Today I headed out to Santa Clara Billiards (SCB) for a couple hours to work on a Deep Practice session. The SCB is only two miles from my home, so it’s a convenient location to get away for short practice sessions on the weekends. They have 30 nine foot tables, four of which are shimmed up for tournament play. One table is nuts: Table 2. It’s triple shimmed, so the pockets are very tight. Guess which one I’m going to practice on?
As I stated in my post yesterday, there were two off the rail shots that I wanted to work on during my deep practice session: a shot off the rail to the center pocket and a shot off the rail to the corner pocket. These types of shots are problematic because it’s hard to form a proper bridge, and it’s much more likely that you will miscue since most of the cue ball is unavailable due to its close proximity to the rail. To warm up for my practice session, I got into my shooting stance with the cue ball at the head spot, and practiced hitting the cue ball to the end rail, and having the ball return back to the tip of my cue. I did this several times, getting a feel for the ball and becoming more aware of my stance and the mechanics involved. After I felt confident that I was ready, I set up the two shots that I wanted to work on.
I shot these shots for about 30 minutes, taking my time between shots to think about my approach to the table, looking down the shot line, getting into my shooting stance, setting up a solid open bridge on the rail, softly stroking with a level cue, controlling my eye movement, and then pulling the trigger, feeling the cue tip contact and push the cue ball. I didn’t count the actual number of shots that I made, but it was probably 50 or 60 shots. I didn’t miss any balls, but more importantly, I didn’t miscue at all. Most of my focus was on the “pre-shot” routine. Pulling the trigger and making the shot was only a very small portion of the effort. I am now much more confident that if these shots come up again in a match, I will recognize them as “friends” and will have no trouble making them.
After the deep practice session, just for fun, I set up a similar shot using the entire length of the table. I placed the cue ball just off the bottom rail, and attempted to make the object ball in the far corner pocket. Remember, this is a triple shimmed table…very difficult to make long close to the rail shots. I applied the same level of concentration as I had on the other two shots, and was able to make three out of five. It would have been four out of five, but my second shot ran out of gas right in front of the pocket. Overall, I’d say this session was a great success. Not because I made such a high percentage of balls, but because I was able to maintain a very high level of focus and discipline. In the next few weeks, as I match up with other players or as I work in my solo practice sessions, if I find other shots that cause me problems, I’ll single them out and work on them in deep practice sessions.