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View Full Version : Is DEFENSE 50% of pool?



Soflasnapper
11-02-2010, 10:40 AM
It's a truism for many sports that defense is at least 50% of the game. So much so, that various pro athletes and coaches just flat out say that defense wins, not only in the regular season, but at the end, that defense wins championships in the post-season.

We know that in baseball, the pitching (along with capable fielding behind the pitcher, i.e., DEFENSE) is probably MORE than 50% of the game, and decisive all by itself. Football is about the same (see: Baltimore Ravens, e.g.). And D Wade recently made the same comment about basketball defense being what makes for champions.

Well, how about defense in the game of pool?

OF COURSE, defense can often be a game-winner, or set up the win. When it comes up, it is critically vital that the defensive shot or move be accomplished by the player, or typically, the game is lost. When that occurs, it might be fair to say defense was 100% of that situation.

But that's my question. How often does it come up? I sorta think defense is maybe 20% of the game, and/or less, based on how often the safety or defensive move is the key play (say, 2 x in a rack of 8 ball, or 2 x in a rack of 9 or 10 ball).

Is this thinking underestimating the role of defense in pool? Maybe the best players always consider a two-way defensive part of a shot they take? Playing my usual Tuesday partner, he complained/complimented that he'd come to the table 8 times in a row with nothing but a kick, and surely that contributed to my atypical 7-4 set win, even though I wasn't always trying to leave him safe on shots I didn't think I'd miss (some lucky rolls involved).

Am I missing the boat by not ranking defense higher, and using it more? Is defense 50% of the game for you, or where would you put its percentage of importance?

pooltchr
11-02-2010, 11:18 AM
Defense is not 50% of the game of pool. Take any typical game of pool (8, 9, 10 ball) and playing defense may come up in one or two shots. In One pocket, it is probably used more frequently, but still probably not half the time.

BUT...knowing how and when to use defense, and being able to execute a defensive shot effectively can be the difference between winning and losing. So when you look at it from that standpoint, defense is every bit as important as offense.

Shotmaking, defense, shot selection, fundamentals, the mental game...all are critical parts of the game. Take any one away, and you are at a huge disadvantage. So while I wouldn't say it is 50%, I would say it is just as important as anything any other part of your game.

Steve

11-02-2010, 11:31 AM
Steve summed up my thoughts.

I can't quantify the exact percentages for defense, but will stress that it is almost equal to shotmaking, and just slightly above kicking (talking about rotation games).

Many times, a well played safety will allow the opponent to make a tough kick, to hit the OB, with the thought that even if the opponent makes the hit, will likely sell out the rack.

For me, anytime I get to the point in my runout that the shot is dicey to make AND there isn't much reward for making it i.e. won't have good position on the next ball, then I'm looking for safety options.


Eric

Rich R.
11-02-2010, 05:11 PM
Like Eric, I can't put a percentage on the importance of a good defensive shot. However, I believe a good safety is much more important than normal shotmaking. The bottom line is, when you don't have a shot, if you don't play a good defensive shot, you may not get back to the table.

Bambu
11-02-2010, 07:12 PM
A good safety much more important than normal shotmaking? I consider myself strong on defense, but I cant agree with that. Good safeties are nice, but useless if you cant switch to a more offensive mode. You need both, but I'd take the offense if I had to choose. My experience has been that if I play too defensive, my offensive side will suffer.

Rich R.
11-03-2010, 06:31 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Bambu</div><div class="ubbcode-body">A good safety much more important than normal shotmaking? I consider myself strong on defense, but I cant agree with that. Good safeties are nice, but useless if you cant switch to a more offensive mode. You need both, but I'd take the offense if I had to choose. My experience has been that if I play too defensive, my offensive side will suffer. </div></div>
I didn't mean to imply that you should play a defensive based game. You don't win games with out pocketing balls. However, you can pocket several balls and it doesn't mean a hill of beans if you get tied up and you don't play a good safe. That one defensive shot is as valuable as pocketing a string of balls.

BCA Master Instr
11-03-2010, 08:56 AM
I didn't mean to imply that you should play a defensive based game. You don't win games with out pocketing balls. However, you can pocket several balls and it doesn't mean a hill of beans if you get tied up and you don't play a good safe. That one defensive shot is as valuable as pocketing a string of balls.
[/quote]

Well stated my friend.

On the other hand, some players play more safeties than others, to each their own. There has to be a nice balance in everyone's game to suceed.......rg

Fran Crimi
11-03-2010, 02:31 PM
I think you have some really good comments here. To maybe add something that hasn't already been said, in addition to the particular game being played, the skill of the players also play a large part in determining what percentage should be defense.

Ironically, weaker players tend to play less defensively when in fact, they should be playing more defensive shots. A stronger player will often take the bigger shot or tough position because the odds may be in favor of success, despite the difficulty. However, weaker players need to accept their limitations and play a good defensive shot when the odds of making a shot and continuing on seem slim.

