Saturday, June 6, 2020

How Will You Fair After the Pandemic?

I've been thinking about how pool players' games will be after the pandemic. Specifically, after the pool rooms open, will your game go down because you didn't get to hit balls or play in tournaments?  Or will it go up because you worked on some things?  Or, will it be the same?

Here's my take:  

It is about the person; not the environment.

Are you surprised by my opinion?

It really does depends on YOU.  Let's look at some examples:

  • Are you the type that NEEDS to hit balls to stay in stroke?  
    • If so, then if you got to hit balls during the pandemic (have your own table at home or visited a friend often who had one), then your game is probably going to be the same. Lucky you!  As many will not fair as well.
    • If you did not get to hit balls, then don't be frustrated if your game goes down a little when things open back up. Just know that it's normal and begin to hit balls again to get in stroke.
  • Maybe you are new to the game and didn't really practice before?
    • Therefore, no practice during the pandemic means your game will most likely be about the same. Pretty cool. huh?
  • What if you didn't have access to a pool table? 
  • Are you the type that has great fundamentals and a solid pre-shot routine?
    • If you are, then even if you didn't hit one ball, you will still be playing well when the pool rooms open. I promise!
  • And what if you didn't do a damn thing (lol), and you notice your game went up? 
    • This is actually normal as well. Sometimes taking a break can be a really great thing for your pool game. But, it's hard to take breaks when you have leagues to play in or tournaments to attend. The pandemic kinda forced us into the "break" many could have used to improve.
So you see - it's not your environment, but what you did and/or what type of player you were before the pandemic.

Let me give a really drastic example, to help my point:

I do not know if you know any pool players that went to prison or not, but if you have, then this will make sense. Pool players that are strong on the table and top of our game, if they happen to find themselves in jail/prison for a long time, they will come out a strong player still, even without ever hitting a ball or learning more about pool while they were there. If they were a mediocre player going in, and they loved the game so much that they worked on their stroke by trying to shoot into an invisible coke bottle (or maybe something illegal, lol). then their game will be UP when they get back to society.  

Same goes for the players who practice their stroke while in jail/prison. HOw do you do that without a pool table? You now how sometimes we get down in our stance to see if maybe our shirt rides up too high in the back, or if the shirt is too tight in the shoulders?  We get in our stance and stroke several times on an imaginary pool table to figure it out. Those who practice those strokes a lot in their environment, esp when they have no other way to improve, will fair well. As a matter of fact, pre-shot routines have improved after jail (or a pandemic, you'll see), if they practiced their stroke a lot over a chair or bed, or whatever.  

Here is something to really think about: when you practice your stroke on an invisible, imagery pool table, have you ever jumped up on your shots?  Shot too fast?  Exactly!  No you didn't.  Now you can understand how it would actually improve your game.

Again - it's about the PERSON, not the environment.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Damn You, Poker

Let's be honest. Most pool players are jealous of poker.

Not jealous of poker players, but jealous of the sport of poker.

We (us pool players) have yearned and begged and pleaded and tried so hard, literally for decades, for pool to have some mainstream attention.

Back in the 60s, pool was on tv. Regular tv!  But that went by the wayside. The WPBA put pool back on the airwaves and we saw pro players (female, even!) play pool on cable - ESPN - no way!

There wasn't a ton of those hours of pool on ESPN, but we didn't care - it was still on tv for several years!

Then here comes poker.

We all like poker, some of us even love poker... but it took off on tv. It was welcomed and loved and cherished and showcased, even though poker still has the same image as pool. You know, 'bad men in smokey rooms playing for money.'  Yet, poker excelled while pool is still left behind.

We all know that the lure of poker on tv is because a "nobody" can all of a sudden win millions. MILLIONS. Now, I wont understand why pool didn't have the same backing or investments, but it is what it is.

Let's face it, skill on the pool table is different on the poker table.  While both have mental and physical exhaustion and both have skills, it's simply plain easier for recreational players to play poker.  100 guys would rather play poker than pool, right?  Plus, there aren't pool rooms in casinos, but there are poker rooms. We can't compete with that.

