In preparation for my deep practice session tonight, I reviewed the first 5 basic shots in “The Pro Book,” and noticed something odd. Several of the shots had descriptions that contained the following sentence: “Learn the name of each shot first, the line second, and the speed last.” When I read this, I thought the suggestion of learning the name of each shot was really silly, so I ignored the advice.
In my workout, I practiced shots 1a, 1b, 2a, and 2b. Shots 1a and 1b are stop shots with distances 1/3 and 2/3 the length of the table. The object ball must be pocketed, and the cue ball must come to a complete stop when it collides with the object ball. In my first practice session I found these shots to be easy, and I mastered both of these shots fairly quickly.
Shots 2a and 2b were more challenging. They were shots both with a distance of 1/3 the table length, but after the cue ball collides with the object ball, the cue ball must draw backwards. On shot 2a, the cue ball must travel directly backwards and return to within 5 inches of its starting point. On shot 2b, the cue ball must draw backwards and travel to within 5 inches of a spot twice the distance as in shot 2a. In my one hour session tonight, I spent 45 minutes on these two shots.
And now for the weird part of this story. Remember my comment about not wanting to learn the name of the shots? During my practice session, at one point I was making shots 2a and 2b about 30-40% of the time. I then thought about the strange statement in the book. For fun, I said, “Shot 2a.” I then shot the shot, and guess what? The ball returned to within 5 inches of the target. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Yeah, sure!” Believe me, I’m still saying that now. I started experiementing, and noticed that when I didn’t name the shot, my success rate was between 30-50%. When I named the shot, my rate was 50-65%. Please don’t ask me to explain this. I don’t know if the phenomena is real or just a statistical anomoly, but as long as it works I’ll keep doing it. If the effect pans out, I can imagine me walking around the table, muttering under my breath like Rainman, “2a….13b…7d…1b.” Who knows? Anyone have any thoughts on this?
Although I’ve mastered shots 1a and 1b, I certainly have not mastered shots 2a and 2b. For my next practice session, I’ll continue with shots 2a and 2b, and add two or three new shots. I will not consider a shot to be mastered until I’m able to make the shot 80 or 90 percent of the time. So far, I’m on my schedule. I’ll give another update in a couple days.