Sid_Vicious
11-03-2010, 03:49 PM
It depends a lot on the venue.

"However, weaker players need to accept their limitations and play a good defensive shot when the odds of making a shot and continuing on seem slim."

You, and the bulk of the rest of us are weaker players to someone. Defense, done well, makes all the difference in the general places regular players play. IMO, you have to always be thinking defense. Why not nail a run with a solid BIH when it right there with a touch-feely bump into the no-hit zone! You gotta know how to run out from there though. sid

Fran Crimi
11-03-2010, 04:39 PM
By all means, try to get BIH if you feel you can. But I can assure you that a player who pockets better than you and plays better position than you will be faced with higher percentages of running the table and won't feel the need to play a safety to get BIH as often as you --- And in 9-Ball you can't win from the chair --- So when you give up control of the table, even if it's for your opponent to kick -- you are not guaranteed anything.

pooltchr
11-04-2010, 07:04 AM
Good points, Fran. I would add that it is important for a player to know his own game and play his or her percentages. If you are looking at a shot you feel is a 50% makable shot, and you see a chance to play safe that you are 70% sure about making, defense is the obvious choice.

There are times when we all have to give up control of the table. If I'm going to let my opponent back to the table, I much prefer to do it on my terms. I have won many games against better shot makers, simply by playing smart.

Steve

JJFSTAR
11-04-2010, 11:26 AM
It depends on the skill level of the players and whether you are talking about shot for shot or inning for inning with the exception of one-pocket for most players. If you are talking about shot for shot defensive play is far behind the offensive game but if you are talking about inning for inning it is much closer to if not even.

Fran Crimi
11-04-2010, 01:04 PM
I wholeheartedly agree, Steve. I think it's logical that the players who know themselves and their percentages are most apt to make the best of their abilities in competition.

Bambu
11-05-2010, 11:07 AM
Say you have a player who shoots well but cant play safe for crap. You see this with some strong straight pool players who havent transitioned to 9 ball yet. Other times its a raw shooter who hasnt learned to play safe yet, but we are talking about a fairly rare animal.

Most important to me is, how good does this guy bank? An exp'd 1 pocket/straight pool player with no rotational type of safe game could still pose a threat to many 9 ball players.

JJFSTAR
11-05-2010, 12:49 PM
I think you have your meaning of 9ball player and strait pool player flip flopped.

Soflasnapper
11-05-2010, 02:39 PM
One thing I've noticed is that if I'm playing a two-way shot, I tend to let up on the offensive part of the shot, relying on the safety aspect perhaps unconsciously.

While that works out, normally, I could just as well have made the shot I was going for (with a safe leave), and then gotten out, or played for the out anyway.

My opponents tend to be adept at kicking out of (so-so) safes, so just hooking them doesn't necessarily yield a bih.

There are many so-so safes, and a C- safe doesn't do much good. Maybe it would be best to really learn and deliver A to B+ safes, instead of the 'well, at least he has to kick at it!' kind of safes. Another thing would be to accomplish more than one thing with a safe, to put more pressure on the opponent. For example, also breaking out the cluster that prevents or complicates the runout even if you get bih, or setting up a low ball into the money ball combination if the shooter gives up bih.

So, maybe not any more defense play, but BETTER defense play, is something to concentrate on.

Bambu
11-05-2010, 07:21 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: JJFSTAR</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I think you have your meaning of 9ball player and strait pool player flip flopped.</div></div>

If you explained why, I might take you seriously JJ.

Fran Crimi
11-06-2010, 07:30 AM
Bambu, I think your comment is a good example of why it helps to know your opponents strengths and weaknesses when playing them rather than just playing the table. If you're playing a good banker then you wouldn't want to push out to a bank, or play a safe shot and leave him a bank, or even leave him certain kick shots for that matter.

Bambu
11-06-2010, 08:05 AM
Good point Fran. Kicking should also count indirectly towards a players safety game, and jumping too for that matter. So it's not only how well a player can lay down a safety, but also their ability to deal with one.

Rich R.
11-08-2010, 05:42 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Bambu</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: JJFSTAR</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I think you have your meaning of 9ball player and strait pool player flip flopped.</div></div>

If you explained why, I might take you seriously JJ. </div></div>
I'm not sure exactly what JJ meant but I would have to guess that he meant that most straight pool players play very good safeties. Remember, a 9-ball player plays safe for one ball. A straight pool player plays safe for every ball on the table. It is a different type of safe, because it is no longer an issue of the opponent getting a good hit, but it is a safe that can not leave a decent shot at any ball on the table. JMHO.

Bambu
11-08-2010, 07:23 AM
That would be like saying a 9 ball player would automatically know all the 1 pocket safety moves. To be honest, I used to think the same thing. But that just doesnt happen, there are too many subtle differences between games. My feeling is you probably wont be very good at any game unless you play it.

