Surprise, Surprise! A fellow Pool Synergy blogger and friend of mine, poolriah, pointed out that Dr. Laura Schlessinger has recently blogged about pool. If you are not familiar with Dr. Laura, she is a nationally syndicated talk radio host, socially conservative commentator and author of several bestselling self-help books. She also maintains a very active blog which you can access here. On August 26, Dr. Laura wrote a post titled, “Shooting Pool is Great Therapy.” In it, she describes some of her early childhood experiences that shaped who she is today, and how these experiences sparked her intense drive and motivation to be the best she could be. She also stresses the importance of hobbies because they bring balance to our lives, and describes how the game of pool has been great therapy for her. If you have a minute, visit poolriah’s blog to see some other very interesting articles.
Over the last few years I’ve met some really interesting people in pool halls around the country. For those of you who frequent pool halls, I’m sure you’ve met your fair share of characters in your time. For those of you not familiar with the pool hall subculture in America, suffice it to say that the American pool hall is a melting pot of sorts. It’s a place where you can meet people from all walks of life…and when I say all walks, I truely mean it. Over the last couple years, just in the pool room that I frequent on a regular basis, I’ve met former professional atheletes, movie stars, internationally recognized trick shot artists, professional pool players, road players (gamblers), a bum, an Assistant District Attorney, a nuclear engineer, a microchip designer, several corporate executives, people with multiple college degrees, people who never graduated from high school, and the list goes on. If you’ve ever seen the movie Pool Hall Junkies, you may recall the following quote: “The poolhall’s a great equalizer. In the poolhall, nobody cares how old you are, how young you are, what color your skin is or how much money you’ve got in your pocket… It’s about how you move.”
To pay homage to that glorious institution commonly referred to as the American pool hall, I’ve decided to kick off a new series of articles titled “What’s Your Story?” In each installment, I plan to share with you real stories of some of the very real people I’ve encountered. We humans are story telling animals, and I believe that we grow and learn a little more about ourselves everytime we meet and learn about someone new. Starting next week, I’ll introduce you to some of the people I’ve met over the years. I hope you will come back next week for a visit.
Just an update to let you know that yesterday AZBilliards published the final results of the CPPT Santa Cruz tournament. You can click here to go to the article written by their staff. Enjoy!
Today I added another page to my training program: “Special Shots.” I plan to use this page to capture shots that may not come up that often, but when they do, you will be very glad to have them in your bag of tricks. Today, I present an oldie goldie, and one of the most utilized special shots in my repertoire – “The Spot Shot.” This shot comes up quite a bit and is often a game winner. It’s a pretty tough shot, especially on a table with tight pockets, unless of course, you know the secret. Learn this technique, and you will almost NEVER miss the shot.
The Spot Shot
Take a look at the diagram. An object ball has been spotted on the foot spot and you have ball in hand behind the head string. How do you pocket the object ball in the corner pocket? Easy! Take a look at the tip of the cushion next to the bottom right corner pocket. Extend an imaginary line from this point to the bottom edge of the object ball. Place the cue ball anywhere on this line (of course, the closer you are to the head string, the better). Now, all you have to do is hit a shot at normal speed and aim directly for the outermost edge of the object ball. This is a half ball hit. You may recall from a previous post that the half ball hit is a very special shot in pool. It is very robust; i.e. it is the shot that is least affected by errors in your aiming method. If you hit the object ball a little too fat or a little too thin, it doesn’t matter, the object ball still goes in! Try it 10 times and let me know how it goes. Good luck!
Drills, drills, drills! Yippeee! What could be more fun? Ok, ok, don’t answer that! Anyway, I’ve added a few more drills to my training page. First up, we have five drills inspired by Bert Kinister. Burt is one of the most prolific pool video/DVD guys out there, and has racked up quite a following in the pool world. These drills will help you learn some of the natural routes to get around the table, and also make you focus on your ball pocketing skills. In the words of Mr. Kinister, these drills will help you take home the “Dough-Re-Me”! These were some of the first drills I attacked after I got ‘serious’ with pool. Ahhhh…the oldie goldies! Hope you enjoy!
