PDA

View Full Version : Playing stronger opponents



stickman
07-11-2002, 03:32 PM
I'm sure there is value in challenging yourself and playing stronger opponents, but I question whether always playing stronger opponents is a good idea. Could you subconciously be teaching yourself how to lose? I think there is value in playing weaker opponents sometimes. I know many players that begin their practice sessions by shooting simple, easy shots to build their confidence, before attempting more difficult shots.

Are there certain players that you find it very difficult to beat, even though you know you are capable of playing well enough to beat them? I wonder if this isn't a learned, unconcious, self fullfilling prophesy?

Tom_In_Cincy
07-11-2002, 04:10 PM
I think that the below average player has already had a good idea about losing to better players.

Always playing a better player will eventually show that you can win.. or better yet, where your weaknesses are.

Maybe there will be a dialog between you two that will provide some insight about your game, its pluses and minuses. Some of the better players remember how bad they played and what they did to improve. Playing a match is just one way to gauge your improvement.


<blockquote><font class="small">Quote:</font><hr>Are there certain players that you find it very difficult to beat, even though you know you are capable of playing well enough to beat them? I wonder if this isn't a learned, unconcious, self fullfilling prophesy? <hr></blockquote>

There are less of these players now than 10 years ago.. but there is always going to be a player that knows he has your "Number" No matter how well you shoot, you loose. You know it, and so do they. But when the time comes.. that you eventually win.. then its over... you start wining more matches and the "Number" is over.. Been this way for as long as I can remember.. all it takes is one win..

07-11-2002, 04:11 PM
I suppose some people may think it's beneficial to play weaker players, but I personally don't find much benefit in playing weaker players unless it's for social reasons.

In my experience, it's very hard to remain focused and concentrate at my best levels when playing weaker players because I know my opponent won't run out and I'll get another shot at the table. There is less risk if I make a mistake, so I'm not as careful as I would be playing a stronger player where that mistake might shut me out.

Playing a weaker player can actually be a detriment to your confidence. Because you don't concentrate at the same level, you miss shots that you perhaps wouldn't normally. Once you start hanging a few, you get frustrated which in turn leads to missing more shots. Next thing you know, your confidence is eroded.

We all know you're supposed to play the table and not your opponent in theory, but theory and reality are not the same.

Conversely, stronger players keep me motivated and feed my competitive nature. When you play stronger players over time, you elevate the level of your game and raise your confidence level.

There are players I have a harder time beating even though I'm capable...I think we all do. Beating 10 weak players won't elevate my confidence enough to beat the "tough" opponent, but if I've played 10 strong players and I've done well, then I come to the game with the tough opponent armed with a tough game of my own.

Harold Acosta
07-11-2002, 05:20 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: stickman:</font><hr> I'm sure there is value in challenging yourself and playing stronger opponents, but I question whether always playing stronger opponents is a good idea. Could you subconciously be teaching yourself how to lose? I think there is value in playing weaker opponents sometimes. I know many players that begin their practice sessions by shooting simple, easy shots to build their confidence, before attempting more difficult shots.

Are there certain players that you find it very difficult to beat, even though you know you are capable of playing well enough to beat them? I wonder if this isn't a learned, unconcious, self fullfilling prophesy? <hr></blockquote>

Playing stronger opponents is not always a good idea, and yes, you could subconsciously be teaching yourself how to lose. I speak for myself. When I shifted from 8 ball in bar tables to 9 ball in Pro tables, my confidence went to hell. It was like basic training all over again! I knew about the differences in the game, about the smaller cue ball, table felt, etc., but there was a world difference in my play. Many times I have felt frustrated with my game and have backed off from many 9 ball challenges. I have turned into a very passive 9 ball player instead of the aggresive 8 ball player I used to be. I hate playing 8 ball now, although I still play occasionally. (Pride is also involved).

In Puerto Rico, once you reach a certain level at 8 ball tournaments, you are practically obligated to play 9 ball if you want to play with the most talented players in the Island. This could be very detrimental to ones game! I'm a rookie in 9 Ball!. Yikes!

Some people have told me that I could improve if I owned a 9 ft table but I dont have the space and the $$$ for the investment. Guess I'm stuck!

Harold ~ doesn't call himself a "Player" anymore.

07-11-2002, 05:28 PM
When I started playing pool, I only played the good players and lost 1000's of games. I was probably the best racker in World at one time....lol. A friend of mine who taught me soooo much about the game once told me to stop playing only the good players. He said I should mix it up for several reasons.
First, play the good players so you can learn how to lose with dignity,(I use to get so angry when I would lose) but more so you can learn how to play by observing them and building your own game up. Then he told me to play weaker players so that mentally I can learn how to win. He said that by playing weaker players, you will win games and often get complimented or asked questions. When you get complimented and you help others learn you feel more confident about yourself and your game, and when you feel that way you will play better.

