View Full Version : Help! Struggling with consistancy / growing pains?

07-30-2003, 11:47 AM
Not sure if this should be in the newbie category but here goes my first post: (sorry itís so long winded)

Iíve been playing league pool now for almost two years. Iíve gone from a hit-emí hard and let god sort them out type to a very defense based, consistent middle of the pack player (skill level 5 in APA). In the last four or five months my advanced shot ability has increased immensely but I have lost my consistency and often miss basic cut shots. During practices and drills I am on and then come match time I seem to choke. Iíve been trying to keep my stance, grip, stroke and aiming system consistent but I still have nights where nothing seems to help. Last night during practice I broke and ran twice back to back but come match time I struggled with the basics and lost. To make matters worse a member of another team who was watching both my practice and match (a 6 I beat handily last week) accused me of deliberately missing shots to sandbag. I tried explaining to him my situation (polling him for advice as well) and he smugly remarked ďanyone who can make a two rail kick shot doesnít miss that many easy shots unless itís deliberateĒ.

Iím considering taking lessons and have started playing in more of the local tournaments to help. Does anyone have any advice or does this happen to you too?


07-30-2003, 12:22 PM
It looks like the guy from the other team doesn't have a clue about how a S/L 5 shoots. All players struggle with consistancy and you are no different. You may be more inconsistant now because your trying too hard or maybe you are adding some type of pressure on yourself. Simply keep playing your game and as your shotmaking improves so will your consistancy. Its a LONG process.

Good luck,

07-30-2003, 01:30 PM
One thing that may be giving you a problem is the possibility that you are having a hard time separating practice from play. Practice time is when you think about the fundamentals of bridge, stance, stroke, allignment, etc. When the match starts, you have to put all of that out of your head and just play. Even a fleeting thought of how you are in allignment during a shot can be enough to disrupt your flow. I try to teach students to use a "switch" to go from thinking mode to playing mode. If you like, PM me and I will try to explain in a bit more detail.

07-30-2003, 01:48 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote pooltchr:</font><hr> If you like, PM me and I will try to explain in a bit more detail. <hr /></blockquote>Hi Steve, if you're going to write it down anyway, maybe you could post it to help us all? Just a thought...

07-31-2003, 04:52 AM
Being on the practice table and being in a match or tourney are very different. On the practice table is when you should keep your mechanics in mind. In a match, it is not a good idea to think about these things. I had something interesting happen to me today in a tournament. Before the tournament started, I had only about 15 minutes to warm up, since I am a tournament director and have to collect money from everyone and do the draw. When I was practicing, I was playing well from start to finish. That gave me confidence. I got a bye, and had to wait for a match to finish to play the winner. While that match was going on, I had a few minutes to hit some balls around again. When I got back on the table, I was playing very bad. Something felt very wrong in my stroke. That ruined my confidence. When I started my match, I started out playing bad, and was thinking about my mechanics, which I think made me play worse. After missing many shots, I decided to just play my best, and think only about the table, and not about what my body might be doing wrong. I took a little more time on a few shots, and pulled the trigger when it felt right. Before I knew it, I was back in stroke, and playing good. I ended up winning that match, and went on to win the tournament (me and my friend actually split 1st and 2nd). Basically, when you are in stroke, your cue is doing all the thinking for you. Let the cue tell your body where it wants to go when you are lining up for a shot. Your body will naturally adjust to a comfortable position. Don't get caught up in all that "right foot goes here, then step to the left with my other foot, tilt my head to the right blah blah" stuff. Everything has gotta be natural and comfortable. The only time you should ever feel muscle tension anywhere is in your fingers of your bridge hand when you are using a closed bridge. Everything else is loose and relaxed, but solid.

07-31-2003, 06:12 AM
OK, since you asked...
A "switch" is a physical act that you can use to make the shift between Left brain/right brain. For example, when I am playing, I use the chalk as a switch. When I have the chalk in my hand, it turns on the analytical part of the brain. Look at the shot, angles, where I need the cb to move, etc. When I put down the chalk, it's time to quit thinking and start the execution. Different players use different switches. Some will give their cue a little tightening twist just before they shoot, or push their glasses up on their nose. It is all part of the routine. You can use the same principle in going from practice to play. I've seen guys turn their ball cap around backward before a match. One teacher I know uses a different cue when teaching than when he is playing. This lets him know that when the "good" cue comes out, it's time for business. There are lots of possible variations and each player needs to figure out their own switches. (I don't recommend practicing with one cue and playing with another.) The idea is to have something concrete that is a constant reminder that you are no longer practicing. Personally, when I practice, I use the chalk on the table. In a match, I use the mag clip-on holder on my belt. When that is on, my "game face" is on.

07-31-2003, 08:06 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Kenfusion:</font><hr> Not sure if this should be in the newbie category but here goes my first post: (sorry itís so long winded)

Iíve been playing league pool now for almost two years. Iíve gone from a hit-emí hard and let god sort them out type to a very defense based, consistent middle of the pack player (skill level 5 in APA). In the last four or five months my advanced shot ability has increased immensely but I have lost my consistency and often miss basic cut shots. During practices and drills I am on and then come match time I seem to choke.
<hr /></blockquote>

I have not played pool long but I do watch a lot of players. We have 3 chokers on our team, 2 which are sl5s. It seems to me that they do not choke for the same reasons nor at the same points in their games. One chokes the whole game, one chokes the money ball, one chokes in the middle of the game. It appears to me that there are different things going on with each one.

