View Full Version : 10 Good Habits That Enable Us to Run Out

11-03-2002, 10:35 PM
10 Good Habits That Enable Us To Run Out

To combat the bad habits, I have come up with 10 good habits that will enable you to run out the rack more often. These tips aren't fool proof, but they concentrate on the positive things we can do to enhance our game to the next level.

Good Habit #1: Breaking Effectively
This is very important. Earlier I touched on the fact that we can't just bang away at the rack expecting good things to fall from the Heavens. If we want good things to happen, we need to plan and prepare for them. If we want good things to happen, we must MAKE good things happen! In "Breaking To Win", I explain the type of break to use and which breaks to avoid. The following pointers should also be followed when breaking:

a) Stay Down On The Break Shot.

Standing up and thrusting your body through the rack only zaps the strength (not power) of your break. This is merely mechanics, but remember that the only thing that should move on any shot is your shooting arm. If your head comes up, it alters the accuracy of your shot. The same holds
true on the break. You can extend your follow through by gripping the butt of the cue back farther while adjusting your stance. Maximizing your follow through as opposed to thrusting your body into the shot maintains your accuracy and increases ball action. Staying down on the break shot
also helps to stop the cue ball dead in the center because you are concentrating more on accuracy. A good way to test to see if you are staying down is to see where the tip of your cue is at the end of the break shot. If it's over your shooting shoulder, chances are you're standing straight up before you're making contact with the cue ball (this
is more common than you may think). Johnny Archer has the most extreme follow through I have ever seen. The tip of his break cue follows the cue ball all the way to the rack of balls. I'm not saying that you should incorporate that much follow through on your break, but that is a prime
example of maximizing your follow through.

b) Never Sacrifice Accuracy For Power.

When breaking, we need to hit the one ball in the right spot. If not, the cue ball can deflect off the side of the one and fly all around the table,
or even worse, you can scratch. Too much power also causes the cue ball to fly right off the table. We want a strong break, not a powerful break, and I'll explain why. Remember I said that there was a difference between "stroking" and "hitting" the cue ball? Well here's the difference which can be shown by simply looking at the definitions of both words. A "stroke" is single unbroken movement, or a series of to-and-fro movements. A "hit" is a directed collision between two objects. Think of a stroke as what the bow does to the strings of a violin. Think of a hit as what two cars do at a demolition derby. That's the difference. You hit something so that you can inflict damage upon it, such as punching someone in the face.
Stroking can be compared to petting a small kitten. It's okay to exercise a bit of power as long as you use only the amount of power you can control.

Accuracy is exactness. The tip should stroke the cue ball accurately so that the cue ball can make contact with the one ball accurately. Anything less that accurate will create problems. When we try to muster all of the strength in our shooting arm, we tend to tense up. When we tense up our shooting arm becomes stiff and our fluidity gives way to rigidity. You wouldn't want to water the plants in your house with a fire hose, would you? It's too much force and power that is necessary to complete the task at hand. It's overkill. It's the same thing with the break.

Good Habit #2: Properly Read The Rack After Each And Every Shot.

It is not only important to read the rack before shooting, it is important to re-read the rack after each and every shot. As you shoot your way to the game ball, the conditions may change, and you may have to change our
game plan due to an inaccurate position error made earlier in the rack. I support the following method of reading the rack, your method may vary from mine, but this is what I believe works best for most. Start by seeing which balls can and cannot be made from the center of the table. This will aid you in your effort to identify key shots in the rack that need to be handled with care. I endorse keeping the cue ball in the center of the table unless it is necessary to do otherwise. I'll go more into depth as
to why when I speak of position routes, but for now, it's to learn how to read the rack from one ball to the next. Most advanced players have the ability to read the rack from beginning to end. Many beginners and novice
players are baffled on to how to attain the mental imagery necessary to read a rack of balls. It's not as complicated as you may think, so if you are a beginner, do not become discouraged or intimidated by this part of the game. You can do it too, and with a little time and effort, you'll be
doing it better than most! Now after you break the balls, your cue ball may or may not be in the center of the table. If it's not, get it back there as soon as possible, because that's where we will be reading the rack from. That is the first rule. After you have established a position route to get the cue ball back into the center of the table, identify which ball or balls cannot be made from there. Perhaps the four is trapped along the foot rail, requiring a special angle on the three to make position on the four. Identify the angle necessary to get from the three to the four. When getting on the four ball, ensure you keep an angle so that you can get the cue ball into the center of the table. We only allow the cue ball to leave the center of the table when it is absolutely necessary, and then we get it back there as soon as possible. Its the same as giving the cue ball a furlough. The cue ball needs to stay in the center of the table for three reasons:

1) You can expect a make-able shot from there;
2) You'll find it easier to maintain an angle;
3) There are no pockets there.

