I must admit that I had a ball writing yesterday’s post while flying to Aguadilla. After the plane landed and taxied to the terminal, I released my seat belt, jumped up, and ran down the aisle high fiving the flight attendants and leaping luggage like O. J. Simpson. But now that the adrenaline has tapered off and I’ve had a good night’s rest, I’ve come to the sobering realization that I might actually need to do some work instead of just flapping my jaws. Okay, okay, let’s get serious.
Every great journey has a beginning. If you are serious about improvement, you must be brutally honest and ask yourself the following question: “How good am I right now…really?” Without an accurate assessment of my current skills, it will be impossible for me to put together an effective training program. In a general sense, all pool playing skills can be divided into two main camps: (1) shot making skills, and (2) cue ball control skills. The type of practice that will be required to move my game to the next level can be determined by conducting an accurate assessment of my current skills in each of these areas. When most people first learn to play pool, they only concern themselves with shot making. In other words, when it’s their turn to shoot, they just try to make balls in pockets. What they soon discover is that every time they make a shot, the next shot gets harder, and the next shot harder still, until finally there are no more makeable shots. Shot making skills are certainly a base requirement for good play, but if you only focus on shot making, your game will suffer tremendously. To take your game to the next level, you need to be able to control where the cue ball ends up after you make each shot. By mastering this latter skill, you can control the difficulty of the next shot that you take. Ideally, you should be able to run the table by making every shot an ‘easy’ shot.
Enough talk, let’s get started. How would I rate my skills today? First I’ll consider shot making skills. There are several ways to assess shot making abilities. I won’t go into the details here, but if you are interested, here’s a link to Bob Jewett’s website in which he provides many articles and tools that allow you to evaluate your shot making skills. Based upon assessments that I’ve completed, I’d say that my shot making skills are very strong. If I am presented with an open shot, in other words, a shot where there is no obstruction between the cue ball and the object ball, and there are no obstructions between the object ball and a pocket, I can almost always make the shot. I guess I got lucky in that I was born with very good vision, probably around 20/10. For me, pure shooting is really just an exercise in good vision and the application of physics, assuming that my fundamentals are solid. As such, I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time working on pure shot making skills.
Next I’ll consider cue ball control skills. This is an area where things get a lot more interesting and much more complicated. Again, I won’t go into details here as there are many tools to evaluate your cue ball control skills, but suffice it to say that this is an area where I have lot of room for improvement. In future posts, I’ll go into a little more detail and describe some of the drills that I plan to include in my repertoire to help build up my cue ball control skills.
Before I wrap up for the day, I need to share one more thing. A HUGE underlying assumption in the above analysis is that I already have very solid fundamentals. Bad assumption! Since I don’t want to take anything for granted, I am going to spend a good bit of time in the next few days reviewing my fundamentals to assure that they are rock solid. I need to make sure that I have a solid platform upon which to build and refine my shot making and cue ball control skills. If I find any weaknesses in my fundamentals, I will need to correct them first before moving on. More on this tomorrow.