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View Full Version : A question for the instructors here


mikepage
10-17-2007, 07:52 PM
I'm interested in anyone's opinion, but I''m particularly interested in the opinions of Randy G., Scott L., Mark Avlon, Bob Jewett, Blackjack, Steve (pooltcher), and any other instructors we have here.

Suppose a decent but not great player (say an APA 7 who has run 60 balls in straight pool) comes to you and says he wants to devote more time to his game after playing for a decade at more-or less the same level. He says he's willing to take one lesson or several, whatever you think he needs.

You note there are many things pretty solid about his game with a few exceptions. You note, say, that his eye patterns are messed up, and you decide you want to work on that for sure.

The main other thing you note is he has a pronounced chicken-wing stroke (his elbow sticks way out). When you look for problems, though, you find the stick moves completely straight for follow shots, draw shots, soft shots, hard shots, etc.

After fixing the eye pattern stuff and tuning up his game and practice in other ways, do you send him away with his chicken wing stroke or do you resolve to change it?

**********

Then I have the same question for a sidearm stroke.

SPINDOKTOR
10-17-2007, 08:40 PM
any player, all you can give is the fundamentals, although Im sure you need to be confortable while at the table, I will not condone bad habbits. That is unless your a touring professional.


SPINDOKTOR

George Fels
10-17-2007, 08:55 PM
Skill at ALL forms of pool boils down to the ability to bring the cue straight through the cue ball. If your student requires an unorthodox stance to accomplish that consistently, I'd leave it be. Be glad it's not a crooked stroke you have to correct. (A 60-ball runner whose game has plateaued frequently has more problems between his ears than on the table.) GF

Scott Lee
10-17-2007, 09:10 PM
I'd have to agree with George. If the student can move the cuestick in a straight line, and has an accurate, repeatable setup and delivery process, I'd work with them on an effective eye pattern, and perhaps S.A.M. Several very highly skilled players (including some semi-pro and pro players) have jumped on S.A.M. like a duck takes to water...and loved it!

A perfect example: I worked with a student in VA, who had this sort of 'chicken wing' with his elbow. However, he saw a straight line, where he lined his cue up under his face, and he could deliver the cue in a straight line, regardless of stroke speed. I refused to insist that he change it. Another "BCA instructor" was watching this lesson, and called me over to the side, to ask me why I wasn't 'fixing' his bowed out elbow. I told him it wasn't necessary...to which he stated flatly that I didn't know what I was doing, and needed to fix that flaw (after all, he WAS a BCA Certified instructor...so he told me! :D ). I told him so was I, and in a nice way, to mind his own business...and he walked away. Later the student mentioned that this 'instructor' had been hounding him for months to get him to take lessons. LOL

My motto: Don't try to fix something that isn't broken. A consistent, accurate and repeatable stroke is the goal...however you attain it!

Scott Lee
www.poolknowledge.com

SPINDOKTOR
10-17-2007, 09:29 PM
I'd have to agree with George. If the student can move the cuestick in a straight line, and has an accurate, repeatable setup and delivery process, I'd work with them on an effective eye pattern, and perhaps S.A.M. Several very highly skilled players (including some semi-pro and pro players) have jumped on S.A.M. like a duck takes to water...and loved it!

A perfect example: I worked with a student in VA, who had this sort of 'chicken wing' with his elbow. However, he saw a straight line, where he lined his cue up under his face, and he could deliver the cue in a straight line, regardless of stroke speed. I refused to insist that he change it. Another "BCA instructor" was watching this lesson, and called me over to the side, to ask me why I wasn't 'fixing' his bowed out elbow. I told him it wasn't necessary...to which he stated flatly that I didn't know what I was doing, and needed to fix that flaw (after all, he WAS a BCA Certified instructor...so he told me! :D ). I told him so was I, and in a nice way, to mind his own business...and he walked away. Later the student mentioned that this 'instructor' had been hounding him for months to get him to take lessons. LOL

My motto: Don't try to fix something that isn't broken. A consistent, accurate and repeatable stroke is the goal...however you attain it!