Easy enough? That's what I thought! When identifying the key ball in the rack, deal with it from the first shot. After each shot, the following should be considered:

a) What balls cannot be made from the center of the table?
b) After making this next shot, do I have the ability to get back into the
center of the table?
c) Do I need to leave the center of the table? If so, can I get back
The center of the table rule should apply to all games, but in nine ball it is extremely necessary because the ANGLES are so important. For me, I hate being straight on any shot. I like to keep an angle on every shot so that I can ensure that I have a route back into the center of the table.

Good Habit #3: Deal With Problem Balls and Clusters Immediately.

Understanding how to use the clusters to your advantage is one thing, learning how to tear the clusters apart effectively is a completely different matter. As I discussed during the 10 bad habits, knowing what to
do in this situation is the key. Remember I said that tossing nine balls out on the table instead of practicing what we need to is not very effective? I follow a simple rule that says that I should practice WHAT I DON'T KNOW as opposed to practicing what I already know. When was the last time you set up the two-four-eight cluster on the foot rail and practiced shooting in the one and breaking the cluster so that you get a duck on the two? You've probably never done it before, but you should start today. By
familiarizing yourself with clusters and problem balls, you'll know when to break up the cluster and you'll know when to leave it alone. When you know those two things, half of the battle has already been won. Knowing when to play safe is one thing, and doing it correctly and effectively is something else. You'll have to do the practice and identify what your strengths and weaknesses are in this area. When that is known, you can start to plan your strategy against certain types of players who have
typical playing styles. Leaving that cluster for later in the rack just prolongs the inevitable. Leaving it for your opponent gives him an opportunity at the table. He can
give the cluster a whack, have a ball drop and run the table. That's not what we want. He can lock us up in a safety. We don't want that either. We don't want anything that takes the control of the table away from us. Even
if you cannot find a way to break up the balls, screw him with a safety. Different situations call for different remedies, but remember, we always choose the option that aids OUR cause, not our opponents.

Good Habit #4: Utilize The Simplest And Most Effective Position Routes.

Keep it simple! Always follow the center of the table rule. Keep the cue ball in the center of the table, and you will find that you are getting out easier and more often. Always get the cue ball where you need it by using the simplest route. Having the cue ball travel around the table when
all you need to do is kill the ball with reverse english off of one rail is silly and quite careless. The less you do with the cue ball, the less of a chance you have of things going wrong.

Good Habit #5: Make good, sound, sensible decisions.

Always make the decision that is going to enable you to win. Shooting the balls out of an emotional decision that was made with little or no care sends you to the loser's bracket - quick!!! On the path to the nine ball, there are two ways you can go....the right way, or the wrong way. Always look for the correct route. The correct
route is always there, you just have to look for it. In the bad habits sections, we identified that indecisiveness is brought about by not having the balls roll our way. Some players tend to try and "make something happen".
Many of us find ourselves trying to slop in the nine either out of excitement or desperation. We abandon good judgment and good decisions and (as I said earlier) look like a deer in the headlights. A deer in the headlights has already realized that he's screwed up, and he just awaits
his fate. Pool players do the same thing. When things don't go your way, be prepared. Most of the guys I know always
expect good things to happen during their matches, and when the bad things happen, their only recourse is to get pissed off. That only makes matters worse. If you've read this all the way through, then you know that you should have a plan for when things aren't going your way. Know when it
starts happening, and begin treating the symptoms immediately. The longer you put it off, the worse things will turn out. Focus is the key. If you are focusing on all of the negative things that are happening to you, more
negative things will happen. If you try to concentrate on the positive, positive things will begin happening. Negativity breeds negativity, positivity breeds positivity.

Good Habits #6: Take Your Time

What more needs to be said? Rushing through the rack makes you susceptible to errors. Carefully plan each and every shot as well as the position route. Slow things down in your mind and on the table.

Good Habit #7: Be A Shot maker!

This is where drills and patterns will pay off big time! Knowing how to make shots from different angles can also aid you immensely when planning position routes. There are two ways your opponent can get back to the table:

a) you scratched;
b) you missed.

