View Full Version : This is really stressing me out...(help please)
I am a 23 year old pool player from california. I have been playing pool seriously for about 8 years now. About a year ago I was playing my best, where I was rated an "A" player in the local tournaments. At that time I also worked at a poolhall, and played nearly every day for up to 8 hours. I was forced to quit working there and cut back on playing time because I started going to school full-time. For about 6 months after I stopped playing as often, I still played just as strong, but only played 2-3 times per week (practice, tournaments, cheap action). One day I came in to hit balls and I played really bad. I figured it was just a bad pool day (although I hadn't experienced one to such an extremity in a long time), and I figured I would play better within the next few days. This was a year ago, and I have been out of stroke ever since. I cannot hit the balls cleanly, and nothing feels right (grip, stance, stroke, etc.). I currently play at about half of my best level a year ago. When the problem first started, I tried to play it off for about two months, but to no avail. After that I started changing my mechanics around, but nothing seems to feel comfortable and right. It really bothers me to lose to people in an even match when a year ago I felt comfortable giving them the 7-ball. Can anyone give me advice on how to get back in stroke? One thing I have noticed is that I cannot achieve a smooth and level stroke like I used to. My stroke feels wavy and uncomfortable. I remember when I played good everything was straight and smooth, but I have not been able to achieve that. My cue on some days feels like a heavy lead bar, and on other days feels light as a twig. Any advice is really appreciated.
07-11-2003, 07:05 AM
Based on the description of the strength of your play I am assuming that your fundamentals including stance, alignment and stroke are fairly solid.
1. Never the less if you are not playing as much you may want to visit with a qualified instructor just for a double check to make sure they are still solid.
2. I have observed, myself included, that sometimes when we start missing balls we should be making there is the urge to assume that something must be changed, be it stance, alignment, stroke, etc. If your fundamentals are solid fight this urge and get some table time in so you start seeing balls go into the pocket again. Work from shots with balls close to the pocket up to harder shots. IMHO their is no substitute for confidence and seeing balls go in the hole again helps build this back up.
3. The third thing I might offer is to read the article, "The Eyes Have It". This drill has pulled myself, (and I have heard positive things from others,) out of of ball pocketing slump. It is on the web page noted below.
Good Luck - Enjoy the Journey
07-11-2003, 07:43 AM
nhp, three things occurred to me as I read your post. First, I felt sympathy/empathy. I would want to bite nails in two if I were losing to people I could have given the 7-ball to a year ago. I definitely understand how frustrating it must be. The second thought I had relates to an interview with Willie Mosconi that I read recently. In that interview, the following sentence occurred. "For example, he told me that at one point in his life, he practiced 8 hours a day for 31 YEARS, continually." Now Mosconi may have been exaggerating here, but even so, it struck me how similar your comment about playing "up to 8 hours" a day was to Mosconi's amount of time at the table. Could it be that Mosconi, unarguably one of the two or three greatest pool players of all time, needed that 8 hours a day to maintain his high level of play? And if so, could it be that YOU need several hours every day at the table to maintain the level you achieved in the past? I don't know, but that's what danced through my mind as I read your post. Third and finally, the thought occurred to me that maybe there has been some physical change that has affected your game. How about your eyesight? Could there be a problem there? Or maybe inner ear problems that could affect your sense of balance (and hence your feeling of comfort or lack of same as you asssume your stance at the table). If I had to guess, my guess would be that you are just one of those people who need a lot of playing time on a regular basis to keep your stroke grooved and consistent. Whatever the case, I wish you the best of luck in your efforts to regain your previous level of play!
07-11-2003, 08:49 AM
Whatever your decision, please don't replace school with pool. You are young and have a lot of time to play pool for the rest of your life. I am currently pursuing my Masters and my playing time has also declined. In the long run, it will be worth it to me because I fully realize that my education takes priority over recreation, no matter the cost. Pool will be waiting for me when I am finished with school.
You used to play 8 hours a day and now you play twice a week, that is the answer I would say. Also, you maybe are not being honest with yourself. You may be comparing your current game to what was some of your best days when you were playing all the time and not your average play. Another problem may also be, you are not fundamentally sound and got away with bad habits when you were playing a lot, it is now showing up. I made that point in another thread, that players that do a lot of things fundamentally wrong see their game drop if they don't play all the time. This may be your case. Your game should not drop that much from not playing everyday. You will not be improving, but even the amount you are playing should be enough to maintain some kind of game till you have the time to get back to practicing. That is the best reason for stressing sound fundamentals, you have a more dependable game even on less practice. Scott Lee says he almost never practices and I believe him. I have know a lot of players that seemed to never practice but could get off the chair and play anyone that walked in the room. Good Fundamentals.
Thanks for all the advice, I really appreciate it. The reason why I went to school in the first place is because it is my main priority. A few years ago I befriended some top players such as Ernesto Dominguez, Tang Hoa, and Santos Sambajon. All of them expressed I had a natural talent for the game. It was Ernesto Dominguez and Tang Hoa who actually steered me clear of quitting school. The reason being is because there really is not much money in the game, whether you gamble or not.
