View Full Version : Touchy subject...friends and coaches

02-18-2010, 01:02 AM
I'm sure this is not new to a lot of folks, and I'm wondering about your thoughts on the subject.

I am a mid-level player...APA 6 (just). My strength is that I know my strengths and 70% of the time, I execute on them pretty well. I'm a good safety player, and am not too proud to play them. As every amateur player, however, I'm not perfect. If I'm unsure, I call for a coach. In this league, the coach is my best friend.

We are pretty evenly matched although my skill level is higher. This past session my friend played well, and achieved the status of top player for the division. I'm extremely excited about it and support my friend in that success. The problem is that the accolade seems to have caused a bit of a swelled head. Now, whether or not a coach is called for, our team is subject to the opinion of this person who feels their way is the only way.

Tonight I was the one affected. After I planned a four ball run to the 8 ball, I executed perfectly up to the last ball (before the 8). It was a tricky run and my position had to be perfect. I came up short leaving me without a makeable shot on my last ball. The plan was perfect; my execution lacked. My friend said, "I was going to coach you on that...I would have played it completely different." I laughed and replied that the plan would have worked perfectly if I had just hit the ball the way I was supposed to. I said, "We don't always play the table the same way." and received the reply, "Well, I want to win." I have to say that the comment pissed me off. It also made me think about how players play the table differently.

Long background story, I know...thanks for bearing with me. My question is this. We each shoot different handed...I'm a lefty. Since I've never played right handed, I have to ask if there is a difference to the way each player sees and plays the table? I know there is more than one "right" way to play patterns on the table. Could this be causing the difference in the way I play compared to a right hander? It makes sense to me that my choices would be different.

Does anyone have an opinion out there? Thanks!

02-18-2010, 08:45 AM
Even on a small table, range can be a factor. Thats the only time I can think of, where a lefty may be playing a shot differently.

Without seeing the layout, theres no way to tell if your coach may have been right. I'm not sure how well he knows your game. I think its best to talk to him about it. Ask him what he would have had you do instead, and discuss the differences in approach. Times like this are the best, if you can come away learning something. You might learn something about your coaches approach instead, even if you feel he is wrong. Say he likes banks, but you dont. Knowing that would be a good thing, less conflict later.

02-18-2010, 09:52 AM
Just how tricky was the run out, and how perfect did it have to be executed? There could have easily been a better way to play with a subtle and certain avenue to the same win. As far as the big headed situation from your friend...I've seen that, AND embarrassed to say, done that. Usually some "4" will kick my ass soon afterwards and deflate the head, and re-humble me in front of my friends. I will still say though, there might have been a simple, dead nuts safety you had that would have made the win far easier than your tricky run, or maybe a cleaner path to the 8. Tricky and perfect are nagging descriptions within themselves. sid

02-18-2010, 10:12 AM
There is almost always more than one way to run a table. You have to go with the one you believe gives you the best options.

I am the captain of 2 teams, and the highest ranked player, so I'm usually called in to coach. But that doesn't mean I have all the answers. I might ask one of the other players (maybe a 5 or 6) for their opinion before I coach a player. I may be thinking "go for the bank" and they might see an easy safety play that might be a better play for that shooter.

Even when I'm playing, I occasionally call my own time out and get someone just to discuss options, and be a sounding board, or even just to give me a little time to consider all the options.

But on the point, I have at times played on the same team as my wife. I would NOT coach her! Someone else had to do it. It's really tough to coach someone you are close to.


02-18-2010, 10:57 AM
Your friend is suffering from a syndrome that many players in their late 20’s through their mid 30’s suffer from. I call this the “I see it and you don’t.” What is going on in his mind is that he sees the correct pattern that leads to the easiest out and you do not. In other words while watching others he is not thinking “he is using a different or worse pattern” he is thinking “he doesn’t see THE pattern”. Fortunately this USUALLY will disappear with age and tournament experience. It is a very simple egocentric view that says “My way is the best”.

The best example I can think of is Allen Hopkins vs. Ewa Laurence. Both are ESPN spokes persons for pool matches and have been for many years. Allen makes many many more errors about the suspected patterns that a given player will attempt than Ewa does. The reason isn’t that Ewa knows more or is a better player. It is because she sees the possibilities of another player playing it differently and outlines several possibilities when it is even remotely possible. In contrast Allen is surprised when a player doesn’t use the pattern that he just described. I do gather from your post that you understand at least most of that.