A variety of different fouls can get him there too, but most of the time, these are the leading reasons. The only way to win at pool is to put the balls into the pockets.

Good Habit #8: Have Complete And Total Control Of The Cue Ball.

An excellent example of cue ball control mastery is the great Buddy Hall. I've been watching him play for twenty five years and I can count the times I've seen him lose control of the cue ball on my fingers. Buddy has a way of making the impossible seem rather simple. Buddy's main rule is "stay in line and don't get behind anything". You will never get anywhere relying upon pot luck position. Always know where the cue ball is going before you shoot it. If you do not have an understanding of how the cue ball does what it does and why, put this material down until you do.
Without cue ball control, you will find your climb to the top very difficult. Practice drills and patterns daily. Is it boring? Yes. Is it tedious? Yes. But, you'll never regret the hard work that is involved with getting to the next level. It all pays off in the end.

Good Habit #9: Respect The Complexity Of The Game.

The game can go in your favor, but the game can also bite you in the ass if you're not careful. Getting lax in exercising due caution gets us all in trouble. By respecting the complexity of the game, I mean that we
should never start thinking that we know it all or that we "can't lose". As soon as we think that we have it all figured out, we become a prime candidate for being overconfident. We must remain teachable. Carelessness
is the substance of overconfidence. We tend to rely on our ego to pull us through rather than our skills. We forget that we should use caution in certain situations, and up pops the devil and we lose another match. Understanding that we always need to focus intensely on what we need to do keeps us grounded. None of us are above making a mistake, but when we are trapped in overconfidence we start making excuses, blaming everything for the error except our own carelessness. Remember, if you're in the loser's
bracket, guess who got you there!!!

Good Habit #10: Relax And Have Fun

If choking is caused by being tense, dead stroke is caused by being relaxed. Pool is a game, and games were meant to be fun. If you don't enjoy playing pool, quit. There is a lot of fun to be had while playing pool. If you don't enjoy what you are doing, stop. If you are tense, indecisive, and in fear of your life because you are going to lose,
chances are you're not having much fun. Losing is part of winning. If you lost a tough match, take pride in the fact that a weakness was exposed to you, and that you now have something new to work on during your practices. As I explained earlier, these habits are not fool proof. The usefulness of these good habits is contingent on the condition of your existing skills.

11-03-2002, 11:46 PM
Thank you very much for some really GOOD advice.

11-04-2002, 08:02 AM
thank you ! a great post.. i have printed this post and am putting it on the front of my drill note book,, i have added in bold print (read weekly) now back to working on speed ! having a hard time holding in power.. K

Fred Agnir
11-04-2002, 08:22 AM
David, I hope you read and post here more often. I think this forum is well suited for your input.


Jay M
11-04-2002, 08:41 AM
All in all, this is a great post. There are a few minor points that I don't totally agree with, but only one of those is worth mentioning here.

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote:</font><hr>
Standing up and thrusting your body through the rack only zaps the strength (not power) of your break. This is merely mechanics, but remember that the only thing that should move on any shot is your shooting arm. If your head comes up, it alters the accuracy of your shot. The same holds
true on the break.

My personal opinion is that it doesn't matter what you do on the break, as long as you always do the same thing from the same place.

In other words, when I break from the side, I do lift my head and stand up on the break. BUT I spent the time to find an aiming point that I can use with that break. I aim at a particular place just a little to the right of the center of the 9 ball. It works for me because I always break that break the same way. I have the same body movement and I always miss my aiming point by the same amount in the same direction.

From the center of the table, I break as if it were just a really hard shot and stay down on the cue.

If you know your own flaws, you can compensate for them AS LONG AS YOU'RE CONSISTENT.

As I said, I think your post was great, but felt that a second approach to this point was worth looking at.

Jay M

11-04-2002, 08:57 AM
Thank you David for a very informative post. I'd love to see more like this. /ccboard/images/icons/smile.gif

11-04-2002, 10:20 AM
Thanks for taking the time for this great post. I'm sure many readers will benefit from it. Great "breaking" and "center of the table" analogy. They will the focus of my practice in the days to come.

Keep them coming.....


11-04-2002, 03:02 PM
Hi there,
I have a feeling you are a straight pool player-I would like to say that in 9-ball I feel it is better to always have an angle on the next shot,unless the shot is a stopshot to your next shot,and I also believe that two-rail position is important in 9-ball because your always going two rails long or short to get into your position zone and using the rails to control your speed!