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My amazing weekend with CJ Wiley
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My amazing weekend with CJ Wiley - 12-20-2016, 04:12 PM

Let me start by saying I have never been around a player of CJ's caliber. I did meet Wade Crane (Billy Johnson) 40 years ago but did not have the privilege of seeing him play. CJ ran racks so simply and rapidly it was incredible. He would run a rack of 10 ball or 8 ball while we talked and he never seemed to slow down. I saw him miss 2 or 3 shots but that was over the entire 12 hours of training and 14 games he played in a tournament. Contrary to what you may have heard, he is still very active in play and teaching. He says he wins about 200 local tournaments a year. He is barred from many local events and is heavily handicapped in the others but he wins in spite of the handicap against some very talented local players.

Secondly I want to be clear this posting is not to disagree with anyone about anything or start an argument as to what is the correct way to play. I have three purposes:
  1. To share my experience with people who can understand what I am talking about
  2. To illustrate there is more than one way to reach a high level in pool
  3. To help people who have tried TOI and struggled with exactly what it is all about

I was shocked to learn CJ does almost nothing the way I have always been taught and I mean NOTHING. In fact it is as though he set out to do everything the opposite of what I had considered conventional teaching. Here are some of the examples:
  1. Grip - Soft or loose - CJ Firm
  2. Cue level as possible - CJ Raise the Butt
  3. Follow through around 6 inches - CJ no follow through
  4. To adjust for high and low spin raise and lower the bridge hand -CJ raise and lower the butt
  5. And the big one, no pendulum stroke. No real piston stroke either, more of a wrist snap

He said my cue was too level, my grip not firm enough and I followed through too far. This to a guy who did the Tor Lowry 3000 stroke drill learning to force my cue to the cloth each time. Sighhhhhh

I'm not saying CJ has a corner on pool knowledge but he does prove there are many paths. One thing he did which was pretty amazing: He put the cue ball 1 inch from the object ball and hit straight into it drawing the cue ball 3 rails without a double hit. I watched Neils Feijen mis hit the cue ball and had it roll 2 inches at the Mosconi cup trying to avoid the push or double hit foul. CJ develops incredible force in one inch. He doesn't do it with stroke, he does it with a wrist cock and release. It's complicated and I won't go into that but pro golfers do it in golf.

CJ's approach to 8 ball is also unique. He doesn't plan out the whole game in advance and does not look 3 balls ahead, both of which I thought were about the only ways to approach the game. CJ says it is his strongest game and, after watching him run several racks in a row, I believe it. He does identify the best group to choose and deals with problems early, the rest I will leave for those who want to take lessons or inquire from him as I don't want to give away his knowledge without his permission.

What I did want to cover is TOI as I understood it and as I now see it. I think CJ actually mentions all this on his CDs but I did not get it until he demonstrated it. CJ is totally a feel player. He has a way of "feeling with his eyes" as he calls it and it goes something like this:

All his aiming is done standing over the ball. Siting the cue ball a partial tip over from center to center or center to edge creates the angle. On his CD he says you can then hit it that way but I learned he doesn't. He says "you can do that but it puts spin on the ball". That is what took me time to understand. I was aiming through the cue ball with up to 1 full tip offset. I could make the shots but had to deal with a lot of inside spin I didn't always want. He said "I just come down on the ball and move back to the center with just a TOI". If you do that then look back center to center you see you are not lined up that way and if you adjust center to center from there you miss the shot and hit straight into it, of course. What CJ refers to as "an optical allusion" is the idea that you are hitting it center to center when you are actually not. You line up with the partial tip inside, come straight down and move to just a TOI but do not really worry about the object ball anymore. You will not be looking directly at the center of that ball but you don't focus on that, you just "feel" that you are aimed right and shoot. CJ plays very quickly, never doubts himself and just goes. He told me "I don't think you have ever seen me come up out of a shot." and he was right, I never did .

I said sometimes I just feel like I am not cutting the ball enough or too much. He said "if you think you are going to over cut the ball you will". It really is all about getting lined up correctly, getting down on the shot precisely, creating the angle then trusting your aim and shooting. Do not be result oriented. sighhhhh CJ programs his sub conscious to make the shot then trusts it. That is hard for a practical guy like me to do but I am working on it.