On to lefties and righties; other than the obvious lefties will play for position more center table or farther away from it if a ball is on the long rail toward the foot spot on the left side of the table; righties vice-versa. The righty/lefty issue comes up surprisingly little. The big camp differences are in a particular players strengths and weaknesses and weather they are what George Fels describes as a “speedster” or a “tipster”. As to what kind of pattern they come up with.

Most of the guys that dole out this unsolicited advice don’t really know what they are talking about. The best suggestion I can give you is to ask him “so how would you have played that?” really listen and understand the patterns and then scrutinize them. Very rarely will their suggested pattern be the pattern that: Plays for the balls closest pocket, uses the least CB spin, speed, rail contact, distance and potential or actual collision. This is assuming that you use “minimalist” theory. I know a lot of pool players (especially 9ball players) that don’t. You will find that he will be caught more often than not giving you suggestions based on personal taste rather than solid pool fundamentals.

Lastly keep in mind that he has a problem not you.

Good Luck

02-18-2010, 12:55 PM
Thank you all for your comments and insight.

Bambu and Sid, I wish I could draw it for you. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

All my balls were on one end of the table. There weren't many options as far as playing it out went; the eight ball was about an inch from my ball, but both balls were makeable. Position had to be perfect because they were so close.

Unfortunately, I botched position on the last shot...it wasn't hard...I just missed it. A little more speed would have left me perfect. As it was, I snookered myself.

Now that I've slept on it, in hindsight (and past my irritation at the snide comment...we never think clearly when we're angry), I could have played safe and left my last ball to be broken away from the eight by my opponent. But, given the same shot again, I would have probably done the same thing because all my balls were makeable.

I know how my friend plays, so I'm certain I would have been coached to play safe. Let me also be clear...I would have been happy to take the coach. It wasn't offered prior to my shot. My coach was actually playing another match on the next table, and I was confident enough in my plan that I thought I was out. I was wrong.

Steve, you're right, I am also a coach on my other teams and coaching/being coached by someone close to you is tough. As I mentioned, the coach would have been helpful, but the the comment that inferred I didn't want to win was uncalled for.

JJFStar, I think you have a point. My friend feels their view is absolutely the right one. The reason I asked the question about lefties/righties seeing the table differently is so I could have that discussion. I am a minimalist...the path of least resistance is the one I'll take. The biggest difference I see is that I am an offensive player and my friend is defensive.

We will have that talk, and thank you all for helping me through this.

02-18-2010, 07:17 PM
Sometimes while playing one can get a bit of tunnel vision. This can put a person down a wrong path or perhaps not the best path. Sometimes someone watching and coaching can see a different path forward that may or may not be better. Sometimes it has to do with the perspective they have which is from somewhere away from the table and without much ability to walk around the table and take in different perspectives. So the coach perspective can often be limited. On the other hand since the coach is not shooting and only watching they can see things more readily than the player who is not only shooting but having to focus on the mechanics of the shot at hand and so forth so they're time thinking through the run is less than the coach. All this leads to different perspectives, ideas and possible paths to greatness or failure. IF you had been successful getting on the last ball he probably would have said Nice run out.

I do agree that lefty vs Righty is a big deal in some ways. Some players have to remind me that they are lefty and not right like I am. Particularly in the 4 and below ranks. An easy shot for me might be much more complicated for a lefty. Height makes a difference in reach and ability to make a good bridge and solid stroke etc.

So in this particular case who knows what was up??? I'd ask him to tell me where I started to go wrong. I usually can't remeber that far back but sometimes this is useful to note if he can tell you that you might be getting the run-out tunnel vision that can sometimes cause you to self limit your options, shoot to fast etc....

On the other hand a good coach will not try to tell you every shot you did wrong but rather try to get in your head and tell you why you missed something obvious. Maybe you shoot to fast. Maybe you don't walk around the table and consider options. Maybe you are not fixing problems early. So telling you that you did wrong is not as useful as trying to tell you what mental piece of shooting or mechanical bit about your stance etc is messing you up.

02-18-2010, 07:20 PM
And sometimes I am just going to shoot me damn game my way! Sometimes.