As for lying to myself- I think I know better than to do that, being that I minor in Psych /ccboard/images/graemlins/tongue.gif
When I was playing my best, I was consistent, solid, confident, smooth, and patient. This lasted for a whole year. I played my best pool consistently for a year. What really boggles my mind is that I practice, striving to be all of what I was a year ago, but cannot achieve it. When I started playing well, I kind of just fell into it, without all the effort I put in now, besides the long hours of practice.
Normally anyone would recommend that I just need alot more practice. What I don't understand is that for 6 months after cutting down on my playing time I still remained a very consistant and strong player. One day, I lost my stroke, and it's been gone for a long time now.
Sounds like you have all your ducks in a row. Pool has taken on a different role in your life. It has gone from a priority to a nice diversion from other responsibilities. Enjoy the time you have to play, let it be an escape from other the other stresses in your life but not a sorce of stress. You may find a whole new appreciation for the game now that it is off the front burner and no longer a priority.
07-11-2003, 10:16 AM
NHP, I began playing pool as a youngster as well. Comfort of stroke is an individual preference. My stroke may be different than the next guy's, but it is what works for me. It is important to practice good habits. You may feel comfortable that your stance, stroke, bridge hold, grip on the cue is correct. It may help to take a lesson or two from a higher-level player who may spot something in your shooting style that could be off. Remember the basics of follow-through, staying down until the ball hits the back of the pocket.
Once you acquire the mechanical skills of pool, the rest is upstairs. Practice is very important, but also try to have fun. There is power in postive thinking. When practicing, address the ball with confidence, know you are going to complete the shot successfully. Don't talk yourself out of it. When self-doubt jumps in your mind, take a step back from the table and start all over again. This has always worked for me, and I hope it helps.
If you have had the knowledge to play the game , you still have it . If you have the technique , you still have it . you just have to access it .
Do you trust yourself ?
What I mean is ,
"Do you ever decide a ball is a halfball cut , but when you get down on the shot , it looks a little thiner?"
Are you in touch with your cue ? Can you feel it ? When you get down on the shot are do you feel that you dont know what you are doing?
It could be a lot of things , take a lesson is my advice
General rule [ IMO] , the heavier your cue feels , the more relaxed your arm is .
Experiment-- Relax your arm , move the cue with will power and you will feel its weight . Try not to conciously use your muscles.
Strive to get better from where your at now. Set new realistic goals and meet them, as to increase to higher levels. Eventually it will swing back into place if everything else comes together.
This is very similiar in other sports. For me it was Golf and Baseball. All three sports you will have to set new goals to achieve, but all three rely on Confidence as key to success. If you set your goals as new goals rather than disappointing in comparasion to years past, you will get back on track and be drillin them with the 7 again.
Just my thoughts. I dealt with alot of mental issues with pool and baseball as a pitcher. I think it is why you see it very common for professional athletes to seek mental preparation assistance.
07-11-2003, 10:58 AM
It happens in all sports. It sounds to me like you're having a crisis in confidence. This affects every aspect of your game - including your stroke. Usually, this sort of thing can be traced back to something. Like you got a little out of stroke and lost to people you shouldn't have. It happened to me when I was about your age by getting double-drilled by a top player. I was devastated and went into a slump for months.
Another thing to consider is that the guys you were giving the 7 ball to last year might be giving you the 7 this year. Players improve. Things change. Don't let how you feel about yourself be dictated by who you beat.
What you have to do is "re-groom" yourself. Admit to yourself your game has slipped. Work your way back up to the "A" players. Play some of the mid-level players for awhile and work your way back up. Play people who are giving you chances. Just as confidence can be eroded, it can be rebuilt.
Try to enjoy the game again. It won't be easy, but you will be back before you know it.
07-11-2003, 06:18 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Keith McCready:</font><hr> My stroke may be different than the next guy's... <hr /></blockquote>
Why does your stroke have to be "different?"
Mine is the same as yours (minus the accuracy. /ccboard/images/graemlins/confused.gif)
Perhaps the "other guys" have the "different" stroke and we have the right stroke...
Something to ponder.
Ken (the side stroke just looks cooler too.)
Thanks to most of you who replied I have made some progress in playing better /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif
I think I also figured out why I have been "pushing" the cue ball rather than getting a clean hit. I think I have developed a habit of using a kill-stroke. What I do is when I follow through on a shot, my cue tip dives down into the cloth. Whether I am using draw, center ball, or top spin, my cue tip goes downward on my follow thru. I didnt have much time to practice today, but I focused on going straight thru the cue ball, and I am getting a much cleaner hit. I can also tell I am hitting the cue ball better by the sound of my cue tip hitting the cue ball. Funny that I haven't noticed this until now for nearly a year. I guess I got all caught up in messing around with my mechanics and alignment that I forgot to check on what my cue does when I make contact with the ball.
Today I actually felt like I was somewhat in stroke. It's quite amazing how when you kind of get in the zone how much you can do with the cueball. Maybe in the next few weeks I will actually beat my ghost in rotation, which I havent done in a year. Thanks again, and I'll keep you posted on how I am playing. /ccboard/images/graemlins/cool.gif
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