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Position Play Is Absolutely Key

Wednesday, 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.

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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.