Mirror Banking

November 24th, 2010

Mirror Banking

By Ernie Reynolds

Pool is a great game – especially when you are winning. It’s still awesome even when you are not, but it is all that much sweeter when you win. I played the other night and it seemed like the pool gods were shining down on me.

I was making great cut shots and my position play was better than normal. What I was particularly happy with was the bank shots that were going in. I was dropping some banks that had my opponents shaking their heads.

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

In one game, I made three table-length bank shots in a row – that really got them muttering. LOL. I wasn’t doing anything special, it seemed like I just had “the eye” working well and the stroke was coming through for me.

I was using my usual mirror banking method to make the bank shots. This is where you basically shoot the same angle going into the bank as the one leaving it. As I mention in the article that is linked to above, there are several methods to play a bank shot, but mirror banking works the best for me.

You really don’t need to use the diamonds on the pool table to use this method, although they can help to visualize the angles sometimes. The diagrams below illustrate a basic bank shot using the mirror method.

bank shot       bank shot

As seen in the Bank 2 diagram, we want to bank the purple ball cross-corner into pocket X. The Bank 3 diagram graphically shows the concept of mirror banking this shot. Using your cue stick to sight in the necessary ball path, move the stick around until you come up with the “bank point” where the object ball needs to bounce off the rail to send it to the pocket.

Once you come up with the correct bank point, your object is to make a cut shot on the object ball to make it contact the rail at the bank point so it will rebound into the pocket. Sometimes the bank angle will be right on the money and all you have to do is hit the object ball straight on, but in this case some angle was needed to correct the trajectory of the object ball.

This method can be used pretty much wherever the object ball is located on the table; however it is probably easiest to visualize the angles when the object ball is fairly close to a rail.

Visualizing the correct mirror angles to make the bank shot is one aspect of this form of banking. Another tricky item is to hit the object ball at exactly the right spot. I call this right spot the “aim spot”.

bank shot

In the diagram Bank 5 above, the aim spot to make the shot shown is pointed out. This aim spot is determined in the same way for a bank as it is for a cut shot – draw an imaginary line through the object ball in the direction you want the ball to take and the point where the line enters the ball is the aim point. If you can make the cue ball contact the object ball at exactly this spot, the shot will go in.

So that’s a quick and dirty explanation of the mirror banking method. To see more, go to my Pool For Beginners site. Of course we are only dealing with one-bank shots here. Multiple-bank shots are a whole different thing and are much more difficult.

As with any other pool shot, practice makes perfect always applies. Spend some quality time visualizing and practicing bank shots and your pool playing will take a step up, as will your number of games won. Good luck!

D@#n, Scratched Again!

October 27th, 2010

D@#n, Scratched Again!

By Ernie Reynolds

After a lifetime of playing pool I pretty much have the game down. I know how to make most shots and I can make them fairly consistently.

There is one other thing that I do fairly consistently as well – scratch! To paraphrase a saying from my great-grandmother – nothing “gets my goat” more that making a nice shot and scratching. 8^)

I play most of my pool in the evenings for two or three hours at a time. Some nights I may only scratch 4 or 5 times in those three hours, but other nights, I may scratch 20 or more times!

I’m not lying when I say that I have had 25 scratch nights!

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

Most of my scratches come when shooting a table-length cut shot in a corner pocket. You know the one – you cut the object ball 45 degrees in the corner pocket and the cue ball goes 45 degrees in the opposite corner pocket.

The path the cue ball takes after it hits the object ball is called the tangent line. I have a discussion of it on my Pool For Beginners site here.

The trick to making these kind of shots and not scratching is to make sure the cue ball is rolling and not sliding across the felt, so it will have a 30 degree angle off the cue ball instead of a 90 degree angle, thus missing the opposite corner pocket.

Easier said than done sometimes.

Another common scratch for me is when I hit the cue ball fairly firmly so I can move it to a different part of the table for a leave on my next ball. It seems that cue ball has eyes and insists on dropping into a pocket just to spite me. Sometimes the angle that the cue ball travels when scratching into the side pocket is so sharp that I am amazed that it can even do it.

This type of scratch is common for me if I am really concentrating on making a difficult shot. Checking the angles, making sure of a good hit on the cue ball, getting the hit speed correct – my mind is busy making sure of everything except checking for the possibility of a scratch.

One further way I often scratch is when shooting bank shots. It’s more difficult to keep track of the cue rebound when shooting bank shots. When a hard hit is required for a bank, the cue can have a tendency to really travel – at times into a pocket.

I have, of course, tried to work on my game and avoid scratching so much. I try to hit the cue just hard enough to make my shot so it doesn’t go rebounding all over the table wildly and scratch.

Playing position definitely helps prevent scratching because you try to finesse the cue ball to a certain point on the table, thereby controlling the path of the cue ball rebound. Position play is also a great way to make your runs longer and your winning percentage higher.

