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Individual development
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Individual development - 02-02-2020, 11:33 PM

Originally Posted by Tin Man View Post
The answer is truly player specific. Each player has strengths lifting them up and leaks holding them from going further. The first step is to sort out which are which. Then you need a good plan to improve those leaks while keeping your strengths your primary weapon. I have an interesting chart I drew up on my website (on the FAQ tab) that helps me organize the physical skills in pool, link in my signature if you want to see it.

One change many people don't realize occurs is that more work has to be done off the table. When you're a beginner you can just spend hours on the pool table aimlessly and you will develop. But for a player who can run racks, how much more does table time help? It depends on what kind. There is an optimal mix of practice to competition, playing worse versus better players, etc, and while some of this may be player specific as well there are some balances that work better than others in general. Granted for a full time pro the answer may be to just compete in every tournament you can, match up in between tournaments, and drill/spar in between matches, but I'm talking about people that have budgets when it comes to time. When you have limited resources you really have to be strategic about how you use the hours, and this is a huge leak in people's journeys. They get a long ways without much planning and then don't realize they missed the bus when years start going by without improvement.

Bottom line, while generically we can declare that players need to put in work and learn all parts of the game to improve, this isn't really useful. What's helpful is knowing where that player is exactly, fleshing out clearly where they want to be, then developing a plan on how they will use the resources they actually have to achieve that target. If the resources don't match the goal then something needs to be adjusted.
This fits with the premise of this thread that players have different needs at each level of development. And, as you so cogently put, its unique to each player. This thread was started to help act as a resource of possible ways to move to the next level.

The part you wrote about off table development is so true. I use a journal to debrief after each session, whether a match, practice or just fun. During that debrief I avoid replaying misses. That amounts to rehearsals of mistakes. Instead I ask myself, what does it look like when it’s done right? Imagine different pros executing, each in their unique way. Ask which way looks like the easiest for you to get a good result?

Your charting link is for the physical part of the game, giving developing players, a blueprint of what to learn next. The mental part is not separate and should be included at each step. Video recording sessions let’s players dissect their game. Help with analysis is often asked in the forums here. Sharing session excerpts with knowledgeable players/coaches let’s players hear and absorb ways to evaluate, a key to learning how to self correct in time.

I still practice at the lrt (living room table). Mine has straight lines I can use for reference. Setting my cue so that it lays over the line then holding it there while I get down positioning my eyes so I am looking directly down the cue and the table line, helps make it habitual.

Adding stroking is the next step. Learn how to hold the cue with a squeeze grip, avoid the curl associated with a strangle hold. If the shoulder is aligned, over the on line cue, the forearm will be vertically aligned when viewed from the back. You can test with a phone camera and a cheap tripod. Aligning the phone can be a tricky first step. A weight on a string acts as a good vertical reference. Figure out how to suspend it directly in line with the cue line, my line in the lrt works for me. You may need to create a reference line with tape, a snap line or a table cloth with a line. One more thing, you need to recreate the rail somehow. I have an old Brunswick box case that works great. A 2x6 with a piece of billiard cloth on it, if you have to make something, will work.

Figure out with different height bridges, varying speeds and imagined stun, follow and draw strokes how to send each in a straight line. A good test is to align the cue with a selected speed and contact in mind. Test the stroke straightness. Stop in front of the ball, close your eyes and deliver the cue. Open your eyes to test if the cue is still on line.

Sometimes on key shots where a disciplined stroke is the shot key, I close my eyes. It has served me well. Never missed a closed eye shot in a match.

And, the importance of planning cannot be over emphasized. That applies to goals big and small. A plan at the table is often missing. Remember no plan is a plan.

Last edited by Imac007; 02-02-2020 at 11:42 PM.
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