Of it all here was the greatest piece of information to me. TOI isn't about always using inside English. It is about slightly favoring the inside or outside of the cue ball all the time and learning one shot you get really good at. You then pick your preferred shot, in this case low, inside. If that won't get position for you move to your second choice high inside and if that won't work go to use center inside. If none of those will work and you have to change direction after contact with a rail (like running English), forget TOI or maybe use Touch of Outside, and shoot whatever you have to get the shape. I watched him run rack after rack and use TOI about 75% of the shots. Also, in fairness, the shots he got the worst position on were spin shots where he didn't use TOI. He still got shape but not great shape, and had to shoot his way back.

I don't know if I can give up the follow through but now I don't even think about it. I do or don't but I don't try to or try not to. I will also be working on a preferred shot, low inside. I want to become great with that shot and use it every time I can. I will still slow roll or spin when it is the better way but will always look fist to my preferred shot.

In playing the practice game where you roll balls out on the table then shoot them in sequence I asked CJ which pocket would you shoot the 7 ball in (after shooting the 6). he replied "don't look at it that way. Think about where your favorite shot would take you and see if you can make that work and that will pick the pocket for you."

Taking the number of possible decisions out of the equation should help me struggle less with the mental part of the game and that is a big deal.

Thanks CJ,

Last edited by skipbales; 12-20-2016 at 06:17 PM.
  
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12-21-2016, 12:08 PM

Thanks for sharing! Pool is a game intertwined by art and science, and I believe CJ along with Efren are pros that favor the art over science. Somebody like Tor Lowry would be the opposite, IMO. For most of us it's about 50/50?


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12-21-2016, 02:35 PM

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Originally Posted by klone View Post
Thanks for sharing! Pool is a game intertwined by art and science, and I believe CJ along with Efren are pros that favor the art over science. Somebody like Tor Lowry would be the opposite, IMO. For most of us it's about 50/50?
Yes, 100% I agree. Dr. Dave is the absolute other end of the spectrum. I benefit from both. I have trouble with the art portion. It is like learning to dance for me, all left feet.
  
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01-03-2017, 12:46 PM

What a great post.

I would like to hear more from you.

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01-04-2017, 08:21 AM

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Originally Posted by randyg View Post
What a great post.

I would like to hear more from you.

randyg
I have been working on what CJ taught me. Some of it I need to adapt. I can not do things exactly the way he does but I can understand a concept and make it my own. After seeing how important getting on the line is and hearing others say the same thing I began to understand why I miss easy shots. If I don't get on line the exact same way each time I do not get my eyes over the line in exactly the same way. If my eyes are off a little the shot is off a little. My routine is not exactly the way CJ or Bert Kinister or Tor Lowry do it but it is a version of CJ's method that works for me. The key is to be consistent and the exact way you get consistent can vary. I know each instructor believes they have the best or only way but it is the underlying concepts that are the truth and that is what I am trying to master.

I appreciate all training and am trying to adopt best practices for myself that match those underlying principles.
  
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01-16-2017, 09:46 PM

If you listen to C.J. you will learn something.

C.J. knows what he is talking about.

It isn't for everyone, but it works.
  
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01-16-2017, 10:06 PM

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Originally Posted by HawaiianEye View Post
If you listen to C.J. you will learn something.

C.J. knows what he is talking about.

It isn't for everyone, but it works.
I agree. There is no question he can play.
  
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01-16-2017, 11:48 PM

Great read, thanks for the review :thumb:

Chrippa
  
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05-31-2017, 03:25 AM

I banged some balls around with CJ for an hour or so at Hawaiian Brian's tonight and he is playing damn good. He was getting out from everywhere with ease.

He had exceptional speed and ball control and did it equally on shots that required a bit of force and the ones that required finesse.

He is able to put a lot of "stuff" on the cue ball with relative ease and he makes it look simple and easy with his stroke.

His eye is good too...he was back cutting and thin cutting balls that most people would play a safety on or miss by a mile.

