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View Full Version : How much does equipment matter, and what's the minimum to be legit?


CreeDo
05-03-2007, 11:46 PM
I saw a post from a player asking what it takes to get decent at straight pool. I've often wondered the same thing, I'm a low level A / 7 in APA who has a high run of exactly 30. This is sad, as I can run back to back racks of 8 or 9 ball pretty often. I've watched hours of video and I'm still stuck.

One of the things I'm wondering is if the equipment I play on might be holding me back. The pockets are generous and the felt is (I think) simonis 860 but the tables have some rolls and curved pocket jaws that spit balls out. Some of the rails are questionable too.

So how important is equipment? Would 760 (faster) cloth be better? The official simonis site says most tournaments are played on 860, which surprised me (except it's new 860 so that's why it must be so fast). I'd think pros would want the warp speed cloths, I certainly love it.

Would it be fair to say 4.5" pockets are the smallest anyone should try to play on? I've seen some crazy shimmed tables that fit maybe 1.5 balls in the corner pockets, and I can't take those seriously for anything. Is it possible some pocket sizes are considered too big and wouldn't be taken seriously? Ours are real wastebaskets, they fit 2 balls with a little air between, I guess they're 5 1/4. Are matches and high runs not taken seriously on 8 footers (I'm on 9 anyway)? Are good runs impossible if the table has rolls and imperfections and differing rails?

Lastly, what's 'intermediate' at straight pool? Running 50? 100? Getting out in 2 innings sometimes?

selftaut
05-04-2007, 12:32 AM
Just my opinion on your questions.

I don't think you will find any competition play on anything other than 4 1/2 x 9 tables , so I think that would be the standard , but nothing wrong with playing on an oversize 8 or regular 8 footer if thats all that is available to you , some say its actually harder to play straight on an 8 because you will get more clusters.

Your describing your speed in 8 ball and 9 ball , but can't get up to the same speed in 14.1 , sounds as if your shotmaking is good and position play is good , so I would say you are not playing your patterns correctly in straight.

As far as an "intermediate" player , thats a tough one as far as meaning , because "intermediate" level compared to what level? world class level? competative pro level? state level? local level? .........I think to give a measure , consistancy is key , how many balls are you running "consistantly" when you have opportunity, if your running 40-50 consistantly your doing very well , when you talk about innings you must figure safety play is factored into the equation , 2 innings would be world class level where to 2 high runners were at it.

On the equipment , 4 1/2 pockets seems to be the consencous on being standard , if you have 5 1/4 pockets and simonis cloth then I believe that should increase your consistancy some , good players will adjust to the rolls , especially if any amount of time is spent on that table. You say the balls jaw sometimes too, good players will use pocket speed most of the time and get away from that as much as possible, I guess what I am saying is with buckets like that you give a pro 2 hours playing time to adjust to the table and they will run balls until the cows come home.

Gerry
05-04-2007, 04:21 AM
I have found over time clean balls and table with fast cloth makes for the best runs. Pocket size comes into play of course but less and less the better I play. My high run (126) came on a perfect table IMO a GC3 that had double shims (@4.5") Simonis cloth that was new but broken in, Centennial balls red circle CB.

Sometimes I find super tight tables will demand your attention making you play better. On the other hand, if the table is too tight you can't cheat the pocket a little when it's needed from time to time.
Gerry

CreeDo
05-04-2007, 09:50 AM
Thanks for the info everyone. I figured it must be my pattern play, I sort of know what I need to get rid of and what I need to save, but often it seems like so much work to avoid two balls while running all the others and being careful not to screw up the break or key ball. Like I might want to move the cueball a nice safe distance, but I can't because I must play a different ball than I normally would next, or avoid disturbing balls that don't need it.

I guess the equipment I've got is fine then, I'm sure john schmidt could put 400 on it because the pockets are so loose. I'll just practice some more I guess. I want to be at least a 100+ ball runner but right now I'd settle for 50, my friends and I suck so much at straight pool that we often just play to 50 and it takes 198231923812938 innings.

3andstop
05-04-2007, 10:26 AM
Well I'd find it hard pressed to find anyone who ponders this question more than I. I've had my share of 40s, I've been as hight as 78 but thats certainly not the norm. I fully expect to run into the high 20s or mid 30s every game I play to 100, and I do, but thats a far cry from the guys that run 100s.

After wondering, and playing, and watching, straight pool for many many years, (over 40) I have come to one conclusion.