I have been shooting with a 200 ball runner for around 5 years now. It took him about 2 years just to play 9 ball anywhere near his straight pool level. I'd say his safety game has improved 300%, but it's still the weakest part of his game.

I also remember when straight pool legend Danny Barouty needed time to make the transition. It was over 20 years ago, but Danny would spot me 30 balls on 100. In 9 ball he would only give me the 8, and boy was I shaking my head at that! I thought I needed at least the 7 and out.

My other shooting partner is around A level, but was always a purely offensive 9 ball player. Took him about a year of dedicating himself to pure defense before he got good at it. Small sample size here, no doubt. But, I wouldnt expect the terms to change much with other shooters.

JJFSTAR
11-08-2010, 11:20 AM
Sorry I had just assumed you had made a very simple typo. All I can say is that pool must be very different there than it is here. I have played the cream of the crop here J.R. Calvert, Chuck Farranella, Jimmy Moreno and Jerry Slivka (forgive the spelling) and have just observed the inverse of what you are saying. Now that is not impossible it just may be that 9ball is better here or strait pool is better there or strait pool is sub standard here. 200 is world class strait pool (as far as I know). I know Jimmy and Jerry have 9ball runs in double digits in money games. I will have to ask them their high strait pool runs the next time I see them. I just have never seen an AA or Pro that has had trouble with their safety play in 9ball. I have played many of them and watched them play each other. It is a real rarity that their innings end with a missed shot or blown safety. You must play in shark infested waters so my hats off to you, again my apologies I just thought you made a typo that is very easy to make.

Bambu
11-08-2010, 03:17 PM
Sorry about the confusion there. Anything is possible JJ. Maybe your guys took to it faster. Or, you didnt get to watch them play 9 ball when they first began. Me, I never saw anybody automatically good at anything. It could be a well exp'd bar table player transitioning to big tables, or a hardball player trying to play softball. Either would take time to make the adjustment.

On that game with Barouty, I made a mistake there. I would only have to go to 30, not get 30. I was just starting out, still trying to learn from Danny back then. Even now, I would need more than 30 from Danny. I gave up straight pool long ago, as soon as I discovered 9 ball.

JJFSTAR
11-09-2010, 09:50 AM
Well that confirms it for me, things are very different there; finding a strait pool player “discovering” 9ball would be an anomaly here in Pittsburgh but finding 2 of them and one of those being a 14.1 player who is a 200 ball runner playing against each other in the same pool hall would be a conundrum.Unless they started playing pool at the same time together of course

Bambu
11-09-2010, 10:11 AM
Thats exactly right. Tough to find someone that good going through that phase. One guy I'm talking about quit pool for 30 years, thats why he only started 9 ball recently. The other guy I'm talking about went through this a long time ago....when 9 ball first took off.

Fran Crimi
11-09-2010, 04:20 PM
Bambu, you might want to reconsider straight pool again. I joined Danny's 14.1 league this season and am really enjoying the game; and 9-Ball has been my game of choice for a couple of decades now. He's got 114 players this year -- Amazing. Last night I watched Danny play Tony Robles in a league match. It was like watching a world championshp match.

Danny got out of this one rack that was nothing short of amazing. I started clapping and Tony turned to me and said, "I feel like i just watched him solve Rubic's cube!"

Bambu
11-10-2010, 08:13 AM
Thanks Fran, I appreciate that advice. I havent seen a Danny vs Tony game in 20 years, I do miss those days!

I have known about Dannys league for awhile now. And I feel like a crumb about not supporting it, I really owe Danny alot. I also know some revisited straight would improve my game. I just cant bring myself to sign up for anything manhattan related. The parking/train choice kills it for me, especially during winter. Last tournament I played in at amsterdam, they towed my car away. I somehow got lucky and won a predator sneaky pete, but the tow/ticket fee still cost me more.

eg8r
11-10-2010, 09:24 AM
We need some video of this please. /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

eg8r &lt;~~~will appreciate any future matches also /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

Fran Crimi
11-10-2010, 01:24 PM
Well, the parking situation is much better at the new location, which is Corner Billiards' old location. There are always 2 hr. meters on the side streets available that end at 7PM. I've been getting there at 5ish...put enough in the meter till 7 and I'm good for the night. I don't know where you're coming from but driving into Manhattan at rush hour is much easier than driving out, as I'm sure you know.

Fran Crimi
11-10-2010, 01:31 PM
I'm one of those people who believe you should have permission of the people before filming them, and I doubt that either of them would agree to it.

Bambu
11-10-2010, 07:18 PM
That is alot better than it used to be. Thanks Fran, I'll try to talk one of my friends into it.

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Fran Crimi</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Well, the parking situation is much better at the new location, which is Corner Billiards' old location. There are always 2 hr. meters on the side streets available that end at 7PM. I've been getting there at 5ish...put enough in the meter till 7 and I'm good for the night. I don't know where you're coming from but driving into Manhattan at rush hour is much easier than driving out, as I'm sure you know. </div></div>