Do you know how many balls you can run on average without missing? Most people overestimate their playing ability. The discrepancy between a person’s actual playing ability and their perceived ability is a key factor in determining who wins or loses a match. When you compete, you don’t have to be the better player to win. All you need is a more realistic view of your true capabilities so that you can make better decisions and alter your game strategy accordingly.
If you play eight ball, think about this scenario. Suppose your opponent breaks and makes all seven of his balls, but he misses the shot on the eight ball. Now it’s your turn and all you need to do is make eight shots in a row to win the game. Can you do it? If you have a realistic view of your abilities and you know you can’t make eight shots in a row, you could make a conscious decision right now to take a few easy shots and then play a safety to tilt the odds of winning in your favor.
In order for you to make this decision appropriately, you will need to know how many balls you can make on average without missing. Here’s an easy way to get an estimate of your balls per inning (BPI) average:
Toss eight balls on the table. Make sure that no ball is within six inches of a rail and no ball is within six inches of another ball. (This eliminates the need for you to break clusters or attempt any tough rail shots.) Start with ball in hand, and see how many balls you can pocket without missing a shot. When you miss a shot, count the number of balls you were able to pocket and record that number. Do this 10 times in a row and calculate the average number of balls per inning you were able to pocket. This will give you a quick estimate of your BPI. Repeat this assessment several times to get a more accurate estimate.
Armed with a realistic estimate of your BPI, you can now change your game strategy to accommodate your actual playing ability. A key factor in winning games is your ability to assess and manage risk, and in order for you to adequately manage risk, you must have a realistic view of your true capabilities.