While patterns can be blamed, I simply and sadly have determined that for me (and I'll bet most other B+ / A players) ending a run usually happens by missing. :) The shots I miss to end runs are shots that are commonly made on a pool table. Rarely is the cause of a run stopping being locked up.

So, long story short, I just miss. Pisses me off too. As I get older, it seems that steeper cuts (not crazy cuts) trigger the negative thoughts and confidence waivers and pretty soon, I just miss.

I watch many accustats 14.1 matches and shot making simply isn't an issue at all to these players. If the ball goes, they make it. Now, if I could do that all the time, I'll bet my runs would improve. :) I don't know the secret. I guess some people just "see em" better than others.

I truely consider myself teetering between B+ and A, being held back soley because of inconsistancy. In my mind there is absolutely no shot I can't make with position, if the right "ME" comes to the table. LMAO, if its the wrong "ME" all bets are off. :)

Now with that said, I play perhaps 5 hrs a week. Practice bores the hell out of me and I've just never been able to do that with any degree of intensity.

Recently Dave K has pointed out a drill / game / self challenge that I found sparked my ability to practice.

http://forums.azbilliards.com/showthread.php?t=45710

Still, 5 hrs a week as opposed to the pros who probably play more than 5hrs a day, expecting too much more than where I'm at is asking for quite a bit. :)

I've gone so far as consider hypnotism to help concentrate. If I wasn't such I "non believer" in it, I'd spend the bucks and try. It is truely frustrating when you know you have the talent to play very well, but inconsistancys throw that huge wrench in the works. :)

Bob Jewett
05-04-2007, 11:39 AM
I have found over time clean balls and table with fast cloth makes for the best runs. ...
Let me expand on this. I used to play in a room that had a table brush but none of the employees used it. If there was a ball polishing machine, it was broken. Each practice session began with brushing down the table, wiping down the rails (which were coated with dust due to the brushing), washing and drying the balls with plain water and paper towels. I felt that I could practice better after doing that. Maybe part of it was working up a sweat from brushing the table. Maybe it was partly a Zen thing.

At the Derby City 14.1 this year, the balls were polished every hour or so (by hand, using Aramith ball polish), and the table was wiped down with a damp towel several times per day. (My apologies to the hotel laundry.)

CreeDo
05-04-2007, 12:05 PM
haha wow, Bob Jewett... I read your articles in Billiards Digest. It's awesome that you're active here.

3andstop, what you're saying sounds pretty good but I'm almost the opposite, my runs end because even though I make what I shoot at, I'm often out of line to get a good break ball, or it's too straight and I have to crush it. Very very often I hit the break shot nicely and just stick to the side of the rack like the cueball's coated in molasses. It ends up looking like a 1 pocket break, the other side of the rack spreads great and I have no shot, so I've played a perfect safety on myself and have to sell out to my opponent.

That's another reason I asked about the equipment, when I see pros do breaks their cueball seems to hit one of the racked balls square, but then it magically bounces off, sometimes 2 inches and sometimes 2 feet but it gets away from the rack. Also the rack just seems to jump apart better. It's probably just a question of technique, but if that's the cases what should I be doing? Just hitting harder? Putting some outside on the cut? Putting some inside? Does it just depend entirely on the tangent line from the break shot? That's another thing that kills me because that line can vary quite a bit depending on which side of the pocket I end up cutting the shot.

Sometimes plain vanilla misses ARE the reason my runs end (I guess that's true of everyone) but it's usually the break ball. When I do get good on it, with a nice steep angle, I often choke. I see the guys in videos who leave themselves 45 or 50 or even 60 degree nasty cuts for their breakshot, and I just don't make those 100% of the time. When I play position in other games I never leave myself that steep, or if I do it's not an uncomfortable backwards cut where I can't even see the pocket I'm cutting into, it's a steep rail cut which somehow is 1000x times easier for me even though in theory it's the same shot.

