International Playing Ability Test (IPAT)

I was introduced to the International Playing Ability Test (IPAT) concept early last year by a fellow pool player and thought it would be a great idea to add the IPAT workbooks to my growing pile of pool practice materials.  I googled the IPAT, read about the tests, then decided to buy the IPAT2 and IPAT3 workbooks.  I was very excited when they finally arrived in the mail last spring.  I tore through the packaging like a kid on Christmas morning.  After flipping through the books and trying to estimate how I would perform on the tests, I put the books on my bookshelf for safe keeping until I made time to use them.  I don’t know about you, but usually when I buy something new, like a new shirt, I tend to not wear it because I’m “saving it for something special.”  Unfortunately, the same thing happened with my IPAT workbooks…they never got used!

Yesterday on New Year’s Eve, I decided to take the IPAT2 test to bring the year 2010 to a close and set the stage for my training in 2011.  This was my first experience using the IPAT materials.  They were obviously written in another language (probably German), then translated into English, so it took me a little bit of time to figure out the intention of some of the exercises.  Overall it took me about 3.5 hours to complete the entire IPAT2 test, but I prevailed, and was able to score an 832.  If you score over 800 points, you qualify to take the IPAT3 test, so I was pretty excited about that!

For each exercise in the IPAT system, there is a target score that you should strive to beat.  I figured this would serve as a good tool to help me identify strengths and weaknesses in my game.  Using the target scores from each individual drill as the bar to judge my performance, I’ve identified strengths and weaknesses in my game as follows:

Above Average:  Draw skills, 9 ball run out skills

Average:  Speed control skills, follow skills, straight shooting, big position skills (routes), endless position drill (routes), standard position shots

Below Average:  Small position skills (routes), frozen rail shots (wwaaaayy below average!)

Most, if not all, experts in the field of performance optimization say the fastest road to improvement is to identify and work on areas of weakness, so my next plan is to work on small position drills and frozen rail shots.  If you are bored with your current drills and exercises, I recommend the IPAT series.  They also offer DVDs to accompany the workbooks that I bought.  I’m sure the DVDs would be great and probably go a long way in helping you understand the concepts and the shots, but I’m too much of a cheapskate to buy them.  Oh well, back to the table!

Oh, and HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!   ;-)

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7 responses to “International Playing Ability Test (IPAT)

  1. found a bunch of clips about ipat on youtube…interesting stuff. hope u get alot of pool out of it!

  2. I have the IPAT #1 book and it’s been keeping me plenty busy. I thought I’d start with #2 just because #1 is so full of “simple” shots and scenarios… man was I an egotist when I bought that book. I haven’t actually done/attempted the full test so I don’t know where I stand, but I will say that I found some of the test layouts to be more challenging than they looked on paper. However, if your first test at #2 qualifies you to advance to #3, I doubt you’d have any issue with the tests. There are some really good position and speed control drills included (you probably already do them anyway).

    Frozen rail shot problems? See Joe Tucker. I have never seen so many frozen rail drills than what he has come up with. A friend of mine has Joe Tucker’s “Guaranteed Improvement Drillbook” and there’s some layouts in there which are just brutal, imo. http://www.joetucker.net/store/guaranteed_imp_drillbook.htm

    I look forward to reading/watching your progress with the IPAT drills. :)

    • Hey Johnny, thanks for the lead on Joe Tucker’s materials. I’ll check them out. I’m always looking for more drills to expand my knowledge and skill set. Hope you had a great New Year, and happy shooting!

  3. Hi Michael I recently started with IPAT 1 and have been spending a lot of time on the drills I play in the APA masters and am a 6. Last night I played two matches and did considerably poor. Have you found that if you spend all your time on drills and not playing games that it affects your match play? Any advice would be awesome it was really frustrating !!!

    • Hi John. There are two main aspects to the game: (1) physical (mechanical execution) and (2) mental (Focus/attitude). In order to take your game to a higher level, you need aspects of both. It’s always tough to give advice without seeing someone play, but I’ll give it a shot. First, the physical part: Since you are a 6 I’m guessing that your pure aim and shooting abilities are good, but you probably need to work on cue ball control. Drills are very good for helping you learn how the cue ball naturally reacts to different ball hit fractions. Definitely continue with the drills, and although it sounds boring, focus on your fundamentals (stance, stroke, grib, bridge) and hitting the ball as straight as possible. Also, try to minize English (spin) as much as possible. Yes, I know…I use spin too much also. I’m a huge fan of drills, but they must be done thoughtfully…don’t just set up balls and bang them in. 5 minutes of thoughtful or purposeful practice is more beneficial than and hour of sloppy practice. Next, the mental part: Playing against an opponent can be stressful. There was a time when I used to get nervous before and during matches. My hands would litterally shake and my palms would sweat. Why? Was I really scared of the guy I was playing? No. It’s just a natural human response to a perceived threat (threat of failure I guess). This is totally normal, and with time you will get over it. Within the last year I finally overcame this autoresponse. We humans are strange. I now never get nervous during matches. There’s another phenomena: the killer attitude. This is also something that you will develop over time, it just takes some focus and experience. Many times I’ve found myself feeling sorry for my opponent when I get too far ahead, and I would ease up…then lose. Eventually you develop a mindset that you can be friends away from the table, but when you step up to the table, it’s a different world. When you get to the table, you are on a mission. Learn to “Hate” your opponent. Don’t let them take anything from you.

      Well, that’s about all the blathering I can do this morning. For you, stick with the drills. I highly recommend them. Also, don’t be so hard on yourself. You need experience playing in matches. Just redefine how you think of them. It’s really just two people, both of whom love to play pool, who are trying to pocket balls. Just try to pocket the balls better!

    • Hi John. Let me give you a shorter answer. Drills are great because they help you develop your core abilities, such as how to hit the cue ball straight, how to cut a ball correctly, how to play position off of the cut, and how to control cue ball travel distance. All of these skills are necessary, and no player has ever completely mastered these skills. Even the pros still work on fundamentals. Keep working on the drills.
      With regard to the actual matches, you just need more experience. Many factors lead to a bad performance. Some factors are physical, but most are mental. The stronger your fundamentals (the physical part), the less likely they will be negatively affected by your mental state. Playing in matches helps to build up your mental stamina. The more you compete, the less nervous you will get, and the better you will be able to focus during a match. Hope this helps.

  4. Thanks Michael I really appreciate it, I really like what you are doing here and this has been pretty inspiring and have been putting a lot of thought into to starting a blog myself to help get some leverage on myself based on some Tony Robbins principles, Let me know what you think I would be glad to talk anytime. Thanks Again

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