Friday, October 5, 2018

Diagram of an Important Shot

I was watching a stream a couple of months ago.  Mostly because I was trying to see someone in the crowd, lol, not because I am still interested in watching pool.  Don't be shocked, friends!

But I'm glad I tuned in, though, as a great benefit came out of that.

I was watching a young player, I think from Mexico, who kept running racks.  I noticed he was deep in the tourney, and also the player he was beating was a top player, so I already knew he could play just based on the unexpected score of a guy I've never heard of, lol.

What I am about to point out is something I didn't learn for the first 15 years of playing pool.  I want to stress that this is VERY important, yet I had never been shown, told, or knew this for the first 15 years.

Now, I'm not saying it propelled me straight to earning trophies my very next tournament, but what it did do was give me a much better appreciation for the decision for shape and it DID help me immensely.  It makes so much sense and has helped me out so much, I sure wish I knew this earlier than 15 years into my pool journey, lol.

I remember distinctly I was just hitting a rack of 9 ball at Rusty's in Arlington one afternoon and one of the top players says, after I shoot the 8 ball, "Hey, why not shoot the 8ball instead like this, so the cue ball can come "into" the 9 ball."  And then he showed me what he meant.  My boyfriend at the time was standing there and he didn't say anything, but a HUGE lightbulb showed up above my head.  Ahhhhhhh!   HUGE learning experience.

And, when I saw this particular shot on the stream, it reminded me of that day about 7 years ago, and I have been itching to share this with you all!

So, as I hope you all do, too, as I was watching the stream, I think about what I would do or what I should shoot or how, while watching them play.

So, the guy gets to something like this:

And I presume he's going to either stun back for the 7 ball or go to the rail and come back to where he is about in a straight line with the 7 ball.

And then he would just draw back for the 9 ball.

But!  He surprised me and did something else.  Before you scroll more, what other option would you do?  Or, would you do the way I envisioned?

Don't cheat!  What would you do?


So what he did was just as I described in the intro about "coming into the next ball."  (that I had obviously forgot about lol.)  There are several benefits to this I will mention below, but let's see what he did that was smarter than my initial thoughts, too:

Instead of getting straight on the 7 ball to draw back for the 9 ball, he instead got UNDERNEATH the 7 ball to give him a good angle, something like this:

He then made the 7 ball and the cueball went to the top rail, side rail, and then down toward the 9 ball (ie, INTO the next ball).

I can't recall exactly where the balls were, but you get the drift of what I'm trying to show I hope.

"Coming into the next ball" is a more NATURAL way to get position.  Further, let's look at pros and cons:

Cons if you try and get straight on the 7:

  • You may not get straight in the 7 ball and then have to maneuver the cue ball more than you expected.
  • Drawing from the 7, you could over draw or under draw and then have a tough shot on the 9
  • Or, drawing from the 7 you could even scratch in the side.

Pros of going three rails Into the 9ball:

  • Less chance of scratching
  • You have an entire area to shoot from as the cueball moves down the table, for a good shot on the 9ball
  • Shooting 3 rails to get to the 9ball is a NATURAL pattern.  Drawing is not really a natural flow.  You aren't forcing anything or risking with draw, it's all natural rolling of the cueball.
  • It's much easier to control a 3-rail shot than it is draw.  
  • You have a larger area for the cue ball if it's going INTO the 9 ball.  With draw, the area to shoot from is much smaller.
Coming into the 9 ball like this guarantees you shape on the 9 ball.  Drawing is risky and doesn't guarantee you anything.

Sure, drawing it doesn't mean you will lose or miss, right?  BUT - going three rails ensure you will have a good shot left for the 9 ball. 

I'm probably not stating this all correctly, easy, or using the correct vernacular, but I hope my points came across.  

If you don't believe about you set this shot up and try each way 10 times each.  See which one you can get on the 9 ball easiest, which gives you better shape, and which one gives you more confidence.

I bet I know the answer already!


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Reflections - Project Hunger Games

I wrote recently about expectations that Katniss had going into some matches of a recent tournament for her.  If you haven't read it yet, I'll wait here while you catch up.

You back?


What I liked best about our discussion on this topic was I did not point out to Katniss that she might have lost those two matches due to her expectations. That's what she told me.

What I love about this is she is self reflecting after her matches.

This actually brings up a really good point that I don't know if I've reiterated enough yet (lol), but if you reflect after every single match why you won or lost (heck, maybe even write down why - I know blasphemy!) it will take you to the next level so much faster than if you never evaluate yourself.

Some people just go to a tournament, wish they would have won a match or two, or maybe lost and just don't even think about it again.

But I promise you if you do some self reflection after every match and you seriously be honest with yourself why you lost or won, that right there is a huge learning experience that you will put inside your toolbox that will help you and your future matches.


Let's compare it to something fun.

It's football season so let's compare it to that.

Last weekend the Dallas Cowboys hosted the Detroit Lions.  If you didn't see the game, then you didn't see one of the Defensive coach's pissed and throwing his arms in the air mad at his guys because they missed a block and gave up a touch down for the Lions.

But was also shown was he had his clipboard and tablet and he was showing them missed plays, plays they could do when they go back in, and positions on the field that would work better for them to succeed.

There is actually A LOT of times the coaches go over plays and instructions with the players during the game.  See this video clip and check out at times 1:20, 1:40, 2:30 and 2:50:

Further, we all can picture the entire team in the locker room days after the game going over scenarios from last weeks' game, and also the upcoming game.  They do this for EVERY SINGLE game.

This is a great example of why it's important for us little ole pool players to act like a professional football player - learning from every match we play!

Why did we win?  Why did we lose?  Why did my opponent end up coming back on me and I lost the lead and the match?  How did I overcome being down 0-5 and won 7-5?  Why did I get distracted?  What could I have done different?  How did I make that tough shot under pressure?

I could list 1,000 more questions for you, but I'll stop there :)

The point is, how do we ever learn and improve if we don't self reflect?

Ironically, I wrote a blog post about reflecting for the "Danielson Series," too.

Peeps - one of the best teachers is the experience - but not if we don't think about the whys of the wins and losses!

Let me state again that we all know we learn the MOST from our losses.  However, don't forget your wins!  Those are learning lessons as well.  And each lesson we put in our toolbox for the next tournament.

I eluded to writing them down and I'm not joking.  My paper notes transitioned to paper diary to this blog because I wanted to capture what happened.  What I didn't know was, I my learning was entrenched more because I wrote down what happened in all my matches.  Reflecting turned out to be an amazing part of my learning process, but writing them down propelled the learning process.