Maybe Mr. Jewett could explain what's up with that? :o
PS: I loved your article about rating the difficult of shots, though the reasoning behind the formula for combinations eludes me (why is the gap between the object balls measure in ball-widths?).

selftaut
05-04-2007, 01:12 PM
Creedo, the pros do calculate exactly what ball and where on that ball they are going to hit on a break shot , you want to hit the ball intended in the rack full if possible, and not between 2 balls in the rack, its easier to get away from the rack that way , its a matter of adjusting the speed and english of your shot to hit where you want in the rack , but try setting up and practicing break shots , use 1 tip outside english draw , start by using 1 tip below center draw , then using both the 1 tip outside & 1 tip below center try different speeds on the same exact break shots however you set them up , you will see with a slight adjustment in speeds you can direct the cb to hit a ball in the rack full and draw away from the rack. if the breakball is low in the rack and you think you are going to only hit the corner ball in the rack then use a medium follow shot , don't hit that one to hard as you need to let the follow take or you will scratch.

Williebetmore
05-04-2007, 02:07 PM
Well I'd find it hard pressed to find anyone who ponders this question more than I. ........ but thats a far cry from the guys that run 100s.

After wondering, and playing, and watching, straight pool for many many years, (over 40) I have come to one conclusion.

While patterns can be blamed, I simply and sadly have determined that for me (and I'll bet most other B+ / A players) ending a run usually happens by missing. :)

Trey-man,
I feel that you are right on target. The thing that separates the amateur from the pro in straight pool is BALL POCKETING, BALL POCKETING, BALL POCKETING!!!

The finer points of straight pool will DEFINITELY help you advance to some degree, and will definitely make you more competitive with amateur players; but all of the strategy and knowledge in the world will not make up for stroke/ball pocketing defects.

I have been fortunate to play regularly with some world class straight pool players; and to further highlight the differences, let me point out that not only do they run balls like crazy; they only occasionally leave the table on a miss. Most often their innings end by missing shape, then playing safe. Yes, they miss regularly too; but a LOT less often than we do. It is a big hill to climb if you are trying to join the big dogs at the top.

CreeDo
05-04-2007, 02:29 PM
that stuff seems to make sense. Do I hit those draw shots soft too so they will take? Or if I know I'll hit a ball full it doesn't matter if I hit soft or hard, the draw will take after hitting?

A commentator in one of the accustats videos (I think ervolino) said you should hit something like 75-85% of your break shots with follow, but I saw thorsten hohmann leave himself pretty much a 45 degree break shot with the cue ball at the center of the table, and he definitely seemed to use draw more than follow, the cueball always found its way to the side rail or center table. So should I ignore that bit about follow and mostly stick to draw to keep out of trouble?

selftaut
05-04-2007, 02:38 PM
that stuff seems to make sense. Do I hit those draw shots soft too so they will take? Or if I know I'll hit a ball full it doesn't matter if I hit soft or hard, the draw will take after hitting?

A commentator in one of the accustats videos (I think ervolino) said you should hit something like 75-85% of your break shots with follow, but I saw thorsten hohmann leave himself pretty much a 45 degree break shot with the cue ball at the center of the table, and he definitely seemed to use draw more than follow, the cueball always found its way to the side rail or center table. So should I ignore that bit about follow and mostly stick to draw to keep out of trouble?

You definately don't want to hit your breakshots to hard , just a good smooth firm stroke , sometimes even a soft shot will splatter them if you hit the ball in the rack you want full, forget about the rack of balls being there after you determine where your going to hit and what speed you want , just concentrate on the making the ball like a normal shot after you absolutely determine what you want to do. Stay down with the shot and keep your attention on the pocket and object ball like you normally do with any shot. As far as the commentary you mention, there are a lot of shots that you have to use follow , like a ball a little above the rack etc...but I can't agree with him on the % he says.

watch Niels Fiejen run 250+ here , gives you a good idea on how a world class player moves, you will see him determine exactly where he is going to hit every breakshot.
http://video.google.nl/videoplay?docid=-4055665300780803274&q=Niels+Feijen

Bob Jewett
05-04-2007, 03:02 PM
... Very very often I hit the break shot nicely and just stick to the side of the rack like the cueball's coated in molasses.
I think this happens for two reasons. The rack is loose -- a tight rack will tend to bounce the cue ball free. You don't have any draw or follow on the cue ball -- either one will cause the cue ball to move after contact.


... rating the difficult of shots, though the reasoning behind the formula for combinations eludes me (why is the gap between the object balls measure in ball-widths?).
If two balls in a combination are one ball apart and you want to drive the second ball straight ahead, a one-degree error on the first ball will result in a one-degree error in the second ball. If the balls are two balls apart, the error in the first ball will be doubled in the second ball, and if they are only half a ball apart the error is halved. (This ignores throw and some other stuff, but it's close enough for the purpose.)