Scott Lee
www.poolknowledge.com





Scott, I dont mean to try to rebuke everything you say, I really enjoy your posts, but do me a favor, read this and tell me Im wrong. I coach football, as well as pool, and possibly basketball,(havent decided just yet) My job is to nail the fundaments, without teaching proper technique I wouldnt be much of a coach, this year the big problem in football was blocking, everyone thought they knew how to block and really didnt listen, now playing mediocore opponets this didnt pose much of a problem, but what happened when we played a well coached and disiplined team?
we were absolutely hammered, our QB spent most of the time on his back, why? the lineman felt confortable, but couldnt get the job done in a pinch. we lost 42-8 and we had better speed.


this is what im trying to get through,although the player you instruct may improve from your teaching, are you really being fair by letting them walk out the door with shotty fundaments? In a pich, when thier metal is tested, Fundaments is what you rely on to get you through, shear talent will not win the day, you need to be focoused, fundamentaly correct, and well coached. this is true for any sport. While I admitt first and foremost Im a Football coach, I also devote some time teaching the game to those whom ask, useualy for table time, you on the other hand are giving lessons, and accepting money so with all due respect, a chicken wing my student will not have.


SPINDOKTOR

P.s. >>> Im not BCA certified, I do have to have excellent PR skills being a coach, that doesnt mean I need to be passive and let the player do what they feel is correct. thats why Im the coach.

Scott Lee
10-17-2007, 09:36 PM
I will instruct someone, using video analysis, and show them what's good, and what can be improved. However, consistency, accuracy, repeatability, and sustainability is the goal. If a student has those four things in their stroke, I am not going to try to get them to change it. Most students are lacking in one or more variables. For them we do focus on exact proper mechanics. There are exceptions to every rule, but in general I agree with your viewpoint. This particular student was a rare exception.

Scott Lee

MastersMaster
10-17-2007, 09:46 PM
I think you are kind of barking up the wrong tree with that analogy. I am a student of Scott's, and will say that he is way beyond competant. The man knows what he is doing and does it well. Not everyone strokes like Efren. What matters most is repeatability and consistancy of the stroke. Keith McCready is a great example. Would you dare try to alter his mechanics and stroke even though he has a far better game that many of us could dream of having?

Students seek Scott's help for the simple fact that he is as advertised, a quality instructor. On top of that, Scott is most noted as a stroke instructor. Therefore, if he is reluctant to alter some things, I am sure he has good reason. Trust me, if it needed corrected, he would correct it.

SPINDOKTOR
10-17-2007, 09:58 PM
I think you are kind of barking up the wrong tree with that analogy. I am a student of Scott's, and will say that he is way beyond competant. The man knows what he is doing and does it well. Not everyone strokes like Efren. What matters most is repeatability and consistancy of the stroke. Keith McCready is a great example. Would you dare try to alter his mechanics and stroke even though he has a far better game that many of us could dream of having?

Students seek Scott's help for the simple fact that he is as advertised, a quality instructor. On top of that, Scott is most noted as a stroke instructor. Therefore, if he is reluctant to alter some things, I am sure he has good reason. Trust me, if it needed corrected, he would correct it.


Yes, I know he is a great instructor, that why I mentioned what I did, I didnt want people get the wrong impression, Scott is close enough that I have been considering lessons myself. So Im not trying to discredit Scott, on the contrary.


I do have a question for Scott, I play with a guy who won the Virginia State title a few years back, Beuford is the guy's name, have you met?


SPINDOKTOR

Skeezicks
10-17-2007, 11:54 PM
However, consistency, accuracy, repeatability, and sustainability is the goal. Consistency would encompass repeatability and sustainability, imo.

jus' pickin' :)

pooltchr
10-18-2007, 05:44 AM
Just for the record, I would agree with Scott. If there is a flaw in mechanics that is causing a problem, you must address it. If someone has a consistant, repeatable stroke that doesn't look "textbook", but is delivering the cue forward in a straight line every time, leave it alone.
Steve

rikdee
10-18-2007, 05:54 AM
Skill at ALL forms of pool boils down to the ability to bring the cue straight through the cue ball. If your student requires an unorthodox stance to accomplish that consistently, I'd leave it be. Be glad it's not a crooked stroke you have to correct. (A 60-ball runner whose game has plateaued frequently has more problems between his ears than on the table.) GF


George,

Have read and enjoyed your commentary for more years than I care to mention. I must say your second sentence above is very perceptive and I would agree fully. Ask me how I know.