Next up I present three drills that I picked up from various sources from years gone by. I honestly don’t remember when I first saw the first two drills, or when I first used them, but here they are for your entertainment pleasure. The semi-circle draw and corner pocket drills are well known, in fact, both appeared in the movie “The Color of Money.” I was introduced to the third drill about three years ago. I was playing in the Reno warm-up tournament at the California Billiard Club. I got lucky on day 1 and was able to compete in day 2 of the tournament. On day 2 I got blasted by Ed Ames. Ed must have felt pity for me after the beating he delivered, so he took a few minutes after our match to share this drill. It certainly helped me learn some of the rebound angles off the rails, so I hope you’ll benefit from this drill also.
Today I added some new drills to my training page. First up, we have a couple drills inspired by Samm Diep, the “Denver Cherry Bomb.” Samm is a respected player, instructor, writer, reporter, entrepreneur, and pool ambassador from the Denver, Colorado area. When traveling on business to the Denver area earlier this year, Samm shared a few drills with me. “Samm 1” is a pretty standard drill familiar to most pool players. If it gets too easy, just add a couple more balls, then let’s see how you do. Still too easy for you? Why not take your chances with “Samm 2“? This drill will be new to many players, and certainly can be challenging. I’m sure Samm has mastered these, and more. Can you? Go ahead and try it – see if you like it!
Next up we have five drills inspired by Deo Alpajora. Deo is a phenomenal up and coming player here on the west coast. “Deo 1” is identical to “Samm 1”, except you set the balls up on the long rail. Too easy? No problem! After you master “Deo 1” and its mirror image “Deo 2,” take your chances with “Deo 3.” Getting the proper angle for your subsequent shots can be challenging! Once you master “Deo 3” and develop a big head and inflated ego, fear not: I’ve got the cure! Try “Deo 4” and its mirror image “Deo 5.” Yeah, that’s what I thought. When you master these two drills, let’s talk!
So, you thought I was kidding, huh? Nope, I really am cleaning out the cellar, sweeping up the dust bunnies, and putting my house in order. Yes, today I started the process of dismantling my current training program with the goal of replacing it with a well thought out but flexible approach. No longer will I fall prey to that narrow obsessive compulsive mindset which tries to force me to focus so intently on the minutia that I miss the entire forest of possibilities. No sir! From now on, I’m nimble, I’m quick to adopt new and useful ideas, and I’m flexible in my willingness to change my approach. It will probably take me all week to restructure and organize my new training program, since I’m only stealing 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there to try to work on it, but fear not, this week, IT SHALL BE COMPLETED! Buuwwaaahahahahaha!
Yesterday I played in the first annual Edgie’s 9Ball Tournament. Forty players showed up for the event which was hosted by Edgie’s Billiards in Milpitas, CA. There were several good players, and guess who I drew first? Deo Alpajora, one of the top players in Northern California, and the eventual tournament winner. I got plastered 1-10. In all honesty, I can’t really say that I shot bad, I just never had anything to shoot at. Virtually every time when I got to the table, I couldn’t see the object ball, so I was kicking just to make contact. It actually was an enjoyable match, as Deo is a really nice guy, and it’s amazing to watch his cue ball control, especially his distance control. He seems to run racks effortlessly; the cue ball rolling slowly and uneventfully around the table, obediently lining up perfectly for the next shot. As I sat and watched the “exhibition” at my expense for about 45 minutes, I studied his technique, his fundamentals, and picked up a few pointers that I’ll discuss in a later post.
For the remainder of the tournament, I adopted some of his style and rhythm. I have a tendancy to overthink shots and make them too complicated. For the remainder of my journey through the 1-loss side, I started asking myself this question: “What Would Deo Do?” For every shot I encountered, I tried to think how he would approach the situation. It actually was an interesting exercise. Long story short, I eventually placed 9th, which I was actually a little disappointed with, but I still cashed out. Again, I’m not quitting my day job anytime soon, but I guess finishing in the money is a nice personal victory nonetheless.
After a good night’s rest and having mulled over my matches from yesterday, I’ve decided to make some drastic changes to my training program. For one thing, I’m not going to be so rigid and require myself to stay on some predetermined path. I’m tossing out my “Learn all the Pro Book Shots” regimen, and will be replacing it with a holistic program based on my observations of both Deo from this weekend and Diego from last weekend. I’ll be focusing on mimicing some of their behaviors, and also adopting some new drills that focus specifically on skills needed to close the gap between my current playing level and theirs. More on this later this week.