Jack Madden
05-04-2007, 03:20 PM
Let me expand on this. I used to play in a room that had a table brush but none of the employees used it. If there was a ball polishing machine, it was broken. Each practice session began with brushing down the table, wiping down the rails (which were coated with dust due to the brushing), washing and drying the balls with plain water and paper towels. I felt that I could practice better after doing that. Maybe part of it was working up a sweat from brushing the table. Maybe it was partly a Zen thing.

At the Derby City 14.1 this year, the balls were polished every hour or so (by hand, using Aramith ball polish), and the table was wiped down with a damp towel several times per day. (My apologies to the hotel laundry.)

Bob
A little side note on clean tables and clean balls. I was talking to a room owner with bar boxes - about 25 in all. He had a guy make sure the tables were level, no dead rails, cleaned the tables and balls --- everyday and recovered the tables with simonis every 3-4 months. Reason other than keep the customers happy, was "if cloth is clean and balls are clean the cloth is faster ---- balls are pocketed faster --- and the quarters drop into the table faster" It was all economics - he made more money even with paying a guy to take care of the tables and recovering them often!

JoeW
05-04-2007, 03:31 PM
3and stop wrote, “I've gone so far as consider hypnotism to help concentrate. If I wasn't such I "non believer" in it, I'd spend the bucks and try. It is truly frustrating when you know you have the talent to play very well, but inconsistencies throw that huge wrench in the works.”

I am a psych and have used hypnosis with myself and others for many years until I retired. I have something for you to consider. Every time you get lost in a TV show or a movie or a good book or a game of pool you are “hypnotized.” By “lost” I mean someone calls your name, like you spouse, and you do not answer. They raise their voice a little and you still don’t answer, finally, they raise their voice another notch and it gets your attention. You say something to the effect, “Sorry, I just wasn’t paying attention.” That is exactly what hypnosis amounts to, an altered state of awareness. Most pool players do not realize that they thoroughly enjoy being hypnotized !

In this state people have had surgery with no anesthesia and ignored the pain that accompanied the surgical procedure. I have had traumatized crime victims recall significant aspects of a crime, such as license plate numbers on a fleeing car in the dead of night and many other “amazing” things.

So what can you do with it as a pool player. There are several things. As you know much of pool playing is under automatic control and you can teach your self to relax, concentrate better (as you suggest you might need) and allow the body to develop better fundamental techniques. Hypnosis will not turn an untalented person into a concert violinist, nor will it help you become a touring pro. It can help you overcome many glitches in your ability and it can be used to refine what you have.

You can get books on self hypnosis or see a licensed psychologist who specializes in the use of hypnosis (not all do) and you need to ask if they have APA certified training, if not look elsewhere. If you do talk with a certified Ph.D. you will need to be fairly specific with regard to what you want to accomplish, such as enhanced concentration at the pool table. The assistance would amount to showing you how to initiate an altered state and then using a graduated list of self suggestions to improve your concentration.

On the other hand, there is good evidence that everything that can be done with hypnosis can be done without hypnosis using “other” techniques for learning. There are techniques that can be used to improve concentration and psychologists who specialize in learning theory can be of assistance. The up side to all of this lies in the idea that with a specific problem identified, the techniques for changing behavior are fairly explicit and easy to learn. One or two consultations and you can do most of it on your own.

Contrary to what some people think, hypnosis is not dangerous. Your spouse could not get you to kill the dog when you are “lost” in a good book because such a suggestion would immediately get your full attention. Now if you wanted to kill the dog …

BTW some of the best subjects for hypnosis are intelligent creative people who do not think that hypnosis will work.

Oh should have added a licensed psych will charge about $150.00 and hour and you might need two hours of his or her time.

Jack Madden
05-04-2007, 03:55 PM
3and stop wrote, “I've gone so far as consider hypnotism to help concentrate. If I wasn't such I "non believer" in it, I'd spend the bucks and try. It is truly frustrating when you know you have the talent to play very well, but inconsistencies throw that huge wrench in the works.”

I am a psych and have used hypnosis with myself and others for many years until I retired. I have something for you to consider. Every time you get lost in a TV show or a movie or a good book or a game of pool you are “hypnotized.” By “lost” I mean someone calls your name, like you spouse, and you do not answer. They raise their voice a little and you still don’t answer, finally, they raise their voice another notch and it gets your attention. You say something to the effect, “Sorry, I just wasn’t paying attention.” That is exactly what hypnosis amounts to, an altered state of awareness. Most pool players do not realize that they thoroughly enjoy being hypnotized !

