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A Dying Breed - 11-22-2019, 10:04 AM

Down in the instructor forum a thread came up regarding position play, whether a player should focus on pinpoint position or approximate position that leaves multiple options. Of course, if you can regularly run racks, you know it takes a mix of both.

Anyway, the topic drifted into a disagreement about what defines a great shot maker, specifically talking about players that play lousy position but still get out because they can make balls from anywhere. I bet everybody knows at least 1 or 2 players like this. They're usually weekend bar bangers.

So I got to thinking, maybe it's a dying breed, these types of players that can pocket a wide variety shots due to years of playing position that simply gave them another shot, any shot. They have "A" player pocketing skills but "C" player position skills.

With regards to playing position, there's better information available today compared to 25 or so years ago. The principle of "staying on the right side of the ball", for example, wasn't something one found in any instructional book that I know of, at least not until the mid 1990's when Phil Capelle came out with his book, Play Your Best Pool. Prior to that about the only info an aspiring player could gather on position play was "always leave an angle" and "play for the biggest area" within a certain zone for any given shot.

Today, with YouTube and Amazon and AZ Billiards and other prime markets for learning opportunities, more and more players have access to good instructional material. So the great shot-making bar bangers that I'm referring to, the ones that only know one rule for position -- leave another shot, any shot -- might become obsolete.

Or do you think, as I tend to believe, that these players aren't the type to watch youtube lessons or read instructional books or take private lessons from an instructor anyway? I believe they simply enjoy going out and having a few beers, playing a few games of pool with some buddies/friends, and don't care enough about the game to put in any time or extra effort into practice or correct playing habits. But they play enough to eventually become pretty good shot makers, sometimes great shot makers, despite the lack of proper position play


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11-22-2019, 11:18 AM

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Originally Posted by BC21 View Post
Down in the instructor forum a thread came up regarding position play, whether a player should focus on pinpoint position or approximate position that leaves multiple options. Of course, if you can regularly run racks, you know it takes a mix of both.

Anyway, the topic drifted into a disagreement about what defines a great shot maker, specifically talking about players that play lousy position but still get out because they can make balls from anywhere. I bet everybody knows at least 1 or 2 players like this. They're usually weekend bar bangers.

So I got to thinking, maybe it's a dying breed, these types of players that can pocket a wide variety shots due to years of playing position that simply gave them another shot, any shot. They have "A" player pocketing skills but "C" player position skills.

With regards to playing position, there's better information available today compared to 25 or so years ago. The principle of "staying on the right side of the ball", for example, wasn't something one found in any instructional book that I know of, at least not until the mid 1990's when Phil Capelle came out with his book, Play Your Best Pool. Prior to that about the only info an aspiring player could gather on position play was "always leave an angle" and "play for the biggest area" within a certain zone for any given shot.

Today, with YouTube and Amazon and AZ Billiards and other prime markets for learning opportunities, more and more players have access to good instructional material. So the great shot-making bar bangers that I'm referring to, the ones that only know one rule for position -- leave another shot, any shot -- might become obsolete.

Or do you think, as I tend to believe, that these players aren't the type to watch youtube lessons or read instructional books or take private lessons from an instructor anyway? I believe they simply enjoy going out and having a few beers, playing a few games of pool with some buddies/friends, and don't care enough about the game to put in any time or extra effort into practice or correct playing habits. But they play enough to eventually become pretty good shot makers, sometimes great shot makers, despite the lack of proper position play
When I started playing for "lunch money" in 1961, we were taught about position play by the Old Men who worked second shift. I don't think I ever remember consciously separating making a ball and being ready for the next one. That was what you did. But that was just me. There was an Old Man named Bass who could make a ball from anywhere, up to and including the parking lot across the street. Everybody laughed at him under 20 bucks, but they cried when it was over 50. He could shoot.

As you said, there is so much more information available today than in the past. It seems like there are more players today who are positively challenged by a more precise style of play. And it is abundantly clear that the Earls and Efrens and SVBs of the world are gifted shot makers AND position players. They are now, and have been the "role models" that players of their generations have emulated. The net gain in the size of the population of very accomplished players can, I would think, be in part attributable to the influence of their very remarkable gifts. I think the players of today aspire to a higher standard. They know that the best defense against a "lucky" bar banger who can beat you with shotmaking is to have many more arrows in their quiver. Besides, there's something kind of fun about beating a one dimensional player who is a little bit too cocky.

Now, if I was forced to choose one or the other;being a great shot maker or being a great position player, I'd chose being a great shot maker. I just love "ooohs" and "aahs."