Unless you pay close attention, you won't notice that he is hitting inside center on the majority of his shots. His style of play gives him inside patterns and he rarely has to use outside English. He kills the cue ball amazingly well, both on and off the rail.

Everybody can learn something from CJ...even if you are just watching him.
  
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05-31-2017, 09:09 AM

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Originally Posted by HawaiianEye View Post
I banged some balls around with CJ for an hour or so at Hawaiian Brian's tonight and he is playing damn good. He was getting out from everywhere with ease.

He had exceptional speed and ball control and did it equally on shots that required a bit of force and the ones that required finesse.

He is able to put a lot of "stuff" on the cue ball with relative ease and he makes it look simple and easy with his stroke.

His eye is good too...he was back cutting and thin cutting balls that most people would play a safety on or miss by a mile.

Unless you pay close attention, you won't notice that he is hitting inside center on the majority of his shots. His style of play gives him inside patterns and he rarely has to use outside English. He kills the cue ball amazingly well, both on and off the rail.

Everybody can learn something from CJ...even if you are just watching him.
I am not lucky enough to live near him so will not likely get the chance again. But I sure enjoyed watching him play. Everything looks so easy and he doesn't send the cue ball flying around, just kills it and slides it into position. Really fun to watch.

What is very cool to me is how he just loves to shoot balls in. If you are taking a lesson, he doesn't just stand there and talk. He can only go about 2 minutes without shooting some balls in. He really LIKES to play. He talks but he does it while he is shooting balls in. Crazy good.
  
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11-08-2017, 11:42 PM

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Originally Posted by skipbales View Post

Follow through around 6 inches - CJ no follow through

CJ's approach to 8 ball is also unique. He doesn't plan out the whole game in advance and does not look 3 balls ahead, both of which I thought were about the only ways to approach the game.
Hello Skip,

Thanks for the post.

I this video CJ clearly plays 3 balls ahead & repeatedly states the importance of follow through. Was he instructing you not to do those things, or just not to be dwelling on them as you play?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMB-...#t=727.0800647
  
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11-09-2017, 08:11 AM

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Originally Posted by The ProRailbird View Post
Hello Skip,

Thanks for the post.

I this video CJ clearly plays 3 balls ahead & repeatedly states the importance of follow through. Was he instructing you not to do those things, or just not to be dwelling on them as you play?

As far as follow through, Yes he stopped me. He said I follow though too far. He said maybe on some long draw shot I might want to follow through a little but I was going way too far through. Set, draw back, return to the exact point of contact. Specifically, no follow through. Maybe this is something he has advanced to over time. It resembles Tor Lowry's "compact stroke" at least in concept. He literally told me my stroke was too level and followup too long. My follow through was about 4-6". All other instructors taught me to follow through to the cloth, 4-6". He also shortened my bridge length which Jerry Briesath and Scott Lee also told me. I let that creep up to 11-13 inches and I do better with 8". To demonstrate this concept he put the cue ball 1" from an object ball, hit straight into it and drew the cue ball back 2 rails. He said "I can do it from 1/2". He develops incredible power in his wrist.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMB-...#t=727.0800647
What he taught me is he does not approach 8 ball that way. It is not how he thinks of the game. He scoffed at the idea of pre-selecting pockets 3 balls ahead. Now note we were only talking 8 ball. He made the comment "no player in the world could beat me if they had to predict even one ball ahead". The point I believe he was making is that so much of the teaching is about exact positioning and that it is so very hard, if not impossible, to attain that it is not a worthwhile approach. He taught me to think the game out differently. To look at problem areas and clear them early. To forget about perfect position and go for options. He always had a specific ball in mind but it was not critical to his strategy, let alone 2 more balls after that.

He showed me an example. He tried to get shape on the 10 ball but knew it would be hard so went for shape in an area where he would have other choices. He missed shape on the 10 ball and got perfect on the 9 ball. He said "I would never even look at the 10 ball to let anyone think I was going for that. I would just walk right up and shoot the 9 ball." Anyone watching would think I was trying to get shape on the 9 ball.