In this state people have had surgery with no anesthesia and ignored the pain that accompanied the surgical procedure. I have had traumatized crime victims recall significant aspects of a crime, such as license plate numbers on a fleeing car in the dead of night and many other “amazing” things.

So what can you do with it as a pool player. There are several things. As you know much of pool playing is under automatic control and you can teach your self to relax, concentrate better (as you suggest you might need) and allow the body to develop better fundamental techniques. Hypnosis will not turn an untalented person into a concert violinist, nor will it help you become a touring pro. It can help you overcome many glitches in your ability and it can be used to refine what you have.

You can get books on self hypnosis or see a licensed psychologist who specializes in the use of hypnosis (not all do) and you need to ask if they have APA certified training, if not look elsewhere. If you do talk with a certified Ph.D. you will need to be fairly specific with regard to what you want to accomplish, such as enhanced concentration at the pool table. The assistance would amount to showing you how to initiate an altered state and then using a graduated list of self suggestions to improve your concentration.

On the other hand, there is good evidence that everything that can be done with hypnosis can be done without hypnosis using “other” techniques for learning. There are techniques that can be used to improve concentration and psychologists who specialize in learning theory can be of assistance. The up side to all of this lies in the idea that with a specific problem identified, the techniques for changing behavior are fairly explicit and easy to learn. One or two consultations and you can do most of it on your own.

Contrary to what some people think, hypnosis is not dangerous. Your spouse could not get you to kill the dog when you are “lost” in a good book because such a suggestion would immediately get your full attention. Now if you wanted to kill the dog …

BTW some of the best subjects for hypnosis are intelligent creative people who do not think that hypnosis will work.

So if you practice long enough and hard enough, your body/muscles remember the moves for the "perfect shot", then you can get in the ZONE ("lost" or "hypnotized") and play. Oh, I do realize I thoroughly enjoy being hypnotized - in fact I love it. There is nothing (well almost nothing) better than being in the ZONE playing pool. I think it is the attraction that keeps us coming back.

JoeW
05-04-2007, 05:31 PM
Jack Maden wrote "There is nothing (well almost nothing) better than being in the ZONE playing pool. I think it is the attraction that keeps us coming back."

Exactly, the "Zone" = hypnosis and you can learn to get in the zone. Unfortunately, most players think it is something that happens to them and not something that they can induce. It is something that can be learned and called upon at will if (and that is a big IF) the person takes the time to learn. It is like learning to ride a bicycle, it takes time and each person uses their own technique. One way to learn it is to think of other things that make you “zone out” such as reading or a good movie. Then you consciously try to use the same type of concentration.

When I am “hypnotizing” someone I have them intensely focus on the sound of my soothing monotonous voice and perhaps stare at a crack on the ceiling to tire their eyes. The conscious mind gets bored and looks for other stimulation which can be provided with visual cues such as imaging sitting by a pond on a nice day with flowers all around and birds singing. The mind begins to drift and focus on all the pretty sights.

But we do not need other people to learn to get into this state we can do it using our own method. Shooting a repetitive shot until it is automatic and the person is getting bored. Then gently (that is the trick) moving to more interesting visually stimulating shots and the mind loses interest in everything but making balls. Practice this many times and the mind will quickly learn to skip the boring part and get to the fun. To stay in the state, don’t think about anything but the beauty of the play and let yourself simply enjoy the movements of your body and the balls on the table.

Of course eventually we miss a shot and have to go and sit down. But one does not have to completely leave the zone if we keep that focused concentration on the table, nice shots we did make and simply wait. If it is a “long” wait then you drop out of the zone and have to “work” to get back into it.

The interesting thing here is that I have taught many people when several sessions were needed to allow themselves to “instantly” drop into an altered state of consciousness. All that is needed is a trigger. I tell them, when they are in an altered state, that if I raise my hand with the palm towards them, when they are awake, that they will immediately drop to an altered state. It works just about every time if the person is willing.

An individual who has learned “self hypnosis” or how to “zone out” can use the same technique. That is, when I make the first shot and it goes into the pocket I will immediately zone out. Of course it must be practiced and it is easier for some people than for others. It seems that people who perceive a need these techniques find them easier to learn.

I am hijacking this thread so I’ll stop here. My apologies to all who were not interested.

