View Full Version : Pushing boundaries

07-15-2003, 08:36 PM
It's a pool playing maxim that, in competition, one should "play safe" if there are doubts about a successful runout or difficult clusters that jeapordize the completion of the rack. Strategically, the win percentages are with you when you wait for the appropriate moment and/or layout to make your offensive attempt at the runout. Yet, there are times when playing safe, or only playing the percentages can work against your progressive development as a player,in my opinion. Say, for example, that you've recently made a dramatic jump in your skills at controlling the angle of deflection of the cueball after a shot, which in turn, has refined your ability to be more precise in breaking out clusters in a rack. This is a wonderful confidence builder, but now your faced with the dilema of incorporating this new found skill into your competitive game. It's no longer enough to save it for the practice table. You need to make it part of your new playing style which has a direct impact on your game strategy. So, do you you play the percentages, play safely within your comfort zone, or do you push your boundaries in order to expand the range of skills you have available to you in a high pressure competitive situation? There is a time when it's counterproductive to play safe, a time to set aside fear, and relish the excitement of incorporating what used to be a low percentage shot, but is now a new and powerful tool, into the way you play the game. It's a question of balance between the old and the known, with the new and unfamiliar; and you always need to be pushing those personal boundaries in order to improve. It's too easy to fall into the trap of becoming complacent and comfortable with the status quo of you current skill level. JMO

Keith Talent
07-15-2003, 11:31 PM
Absolutely, Dave. You can't get better if you never push it.

I may be in a similar situation to you. Over the past several sessions, I've been able to get past a lot of conscious compensating for deflection, throw and such ... suddenly it has become unusual that I miss a routine shot with almost any sort of english. After warming up this afternoon, I ran the day's first two racks of 9 ball ... just scattering them, that is, not off the break. Still, it seemed almost simple, for a change, and there was less guesswork about maneuvering through traffic.

Need to put it to the test, I guess, too. Good luck with your new level.

07-16-2003, 06:59 AM
Interesting observations.

I have long believed that to accomplish stretch goals, or in your example to make those incremental steps in improvement one must be willing to leave their comfort zone.

I have observed some players progress stall because they are not willing to leave their comfort zone by going for the run out when they have a reasonable chance to win the game by proper execution of a challenging shot. IMO a big part of that comes from confidence, and if they always duck when presented with situations such as - if I pocket this ball I am out - their skill level will tend to flaten out.

I usually suggest to those players that they need to take some matches (certainly not the league finals) and just commit to going for the out, breaking up the cluster, etc. They need to recognize that to continue to improve the outcome of those matches is not whats important but the continued development of their skills and confidence.

The same holds in reverse for those players who continually lose matches because they refuse to play safe when the situation suggest that is the best play. In that case they need to pick some matches and when faced with the shot or the safety force themselves to exucute the highest percentage safety available vs. the low percentage shot so that their confidence and safety play improves.

"To accomplish our goals we must be willing to leave our comfort zones."


"If you keep on doing what you have been doing, you will keep on getting what you have been getting."

Bert Kinister

07-16-2003, 08:16 AM
I used to play strictly by percentages,had a good safety game, but was not reaching out, taking chances.

I have kind of flipped the other way and only play safes now when I have to or dont have a shot.

I dont know if I am hearing exactly what you guys are saying, but these days am taking more difficult shots,making more of those, and unless it is a big money game,if I miss the shot, so what?

It just seems that trying for those difficult shots is helping me more than being real conservative and more fun for everyone, me included.

I am thinking that if a person never tries that next level of difficult shot, that they will not make it or learn how. That was the trap I was in.

Playing to not lose does not get you anywhere. I still have captains telling me to play safe when it is not even a good safe, rather than trying that tough shot, which will not usually even lose the game if I miss it.

I like what was said here. Not to be dumb and never play safe but if ya want to win, you, me,whoever has to take some chances.

I was playing safe until they got their 3-4 balls off so it was easier to maneuver in getting to mine, which is really a shape issue. Now,that I am being more aggressive, I am faced with having most of mine off and same thing, how to maneuver around theirs to get to that last ball and 8 or the 8, once again a shape issue.

So did not take chances before, do now, still left with shape skills or lack thereof. I wonder if other safe players play that way so the shape is not so hard.

So stetching those shape skills, trying new shape things, even new things? this is what I am currently faced with.


