Wednesday, April 4, 2007


Last night, I had a pretty good practice session. I had been thinking that I was actually pretty happy with my level of play and that I would back off a little on practicing and just focus on maintaining fundamentals. I had become really bored with certain drills and had in practice mostly been "piling rocks" and practicing shots I had missed in matches. I had been thinking that I had gotten to a point where I had just enough skill and knowledge where I could learn from playing actual games and experimenting less on the practice table.

Running through my drills went pretty well. Not surprisingly I had lost some of my sharpness on the drills I haven't been doing as much. I had lost some precision on the speed drill, but not too much. My stop, follow, draw drill went pretty well (although I know I have a siting problem on long straight shots). But then when I went to piling rocks, I was missing a lot. I was able to get back in the grove a little. I was tired and probably not setting the shot up correctly, but this wasn't always the case. This is actually pretty common in my experience. I do really well on my drills and I think I'm hot stuff, but then when I start trying to sink balls, I suck.

So, now to the discouraging part. I was at table #4--the worst table--small pockets, and right in front of the bar, so everyone waiting for a table has nothing to do but watch you miss! Although, I have to give myself major points for staying pretty focused, and not being upset when I didn' pocket a ball, even if they saw. But after I was finished, the guy who rang me up had been watching, and asked if we had the same instructor (he could tell from the drills). He said that the one thing he could see was I was dropping my elbow due to my long follow through. I actually really appreciate the observation. Of course, that's usually followed by a bit of lecture about how you don't need such a long follow through, etc. etc. The lecture I could do without, as I've usually heard it before. Its not lack of knowledge, but proper execution.

Anyway, so I am discouraged. I've noticed the elbow drop when I'm playing. I'm not even convinced that the actual drop is what is making me miss shots from a mechanical point of view, but it indicates that the auto-pilot form is off, so something is not working. I'm not sure if he meant that I was dropping my elbow during drills or only my later shots. What scares me is that if I am, I'm practicing bad form. All my efforts to have strong fundamentals are working against me.

I initially wanted to take regular lessons - every three or four weeks, mostly because I like the dialogue and the coach-student relationship. I think they both really help the learning process. Unfortunatley, my instructor has become very popular and has little time. I've felt that he discouraged the idea of regular lessons, and that lessons should only be when necessary. Which may work well for a more experienced player. But now, besides just the less specific benefits of having regular lessons, I can see that stopping bad habits from creeping in.

I'm going with my gut. My instructor does not have any ego attached to the idea of "his" students, and thinks that its good to get different points of view. So I think that its time to get a regular structure in place, even if it means finding someone else.

Wow, long, probably boring post. But at least I feel better.

1 comment:

Sharp said...

I am pretty much at the same point in my pool playing career which just began recently. I am finding that i can already see some of the things i will face in the months to come. Your past will be a great learning tool. Thank you for spending the time to write it all down.