Dan White
05-04-2007, 05:37 PM
Let me expand on this.


Just to expand on your expansion... As some of you might remember, I bought a ball polishing machine a month or two ago. My routine now is to throw the balls in the polisher, wipe down the table and rails with a damp cloth, and burnish the cue shaft with a leather pad. My game has improved A LOT since doing this. One of the things I notice is that when two balls collide gently, they actually move away from each other. In the past, the dirt on the balls/cloth would cause the balls to contact, and then just kind of rock in place. A 1/4" separation between two balls, instead of having them frozen, makes a big difference.

dwhite

CreeDo
05-04-2007, 08:11 PM
No worries about the hijack, I'm glad the thread's generating some discussion.

So far what I can take away from this is:

- The equipment I have is prolly fine, but I'd do well to personally brush the cloth and polish the balls before a session, and maybe even more than once per session

- Focus on making the break shot like any other shot and ignore the rack (advice I've gotten before and I've gotten decent at, but I still miss I think just cuz my pocketing percentage for awkward cuts is a bit below average)

- Make sure I really do have SOMETHING on the cueball when it hits the rack, whether it's follow or draw... cuz if I have nothing, and/or the equipment isn't clean, I will stick to the side

- Follow isn't necessarily the go-to automatic english you should put on the shot.

So I still have some questions:

1. My understanding of sidespin is that aside from throwing a ball into the pocket (that otherwise can't be made without spin) I should only be using it to control how the cue ball interacts with rails. But a lot of players advocate using a little outside in their breakshots, regardless of follow or draw, even if they're planning on not touching a rail.

Is this to avoid skid? I've seen skid and I know outside english can help avoid it, but it seems to me that skid never happens at high speeds (like the speed almost any break shot will go at). If that's true, why bother with the outside? I can see it if you expect the cueball will hit a rail, and outside will bring it more toward the middle, but I don't see the use otherwise. Some players almost talk like it will help get the ball out of the rack but I don't understand how.

2. When you decide to use follow or draw, is it based on kind of the overall highness or lowness of the cueball in relation to the rack? i.e. if I'm gonna hit the top 3 balls, I draw, bottom 3 balls, I follow? Or is it more about the specific side of the specific ball you expect the cueball to hit? I.e. I'm gonna hit the bottom of one of the balls, so I follow, or I'm gonna hit the middle/top of that ball, so I draw? One commentator said it works like this: if it's a backward cut, like the cueball is closer to the rail than the break ball is, then follow. If it's not a backward cut (cueball same distance or further from the rail than the break ball) then draw. Yet another said if it's really close to the rack, always draw because there's a good chance of scratching otherwise, and if it's really far from the rack always follow cuz it's moving sort of perpendicular to the scratch line, so a scratch is very unlikely. What the heck is the right decision when it comes to follow or draw?!

3. Should I worry all that much about the key ball or should I just focus on getting the rack 100% opened up, then if it's convenient and I'm down to 5 or so balls, I can pick out and save a key ball?

3andstop
05-04-2007, 09:11 PM
Here's what I use as a rule of thumb on a standard type break shot with the break ball along side the rack and the cue ball up stream a little. If the cue ball is closer to the long rail than the object ball I use follow. If the OB is closer to the rail I use a little draw to avoid following the cue into the corner pocket. I may adjust this if for example the OB is closer to the rail but its low and I'm going to contact the bottom of the rack with the CB. Then I follow anyway.

I'd like to hear view on this. I say as little english as possible but sometimes outside can help roll the cb off the rack and sometimes (depending on the angle the CB goes into the rack it can eat too far in. Conversly, there are times when some inside helps "pop" the cue ball off the rack. Overall I think less is better and making the shot is higher percentage for me without lots of sidespin.

selftaut
05-05-2007, 03:51 AM
Here's what I use as a rule of thumb on a standard type break shot with the break ball along side the rack and the cue ball up stream a little. If the cue ball is closer to the long rail than the object ball I use follow. If the OB is closer to the rail I use a little draw to avoid following the cue into the corner pocket. I may adjust this if for example the OB is closer to the rail but its low and I'm going to contact the bottom of the rack with the CB. Then I follow anyway.

I'd like to hear view on this. I say as little english as possible but sometimes outside can help roll the cb off the rack and sometimes (depending on the angle the CB goes into the rack it can eat too far in. Conversly, there are times when some inside helps "pop" the cue ball off the rack. Overall I think less is better and making the shot is higher percentage for me without lots of sidespin.

