View Full Version : Practice Routines?

L.S. Dennis
04-29-2003, 11:18 PM
I was reading one of Mark Wilson's excelent Billiards Digest colums today entitled;'Avoid A Routine Rountine' in which he states "The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win". As I thought about that for a while it let me to wonder just how many of us simply go through the motions of doing the same little drills over and over again and think that we just had a good practice session. Have we, or is there something else we could do to achieve the affect that we desire? Any thoughts?

04-30-2003, 06:09 AM
LS Dennis
I have 4 parts to my practice routine
1. stroke practice (getting in stroke)
2. inside english practice (you never get enough of this practice, it just doesn't come up that often in games, but when it does, I am glad I practiced it)
3. problem shots (the list is long)
4. extreme shots (basic long cuts with outside or inside english, banks, balls on the rail with all types of english)

I like practicing more than a lot of the players I know. Maybe its because I need the practice more.

But it is more enjoyable to come to the table and see one of your practice shots to get on the game ball and just smile with confidence. And, Drill it.

Desire to perform, is what keeps me going. Wining is just a byproduct of that desire.

04-30-2003, 09:10 AM
"The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win"

Damn, that is a great quote! I think I'm going to stencil that on my pool cue case lol

In all seriousness, I find it extremely difficult to run drills by myself. I have a table in my house, but every time I get down to practice, I end up playing the ghost, or playing straight pool instead of running the drills that I had planned on doing. Then I feel guilty for not practicing like I should. And that makes me less likely to practice again anytime soon /ccboard/images/graemlins/frown.gif It is a vicious cycle.

It's not that I don't like running drills either, I do. But, I don't have sufficient confidence in my game to know if missing that last shot is because I was aiming wrong, wrong english, my stroke is messed up, my stance is fouled up, my grip is wrong, my bridge is to short, to long, just wrong... The list goes on and on. Then I get scared that I'm teaching myself horrible habits by possibly doing the wrong things over and over and over again... so I decide to take my mind off of it and shoot straight pool for awhile. Which is very relaxing to me. *shrugs*

If anyone has a secret way that I can over-come this issue, I'm all ears. If not, I'll wait till I can afford some lessons and keep shooting straight pool, or playing the ghost :P

04-30-2003, 09:40 AM

I have not read this article, but it sounds like Mark is pointing out some of the same things I have been shouting about for years. In 2000, I did a survey locally here in El Paso and found that only 9% of all players I talked with actually "practiced". By Practice, I'm defining it as a session of 1-3 hours where skills are tested, evaluated, and strengthened. Only 4% of all players I talked with did drills. This was alarming and had me go back to ask why drills were not done. In 90% of the people I interviewed about this, the overwhelming answer was avoidance of boredom. Many people have asked me how I developed some of my drills, and the answer is quite simple. I pattern my drills around a specific weakness I am having, or one of my students is having. The drill should be challenging, but it must also challenge the specific weakness. Myself and other instructors do not have some great gift to do this, most everyone that plays with any frequency will be able to recognize their weakness, and be able to pattern a drill that deals with it specifically. Routines become routines. Variety is what will keep any student of the game entranced in their practice sessions. Several years ago I wrote "You Only Get to Heaven If You Eat Your Vegetables" which deals with the subject of drills, and the avoidance of them.


I recommend training "cycles" rather than practice routines. In this approach, we have our cycles broken down into sections. We have a 6 day cycle, which is 6 days training, 1 day rest per week. This fits into a 21 day cycle, or 3X the 6 day cycle. In a one month period, 18 days of training is more than sufficicent, and will aid you in avoiding burnout, and boredom. During these cucles, we concentrate on mental training, physical training, studying our weakness and strengths, studying opponents, and evaluating our performances. The busier you are, and the more deciated you are to accomplishing your goals, the more enjoyment you will get from the training. Much too often players want the rewards, but are unwilling to do the work. I always give the example of building a house in realtion to building your game. You can have all of the materials and tools required, but you will not have a house unless it is constructed. To build the structure, you have to pound the nails into the wood. This requires hard work, planning and consultation with a professional in the field.

04-30-2003, 10:35 AM
Th r s of t t i hi tor .


04-30-2003, 11:47 AM
I think Mark's one liner holds very true, at least for me anyway. It doesn't have to mean just playing pool either.


L.S. Dennis
04-30-2003, 01:41 PM

That is a great quote, it jumped out at me as soon as I read it! By the wasy it came from his August 2001 Billard Digest Article. I really enjoy his writing and commentating.

phil in sofla
05-02-2003, 05:27 PM
Following the Monk's parable about moving a pile of rocks (in "I Came to Win" I think), and his recommendation to sink 10 racks of 15 balls a day even if you do nothing else, a lot of what I do is simply make an open break and run balls, straight pool or equal offense style. Sometimes I'll play equal offense with myself and keep score, othertimes I'm getting repetitions of pocketing, kicking, banking or safety play without keeping score.

The idea is to get the experience of thousands of balls worth of pocketing, position play, etc., to have that base of experience in the back of the mind, while a) practicing the full rack, 8-ball style break repeatedly, b) working on stroking and other mechanical basics, and c) a couple of times a week, using the scoring to gauge my progress.

Besides just open pocketing, sometimes I'll shoot the rack in rotation for the night, shoot some racks of nothing but safety play and kicks, or try to pocket the balls without ever having the cue ball touch a rail. For variety, I do about the same thing with a 9 ball rack.

As for drilling, per se, I'll do that to work on a specific shot or shots, such as a 2 rail kicking system, double rail banking, Grady Matthews' style spin systems, etc.

I HAVE a couple of excellent sources for comprehensive drilling, and it is my intention through the balance of the year to work through these resources.