TonyM
07-11-2002, 06:37 PM
You have a point Stickman. We hear this advice all the time: "You must play better players to improve". But what does it really mean? Does anyone really think that if a beginner was to play Strickland for a few hours that this would somehow transform his game? Actually, in reality it would make him into a decent rackboy!

What is really needed to improve is to be challenged. But not overwhelmed. So playing an opponent that is a bit better than you (so that you have to play well to compete) is a good idea, but playing the world champion is not.

I don't mind playing weaker players, but I do need a challenge. So I'll give them a spot to force me to play well.

Tony
-challenged in other ways as well.......

griffith_d
07-11-2002, 07:22 PM
There is something to be said for playing stronger players and playing weaker players. I have found for me that if I play weaker ones first and warm up then the stronger players are not so strong,..as I have gathered momentum and confidence.

If I play strong ones first, I might never get warmed up and get put out of the tournament quick.

I always seem to learn from both weaker and stronger players. From the strong ones,..new, better shots to try. From the weaker ones,..things not to do as I see it first hand what it would do if I did that, as I beat them, and remember that I used to do that.

Playing weaker players will allow you to try things/more risky than you would with stronger players and when you make them, you only get more confidence.

Playing stronger players also makes you play harder and smarter, something you would not do against weaker players.

I always look forward to beating the best player,...it might not come right away, but when it does, both of us will know it and the other player cannot do anything about it.

Griff

Scott Lee
07-11-2002, 09:05 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: stickman:</font><hr> I know many players that begin their practice sessions by shooting simple, easy shots to build their confidence, before attempting more difficult shots.
<hr></blockquote>

Jim...I resemble that remark! LOL

Scott

Chris Cass
07-11-2002, 09:57 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: stickman:</font><hr> I'm sure there is value in challenging yourself and playing stronger opponents, but I question whether always playing stronger opponents is a good idea. Could you subconciously be teaching yourself how to lose? I think there is value in playing weaker opponents sometimes. I know many players that begin their practice sessions by shooting simple, easy shots to build their confidence, before attempting more difficult shots.

Are there certain players that you find it very difficult to beat, even though you know you are capable of playing well enough to beat them? I wonder if this isn't a learned, unconcious, self fullfilling prophesy? <hr></blockquote>

Hi Stickman,

It is my belief that you should only play stronger players. That's hard to do sometimes with the availability and when friendship crosses paths.

I strongly feel the confidence you gain playing the weaker player is false confidence. You'll seem to take it for granted you'll get another shot. When you do get to play with the stronger player. You'll be in never never land when it comes time to shoot.

I used to play only 9 ball for money. I would play any other game with the weaker player, just not 9 ball. That gave the message to my mind, only out for blood.

If you do happen to play both weaker and stronger players, than I suggest you try to perfect your skills with the weaker player. This doesn't mean take for granted you'll get a shot, be a hotdog and do trick shots, it means bare down and work on your stroke, technique and pattern play. JMHO

Regards,

C.C.~~like I can play with anyone,anymore....

Voodoo Daddy
07-12-2002, 01:40 AM
How would you know Chris...your the strongest player from corn-field to corn-field!!! Arent you the Alpha dog in the Quad Cities? Thats what I hear....

Voodoo...knows C.C. has the game champions aspire to have

07-12-2002, 01:44 AM
Hey Stickman,
Been there, done that. You will not learn anything that you do not already know playing the weaker player.
If improving your game is your main objective you SHOULD learn the whole game at a much faster rate playing the better player. You may also loose at equally faster rate but even this is not for certain. Do this only if missing shots, losing games or even a few buckaroos is something that will be palatable for you at that time.
If the stronger player agrees to play you for air, so much the better, a free lesson.
No one likes to lose. That is the hardest part to learn about pool. Some never learn it. Until that part of the game is really learned and understood one will never know how much fun &amp; great the game can really be. Ever see a great player that did not know how to rack balls? How do you think he got so good? Not from Sardo.
If playing a better player is subconsciously or consciously teaching you how to loose, that is not a bad thing, it is a lesson, provided you will not have to eat peanut butter &amp; jelly sandwiches for the rest of the month. Lol. You know what I mean?
Once you have learned how to loose, and why, then finding a way to win will be easier and happen much faster. Life is too short to play mediocre pool.
On the other hand, if your day at work was crap. You got a flat tire driving home in rush hour traffic, in the rain, which made you late for the weekly Friday night poker game with guys, your seat is now gone, so you go home early only to find your wife in bed with you older sister.
Then I would say, Play the weaker player that night.
After you recover
PLAY THE STRONGER PLAYER. Again. But its just me.

PS: Always remember to play the game from the chair as well as at the table.
GOOD Luck!