English is very helpful in controlling the cue ball rebound angles, but you have to be careful not to throw your aim off. English can cause your cue ball to vary off course before it hits your object ball. Mastery of English takes a lot of practice.

Unless you are a very soft shooter, most of your cue ball hits will be “skid” shots, where the cue ball skids instead of rolls across the table cloth. The angle of rebound for most skidded cut shots is 90 degrees.

Knowing this, you can visualize beforehand where the cue ball will have a tendency to travel after hitting the object ball. A hard hit shot will of course cause the cue ball to be hitting banks, and the more banks it hits the harder it will be to accurately determine where it will end up.

So, knowing all this, what’s the answer to cutting down the frequency of scratching? In my case I think it is simply being more aware of the possibility of scratching and taking preventative measures ahead of time. I need to keep the tangent line more in mind.

I have to visualize not only where I want the cue ball to end up, but also the path it will take to get there, and whether or not this will bring it close to a pocket to scratch. Hitting my shots a little easier will cause less of a run on the cue ball after it hits the object ball and offer fewer opportunities to get near a pocket and scratch.

Finally, I have to keep practicing my English. I have to fight the tendency to hit the cue ball too far from center with the tip. It doesn’t take much of an off-center hit to get the cue ball spinning. Aiming a little off to one side or the other to compensate for the English will work. Perfecting the technique is where the skill comes in.

Even though I sometimes scratch a lot I still love the game. It’s always a challenge to play your best. I guess, in the end, it still comes down to those magic words – awareness, concentration and consistency.

Yep, It’s About The Most Fun I Have With My Pants On

October 5th, 2010

Yep, It’s About The Most Fun I Have With My Pants On

By Ernie Reynolds

“You’re killin’ me here!”

“Don’t mind me, I’m just here to rack for you.”

“*&%^%#^%%$*&*&%#!!!” (Cursing and banging pool cue on table)

LOL. I love hearing that stuff. It’s music to my ears. It tells me I’m doing something right.

The above are some of my brother’s comments when I’m having a good night on the pool table at our weekly 8-ball sessions. I just smile and nod my head so he’ll keep playing with me. It’s not as much fun playing pool alone. 8^)

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

Playing pool really is one of my favorite things to do. I go down to the pool hall and meet my brother, have a few pops and bang the balls around, laughing all the while. I have several hobbies, but this one is probably the most fun.

One of my favorite games the other night had my opponent ahead four balls to none. He shot the eight ball, but left it hanging at the corner pocket. Here I am, four balls to put in, and if I miss, game over.

I sank three of my balls and came up with a terrible leave for my fourth. All I can do is play a long bank and hope for the best. Bang, I hit the shot and the ball goes in the far corner pocket like it had eyes. The cue stops about eighteen inches from the eight ball.

I hear “AARRRGGGGHHH!!! DAMN!” My brother’s at it again. All I can do is laugh.

A quick tap and the eight ball goes in. I’m loving it. Why this is so much fun I don’t know, but it sure is.

Maybe it’s the look on my brother’s face. He doesn’t like to lose, especially when he thought he had me.

We don’t play for anything, so it’s not a question of money or a free drink or anything like that. The pool is free, so the loser doesn’t have to put quarters in.

I guess it’s just fun to win, period. Playing pool is always enjoyable, but when you win, that’s just the icing on the cake.

My brother and I play because we both like pool and enjoy each other’s company. But, when I can zing him with a good finish and steal the game he thought he had sewn up, that just makes my night.

I am not overly competitive. I don’t usually play in tournaments or in the weekly pool league, but I do like to win. I won’t cheat or play dirty. I rarely play a safe, and as long as there is some possibility of a shot, I will go for it.

I think deep down you sort of play yourself in this game. When I make an exceptional shot that I didn’t think would go, even when I am practicing by myself, I still get a child-like thrill at making it. An automatic smile comes to my face.

I got in the habit of going out after work on Friday nights to play pool when I was very young. Unless I’m away on vacation somewhere or a very special occasion comes up, I rarely miss those Friday night sessions. You can always find a pool game somewhere.

It’s such a simple thing to shoot a pool ball into a hole in the table with a cue stick. It’s not necessarily a simple thing to put them in one after the other consistently, but it is always an enjoyable thing to me when it happens.

I am always amazed at how much joy this simple game gives me. As the headline says, it really is some of the most fun I have with my pants on.

Mentally “Intend” to Kick Ass on the Pool Table

September 14th, 2010

Mentally “Intend” to Kick Ass on the Pool Table

By Ernie Reynolds

Does anyone disagree that pool is a mental game? After you’ve paid your dues and learned how to shoot, what is the biggest detriment to consistently playing your best?

Concentration, lack of attention, forgetting the basics – in other words, your MIND.

Your mind is often the biggest saboteur to winning pool games on a regular basis – at least mine is.

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

In my 40+ years of playing pool, I have made most every shot hundreds of times. I have read the books and seen the videos. I know how to shoot. Then why can’t I do as well one day as I can the next?