A pool expert told me that all players choke to some degree or another. I kept hearing the word and until recently, honestly did not know what the word meant. Once I understood, I started watching the players a lot more with respect to this.

I really cannot add anymore except that to say that this appears to be common in lots of players. Perhaps an experienced person in your pool hall can help you to figure this out.The reason I cannot say more is because the thing I do to turn off that sh*tty little left brain, I have been told it is not that simple,but then I am basically simple anyway.


07-31-2003, 11:16 AM
Thank you all very much for your replies. I am relieved to hear that others struggle with the same or similar issues that I am facing. Despite how extremely frustrating it can be it's good to know I am not alone.

Tonight I'm going to try to incorporate a "switch" and also try to find my "dead stroke" by hitting a ton of strait and cut shots (recommended by another post I found).

Steve, I may take you up on your offer to PM you; I'll let you know how the session goes tonight.

Thanks again,

07-31-2003, 12:19 PM
Thanks, Steve. I appreciate the post.

Is the switch a conscious thing - like "I'm putting the chalk down now, it's time to turn the switch", or is it more of a sub-conscious thing that occurs as part of a pre-shot routine?

07-31-2003, 12:42 PM
I had to go check this out to realize.

I chalk my cue, put down the chalk. Right before I go down, I hold the cue in front of my body. Randy taught us to figure out what our's was. Mine has changed since then. That is why I had to go check it out.

I guess I am different because I have not played very long. All I really care about is that I have 3 straight strokes in a row going to the correct place on the cueball before I shoot, and that I freeze on every shot. I treat every shot the same. I have heard so much about how important the stroke is so that is what i focus on.

If I stroked straight those three time, if I miss, I lined the shot up wrong,rather than choking, which I expect to happen on some shots because I have not the time on the table as most folks here.

I am pretty relaxed. I think sl5s on our team seem to worry a lot about getting all the balls in,and they choke.Not sure why but our sl7 says that they do. Our two beat themselves up when they miss a shot.

my .02 from a one year player.


07-31-2003, 01:00 PM
Like your pre shot routine, it becomes subconscious with use. At first, I had to think "Chalk's down", but now it just happens. I keep the chalk in my hand the entire time I'm looking at the table, but once I have thought it through, the chalk is down, and I don't think about it again. (If I get down and don't feel right, and stand back up, I will get the chalk out again without even thinking about it) The guys on my team tell me I go through a lot of chalk in a game. It's not that I'm chalking, it's just what I do while I'm thinking) I hope that all makes some sense.

07-31-2003, 02:22 PM
Well here is some food for thought. During practice or drills you have the advantage of repetition. Do something a few times in a row and it becomes easy. Should you make a mistake you get to, do it over.

During a real game you know that doesn't exist. That in itself can or will add pressure. You get to thinking, what if I miss, or don't get position etc. Your probably thinking to much, because you have placed importance on a shot or game situation, not to mention your team watching. That importance or pressure was not there in practice. Even if you played and beat a better player during practice, it didn't mean anything per-say because you wasn't playing for your team or keeping score.

I wouldn't put very much thought into how well practice went. You can be setting yourself for a letdown, expecting to play the real deal just as well, or get some of the rolls you may have had in practice. You need to be realistic, at a 5 level you may think your playing much better than you really are during practice. Did you get a little lucky on some of those runs? Don't count on luck or rolls to pull you through in a match. On the other hand if you play poor during practice, don't carry that with you either.

I may not hit them the best during practice, maybe I'm not that enthused, it doesn't mean anything. Come game time, is a big turn around. I may play very well during practice but realize a couple of those big stroke shots may not come off during a game, or I choose not to shoot them. It's being realistic.

I'm not putting you down here but 5's make plenty of mistakes. Its in your best interest to know your game and your capability, with what you do consistantly. If your honest with yourself you can save yourself some frustration.
When you know that or have a good idea you may or will choose to shoot some shots differently.

Being able to play your speed under pressure just takes time. You learn from your mistakes as mentioned above. As you get more comfortable during real play your mind quiets down and you can play your real game. Anytime your mind is buzzing while playing, there is tension in the air. By that I mean in your body, shooting arm and grip. It can or will just kill any chance you have of winning. JMO


07-31-2003, 02:24 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote pooltchr:</font><hr> ...it becomes subconscious with use.

I hope that all makes some sense. <hr /></blockquote>Hi Steve,

It certainly does make sense, and it was the answer I was hoping for. I'd hate to think that in addition to the other things I'm thinking while standing that I'd also have to think "O.K., turn the switch now". Thanks!

I'm pretty sure that when I'm shooting better than other times, I do exactly that - I have my chalk in my hand while surveying the shot and selecting what I'm doing - then when the chalk goes down, it's execution time. It was interesting that you mentioned tightening the cue as a switch - I'll do that sometimes as well.

07-31-2003, 02:41 PM
Kato does this quite often.


08-08-2003, 08:26 AM
Hello everyone, I figured I'd post an update. Thanks again to all for all the advice. My game is back on track and I'm playing well again (and winning /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif). I took the advice everyone gave and also signed up for lessons. Turns out the majority of my consistancy issues revolved around poor stance and bad shot approach. It took me two sessions to get used to the new posture and shot approach process but it has definately helped.