament I enter that they are there there. ALL of these people have something to teach me, whether it's passive or active, and I will learn...

So, getting in the fire does help, but it isn't the nuts... Shhhhhh... don't tell anyone, and I'll tell you what is... KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!!! KNOWLEDGE IS THE NUTS!!! More specifically GOOD KNOWLEDGE is power, because believe me, there is, on tape and in print a lot more pure BULL out there than there is good and useful knowledge about pool, so Good Knowledge is the key. You have to be careful about filtering it... If you don't know which is good and which is BS, then you might pick up one tidbit that can help your game and 20 that will STALL your learning curve. Hate to tell you this, but a lot of the self taught "better players" know the same BS, and believe it's true because they don't have a proper understanding of what's really happening on a pool table... so beware those tidbits that you get from some of the better players. Some if it's good, some of it is pure pool MYTH! As my good friend Carl Oswald (caedos on here) says, "You don't know what you don't know..."

Hey, after pool school, guess what... I AM one of the better players that the lower level players want to play because they think it will improve their game. Wanna know what they learn getting the Breaks and 3,5,7 and 9? They learn that if you spend enough time on the foot end of the table, you'll get rack splinters. Not because I'm better, or because I have superior talent, or because I'm a natural, but because I seek GOOD KNOWLEDGE...


04-12-2006, 09:21 PM
Cane, good post. I am reading a few books that are helping me a lot, phil chapelle's "mind for pool" and Robert Byrns books and I am practicing the drills in 99 critical shots. I find also that I can watch pool matches and predict where the cue ball will go and how to hit it, which also is helping me with pattern play.

Thx to the physic experts here, I understand what is happening on the table and when I practice a shot from a drill book I make sure I understand why the shot does what it does, and as a result I am able to apply it to different variations of the shot.

Now I only been playing for a few months, but I have made lots of improvements. I pretty much got instruction from the get go as far as fundamentals go, and I can run about 7-9 balls in straight pool consistently. While that's a joke to a lot of people, that's major improvement for me.

My question is, what did the pool school do for you beyond the fundamentals. Was it more pieces to the puzzle or was it
bigger then that?

I am gracious for all the resources I have at my disposal in this day in age. I can really respect the people who play a mean game but had to learn the long way.

"The meek shall inherit the earth."

04-13-2006, 04:33 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote jtlabs:</font><hr> My question is, what did the pool school do for you beyond the fundamentals. Was it more pieces to the puzzle or was it
bigger then that?

<hr /></blockquote>
I'll take a shot at that one. As a 30 plus year player when I went to pool school, I felt much like Bob, wondering just how much good it would do. I found out very quickly. We don't know what we don't know! In addition to fundamentals, I was given a method to quantify everything I do on the table. The three things we have control over (Angle, Speed, and Spin) are all things that I can now accurately measure. It has taken much of the guesswork out of every shot, so I'm not wondering if I'm shooting the shot correctly. I know exactly how I need to shoot the shot before I get down on it. With all that thinking out of the way, the only thing in my mind when I am down on the shot is delivering the cue as planned. A very wise man taught me that you can't manage what you can't measure. I have become a better game manager because of what I learned in pool school.

Oh yeah, Bob, you forgot the second part...Knowledge is only power when application is included. /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif

04-13-2006, 05:18 AM
jtlabs, adding to what Steve wrote, Yes, it was MUCH more than just fundamentals. There were a lot of "myths" of pool, things that I believed to be happening all of my pool life that were dispelled. Also, there was a lot of coverage of pool physics, tangent lines, etc, and in the expert class, jumping (with draw, follow and masse), masse shots, banking, kicking 1 and multiple rails, and LOTS more... I call the expert class "cue balls a-flyin'". I learned more in those two classes than I ever thought there was to know.


04-13-2006, 08:37 AM
Well I won 1st place in the tournament, but this is nothing new, I have won 1st several times before.

What *is* new is that I *easily* won 1st place. It seemed like no contest.

Before when I was frequently playing lesser skilled players, I had to work hard to win 1st in this tournament. Now that I have been playing only the best players, it seemed easy.

(This is not a world beater tournament BTW. Just a small local tournament.)

04-13-2006, 10:14 AM
I have a different take on this. It doesn't matter who you play, but how you play, regardless of the skill level of the other person, that matters the most.

When you consider the other person into your game, then you have let them into your game when there is no reason for it.

The object of most pool games is to get the eight or nine in first or to get to 150 points first. The only factor is the ball placement on the table. The person you are playing doesn't matter. Its all about what you can do at the table.

You have to want to improve, thats the real secert. You have to be realistic with yourself and your skill level. Identify your weak areas and improve them. Identify your strong areas and use them to maxium benifit. These areas can be anything from the mechinics to shooting pool to the mental side of pool, which the the hardest one to master.

Last night, I got a real lesson on what I'm talking about. The top 14.1 player in our league and I had a match. Sure enough, he had no problem winning. But, it was not like I didn't have a turn or two at the table. Anyway, afterwards, people were talking about how he is so good, how he can grid on you and so so on. Well, I kinda made'em think with the commnet "His performance on the table has nothing to do with mine. I played badly, thats why he won."

Now if you just rolled over and play dead, like some do when playing better players, than yeah, their perfomance does have an affect on your game.

Guess, the whole point is don't let this "you gotta play better players to get better" line fool ya. To get better, you have to always play your best no matter who you are playing against. Playing better players is a way to gauge your improvement more than anything.

04-13-2006, 10:31 AM
There are numerous advantages to playing better players on a regular basis. You can learn new things from playing better players, it keeps you from getting overconfident, and you develop a mental toughness.

IMO, the better players are more consistent even when they are not necessarily playing their best game.

04-13-2006, 12:01 PM
Randy, My friend was a good player, when he went down to your school....I thought what can they show him there, to justify the expense???
Well, it seems like he learned quite a bit, and also raised his enthusiasm for the game.
He visited here, and was willing to share some of that info with me....but I picked that week to come down with the flu, and pool was the last thing on my mind.
I did watch him practice the drills, etc...and understood how a disciplined, repeatable approach to the setup...and the tools you gave him to "quantify" the shot as Bob wrote, could help anybody take there game to a new level.
From some earlier posts, Billy Bob stated that he prefers to be self-taught....and nothing wrong with that....but after playing myself since around 1989....I never picked up the "tools" that Tom picked up on his visit to your school....I did pick up a lot of stroke errors, setup errors,etc though.
I once played golf with a guy that had a worse slice then i had at the time....his solution, and advice to me....was to aim farther left....
I think I ended up doing the same thing in pool...a bad setup was compensated for by an aiming error....sometimes the long shots would actually go in !!!
now if only Cue-tech had been around in 1989....i could go down and give ole Billy a run for his money...
I also have no financial interest in no pool school...actually I ain't gots no finances anyway, or i might be on the next stage coach to Texas...
Tom won enough on his visit here to pay for a third of his tuition