Posts Tagged ‘cue ball’

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.

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

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.

D@#n, Scratched Again!

Wednesday, 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.

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.

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.

Performance Pool – A Great Way To Improve Your Skills

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

Performance Pool – A Great Way To Improve Your Skills

By Ernie Reynolds

We all know that the best way to improve your skills in most sports is to practice – a lot! It’s also fairly common knowledge that if we practice in a scientific and intelligent way we will increase our abilities all that much better and faster.

Tim “The Monk” Miller has come up with a great practice aid that can send your pool-shooting proficiency through the roof. It’s a “card” game called Performance Pool.

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

The game consists of 52 cards with different pool shots on them. Each card is assigned a value – 5, 10, 15, 20, or 25 points. Each player gets seven cards.

You setup the shot shown on the card and attempt to make it on the pool table. If you make it you get the allotted number of points. If you miss, you get zero points. Each shot can be attempted twice.

The player with the highest score wins after going through all seven cards. A match can be set up to be the best four out of seven games or something similar.

performance pool

There are some other rules to the game, such as the ability to trade cards with your opponent and such. To see them all, look here. There is a score card available that Tim will send you if you visit the site and send him an email.

It’s pretty obvious that Performance Pool could be a fantastic way of spicing up your practice sessions on the pool table. Besides being a challenging game in itself, this will help you learn some new shots and develop your position playing to a high degree.

Many of the shots involve two object balls, and require you to develop your english and cue ball positioning skills to be the most successful. Other cards help develop your ability to make a safe leave efficiently.

The game is available as a deck of cards with a different shot on each one. If you go to this page, you can see what the cards look like, read a short explanation of how to make the shot, and click a link where you can see a short video of Tim Miller demonstrating the shot. This is a very valuable aid and really makes it clear how to best make the shot on the card.

To get your own deck of Performance Pool playing cards for the special Pool and Pocket Billiards Resource price of $14.95, click here.