Friday, January 21, 2011

Picking Apart My 14.1 Game

Michael Reddick over at Angle of Reflection is a fellow blogger who also loves straight pool. In one of his recent posts, he stated "I’ve recently developed a love for straight pool. It’s refreshing to have the freedom to choose the ball you want to pocket. There are no restrictions, no forced shooting order, no care at all whether a ball has a stripe on it or not. You can even sink the 8 ball at any point with no penalty! You are only limited by the lay of the table and your imagination. What could be more freeing?"

As he started to get more serious with the game, he came up with a list of "observations from straight pool that have really benefited my overall level of play." I was intrigued by the list. I liked his list! Now, let me pick about my straight pool game against his list and see how I can improve:

  1. There’s no luck in straight pool. No willy-nilly half-baked shots are rewarded. Every shot is a called shot. Even the lay of the table can theoretically be controlled by the player with judicious use of pattern play and ball bumping. Stop blaming the table or the layout…you are in control! I follow this advice already. I don't like excuses!
  2. Shoot softly. Do I really need to explain this? I am more successful at this now. Sometimes, though, I get a wild hair and "try" something that leads to a bad breakout b/c I didn't shoot softly.  Reminds me of Theodore Roosevelt's famous quote, "I have always been fond of the West African proverb: "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." '
  3. Focus on fundamentals. Good mechanics and straight shooting is required. Your other games will thank you. This is key for me (well, everyone) and I have noticed straight pool helps me produce good mechanics.  :). 
  4. Position play is paramount. You’ve got to stay on the right side of the ball. If not, you will very quickly run out of makeable shots. I don't pay attention to this enough. I need to!
  5. Straight pool demands mental focus on every single shot. Why risk losing concentration, miss an easy shot, and blow a hard earned long run? Oh, I wish I could stay focused for every single shot I have in my race to 100 league matches! But, I THINK while down on some of my shots and then miss. :(
  6. You rediscover the stop shot. The stop shot is your long lost friend. It's still a lost friend for me. :(
  7. You quickly learn that spin is bad for you. You can achieve almost all of your cue ball positioning goals using nothing but draw, follow, and cue ball speed. Okay, maybe one or two microns of left or right, but that’s about it. Yea, I don't try to spin the ball unless absolutely necessary.
  8. You don’t want to move the cue ball any more than you have to. Why go twelve feet and three rails when you can accomplish nearly the same result with a two foot draw shot? This is very true and good practice to instill. I think I follow this rule pretty well.
  9. And speaking of rails, why use them at all? Just follow or draw up and down the table. Plan ahead to achieve the correct angles and minimize the use of rails. Uh, Oh, I use rails a lot....
  10. We all know how to cheat the pocket on a cut shot, but in straight pool, sometimes it is advantageous to cheat the position. Instead of cutting balls, sometimes I throw them into pockets. I do this occasionally to reduce cue ball travel distance and keep the cue ball on the right side for my next shot. I have done this before, but I get nervous. I should try this more in my matches.
  11. You MUST plan at least three shots ahead. Preferably more. Otherwise, clusters and the break shot will kill you. I do this in 9ball, but no other games. Seeing the pattern for the last three balls is especially crucial for the end of the rack in straight pool (and 8ball). Oh, I so think my runs would improve if I could execute this rule.
  12. When you get into your shooting stance, you are thinking about nothing but making the shot…pure execution. If your mind is not fully made up…if you have any lingering doubts about the shot, you MUST stand up, make up your mind, fully visualize the shot in your head, then get down into your shooting stance again. This is a little enemy of mine right now in straight pool. The key is to recognize you are thinking, don't rick the shot, and GET BACK UP. Sometimes I get up and sometimes I don't. I need to routinely do the proper thing.
  13. Remember KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid! Don’t overplay things. Don’t try to do too much. And YES, it’s okay if you decide to shoot a six foot stop shot instead of choosing the two foot cut shot! :)


Anonymous said...

Hi Melinda, I'm so glad you enjoyed my 14.1 post! I loved your analysis post...what a great idea! I haven't played much 14.1 lately, but I'm considering joining a local 14.1 league. Any advice? Thanks, and happy shooting!!

Melinda said...

Hi! :)

My advice would be run as fast as you can to the straight pool league and join! It's probably the best thing I ever did to increase my love of the game of pool even more.