He played a game out and commented "I am playing this terribly" and he had perfect position at the time." I said "it looks good to me". He said "oh, I will get out,. but look. I only have position on one ball." He did run out. But I understood the concept. Don't put yourself in a position where you have only one option if there is any other way. Do not look forward 1,2,3, Look at everything and try to go for position that offers a wide selection of options and change the pattern according to what you get each shot. I have heard it said that pool is a "game of opportunity" and that is what he was teaching me. This IS different than anyone else has ever taught that I have seen. It is the opposite of planning 3 balls ahead. I don't know what he has taught in the past but that is what he taught me and it opened new doors. I have always been frustrated that pros on CDs get perfect shape and practice to achieve that. It was incredible to see that a player can run racks of balls over and over and never get "perfect shape" or always hit 3 balls in a row where he wanted them to go or even try to do that.

In summation he looks at everything, not 3 ball patterns. It is not like he doesn't consider which three balls he will probably be shooting next, he just does not look at it that way. He seems to analyze groups and problem areas. He might shoot them one way or might shoot them another way but he just has a more flexible way of looking at things.

I sincerely hope I am accurately explaining what he tried to teach me. It was the most useful instruction I have had.

Last edited by skipbales; 11-09-2017 at 08:15 AM.
  
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11-09-2017, 08:20 AM

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Originally Posted by HawaiianEye View Post
If you listen to C.J. you will learn something.

C.J. knows what he is talking about.

It isn't for everyone, but it works.
I think that is true for all instructors and materials out there. I have come across instructors that are either their ways or the highways. As a student of the game, I pay to learn concepts, then spend time on the table to determine for myself if a technique/concept works for me.
  
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11-10-2017, 12:49 AM

Thank you Skip.
  
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11-10-2017, 04:29 PM

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Originally Posted by skipbales View Post
What he taught me is he does not approach 8 ball that way. It is not how he thinks of the game. He scoffed at the idea of pre-selecting pockets 3 balls ahead. Now note we were only talking 8 ball. He made the comment "no player in the world could beat me if they had to predict even one ball ahead". The point I believe he was making is that so much of the teaching is about exact positioning and that it is so very hard, if not impossible, to attain that it is not a worthwhile approach. He taught me to think the game out differently. To look at problem areas and clear them early. To forget about perfect position and go for options. He always had a specific ball in mind but it was not critical to his strategy, let alone 2 more balls after that.

He showed me an example. He tried to get shape on the 10 ball but knew it would be hard so went for shape in an area where he would have other choices. He missed shape on the 10 ball and got perfect on the 9 ball. He said "I would never even look at the 10 ball to let anyone think I was going for that. I would just walk right up and shoot the 9 ball." Anyone watching would think I was trying to get shape on the 9 ball.

He played a game out and commented "I am playing this terribly" and he had perfect position at the time." I said "it looks good to me". He said "oh, I will get out,. but look. I only have position on one ball." He did run out. But I understood the concept. Don't put yourself in a position where you have only one option if there is any other way. Do not look forward 1,2,3, Look at everything and try to go for position that offers a wide selection of options and change the pattern according to what you get each shot. I have heard it said that pool is a "game of opportunity" and that is what he was teaching me. This IS different than anyone else has ever taught that I have seen. It is the opposite of planning 3 balls ahead. I don't know what he has taught in the past but that is what he taught me and it opened new doors. I have always been frustrated that pros on CDs get perfect shape and practice to achieve that. It was incredible to see that a player can run racks of balls over and over and never get "perfect shape" or always hit 3 balls in a row where he wanted them to go or even try to do that.

In summation he looks at everything, not 3 ball patterns. It is not like he doesn't consider which three balls he will probably be shooting next, he just does not look at it that way. He seems to analyze groups and problem areas. He might shoot them one way or might shoot them another way but he just has a more flexible way of looking at things.

I sincerely hope I am accurately explaining what he tried to teach me. It was the most useful instruction I have had.
C.J. is playing with a "safety valve"...the backup ball. When you are playing games like 8-ball, red balls in snooker, one-pocket, 14-1, etc. where you can have more than one object ball to shoot at, it is always smart to play "double position" in case you don't get exactly where are are intending to.
  
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