I’ve been debating for some time whether or not I wanted to incorporate pool practice videos or pool drill videos into my website. A couple years ago I bought a camcorder to record some of my training sessions so that I could get feedback on my mechanics, and I really enjoyed the opportunity it provided for me to improve my fundamentals. I never did put any of my videos on my website because frankly, I couldn’t figure out how to transfer the video from a tape format to a digital format. Obviously, I’m not the most tech savvy person in the world. I’ve always wanted to shoot some videos and load them up, but I was a little lazy and didn’t want to spend money buying a new digital camera. Finally, thanks to some prodding from Johnny 101, I’ve decided it is time. Yesterday, I purchased a new digital HD video camera. I plan to start filming some of my practice sessions and if anything interesting comes up, I’ll be able to share. Thanks Johnny for the prodding!
After reviewing my performance this week and assessing strengths and weaknesses, I’ve come up with the following list of items that I need to work on next week. They all can be found under The Drills tab:
- Fundamentals 5 drill
- Rolling safe drill
- One ball safe drill
- Corner banking system
- Classic drill 1
- Cut shot drill 3
- Cut shot drill 4
- Mind chatter (elimination thereof) – Ok, so this one is not in my drills section. Maybe it should be.
My Feelings Today
I had a revelation last night as I was banging balls around at South First Billiards in San Jose, CA. Ok, I guess it wasn’t really a ‘revelation,’ it was more like a re-reminder of what I already knew. I should be allocating more of my practice time to working on my Fundamentals. What made me realize this? Well, I have been periodically checking in on the US Open and following Max Eberle’s progress in the tournament. Max won his first and second round matches (congrats Max!), and will now face Mika Immonen in round three (My condolences Max!). I had the opportunity to play against Max in a tournament in January of this year, and in talking to him after our match I will always remember how he preached the value of working on fundamentals. I also preach the value of working on fundamentals, but sometimes, I just don’t want to. Shooting some of the other drills that I have and running balls is much more fun. Whaaaaaa! “Ok,” I tell myself, “suck it up and get to work!” Ok, ok. Here’s my workout plan for the rest of this week. All of these drills can be found under “The Drills” tab:
Fundamentals 1 – 5
Standard Routes Drill
Fundamentals 2 - 5
Standard Routes Drill
Rolling Safe Drill
Fundamentals 3 - 5
Challenge Drills 1 – 4
One Ball Safe Drill
Rolling Safe Drill
Fundamentals 3 - 5
Standard Routes Drill
Do This Drill!
On Thursday night I delivered the worst pool performance that I’ve had in the last two years, and it came at a very inopportune time – on my first night playing with a new APA team. At first, the team seemed very excited to have me. During our warm-ups, I shot fantastic. I was just taking it easy, not shooting any safeties since this was the team’s practice table, and was able to run the table whenever I wanted to. Everything was working. Perfectly. Then I got the call to play my match. I lost the lag for the break, and everything was straight downhill from there. In retrospect, I’m not sure how eager they are to have me back next week!
I will not rehash all the details, but here’s a brief summary of the “action”:
- I had 3 scratches in the match. I almost NEVER scratch!
- I had 2 miscues. I can’t remember the last time I miscued!
- I had 3 fouls called on me (called on myself) due to not hitting a rail and all three were very easy shots! In the thousands of games I’ve played in the last two years, that’s only happened to me once before!
- I just could not run more than 3-4 balls due to position errors. It was just soooo weird!
- I missed a shot on the 8ball. “Wait,” you may say, “that’s not unusual. Lots of people miss shots on the 8ball.” No! Let me explain why this was such a bad miss. It was a straight in shot to the corner. The 8 ball was only about 2 feet from the corner pocket, and the cue ball was only 1.5 feet away from the 8ball. I had come all the way down table and played perfect position on the 8. The shot was lined up straight with no interfering balls! Arrrgghhhhh!
I used a 1 ball safe at least 5 times!
I have absolutely no idea how I actually won the match against my opponent, who is a pretty good ‘7’ player. My complete ineptness must have rubbed off on him as he began playing badly also. The skill level ‘3’ players must have been salivating watching from the sidelines. It was so bad, and so embarrassing to me, that I finally made the decision to stop trying to run balls. I had completely lost all confidence in my shot making abilities, so I decided to just shoot one shot at a time, then play safe. Over the next 2 or 3 games, I must have played 15 or 20 safeties. I do have to say, due to all the practice that I’ve put in recently on safeties, most of them worked as planned. Not perfect, but good enough to force my opponent to attempt a kick shot each time. He connected on a few kicks, but usually didn’t. From a psychological standpoint, giving up ball in hands repeatedly to your opponent will wreck havoc on your psyche. (I was playing so badly that getting ball in hand from my opponent wasn’t doing me much good anyway!) Eventually, he basically folded and gave up the match. Even though I couldn’t put together more than a three ball run, I still won. Barely.
What’s to be learned? Practice your safeties and 1 & 2 rail kicks. When your confidence goes to s**t and you can’t hit the broad side of a barn, at least you can start ducking and make your opponent beat himself. That reminds me of a quote I overhead Thursday night: “Why beat a player, when you can get the player to beat himself?” Oh, wait a minute, I think I said that!
Time for Deep Practice!
Over the last week, I have been frustrated with my pool playing as my overall performance has been a little sloppy. I’ve caught myself on several occasions just running balls mindlessly without having a concrete plan for finishing out the rack. It’s time to get my head back in the game and get laser focused again on fundamentals and execution. I’ve got a league game tonight, so that’ll give me about 2-3 hours to practice. Here’s my practice itenerary for tonight:
- Fundamentals 4 drill – Get focused, concentrate, and work on straight stroking techniques. In my opinion, the long straight in shot is one of the hardest.
- Fundamentals 5 drill – This drill is always tough because it reveals errors in your technique; but that’s okay, because that’s how you make improvements.
- Classic 3 drill – Work on my short distance control. Got to make the shot and get good position on the next shot, and next, and next…
- Challenge 1 drill – Work on my long distance control. For some reason, I really enjoy shooting this drill.
- Challenge 2 drill – Work on my long distance control. For some reason, I really DO NOT like this drill. That probably means I need to work on it more often. Arrgghh!
- Rolling safe drill – Continue to refine my safety game. This is the drill that’s going to take my game to the next level.
I just added some of the cut shot drills that I use in my training program. The ability to plan and execute a cut shot is a base requirement for playing good pool. The drills added are progressive in nature…they start easy and get harder with each shot. The secret to making cut shots is to start by focusing on your fundamentals and making sure they are solid first, then working on your aiming method. To determine the proper aiming point, I use the ghost ball aiming method. Take your time on these drills, focus on the aiming point, and shoot smoothly with purpose. Knowing how to make a cut shot is a requirement for almost every shot you will make, regardless of the game you play. To view the cut shot drills, look under The Drills tab and select Cut Shots. Hope you enjoy!
I just finished documenting some challenging pool practice drills that I use. These gems require more thought than most drills and also require good route planning. They develop your ability to plan and execute both short and long position routes and move the cue ball all around the table with precision. To view the challenging drills, look under The Drills tab and select Challenging Drills. Bon Appetite!
I just finished documenting some classic pool practice drills. Samm Diep demonstrated a couple of these to me earlier this year. These Oldie Goldies have been around forever…and for good reason. They develop your ability to move the cue ball relatively short distances with precision. For you movie buffs out there, a couple of these appeared in the movie The Color of Money. To view the classics, look under The Drills tab and select Classic Drills. Enjoy!