I’ve been working very diligently over the last year and a half focusing primarily on fundamentals; the mechanics of the game. Stance. Bridge. Grip. Aiming. Stroke. Most of my drills and practice sessions have been designed with one goal in mind: a relentless pursuit of the elimination of variation. In my humble opinion, the key to pocket billiards is in reducing variation…being able to reproduce the same action (or shot) over and over and over again, and have the motions so hard wired that you don’t even have to think about it. For example, here are some of the things I’ve been working on in the last year and a half: A super solid bridge with at least 3 points touching the table surface; my right forearm hanging directly beneath my elbow; my wrist completely straight and aligned with my forearm; having a balanced stance – back leg straight – front leg slightly bent; holding the cue with just my first finger and part of my thumb, kind of like holding a tea cup by the handle. This list goes on and on.
If you have been following my blog for some time, you will notice that haven’t posted much lately. The primary reason I haven’t posted is because I have this fear… a fear (knock on wood) that I will jinx my game by telling you what’s been happening. I still have some reservations about saying this, but over the last two or three weeks, something has definitely changed in my game…for the good. To put it simply, I’m just not missing that many shots any more. I don’t really know why or what has changed. I know this is going to sound conceited, but in the last few days I’ve been shooting so well that I know if I can see a shot, I’m going to make it. Yeah, I told you…sounded conceited didn’t it? It IS really weird. I was playing a match last night in a local straight pool league, and almost all of my shots went in, regardless of distance or angle. The only reason I didn’t string together any super long runs is because I’m just learning the game and I suck at figuring out the rack to rack transition shots. But that will come with experience, right? I have noticed one thing though: when I get into my stance and get ready to shoot a shot, the world around me “changes”. What do I mean by that? It’s hard to explain. When I’m focusing on the shot, it’s like my perception of reality is different. Kind of like a form of tunnel vision where everything in my field of vision greys out (except for the actual shot) and the ambient noise in the room fades away and becomes silent and irrelevant. Freaky!
I guess the conclusion that I’ve reached is that I’ve gotten my fundamentals locked down sufficiently that I can now focus on a different aspect of my game. Instead of thinking and drilling on mechanics, I’m now going to focus on strategies and gamesmanship. The impact of this on my practice sessions will be immense. No more hours upon hours of monotonous shot making. I think I have the mechanics down. I’m now going to be focusing on practice drills and games that develop the cerebral part of my game. I’ll be playing a lot more straight pool (14.1), one pocket, and 3 cushion billiards in the coming weeks. I’ll also be matching up with some of the best players in the area that I can find. More on this later.