Fred Agnir
07-16-2003, 08:24 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote socrates:</font><hr> Interesting observations.

I have long believed that to accomplish stretch goals, or in your example to make those incremental steps in improvement one must be willing to leave their comfort zone.
<hr /></blockquote>Been saying this for years. Not that anyone listened.


07-16-2003, 08:28 AM
I did.


07-16-2003, 08:35 AM
Quote socrates:
Interesting observations.

I have long believed that to accomplish stretch goals, or in your example to make those incremental steps in improvement one must be willing to leave their comfort zone.


Been saying this for years. Not that anyone listened. &lt;--Fred

Am i taking this right ? Is this saying more or less that to really improve you have to take chances on shots that you would normally think were out of your bounds or limitations ?
If thats the case then i totally agree. How else are you going to climb up ? What satisfaction will you ever get if you dont go after the tough ones

07-16-2003, 08:55 AM
Another example of the danger of complacency and the importance of risk taking is the situation of the "small town shortstop". Once you've achieved a certain level of consistent success in your pool hall, your league, or your area; it's easy to become satisfied with where your at, once you start to enjoy a certain amount of success, recognition, or notoriety. A pecking order of players gets established and players begin to know "whose supposed to beat who". Once that mindset is established, your in trouble. Regardless of where you are in the hierarchy you are in danger of getting lazy and settling, not pushing yourself or your boundaries. You always need to get out there and take risks, leave your comfort zone, in order to improve. The risks may not involve shots; they may envolve risks to status, ego or reputation within your group and that's a scarier thing than missing a difficult shot in competition. This also applys to players above the shortstop level; you have to continually challenge yourself or improvement stalls.

07-16-2003, 09:14 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote dave:</font><hr> Once you've achieved a certain level of consistent success in your pool hall, your league, or your area; it's easy to become satisfied with where your at, once you start to enjoy a certain amount of success, recognition, or notoriety. <hr /></blockquote>

I see this in league. Okay, I am going to pick on the 7s. Many league players do not realize that there is anything above that(typical B 7s). I know I sure did not before ccb. The same good 7's beat each other back and forth, and except for a few, do not venture out to compete with the A players.

It happens to many players at all levels, but I see 7's treated as the top of players and it is so easy to fall into that trap. I, for instance, have been after ww to play in our local non-handicapped 9ball tourine where he would have an opportunity to play A and B players. And I keep asking about me playing with the B-C tournie for the same reason. But for me, there is more opportunity for competition in APA, since have played less than a year, than someone like him who is one of the top 3-4 sevens in our league.

I am a pretty strong believer in the benefits of playing better players. I think a person gets creamed a few times and then they start getting better.


07-16-2003, 12:07 PM
I'm in total agreement, and I have recently noticed while watching the BcTv matches that the men are more prone than I remember them being about ducking. There's been several instances where a semi thin cut into the corner would have opened the run out for them, and they've opted to seperate the CB and OB instead of hitting that front end shot. IMO 9-ball is an agressive game, meant to be "attacked" rather than babied, so if I was to be in their places, I believe I would duck a little less. Mind you I'm not promoting stupid shots which have no chance for CB shape, that is still a definite place to play safe, BUT if there's the chance to imtimidate your opponent and run out, do it. It will build on your overall strength and mental toughness.

Good thread topic, thanks...sid

07-16-2003, 12:44 PM
My game has progressed through the years from small table 8 ball to 8' 9 ball, which is what I play now.

I have gone from never playing safe(chicken $hit as it was called in my circles) to playing safe more often. Always going for it is good in some ways, but you will live and die by it,...not a good way to play. You can look like the best player ever when you make it, but look stupid other times when you do not play safe.

Last night in my tournament, I split 1st place by really "pushing the safeties" to the limit. The most I ever played and I won more games.

It frustrated my opponents to no end, it boosted my confidence because I got ball in hand more, therefore I made more shots. But, I also went for some shots with reckless abandon(in their mind) and made the shot which for me is a higher percentage maybe than others. Here is the reckless shot that won the match:



The cue ball made two trips back and forth to be behind the 9.

Playing safe should always be done if you cannot get shape on the next ball, or even decent shap, even if the shot is straight in. Only shoot if you can continue shooting. But, sometimes when the game is toward the end,...you just have to go fo it!