View Full Version : Lessons with Charlie "Hillbilly" Bryant

11-21-2012, 10:05 AM
Well I finally decided to take some lessons, and why not start with one of the most famous Texas pros Charlie Hillbilly Bryant! I met Charlie at Rusty’s in Arlington for a 2 hour private lesson. His first lesson is always two hours he explained, but it was really closer to three hours after we were finished, though he only charged for two. A little background on myself would probably be helpful. I’m a middle level pool player, run the occasional rack of nine ball, and regularly get knocked out in the semifinals of local tournaments by some of the stronger players. I’ve ordered DVDs, have a number of books, but have balked at lessons due to their cost, and have questions of my own regarding instructors’ billiard philosophies. Randy G’s school is nearby, but the cost of his pool school has been prohibitive thus far. So when I learned Hillbilly was in town and offering lessons for a reasonable amount, I jumped on the opportunity.

During my lesson with Charlie, the sheer amount of knowledge that he offered was both astounding and initially overwhelming. I had planned to bring a notebook to jot down notes, but inconveniently forgot it. Thankfully, Charlie kept copious notes and had handouts for everything that we worked on that day. I was surprised at the amount of time we spent on foot position, grip, and pre-shot routine. Most of the two hours was spent discussing the first minute or so before you actually take a shot. And as I mentioned I was surprised that I needed so much work on “the basics” since I’ve been playing for a while and am a fairly decent player. I’ve watched plenty of DVDs and read books mentioning the mechanics, have worked on them and have been told I have strong fundamentals, but it’s completely different when you have an instructor there to review your movements and tweak them. During the entire lesson Charlie took the time to explain everything clearly, and patiently ensured that I had all my questions answered, and I had quite a few! He even encouraged me to call him when I had questions about practice shots, and he offers a great website with loads of information and online instruction.

Towards the end of the lesson, it was clear that Charlie was treating this as the first stage of a long journey together. He mapped out the next stages of learning and explained the amount of time we would need to spend together. I left the lesson a little overwhelmed, and uncertain about all the information that had been given to me. After all, I had nothing to compare the lesson to, but I did have great confidence that Charlie’s own technique had gotten him to the professional level, and thus took solace in his success as a player. I also felt like I had met a person who could mentor me through me development as a player, an invaluable relationship for a player wanting to improve their game.

So it’s been a week since my lesson. I decided to begin incorporating just a few of his techniques into my shooting each week so that I could master them and then continue adding in more. Well shockingly after the first week, I’m beginning to run racks occasionally (probably 1 rack for every 5), something that I would usually do once a week rather than multiple times a session. Another player who recommended that I take Charlie’s lessons said that his game improved by 30%. I can’t quantify at this point, and I’ve only incorporated the first few techniques Charlie taught me, but I’m already seeing big improvements, and am looking forward to integrating the more advanced steps he provided. My guess is that his two hour lesson will take me 8-10 weeks to finally work through and use consistently, and I’m looking forward to seeing how much my game will improve by then.

There’s a distinct difference in shooting philosophies within the billiard world, and I suppose opposing philosophies develop within any large community. As with child rearing or dog training, there doesn’t appear to be “one” path to success but rather one that works for the individual. Charlie’s philosophy and approach diverges from Randy’s and Scott’s. So if you’ve had lessons with those instructors, be prepared to have Charlie offer you a different path. I don’t know if this is “good” or “bad,” probably like most things in life, it’s just “different.” I imagine the real judge is the player.

So for any players out there in the Texas area, or any players that run across Charlie in the major tournaments offering lessons, I highly recommend you take a lesson from him. I know he’s already done quite a bit for my game and the game of some of the other players in the DFW area.

Thanks again Charlie, I look forward to the journey together.-Ryan

11-21-2012, 10:54 AM
Several of my friends and customers have gotten with Charlie in the last week or two, and even my girlfriend has spent some time on the table with Hillbilly, and all have gotten the same result... an improvement in the game immediately.It's like your mind suddenly is clear and you're more receptive to more options, with consistent results. I saw a fast change in my game and had great results after the first time I got on board applying what he was willing to teach- and straighten out in my fundamentals- and have consistently done better in tourneys as a result.From the first moment you meet Charlie, you know he's here to teach and be a friend, that WANTS you to excel in everything you do. I've met with alot of instructors, watched them in action, and played with them and their students alot over the years, but this was the first time I've actually been able to benefit from someone taking the time to fix the problem and change my mindset approaching the table. The confidence levels and ability both go up together, and so does the amount of games won and racks run. I've always considered myself a better than average player that never backed up from playing anyone anywhere as long as I could afford it- but after seeing how much more knowledge Charlie has of this game and how far he has broken it down in order to fully explain and teach it.... I was humbled really quick. I hope that alot of players take advantage and get with Hillbilly to learn, and continue to do so- there is just no downside to improving and learning, especially from someone who has proven abilities and practical knowledge to give.

There are alot of differences of opinions in the game, thoughts, strategies, approaches, and ways to teach, but there hasn't been one single instructor that can say their way has created more champions than anyone.If there is, I'VE never heard of them, and I bet everyone on this forum would be racing for their door to get on the list to be the next Open Champion. You have to learn it and apply it, and continue to if you want to improve. No matter who is teaching it, it's still up to you on how far you are willing to go and how much dedication you have to mastering each step.It's a journey just as Ryan said- one that all of us have been on already for whatever personal reasons or goals we have to reach... As for me, I'm going with Hillbilly and his way- I already know it works and I'm addicted to learn every shot,kick,bank, and ridiculous cut that he can teach. But at least you know where the line starts now...:wink:

12-11-2012, 02:54 PM
I wanted to post an update after 6 weeks of using Charlie's system. I had seen some better than expected results after the first few weeks, but since then my rate of improvement has actually increased, something I hadn't expected. As I mentioned in my earlier post, Charlie conveyed so much information in my first lesson that it would have been overwhelming to have integrated all of it into my game at once. So I've been slowly adding elements that he taught me and practicing his various drills.
This week I played another AZer who's a friend of mine and who is a great local player. He played in the ten-ball championship a few years ago here in Dallas, so each time we play I learn from getting my butt kicked. Typically we play cheap sets of nine-ball race to five and he gives me the 7 out, nice guy, right! Usually he'll win two of the three sets that we play, and I often think he lets me win one set to keep me motivated. Well this last week we played a race to seven and he gave me the 8 out since he had seen my game improve. I won the set 7-3.
It felt fantastic to finally offer him a real challenge and finally win a set when I knew he was bearing down on me. Admittedly, he didn't play his best, but the fact that he cut back on my weight, and that I still won pretty handily is a testament to Charlie's system. The game is very different for me know than it was 6 weeks ago, and I'm looking forward to opening another dimension to my game soon with more lessons from Charlie.
So for anyone wondering if the lessons are really worth it (because I had long wondered that), I answer with a resounding yes! We spend so much money on cues, cases, and other equipment or tournament fees, but the cost of a lesson or multiple lessons is very little in the overall life of our game.
Thanks for your help Charlie!