07-12-2002, 02:28 AM
I think a pool player has to evolve over time, just like a fine wine. When beginners ask me about playing better players I say it can be detrimental to your confidence if you are getting beat all the time. When I first started this game I watched for months before I even started playing. Then I practiced shooting straight in shots to develop a stroke. Then I played people of my own caliber before eventually moving up. I always took baby steps and I rarely put myself in a situation where I would get crushed. This game is mostly mental and it's hard to play well when you have no confidence.

CarolNYC
07-12-2002, 04:15 AM
I am fortunate to have very strong players in my area-being so, I look at EVERY player as if they are strong-(even if I am the 9-ball and they are the 6-ball)-if I classify someone as weak, I tend to get sloppy/slack-off-so to stay aware,each player is strong to me.And then, as someone stated,"your playing the table, not the person"-that mentality comes with experience-I didnt have it when I drew Tony (Robles) in a tristate open-shook like a leaf!ha ha ha ha
Carol~hoping not to shake next time!

cheesemouse
07-12-2002, 05:52 AM
I think the player that is moving up the food chain of pool is doing the correct thing by seeking out the stronger players, so he can learn and stay challenged on his path to excellence. At the same time that player should keep in mind, as he advances, how he got where he's at in the game, and when those same weaker players seek him out because he is now the stronger player he should give back to the game by playing them and there by sharing in the wealth. Basic logic dictates that this is the only way it can work, so it is kind of a moot point, but I think both the weaker and the stronger players should treat each other with respect knowing that they both are becoming winners in this process. It's good for the future of this great game. Of course there is the problem of the little fish being eat by the big fish so it might be advisable for the little fish to only seek out the well feed big fishes...... LOL LOL /ccboard/images/icons/smile.gif

~~~just rambling and babbling over my morning coffee~~~~~~

griffith_d
07-12-2002, 06:00 AM
There is something to be said for big fish/little fish. There is this big mouth in the tournament I play in weekly, is always mouthing off, yelling across tables (2 to 3 sometimes). He is probably 3-4th best there. The tournament organizer finally got fed up with the mouth and started putting him against the semi-pro(who always,...always wins when he shows up).

Then the mouth quit winning and then finally quit coming. I have not seen the mouth in two months. The semi-pro hardly says a word,...he just wins. The shots speak for him.

Griff

JimS
07-12-2002, 06:48 AM
Chris......consider your action knocked! LOL You have been identified and tattooed on the forehead my friend. SOL comes to mind.

Chris Cass
07-12-2002, 07:21 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Voodoo Daddy:</font><hr> How would you know Chris...your the strongest player from corn-field to corn-field!!! Arent you the Alpha dog in the Quad Cities? Thats what I hear....

Voodoo...knows C.C. has the game champions aspire to have <hr></blockquote>

Hi Voodoo,

I don't know where the Alpha came in but you got the dog part right. LOL

Best regards,

C.C.~~Voodoo's been talking with Kato again. Kato, your still not getting any breaks.....LMAO

PoolFan
07-12-2002, 07:31 AM
You bring up a really good point. We all know that confidence is probably the most important part of your game. Without it, the chances of you winning are slim.

With that in mind, having that winning feeling builds confidence. So I agree that you should not only make games with stronger players, but also the so-called weaker players.

PoolFan - Nothing is better than that Winning Feeling

cuechick
07-12-2002, 08:31 AM
If we all chose ONLY to play stronger players than I guess we'd all be sitting around doing nothing. After all SOMEBODY has toPLAY the weaker players, or else who are we getting all this geat expeirance from?
I really think you have to do both, stronger to learn and weaker to gain confidence and test your mental game. One really good book on mental edge (Smart Tennis, very good) reccomenrds playing weaker oppoenants for that reason. I also believe you need to give back, I have a policy of never turning down anyone who asks me to play, unless I am working on something specific.
I also take game spots from much stronger players to make it more challenging for them. I have also been able to gage my progress, there are some I can beat even now that I use to get a spot from.

John in NH
07-12-2002, 09:34 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: stickman:</font><hr> I'm sure there is value in challenging yourself and playing stronger opponents, but I question whether always playing stronger opponents is a good idea. Could you subconciously be teaching yourself how to lose? I think there is value in playing weaker opponents sometimes. I know many players that begin their practice sessions by shooting simple, easy shots to build their confidence, before attempting more difficult shots.

Are there certain players that you find it very difficult to beat, even though you know you are capable of playing well enough to beat them? I wonder if this isn't a learned, unconcious, self fullfilling prophesy? <hr></blockquote>

Stickman,

It shouldn't always be about winning and losing. In our league the equalizer system is used whereby the top players are listed as 11, the weakest players begin at 3. When the match begins the home team will announce who will play game 1 of the match, the away team has the option of assigning whoever they want to play against that person, i've seen several matches where the 3 will win against the 11, but that's not the point, I think it's great that a 3 is allowed to compete against an 11. I'm an 11 and I have had to play several matches against many low handicaps, this can be very stressful since I have not won every match that I have played. In some leagues the best players are seeded and must play against the best players from the opposing team, this restricts the weaker players from competing against the stronger players.