_Rick

Scott Lee
10-18-2007, 05:57 AM
Consistency would encompass repeatability and sustainability, imo.

jus' pickin' :)

Not necessarily Skeeziks...a player could be consistent, but with a poor process...meaning that they setup and deliver the same way, but make the same errors over and over, causing misses. Repeatability means I can deliver the same accurate stroke over and over. Sustainability means I can come with that same stroke, under pressure, on the first try. If we got three tries we'd all be Efren! :D Now, an accurate, repeatable stroke will definitely enhance your consistently higher level of play!

Scott Lee
www.poolknowledge.com

Scott Lee
10-18-2007, 06:00 AM
I do have a question for Scott, I play with a guy who won the Virginia State title a few years back, Beuford is the guy's name, have you met?


SPINDOKTOR

It's certainly possible! I've met several of the top players in VA. Is he from the Richmond area?

Scott Lee
www.poolknowledge.com

Patrick Johnson
10-18-2007, 06:01 AM
A 60-ball runner whose game has plateaued frequently has more problems between his ears than on the table.

I'd just like to give props to George for being the first poster on any pool forum that I know of who not only used "plateaued" correctly in a sentence but spelled it rite too.

pj
chgo

Patrick Johnson
10-18-2007, 06:21 AM
...do you send him away with his chicken wing stroke or do you resolve to change it?

I think it depends on more than just how successful the stroke already is (as others have mentioned). It also depends on:

- how much is already invested in the current stroke (has it been developed over decades?)

- how much is the player willing to invest in fixing it (weeks, months, years?)

- how the "awkward phase" of retooling will affect the player (is that stroke his professional source of income?) [Not an issue in Mike's example.]

- the player's goals (does he want to remove all impediments to unlimited progress or just get quick fixes for glaring problems?)

- and, maybe most difficult to figure, what specific benefit will be gained by fixing the stroke (is it limiting him in some definable way?)

My 2 cents, and worth every penny.

pj
chgo

lfigueroa
10-18-2007, 06:24 AM
After 10 years, you?re not going to successfully rewire the guy. So you work with what you have.

A 60 ball runner already has proven he has a repeatable stroke that may or may not be as straight as he thinks it is. And, just because it?s straight, doesn?t mean it?s straight at all speeds. That needs to be checked too. In any case, a 60 ball runner just hasn?t achieved a sufficient level of precision in his game and is probably drizzling in certain shots, hitting the cushion a diamond from the pocket rather than hitting it square. There?s also probably an issue with CB tracking, with the ball not going perfectly forward on follow shots, and not coming back perfectly straight on draw shots (or off to one side or the other, if that?s what the shot requires). There are probably additional issues with using the center of the cue ball with accuracy and/or maybe rail shots, or something else.

So with that particular player, I don?t think you tear everything apart, instead you look for incremental things that will refine the precision of their play and get them to the 100 ball run level.

Lou Figueroa

Blackjack
10-18-2007, 07:26 AM
Mike

I am not the kind of teacher that tears anything apart. Some players have a set up/stance/stroke that is completely different and definitely not textbook - look at Mike Davis - and others have mentioned Keith McCready. I challenge any instructor to take any student that has the "textbook stroke" and have them move the cue ball with the repeatable smoothness and accuracy that Keith McCready generates. It won't happen.

I was taught a lt about this game by Cisero Murphy, and he had a strange stroke and delivery also, but it worked for him to get the balls in the hole. IMO, that is all that matters.

The key is, anything that could be improved, should be improved, but if he is delivering the ball straight, messing with his stroke could cause more harm than good.

Comfort + Fluidity + Accuracy + Consistency = Don't mess with it.

At that level, and with that amount of advancement of their game, most players will hit a plateau because they don't challenge themsleves to improve. I believe that to be the major problem with these "Level Labels" that the leagues like to pass out. Those lables don't mean a thing and can cause a false sense of security for the "APA7". It can also limit the potential of everybody ranked underneath that level because they are chasing the label, not the excellence required to play this game at the highest level possible. JMO.

