Monday, April 11, 2016

It's Okay To Play Your Opponent

They say that you are supposed to play the table and not the opponent. But I was taught by a friend who had a coach, that at times, you should actually play your opponent.

What she was taught by her coach was to find out what your opponents are good at and what their weaknesses are and use that to your advantage.

She would actually watch the matches of her upcoming opponents to see what their strengths and weaknesses were. 

She would notice if someone was a really good banker, or maybe kicked well.  She would use this knowledge on how she played safe - if they banked poorly, she could leave them a bank if there wasn't an opportunity to tie up the cueball well (as an example).  Or if they kicked well (or esp kicked-safe well), then she would look for other avenues to either play safe or maybe go for the run if the safe and shot were equal in %.

As a reminder - don't forget to also use your all surroundings to your advantage as well.  I've written how one player would play safe and leave the cueball at the end of the table where her tall opponent had to awkwardly shoot b/c the table was too close to the next table.  Or, how about when Shane rolled out to a spot that Alex (who is short) could not reach?

Know your opponents!

So don't be afraid to play your opponent.  Sure, playing the table might be best when you are nervous against someone.  But even those people you are nervous against - do they have an all-around perfect game or do they have a few weaknesses that you could capitalize on?

This is actually a huge part of the book I have always recommended, Winning Ugly, by Brad Gilbert.  He would study his opponents and defeat the top players when most thought he was the underdog.  I'd like to reiterate that this booked helped me gain the killer instinct and I highly recommend it for mental toughness (pretty amazing book that teaches a lot about competition).

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