Fran Crimi
02-19-2010, 07:38 AM
Based on your writing style, you sound like a smart, articulate and considerate person.

I feel that one of the most important roles of a coach in addition to giving their opinion is to keep the player feeling positive about their game during competition. All too often, a coach will bring their own personal baggage with them when they coach. That goes for teachers as well sometimes. Regardless of what your coach's opinion was of your decision, your friend should not have made that comment to you about wanting to win. That was just insulting and unnecessary.

As for different opinions: there are plenty of different ways to run out a rack and often it comes down to the strengths of the individual player and what skills they prefer to use. For example, some players prefer to hit the cue ball high rather than low --- some prefer to roll the ball and others prefer to strike it. All of these things play into how you see the layout and your choices of how to run the balls.

If a coach truly wants to help his teammates then he should really study their styles and what their strengths and weakensses are. That takes some work.

Good luck,

02-19-2010, 09:56 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Fran Crimi</div><div class="ubbcode-body">
If a coach truly wants to help his teammates then he should really study their styles and what their strengths and weakensses are. That takes some work.

Good luck,


How true that simple statement is! I see coaches (sl6 or 7) coaching an sl 2 or 3, and telling them to shoot the shot they would shoot. But that 2 or 3 probably can't execute the shot. I coach all my players based on their ability. I know what they are capable of doing, and coach them within their own limitations. I don't always tell them the best way to proceed, but I always try to tell them the best plan that fits their own game.

Good post, Fran!


02-19-2010, 12:18 PM
I will always mantain that the best way for you to play a table is not the the best for anyone else. For example lay out a table with a broken rack of balls and have five pros write down how they would play it out, I would be willing to bet you will get five different answers.

02-19-2010, 12:28 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: gabeski</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> I will always mantain that the best way for you to play a table is not the the best for anyone else. For example lay out a table with a broken rack of balls and have five pros write down how they would play it out, I would be willing to bet you will get five different answers. </div></div>

And each would be correct, based on their personal comfort level.


02-19-2010, 04:07 PM
Working in a pool room and observing the play, and interactions of others.....we came to the conclusion that when players believe they are a "ball better" then you, they automatically assume they are your coach,and want to "help",usually suggesting that their pattern play is the "best" way.
If one has just 2 balls left, and each one is positioned so that it could made in any pocket....that gives a person a 6 x 6, run-out possibility, These folks would tell you there is "only" one way to get out...their way!!!
I've even heard players ask "WHY, did you miss that ball?"
Last nite a player called me over to get my input, and I gave him a pretty good safe to play, which he executed perfectly. They other guy had to execute a spin, kick shot to a ball sitting a few feet from the pocket, and the hit had to be right on to pocket the ball. He pulled it off...maybe a 50/1 shot....
My teammates from years back, would have been all over the two of us...as THEY would have had played the shot differently.

02-20-2010, 07:50 AM
My opinion: WEI Table.

Maybe he got top status because his 8-ball patterns are better. There are better ways. Did he map out what he was thinking?


02-22-2010, 09:07 PM
I'm a captain, and in our league, a player can have a coach (who isn't the captain) plus the captain approach for coaching.

My first question upon being asked to come up is 'what do you like here?' or 'what are you thinking about?'

Often I find they are favoring the same pattern or opening shot I am thinking about, and really, what they're looking for is some reassurance that it makes sense or is the best option. And I think that is a very valid part of coaching-- to reconfirm what they're considering but with some doubts.

And coaches will likely agree that when a player is kind of brow-beaten into a shot they're uncomfortable with, they tend to fail to execute it.

02-22-2010, 10:52 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: KellyStick</div><div class="ubbcode-body">And sometimes I am just going to shoot me damn game my way! Sometimes. </div></div>

Too funny Kelly! Yep...sometimes that's what it comes down to! lol

02-22-2010, 11:03 PM
Thank you all for your comments. I went back to talk about the situation...it was long forgotten. It was etched in my brain, but forgotten by my friend.

I did have the conversation about the "I want to win" comment though. An apology followed...it was just a bad night. All is well again.

Fran and Steve, thanks for your confirmation. It should be about coaching to the player's strengths. A light bulb just went off...someone should develop a coaching class!

You are all right though. To your point, Gabeski...every player would play it just a little differently, and it would be right for them.

Thanks for the great conversation folks!