Archive for March, 2011

Do You Play Pool With Intuition?

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Do You Play Pool With Intuition?

By Ernie Reynolds

How many times have you just missed a shot and said to yourself “I should have aimed where I started to instead of moving my aim a little”? How often have you questioned the choice of shot you took when you became stuck without a leave?

Do you ever get this little urge in the back of your mind that says “shoot this ball” when your conscious mind thinks that might not be the right shot to take? How about when you make that near-miraculous shot that looked almost impossible because you could just “see it” and felt you might make it?

I believe all these things are your built-in intuition working for you.

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Pool For Beginners
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In my studies of mental philosophies and the workings of the mind, I have often seen the phrase “quiet the mind”. This basically means to take a mental step back and internally observe the thousands of thoughts that run through our minds constantly. This mental “watcher” can then observe a moment of quiet and solitude while the conscious mind continues to rattle on with random thoughts.

When we become aware of this quiet state we can filter out some of the extraneous, non-helpful thoughts and pick out the thoughts and ideas that can do us some real good. It is my belief that it is these helpful thoughts that make up at least a part of our intuition.

I find that when I am really in the zone and concentrating on the pool game at hand, my intuition sends the ideas much more readily to my conscious mind. It’s not like someone is talking in my ear loud and clear, but it just seems like I am more aware of the urges to shoot a certain shot or put some english on the cue ball in such a way as to have a better leave for my next ball.

It’s a subtle thing, but definitely there if you watch for it.

I feel it most strongly just after breaking a rack. As I am studying the layout of the balls and trying to decide how best to play them, I often get the urge to shoot a certain ball to start the run.

This ball may not be the one I would consciously choose to start with, but I find that if I go with my gut feeling, things often work out on the table. My second, third, or even fourth shot may not be readily apparent at first, but as the game progresses, the shots often keep coming and I can either run or nearly run the table.

A habit I picked up years ago, which I still use today, is to take a deep breath or two and mentally tell myself to “relax”. Especially if you are playing a tough opponent or are behind in a match, the few seconds it takes to do this can pay huge dividends.

I sometimes use the phrase “relax and win” with a deep breath or two. It’s amazing how often I have seen opponents miss easy shots after doing this.

By taking a deep breath and mentally relaxing, you are helping reduce any nervousness you may be feeling. This also helps to quiet the mind and open the way for your intuition to send you some advantageous thoughts and ideas for gaining the advantage and winning the game.

So, I challenge you to become aware and play pool with intuition the next few times you play. Take the plunge and follow the urges when and if they come. You may be pleasantly surprised.

A Solid Bridge Is Indispensable In Pool

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

A Solid Bridge Is Indispensable In Pool

By Ernie Reynolds

I’m always looking for ways to consistently shoot pool well. As I play, I take note of any shots I miss and analyze if I am doing something wrong. I noticed something recently.

I missed a couple easy shots that I would normally make without much effort. The thing was, my shots were way off – I missed the pocket completely with the object ball.

On my next shot after one of these misses, I began my usual practice of going over the basics when I am missing – checking my stance, stroke, how I was hitting the cue ball, if I was bending over enough, etc. It was then that noticed that my bridge was kind of loose and sloppy.

For more info, visit my websites…
Pool For Beginners
Pool and Pocket Billiards Resource

I mostly use the closed bridge when possible, as I feel that it provides the most secure grasp of the pool shaft. The index finger and thumb wrap around the shaft to hold it in place firmly but still allow it to slide for the stroke.

The problem was I wasn’t closing the index finger around the shaft tight enough, and the shaft had some sideways play during the stroke. As a result, when I took the shot, the cue tip was contacting the cue ball somewhere other than the center of the ball, causing the shot to veer off course.

Subsequently, on my next shots I paid attention to this little detail and grasped the shaft more firmly. Problem solved. I sometimes slide my middle finger up against the shaft while using this bridge to help firm up the grasp on the pool shaft.

The fingers of the bridge hand need to have a solid hold on the pool shaft to avoid this problem of the shaft floating around. The bridge MUST remain absolutely still so that the end of the shaft doesn’t move around and affect the tip hit on the cue ball.

I use hand chalk so I can get a firm grip, while still allowing the shaft to slide easily for the pool stroke. Some people prefer using a pool glove for the same reason.

Another aspect of the bridge I might mention is the support for the bridge. The three fingers that support the bridge should be splayed as far apart as possible to provide a rock-solid base. If your cue tip is wavering around because of a weak bridge it is almost impossible to hit the cue ball correctly and consistently, resulting in a lot of missed shots.

I observe many beginner pool players forming a shaky bridge. Their fingers are often not spread out enough to provide a solid base for the bridge, and they don’t grip the cue shaft firmly enough to prevent the tip from moving around.

This is a major stumbling block to their successful shot making. I try, whenever possible, to take the thirty seconds necessary to show them how to form a solid, strong bridge.

If you are not sure of what a solid bridge looks like, take a look at this page on my Pool For Beginners.com site. The pictures there can show much more easily than can be explained the proper way to form a good bridge.