The weaker players can learn a lot more from playing against a stronger player than playing against someone with equal ability.

Regards,

John

07-12-2002, 10:16 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: griffith_d:</font><hr> There is something to be said for big fish/little fish. There is this big mouth in the tournament I play in weekly, is always mouthing off, yelling across tables (2 to 3 sometimes). He is probably 3-4th best there. The tournament organizer finally got fed up with the mouth and started putting him against the semi-pro(who always,...always wins when he shows up).

Then the mouth quit winning and then finally quit coming. I have not seen the mouth in two months. The semi-pro hardly says a word,...he just wins. The shots speak for him.

Griff <hr></blockquote>

where is this weekly tourn??

dan

Scott Lee
07-12-2002, 11:12 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Voodoo Daddy:</font><hr> How would you know Chris...your the strongest player from corn-field to corn-field!!! Arent you the Alpha dog in the Quad Cities? Thats what I hear....

Voodoo...knows C.C. has the game champions aspire to have <hr></blockquote>

Steve...Chris DOES have a serious game! LOL However, I think even HE would admit that the Bowman boys probably own that "Alpha dog" title for the Quad Cities!

Scott ~ only needs the 6 and the snap from CC! LOL

Scott Lee
07-12-2002, 11:19 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: John in NH:</font><hr> In our league the equalizer system is used whereby the top players are listed as 11, the weakest players begin at 3. John <hr></blockquote>

John...FYI, I hope your league is not "calling" it the Equalizer System, as that is a trademarked term of APA. Their lawyer dogs will be all over ya to change it! LOL
Just call it something else, and they can't bug ya! Trust me, the big dogs at corporate APA are huge sticklers over this kind of thing!

Scott Lee

stickman
07-12-2002, 12:21 PM
Thanks for all the responses. I think sometimes I challenge myself too much. Recently, I've played some players more nearly my own skill level. The game is a lot more fun when you're winning! LOL I also noticed a confidence surge when playing someone I was able to win some games from. Last night I played an old league teammate. We swapped games back and forth, and I really had fun.

John in NH
07-13-2002, 05:52 PM
Scott,

Just trying to make a point, thanks for the tip.

John

TomBrooklyn
07-13-2002, 06:26 PM
I like to play players of all skill levels. If they're much weaker, I like to give them a spot to put more pressure on myself.

phil in sofla
07-13-2002, 07:07 PM
I find that I shoot some of my best pool against people I know I can beat. Something about the pressue being off.

Last night I hooked up with a guy that usually drills me playing even. At a $1/game, he'll lap the entire table on me with the quarter, or has done so most of the times we played. The first game he ran out beautifully, and I felt entirely defeated mentally. He can make nearly any shot, and just doesn't make many position or strategy errors. (I can make nearly any shot, but make many position or strategy errors, relative to him).

Well, I just decided to get tough minded about it, and play this guy competitively. After weathering the initial storm, which saw him go up by 6 games, I made a nice out, and over the next 3 hours or so, we didn't move from that net game figure by much. He got up as high as 9, I had him down to 2, and we finished at 6.

When he had to leave earlier than closing, he announced last game at the time he'd already mentioned, and offered to play the final game giving me the 6, for double or nothing. Probably a bad move for me to accept it, but I was breaking anyway, having good success with the break, and even with no weight, he hadn't been dominating me after the beginning of the play. I ran out easily to the 6 and got out.

This guy is the best player I can rely on getting a game with regularly, and I think I get a lot out of playing with him. And the games are cheap enough that even should I lose, the price is well spent.

07-13-2002, 11:00 PM
mosconi said it best "never play anyone less than yourself"
this was a reply to a question someone asked him.

i agree with this completely, there is plenty of times lesser players will be played while you are at a poolhall, simply thru league, kindness on your part to play a friend, casually, etc... there are many

but by playing "your speed" you allow yourself plenty of chances to win because this other person will miss and make balls as would you. this keeps your attention and prevents the lapse that does occur when players are not up to "your speed"

players above your speed well, pay attention and try to consentrate, there are chances though they might not look too good or be easy. work at it and you will see improvement

by giving spots your artificially equalizing and creating a player that equals your skill, that is no longer a weaker player but dangerous ... so take care

so the bottom line is your speed or better its the real deal, when new challenges come along and they will if your a player and want to play
now your time playing those types of players will be something you will notice, you play better miss less and lose less, and have a better frame of mind for the overall outcome,
because playing that better player is learning suitation
and you will learn or quit depending on what you truly want.

so to me there always one answer all along


bye...