Posts Tagged ‘Game’

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.

A Follow-up To “Make a Conscious Intention to Play Better Pool”

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

A Follow-up To “Make a Conscious Intention to Play Better Pool”

By Ernie Reynolds

If you read my previous post about stating your intention to play better pool you may be interested in this follow-up.

My brother and I usually get together and play pool on Friday nights. I have been playing a little better than him lately and he was wondering why. I told him that it was because, on Friday mornings when I first wake up, I state an intention to myself that I will play excellent pool that night.

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

It has been working pretty well for me. I encouraged my brother to try it out and see if it helped his pool playing to improve. Then I didn’t mention it for a few weeks.

Two weeks ago, he was playing markedly better. He was making some nice cut shots and missing fewer easy shots than he usually dies. I mentioned that he was shooting really well that night. He informed me that he had made an intention that morning upon waking that he would play good pool that night.

“Aha! So it works for you too, huh?” He said, “I guess so.” He really was shooting much better pool. We were pretty evenly matched all evening. I’d win a game or two and he would win a game or two. It made for a better night of pool in my opinion.

Last week my brother was back to his habit of missing easy shots and giving me nice leaves to run out the table. He was getting mad at himself for playing lousy. I asked him, “So, did you do an intention to play good pool this morning?” He said, “No. I forgot.” “Ah, that’s why you’re not playing as well as last week.”

I’d be willing to bet that in the coming weeks my brother will be making more intentions on Friday mornings. It is such an easy thing to do and only takes ten seconds. What have you got to lose?

When you wake up and you are still in that state between being asleep and fully awake, simply state to the universe that you intend to play excellent pool tonight, today, or whenever you plan to play. Then just go about your day and don’t think about it anymore. It really does work wonders for my pool game.

I have used this process for other intentions as well. For example, “I intend to have a lot of fun today” or “I intend to get some good work done today.” It seems to work well for these types of personal, emotional things. I have yet to use it successfully to win the lottery, but I keep on trying! It doesn’t cost anything but a few seconds of my time.

If you are in a league or play pool at certain times every week like I do, I suggest you try this little experiment and intend to play better pool. Try it one day and not the next and compare your shooting performance. It works for me and my brother. I can’t see any reason why it won’t work for you too.

Le me know how you make out!

35 Tips To Pool Domination

Monday, October 12th, 2009

35 Tips To Pool Domination

By Ernie Reynolds

I recently finished and posted for download “35 Tips To Pool Domination”. You can see it in the column to the right. This Ebook is free for readers of this blog and my other pool websites.

I put together these tips as a reminder to myself and to help others to continue to remember and apply the basics when shooting pool. It’s easy to get out of the habit of paying attention to how you are stroking the stick, hitting the cue ball, positioning your leave, and many of the other little things that add up to playing your best pool.

When I find myself missing fairly easy shots, it always helps to make a quick review of how I am shooting and what I am doing wrong. This Ebook can help to drum into your head the obvious and not-so-obvious aspects to maintaining quality poll shooting.

Should you decide to download and read this Ebook, I would be most curious to learn of your opinion as to whether or not you feel it has helped your game to improve. Please leave a comment. Thanks.