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11-22-2019, 11:29 AM

I think the "great shot maker" is a thing of the past. The term was really directed at 9 ball players from one-pocket and 14.1 specialists. In the past, I think you could be a great 14.1 player without truly being a great shot maker. I think of someone like Dick Lane. Not that I ever saw him play bit I've heard stories. Today, with rotation games setting the standard, it's just not possible to hide your pocketing deficiencies.

Even at the lower levels, I just don't see any players that can pocket balls really well but don't understand how to move the cue ball around.
  
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11-22-2019, 11:45 AM

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Or do you think, as I tend to believe, that these players aren't the type to watch youtube lessons or read instructional books or take private lessons from an instructor anyway? I believe they simply enjoy going out and having a few beers, playing a few games of pool with some buddies/friends, and don't care enough about the game to put in any time or extra effort into practice or correct playing habits. But they play enough to eventually become pretty good shot makers, sometimes great shot makers, despite the lack of proper position play
Yes, that's kind of the way I think of it. Put them on a bigger table or a long set and they're often lost though.



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11-22-2019, 11:56 AM

They won't become obsolete. I know plenty of people who love the game and don't seek out anyway to improve their game. They play the same level pool today as they did years ago.

My friend was just over to play, he's a better bar room player. I said let me show you just a couple things and have you run a couple drills. Simple basic stuff like how to make a ball and come off the rail for position. Nope, not interested. I just saw him fail at a leave off the rail that was basic knowledge. In 30 minutes I could give his game a major jump, or at least get him well on his way. I'll just keep hounding him about his crappy bridge. If I can break that habit, I'll have accomplished something.

A player can have all the knowledge and still not play well whether it be position play or pocketing balls or both.


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11-22-2019, 12:05 PM

So if todays players are better position players they dont need to be great shotmakers?

Dick Lane could flat out play. Ask the guys that played on the McDermott tour about Dick's 9 ball game.

Randy G can verify Dick's skillset.


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11-22-2019, 12:08 PM

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Originally Posted by BasementDweller View Post
I think the "great shot maker" is a thing of the past. The term was really directed at 9 ball players from one-pocket and 14.1 specialists. In the past, I think you could be a great 14.1 player without truly being a great shot maker. I think of someone like Dick Lane. Not that I ever saw him play bit I've heard stories. Today, with rotation games setting the standard, it's just not possible to hide your pocketing deficiencies.

Even at the lower levels, I just don't see any players that can pocket balls really well but don't understand how to move the cue ball around.
Could it be just a backwoods phenomenon? I mean places where there's no internet connection, no "online" shopping for instruction, no YouTube, no pool forum.
Placed where there are no local poolhalls or instructors. There's only the bar down the road with its one or two barboxes. And after years of Friday and Saturday nights drinking and banging balls with little regard for cb control, you become very good at just making shots.

That's the way it was when I started playing, and it's still like that in many places. I know two local guys in the VNEA league that can flat out make about any shot they see, but they don't play position, other than just trying to get the cb where they'll have another shot. If you leave them the last 5 to 7 balls in a game of 8ball, they'll likely runout if they're lucky enough to not get hooked. It'll be an upside down runout straight from hell, whizzing in shots that'll make you wanna laugh. And they do it so often that you can't help being a little impressed. But I wonder why they don't learn to control the cb better, as most of us eventually learned to do.


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11-22-2019, 12:10 PM

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........

Now, if I was forced to choose one or the other;being a great shot maker or being a great position player, I'd chose being a great shot maker. I just love "ooohs" and "aahs."
Yeah....position doesn't mean much if you can't make the shots.


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11-22-2019, 12:28 PM

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So if todays players are better position players they dont need to be great shotmakers?

Dick Lane could flat out play. Ask the guys that played on the McDermott tour about Dick's 9 ball game.

Randy G can verify Dick's skillset.
Oh no. I just mean today's upcoming players are more informed/educated on position play and have a more developed overall game.

Let's say you practice your butt off on position, always leaving a good shot that isn't too difficult at all. You are programming your brain for these basic common shots because that is the majority of shots you are shooting. Now, Joe down the street never practices cb control. He's spent years going for every shot in the world, and eventually he developed an uncanny ability to pocket difficult shots as easily and naturally as basic common shots. It's habitual. Now if Joe worked on leaving himself easier shots, he'd become a very strong player.


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11-22-2019, 01:13 PM

If you extrapolate this to the professional arena, I think the pro game of 9/10 ball has evolved into more of a great shotmaker's game than ever before. And by that I mean the style of play has evolved from striving for efren-esque positional brilliance into a more efficient game of leaving longer, tougher shots more regularly and just relying on your ability to pocket everything. This is evidenced by the Shaws, Fillers, Orcollos, and Wus of the world. They all play simpler position and just handle the shots. And they are all in the winners circle at every major tournament. Not to say that these guys can't play pinpoint position if needed, but in a game of percentages they play the slightly higher ones and that adds up over time.