I use the exact same technique , but I do like to use a tip off outside on all my draw shots , to roll off the rack like you mentioned, it works for me but may not for others , my local hall where I play uses slow equipment , slow mali cloth and old old balls that seem to always be dirty and the next hall is 30 miles away so I tend to go there due to time constraints, I am looking for 1 or 2 shots off a break shot.

mnorwood
05-05-2007, 08:14 AM
Clean balls, fast cloth and tight racking make the most difference in my opinion. The big concern is how much the balls open from any given break.

CreeDo
05-05-2007, 03:53 PM
it'd be nice if it turns out the clean equipment makes a big difference. I'll try everyone's advice and maybe I'll be able to report what helped the most.

PS: Neitzsche roffles!

realkingcobra
05-11-2007, 08:06 PM
860 is not the cloth for playing straight pool, 760 is. Racks don't open up very well on 860 for continued ball making. The 860 tour blue isn't as bad as the 860 green, but 760 is the best for ease of spreading out the rack with slight cue ball contact. I've played 14.1 for more than 30 years, but when Simonis came out with the 860, it almost killed my interest in playing 14.1.

Glen

CreeDo
05-13-2007, 05:16 PM
I'm almost glad to read that cuz I always felt like when I try controlled breaks they hardly open, and if I hit it hard enough to open them I end up sitting on the head rail. I don't get to play on 760 much, but it sounds like it might make a big difference.

The thing is, do you know of pool halls where everything is 760? What's the cost difference for a 9 footer? We have only one 760 table, and it's sort of the owner's pet table and nobody else can touch it. He tried a deal for a while where people could pay an annual fee to play on it, and in return he keeps it up perfectly and keeps it in 760, but that hasn't really panned out. What can a player do to convince his room owner to go with 760? Or is it just a waste of time because teenagers and drunks will just tear it up and he's just throwing away money?

VIProfessor
05-18-2007, 01:22 PM
I'm almost glad to read that cuz I always felt like when I try controlled breaks they hardly open, and if I hit it hard enough to open them I end up sitting on the head rail. I don't get to play on 760 much, but it sounds like it might make a big difference.

The thing is, do you know of pool halls where everything is 760? What's the cost difference for a 9 footer? We have only one 760 table, and it's sort of the owner's pet table and nobody else can touch it. He tried a deal for a while where people could pay an annual fee to play on it, and in return he keeps it up perfectly and keeps it in 760, but that hasn't really panned out. What can a player do to convince his room owner to go with 760? Or is it just a waste of time because teenagers and drunks will just tear it up and he's just throwing away money?

As a former room owner I can tell you that your chances of getting a room owner to cover all the tables with 760 are slim to none--and Slim left town. While 860 is a little slower than 760 (not enough to make straight pool not worth playing on it IMHO), it is much more durable. Furthermore, I would suspect that in 99.9% of the rooms in the country, the percentage of customers who play straight pool regularly is so small that it just wouldn't make a positive difference to most of the clientele who will be banging around playing 8-ball and 9-ball. In fact, changing to 760 will likely bring about loud complaints from bangers who will say the cloth is too fast for them and they can't control the cue ball. The tables that I have seen where 760 was installed have generally been reserved for straights and one pocket, and this seems to be a wise move on the part of any poolroom owner.

I really don't think that playing straight pool on 860 should be a huge problem. After all, to the best of my knowledge, the cloth used during the great straight pool era was significantly slower than the 760 or the 860. For that reason, classic straight pool players tended to break out a few balls on the break shot rather than splatter it open, and then they would use secondary break shots to move other balls out of the rack area.

On the question of when to use draw and follow on the break shot, allow me to pass on some advice that I picked up in a post a couple months ago. The poster (whose name I don't remember) said that George Mikulas, the great NYC straight pool player, taught him that if the tangent line from the break ball goes to the bottom half of a ball in the rack, you should generally use draw to back the cue ball up to the center of the table. If, on the other hand, the tangent line points to the top half of the said ball in the stack, you should use some follow to prevent the ball from going too far uptable. For the middle of the object ball, your choice will largely depend on the angle at which you are going into the rack. Obviously, this advice refers to your standard side of the rack break shot.

I've been using this imparted knowledge for the last couple months and it has immensely improved my control of the cue ball off the break. I am almost never left without a shot after the break these days, and I owe it to George Mikulas and the poster who passed on this wonderful tidbit.