To get back to the stroke issue - if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Simple as that.

bomber
10-18-2007, 07:47 AM
I like to compare pool with the baseball swing. I have coached Varsity Level baseball for years and have learned alot.

1. Both sports have swing planes...you must be on the proper swing planes to be succesful.

2. Both sports have many great players who have a variety of swings/strokes.

3. Most the players have certain things in common....eye pattern and straight stokes...however, getting to these points comes in a variety of ways.

4. The overall look of swings/strokes can look totally different, however, there are certain things that all players must do and if you can repeat them successfully and consistently, then how you get there is meaningless.

5. That is why Arods swing and Bonds swings look different...but they accomplish the exact same thing, they just get there differently.

chipperd
10-18-2007, 09:13 AM
Good thing nobody was around to help McCready with his fundamentals, he would have never made pro. ha ha

HittMan
10-18-2007, 09:53 AM
I would like to build on what Patrick began?because I believe this is the correct line of inquiry and a question of volition. So for this post, I will assume this is a player who wants to be great, a champion, because it sounds like that to me?conscious or not.

I completely agree with George that this player?s problem likely resides in his head. The current level of play in the game precludes a casual approach?the game is fairly ?mature? in this sense. Consequently, the first hurdle for any would-be champion is the double edged question of ambivalence.

I recently heard a great quote that I strongly believe to be true??if you love something, it will tell you its secrets?. This player must love the game AND be willing dedicate himself to become a champion?.it would be far better if this dedication was a conscious choice but not absolutely necessary because actions speak louder than words. I?m sure we have all heard the stories about Efren sleeping on his pool table?his was not a casual approach?he was playing for keeps?possibly by choice, possibly not. Dedication to a process removes questions like the one about the ?chicken wing? stroke because the question ?How can I NOT change this?? replaces ?Should I change this??. Dedication removes doubts and fears about risk and ability (confidence).

I also believe that to be successful in a mature game this player will have to resolve the ever present issues of discipline. He must practice to build ability and confidence, rest to perform at his peak, avoid the traps of drugs/alcohol, and project the image of a Champion (often we must become who we want to be before we actually are). He must develop the character of a winner and refuse to be denied?sustainability over the course of hours/days/months and the long years. He will build a career on the simple foundation of his daily acts. Few achieve greatness accidentally and fewer still become a contradiction of their daily choices.

SO?do you address the ?chicken wing?? That depends on you. I have a hard time advising a young player to follow that dream because of the uncertainty inherent in the game, but how else will you know what could have been? To answer that question you must answer this question.

Just my opinion?you be the judge.

Hittman
Andy Bruce
Take a Hitt out on ?em!

goettlicher
10-18-2007, 10:12 AM
Hi Guys.

I sat back and just watched all the comments as they were posted. I'm impressed with all the answers to the question.

The real question is; what are proper fundamentals? And for whom?

Scott said it right. George hit it on the head. Blackjack summed it up perfectly.

In pool there is no cookie cutter that will work for all. Same for all sports.

When I see an error (like the C-wing) I simply ask myself, can this person play better with out the C-wing????? Many times it's something else that stops him from getting better and that's my job to figure out.

If a player moves his cue in a straight line to his target every time and does so even under pressure, leave his stroke alone. Work on what's wrong.

Mike, this is a GREAT Thread....thanks....SPF=randyg

Scott Lee
10-18-2007, 10:47 AM
I'd just like to give props to George for being the first poster on any pool forum that I know of who not only used "plateaued" correctly in a sentence but spelled it rite too.

pj
chgo

Fortunately, George, as an author, also knows how to spell "right"...as in correct! :D :D :D Sorry Pat, couldn't resist!

Scott Lee
www.poolknowledge.com

Patrick Johnson
10-18-2007, 11:02 AM
Scott:
Fortunately, George, as an author, also knows how to spell "right"...as in correct! Sorry Pat, couldn't resist!

At least you noticed. Guess this isn't the right room for spelling jokes.

BTW, George is also a college professor and a denizen of Chris's.

pj <- just wanted to use "denizen" in the same thread as "plateaued"
chgo

mikepage
10-18-2007, 11:25 AM
previously, Pat said,

I'd just like to give props to George for being the first poster on any pool forum that I know of who not only used "plateaued" correctly in a sentence but spelled it rite too.



