I got back to California Billiards today after a couple weeks on the road. I played a very good local player in a 9 ball match race to 7. I missed a few shots, and quickly fell behind 6-3. When he said, “I’m on the hill,” it was a wakeup call. I just relaxed and focused on each individual shot. I also implemented my 95% confidence rule: “If I’m not 95% confident that I can make the shot and get position on the next shot, shoot a safety.” I subsequently shot 3 or 4 very tough safeties in a row, and was able to fight back and win the match 7-6. After we shook hands, he told me that my pure shooting abilities were great, but he thought my biggest weakness was the short game; i.e. controlling the cue ball for very short distances in order to gain position. The remedy he suggested? Start practicing straight pool. It’s good for developing precise cue ball control over short distances and hitting with pocket speed.
Afterward, I practiced 14.1 solo for about 45 minutes. My first 5 innings were 14, 14, 8, 6, 14. I just couldn’t get correct position on the break ball. I’m afraid that 14.1 may become an addiction. I need to study up on the break shots for transitioning from rack to rack. Hopefully I’ll get back to a regular practice routine again this week.