For this month’s PoolSynergy topic, Poolbum wants to know what advice we would give to an older player who is taking up the game or coming back to it after a long hiatus. This is a rather timely topic for me because not only have I met an older gentleman who is just getting back into the game, but also I’ve begun mentoring a younger player who is very new to the game. I thought about these recent experiences and came up with some advice primarily intended for an older player who is taking up the game, but these items could also prove useful for an over-zealous younger player:
1. Do some simple stretching before you start shooting. This simple activity can help prevent tightness and aches and pains later. Occasionally I do some very simple exercise before I shoot, such as arm circles, shoulder stretches, torso twists, and back bends. Stretching increases blood flow to the body’s extremities, and prepares your brain and limbs for the activity to come.
2. Practice alone to make fast improvements, but keep it simple. Don’t try to tackle too much too fast. Just throw some balls out on the table and start pocketing them in any order you choose. When you find a shot that gives you trouble, just set it up and shoot it 10-15 times in a row, then move on and continue with your random ball pocketing. Making mistakes is okay, in fact, mistakes are required in order for you to learn and improve. Slow, thoughtful, purposeful practice is much more efficient in developing your skills than simply knocking balls into pockets willy nilly.
3. Keep your style of play simple. When you hit the cue ball, just make contact on its vertical axis. In other words, just hit the ball in the center for stop shots, slightly above center for follow shots, and slight below center for draw shots. Avoid hitting the cue ball on the left or right side. This puts spin on the cue ball and drastically affects the accuracy of your shots. Don’t try to get fancy, you can do almost everything you need to do just by stroking through the vertical axis of the cue ball and using good speed control.
4. Take Motrin for aches and pains in the back, neck, shoulders, and arms. Let’s face it – we’re not getting any younger, and I’m finding that I can’t shoot pool for hours and hours continuously like I used to. Playing a game that requires you to hold your body in certain positions for extended periods of time will eventually take its toll. Use Motrin as needed.
5. Most importantly, HAVE FUN! The pool hall is a great societal melting pot. Use this time to meet new people who share your passion for the game. You could also meet up with your non-pool playing friends and introduce them to the game that you are beginning to love. Pool can be a great social activity if you are in the right frame of mind.
Happy shooting! To read articles written by other PoolSynergy bloggers, visit Poolbum’s website here.