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11-22-2019, 01:26 PM

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If you extrapolate this to the professional arena, I think the pro game of 9/10 ball has evolved into more of a great shotmaker's game than ever before. And by that I mean the style of play has evolved from striving for efren-esque positional brilliance into a more efficient game of leaving longer, tougher shots more regularly and just relying on your ability to pocket everything. This is evidenced by the Shaws, Fillers, Orcollos, and Wus of the world. They all play simpler position and just handle the shots. And they are all in the winners circle at every major tournament. Not to say that these guys can't play pinpoint position if needed, but in a game of percentages they play the slightly higher ones and that adds up over time.
That's a good point. I think they probably have unwavering confidence in their shot making abilities so there isn't as much "pressure" to achieve precise position. Buddy Hall said, "Don't ask too much of the cue ball." I think his comment applies in this regard:with great shot making skills, a player doesn't have to think so deeply about where the ball is going because he knows he can make the next shot. In rotation games and in situations where an upcoming object ball may be locked in a cluster, he still has the skill to execute the necessary break out.

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11-22-2019, 02:02 PM

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So if todays players are better position players they dont need to be great shotmakers?

Dick Lane could flat out play. Ask the guys that played on the McDermott tour about Dick's 9 ball game.

Randy G can verify Dick's skillset.
Like I said -- I never saw him play but have heard some first hand accounts and read quite a bit about him on AZ over the years. I wasn't saying he couldn't play as it's very clear that he was a very good player. I probably shouldn't have even mentioned him.

Just take a generic 14.1 player from 40 years ago and compare him to a great 9-ball player from the same era. This is where the origin of the "great shot maker" can be found. Most every town had multiple 100 ball runners but these guys couldn't keep up with the 9-ball shot makers.

Now since 14.1 has really died down -- you just don't find the great tacticianers (is that a word?) in the game like you used to. At least, I don't see them. 9 ball and 10 ball just don't allow that at the higher levels.

Now in the amateur ranks, does it exist? I can't remember the last time I saw an amateur player who pocketed balls so well in comparison to his positional play that it stood out to me. I haven't seen it in years. I guess maybe it shows up from time to time in bar table 8 ball but I can't think of a recent example.

So I think the shot-maker legend is largely a thing of the past.
  
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11-22-2019, 03:10 PM

you are dead on about dick,he was no where near the shotmaker john schmidt is
but he played a very good game of control whitey

i don't know how he could play schmidt,but i would bet on dick

then again i was never good at rating two other players
  
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11-22-2019, 03:24 PM

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If you extrapolate this to the professional arena, I think the pro game of 9/10 ball has evolved into more of a great shotmaker's game than ever before. And by that I mean the style of play has evolved from striving for efren-esque positional brilliance into a more efficient game of leaving longer, tougher shots more regularly and just relying on your ability to pocket everything. This is evidenced by the Shaws, Fillers, Orcollos, and Wus of the world. They all play simpler position and just handle the shots. And they are all in the winners circle at every major tournament. Not to say that these guys can't play pinpoint position if needed, but in a game of percentages they play the slightly higher ones and that adds up over time.
Excellent point.


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11-22-2019, 03:45 PM

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Originally Posted by highkarate View Post
If you extrapolate this to the professional arena, I think the pro game of 9/10 ball has evolved into more of a great shotmaker's game than ever before. And by that I mean the style of play has evolved from striving for efren-esque positional brilliance into a more efficient game of leaving longer, tougher shots more regularly and just relying on your ability to pocket everything. This is evidenced by the Shaws, Fillers, Orcollos, and Wus of the world. They all play simpler position and just handle the shots. And they are all in the winners circle at every major tournament. Not to say that these guys can't play pinpoint position if needed, but in a game of percentages they play the slightly higher ones and that adds up over time.
Shaw and Filler definitely. Earl Strickland was always the same in his best years, and still plays this way. Orcollo does this, but to a lesser extent, but I disagree that Wu plays this type of position.

I call players who accept slightly tougher shots because they know they'll make them angle-cinchers, because they cinch the angle onto the next ball even if it means accepting a slightly tougher shot.

Wu is not, in my opinion, one of them. Wu, to me, has followed in the tradition of Buddy Hall and Ralf Souquet, the two best and most controlled position players I think we've ever seen in the nine ball era.
  
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