At least you noticed. Guess this isn't the right room for spelling jokes.

BTW, George is also a college professor and a denizen of Chris's.

pj <- just wanted to use "denizen" in the same thread as "plateaued"
chgo


I noticed too Pat.

But when I saw "rite" was misspelled, I expected it to be misused as well. I figured you were thinking "right" as an adverb should be "rightly." Then I looked it up and discovered you actually did it corect. So I figured you must have just been a little tired this morning.

pooltchr
10-18-2007, 12:37 PM
correctly????
Steve

Patrick Johnson
10-18-2007, 01:30 PM
I figured you were thinking "right" as an adverb should be "rightly." Then I looked it up and discovered you actually did it corect.

LOL (I noticed, Mike).

Since I used the rite word rong for the double joke, does that mean I got three jokes into one word and still hold the AZB record? (Or do I have to tell the truth?)

pj
chgo

HollyWood
10-18-2007, 02:33 PM
How about Hoppe for example Best read ever from billiard Encyclopedia mark

Neil
10-18-2007, 04:14 PM
....................

3kushn
10-18-2007, 04:19 PM
Not necessarily Skeeziks...a player could be consistent, but with a poor process...meaning that they setup and deliver the same way, but make the same errors over and over, causing misses. Repeatability means I can deliver the same accurate stroke over and over. Sustainability means I can come with that same stroke, under pressure, on the first try. If we got three tries we'd all be Efren! :D Now, an accurate, repeatable stroke will definitely enhance your consistently higher level of play!

Scott Lee
www.poolknowledge.com
Not an instructor here but just want to offer something.
In my business I call on manufacturers that brag of their ISO 9000 or 9001 certification. Most people think this Guarantees ?High Quality? product or service but in reality all this guarantees is a "Consistent Process" Therefore if your process produces junk then every unit will consistently be Junk.

So considering the Chicken Wing issue. The mans process is consistently good regardless of what it looks like. As Mike did he corrected some other issues that he felt would help the mans game. Give this some time to sink in and if there's still no improvement then maybe try to correct the chicken wing but only if you?re absolutely sure it?s an issue.

Final comment: We're all trying to improve. I'm sure Willie Hoppe was always trying to improve. Would we start with correcting Willie's arm position?

MastersMaster
10-18-2007, 07:33 PM
I'd just like to give props to George for being the first poster on any pool forum that I know of who not only used "plateaued" correctly in a sentence but spelled it rite too.

pj
chgo

Before you start passing out grades for spelling, you may might want to work on your spelling Professor Johnson. In this example of usage, rite is spelled as right. Work on the punctuation too.

Patrick Johnson
10-19-2007, 06:18 AM
Before you start passing out grades for spelling, you may might want to work on your spelling Professor Johnson. In this example of usage, rite is spelled as right. Work on the punctuation too.

Yep, rong wroom.

Sorry, punctuation jokes would be too deep even for me.

pj
chgo

Snoogi
10-19-2007, 06:43 AM
Great scald..we used it so often in chats..I didn't even know until I checked the dictionary..rite is totally a different meaning from right..

Mark Avlon
10-19-2007, 05:09 PM
There isn't enough information in Mike's hypothetical question to give a complete answer, since each student is different. They have different personalities, goals, motivations, and different levels of willingness to learn and try new things, etc.

As an instructor, I feel it is my obligation to discuss all areas that could be improved with the player, but that doesn't mean that I'd suggest that the player correct them. Being aware of the issue and the possible problems it can create, and knowing how to correct it is very important regardless if the player wants or can make the changes at the time. This is like a mechanic telling a customer that came in for a tune up, that their breaks are worn and the break pads should be replaced. It's not a problem today, but it might be tomorrow.

I will also let them know that changes made to correct the issue might cause their game to slip, and that in pressure situations; the issue is likely to reoccur.

If they are willing to try correcting the issues, as the hypothetical player is, we would give it a try. Depending on how well the player accepts the changes, I might encourage them to continue working on it, or I might suggest that they leave it alone for now, and address it if it becomes an issue.