CreeDo
05-19-2007, 08:23 AM
That's some excellent advice :D I always wondered what the secret was... thanks.

Yeah, I came to figure out that the problem isn't really that the tables are too slow, the speed is fine. I think there are some problems where stuff sticks to the rack because the balls and table are dirty, and there are little divots everywhere near the rack area that cause the cueball to settle into place. It probably wouldn't stop a pro from running 100 but it seems to stop me from running 30. Anyway I guess we're lucky to have the one 760 table even though hardly anyone gets to play on it. Thanks again for the useful info =)

Kevin
05-20-2007, 07:52 AM
Two other items to consider...

Are you hitting your break shots with too much speed? Many breaks are not really designed to splatter the stack wide open, but instead to just peel off 4-7 balls or so then work on a secondary break shot. One symptom for this disease is often getting more than 2 balls or the cue ball past the center pockets... the table for good 14-1 often looks like weak 8-ball players broke the rack. Another symptom of hitting breaks too hard may be excessive clusters on the rail. I found Grady Mathew's Accu-Stats video "Key Balls, Break Shots" really useful in demonstrating the goals, cuing, English, and speed for each of the major types of breaks.

I got the impression from an earlier post you may be hitting them too hard in general... do you find yourself bumping balls accidentally and creating clusters? Possibly George Fels advice #1 is "I just know you are hitting them too hard..." With the right fullish angles and very little cueball movement, you can surgically pick apart racks with great control. Key balls well selected and ending in stop shot patterns ensure you get the right angle and distance on the break shots... rather than ending up with thinner hits at distance that makes any shooting percentage drop.

Last item for the bookshelf: Though I like George Fel's books and recommend them, if there were only one straight pool book you could own, I found Capelle's "play your best straight pool" is comprensive and insightful. Haven't found the Babe Cranfield book yet.

Blackjack
05-20-2007, 08:30 AM
Jack Maden wrote "There is nothing (well almost nothing) better than being in the ZONE playing pool. I think it is the attraction that keeps us coming back."

Exactly, the "Zone" = hypnosis and you can learn to get in the zone. Unfortunately, most players think it is something that happens to them and not something that they can induce. It is something that can be learned and called upon at will if (and that is a big IF) the person takes the time to learn. It is like learning to ride a bicycle, it takes time and each person uses their own technique. One way to learn it is to think of other things that make you “zone out” such as reading or a good movie. Then you consciously try to use the same type of concentration.

When I am “hypnotizing” someone I have them intensely focus on the sound of my soothing monotonous voice and perhaps stare at a crack on the ceiling to tire their eyes. The conscious mind gets bored and looks for other stimulation which can be provided with visual cues such as imaging sitting by a pond on a nice day with flowers all around and birds singing. The mind begins to drift and focus on all the pretty sights.

But we do not need other people to learn to get into this state we can do it using our own method. Shooting a repetitive shot until it is automatic and the person is getting bored. Then gently (that is the trick) moving to more interesting visually stimulating shots and the mind loses interest in everything but making balls. Practice this many times and the mind will quickly learn to skip the boring part and get to the fun. To stay in the state, don’t think about anything but the beauty of the play and let yourself simply enjoy the movements of your body and the balls on the table.

Of course eventually we miss a shot and have to go and sit down. But one does not have to completely leave the zone if we keep that focused concentration on the table, nice shots we did make and simply wait. If it is a “long” wait then you drop out of the zone and have to “work” to get back into it.

The interesting thing here is that I have taught many people when several sessions were needed to allow themselves to “instantly” drop into an altered state of consciousness. All that is needed is a trigger. I tell them, when they are in an altered state, that if I raise my hand with the palm towards them, when they are awake, that they will immediately drop to an altered state. It works just about every time if the person is willing.

An individual who has learned “self hypnosis” or how to “zone out” can use the same technique. That is, when I make the first shot and it goes into the pocket I will immediately zone out. Of course it must be practiced and it is easier for some people than for others. It seems that people who perceive a need these techniques find them easier to learn.

I am hijacking this thread so I’ll stop here. My apologies to all who were not interested.

Joe,

no hijack here - I credit the work I did with Ryan Elliot (author of Overcoming Contenderosis) as one of the best investments I ever made in my life. Ryan is a good friend of mine, and I highly recommend hypnosis for anyone that wishes to overcome certain obstacles in their game and their mindset.