I contend that the main problem is not external conditions or distractions. I have shot some of my best pool in a crowded, noisy bar with drunken people banging into my stick and TVs blaring overhead.

I have shot well with crooked pool cues and with lousy tips. Dead rails and soiled felt were the same disadvantages to my opponents as to me.

I do have my own pool cue now and I wouldn’t go back to using bar cues willingly. It certainly helps some. And yes, I do carry my own hand chalk with me.

At least in my case, neither the equipment nor the environment have that great of an impact on my ability to shoot consistent pool.

So, if the mind is the biggest culprit to causing your pool game to be inconsistent, what can you do? Is there a way to get a mental kick in the butt so you can get back on track?

“Intend” to shoot your best pool.

“Intend” to concentrate fully in the game at hand and not allow external distractions to divert your attention.

“Intend” to beat your opponent.

I have been a student of the mind for many years. I practice meditation, hypnosis, and other forms of mind control. I believe that “something else is out there” besides our everyday consciousness.

And I also believe that controlling the mind will allow me to better control my pool playing. If pool is indeed a mental game, then getting your mental facilties well in-tune with your pool game can only help, right?

When the mind is relaxed and at peace, the mental chatter and useless thoughts just sort of fade away. You are left with the ability to focus your mind on constructive ideas and enjoyable pursuits instead of wallowing in negativity.

One practice I have when playing pool is to occasionally take a deep breath and mentally tell myself to “relax” if I find that I am not playing up to par or feeling uptight or anxious. When I am behind in a pool game, I sometimes say a mental “relax and win” to myself. It’s amazing how many times my opponent will miss an easy shot or make some other mistake after doing this.

I do find, however, that the act of “intention” has the strongest effect on my pool game. If I actually intend to play my best pool, it often happens.

I play pool regularly every Friday night. When I wake up on Friday morning, before I get out of bed, I mentally “intend to kick ass on the pool table tonight.” I don’t always remember to do it, but when I do, it certainly makes a difference.

This time between being asleep and fully awake is an excellent time to make an intention, by the way. The mind is still in a suggestible state, and intentions get right into the subconscious mind and go to work. Hypnosis works in this manner by putting the subject in a suggestible state of mind.

So that’s my theory. I know it works for me and I’ll bet it will work for you as well. Try it yourself and see.

I’d like to hear some comments as to whether people think this is a crazy notion or something beneficial to use themselves.

Position Play Is Absolutely Key

June 16th, 2010

Position Play Is Absolutely Key

By Ernie Reynolds

If you are an experienced pool player you can usually hit the balls in pretty well. Occasionally you pull off a great shot that can really get you out of a tough spot. Some outrageous cut shot or maybe a “that-looks-impossible” bank shot can really save your bacon. The frustrated look on your opponent’s face is just an added benefit when you make one of these shots. 8^)

However, I and many others have come to the definite conclusion that to really be successful in winning pool games, you gotta play position. Nothing else I have seen can give you the tremendous advantage that a well-placed cue ball leave can. If you play position well, most of your shots are easy.

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

Just think about it. When you lose your shot, what is the usual reason? For me, it’s because I got lousy position for my next shot and have to try something very difficult or maybe even next to impossible. The cue might be stuck behind another ball or maybe it’s on the rail way at the other end of the table from where I want it to be. I didn’t get good position from the previous shot.

Now of course I miss some simple shots occasionally because I’m human and I don’t always remember to use the basics all the time. My concentration wanders or I may be distracted by the cute girls at the next table over. Some days we just don’t play as well as we are capable. It happens.

But I’ll tell you, when my position play is right on, I am one tough cookie to beat on the pool table. The game becomes almost effortless when you can place that cue ball right where you want it for the next shot.

Ever notice how some racks seem to be set up just right for a long run of balls? You break the rack and continue shooting and the next thing you know you are shooting for the eight ball. It’s a beautiful thing.

Well, many games can be like that when you finally get into the position play habit. Make it a point right from the start to read the layout of the table and visualize how and in what order you will sink your remaining balls on the table. You may have heard it said that you should plan your next three shots before shooting. It’s good advice.

One challenge I have with position play is when there are clusters of balls on the table. I have a bad habit of running the table without breaking up the balls in a cluster and then I end up with an impossible shot to make before the eight ball. Not only is this frustrating, but it clears the table for your opponent to make all of his balls and win on you.

It is very important to break up those clusters before you get down to your last ball. As you are shooting your first balls, try to work the cue ball rebound into the cluster and break up the frozen balls. You will thank yourself later when you don’t have to waste a shot because of a ball that is frozen in a cluster.

As my pool game has matured, I have tried to put much more effort into playing position. It really does result in much easier shots in general, and I find myself stuck without a shot a lot less. It’s great to be able to make the tough shots when you have to. But, if you don’t have to, all the better.

The bottom line – Position play will win you more pool games.