But, I'm even more pissed at poker right now!

(I know, you are glad I'm finally getting to my point, lol).

Here we are in the middle of a pandemic. I never in a million years thought those words would come out of my mouth, but here we are. We can't leave our homes safely, we can't shop, some of us can't go to work, schools are closed (what?), and of course pool rooms are closed.

And what about poker?  Yep, the poker rooms are closed as well.

But guess what?

Peckers, I mean poker players, are doing just fine during the pandemic!


While us pool players may be able to play at home IF we have a home table, we still cannot play in leagues, all the State tournaments have been cancelled, even national tournaments have been cancelled. We can't play in tours or weekly tournaments.  Are hands are tied due to the pandemic.

But poker?

Oh, nooooo.

Poker continues to be special.

Why do I say that?

Just look at the recent headlines and see for yourself:
  • "Online poker tourney sets records amid pandemic"
  • "Poker Sites See Surge in Activity During Lockdown"
  • "Online Poker at All Time High"
  • "Online Poker Surging Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic"
  • "Poker Reaches Record Traffic During Coronavirus"

Poker has upped us again because it can be played online.  Damn you, Poker.  Surge in Activity they are writing. Record traffic during pandemic they are headlining.


Monday, April 6, 2020

Work on Your Pool Game During Pandemic

First off, I hope all of you are doing well. I bet you feel like I do, like the pandemic has hijacked our lives.

Besides the upheaval of our normal lives, what about my pool game??

Because it's important to do activities that lower stress and anxiety, it goes right along with some ideas I wanted to share to keep your game up while you might be required to "Stay-At-Home" due to the pandemic.

If you don't have a table at home:
  • Work on your stroke by trying to get your cue tip consistently into a coke bottle. This can be done at home without a pool table.
  • Run a rack in your head. Imagine yourself breaking, then staying down for each shot and try to run out. Use English and get good shape, all in your mind, all as you try to run the entire rack in your head. Warning, this isn't easy! And don't just run the rack fast in your head, but run it with dedication to each shot. Give each shot the attention it deserves (just like on a pool table). This is a great technique to imagine your pre-shot routine on every shot, stay down, and helps train your brain to focus.
  • Speaking on running racks. One the most helpful things I like to do (and my most favorite) is to think about is that one particular game of a match that I stayed down so well on every shot, in front of a crowd, making all shots with a smooth stroke, feeling calm and confident. Maybe that time you were 'in the zone." You can picture your own certain match/game right now, right? Really focus on it and remember the feelings, the sounds, how your shoulders were not tight because you didn't feel pressure, you stayed down really well, smooth stroke, you felt good, etc. Thinking about your own great game or match you played well, helps solidify your pre-shot routine (I promise!).
  • Use dumbbells regularly to build your arm muscles.  This helps your stroke be more solid.
  • Watch matches on YouTube. Search billiards. Or maybe check out the CSI YouTube Channel which will keep you busy for DAYS.
  • Oh, hey - read part of those pool books you haven't ever opened. Or, if you don't have one, finally order one online!
  • I would also reach out to pool friends. We may not talk about pool, but with league paused and tournaments delayed, it's important to connect with our pool friends.
  • If you have an extra billiards towel or fabric, make your face mask out of it! Show your love of our sport.

If you have a table at home:
  • Practice "Carom Nine" (see rules at bottom of this page). Helps you learn carom shots in a fun yet frustrating way, lol. (basically, the object ball must make first contact with the cue ball to count as a legal shot, the goal being to carom the object ball into a pocket or into another ball.)
  • This is a good time to work on your break. Practice it. Get it down pat. It's the opening shot - it's an important part of the game a lot of us don't give enough attention to.
  • Speaking of breaks, practice your break using different racks if you have them - magic rack, accu-rack, and also regular wooden/plastic racks from the pool room.  
  • Play opposite handed. That's fun!
  • Play one-handed. Even tougher!

I know there are a ton other things, but hopefully this gets you started to ease stress AND work your game.

Stay safe my friends! We will get through this together.