Inconsistent Play
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Inconsistent Play - 05-21-2020, 10:35 AM

Apologies up front for long post.

Am very inconsistent in my recent play. Started playing again about 4.5 years ago after having not really played for over 50 years. Age 77.5.

Our clubhouse has been closed since early this year (2 9’ tables), but a neighbor has an 8.5 x 4.25 table at home and we have been playing twice per week over the past couple of months. With clubhouse closed, no place to practice. We normally play for 2 to 2.5 hours. 1 game of straight pool to 50, race to 3 in 8 ball and race to 3 in 9 ball. If time permits, we may play another set of 8 ball or 9 ball.

My neighbor beats me more time than not, but when I’m on, I am probably his equal. In recent weeks, I have a couple of decent runs in straight pool – ran rack of 14 after his opening break, missed position on break ball so run ended. Also a 15 ball run – 8 in one rack and 7 in the subsequent rack. My runs usually end with a miss on fairly easy shot or poor position leaving a tough shot.

Last session, I played poorly most games, but did run a full 8 ball rack after he came up dry on his break. Lots of times I will run only 2 or 3 balls and then miss a fairly easy shot. Have not figured out if I am aiming poorly or stroke is off. Some of the misses are not even close. I do not use any particular “aiming system”. I just “see” the angle and aim the cue ball down that line. I do look at OB last except on breaks. I understand “throw” both cut induced and English induced, but seem to misjudge squirt/swerve on longer shots. Try to stay on center axis as much as possible. I seem to have more success when aiming is sub conscious and less success when “thinking” about aiming.

When playing well, I handle position play fairly well. My neighbor is a nice guy, but a little cocky about his game which makes me want to beat him all the more. Probably “trying” a little too hard to beat him instead of just relaxing and enjoying the experience.

Had been playing with a McDermott G core until recently when I got a new Mezz with a WX700 shaft about 3 weeks ago. Maybe some of the inconsistency is getting used to the new cue.

I have a background as a professional athlete in highly competitive environment. Played on the Senior PGA Tour for 6 years in the 1990’s.

Any comments or suggestions greatly appreciated. Need to get out of this pattern of poor play.

Bruce
  
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05-21-2020, 07:49 PM

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Originally Posted by blehnhard View Post
... Any comments or suggestions greatly appreciated. Need to get out of this pattern of poor play. ...
It's possible that there is a problem with your fundamentals that would be fairly easy to fix. Have you tried recording yourself in a practice session or regular play? An instructor who works on fundamentals and does video analysis could be a big help but might have to wait until travel is easier.

You could also try working on your shot routine. That can often fix inconsistencies as you start to approach each shot the same.


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05-21-2020, 10:08 PM

Bruce...As a former professional golfer, you are already aware of the benefits of video analysis of your stroke. If you're interested, I'll come to you in VA and give you a lesson. The lesson can be on your club table or I can provide another place. There are several AzBr's that live in your area, and a couple that live in your development. One lesson will help answer all of your questions, and give you a path to follow to improve. If you're interested, contact me via PM here, or give me a call at 773-551-7473.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by blehnhard View Post
Apologies up front for long post.

Am very inconsistent in my recent play. Started playing again about 4.5 years ago after having not really played for over 50 years. Age 77.5.

Our clubhouse has been closed since early this year (2 9’ tables), but a neighbor has an 8.5 x 4.25 table at home and we have been playing twice per week over the past couple of months. With clubhouse closed, no place to practice. We normally play for 2 to 2.5 hours. 1 game of straight pool to 50, race to 3 in 8 ball and race to 3 in 9 ball. If time permits, we may play another set of 8 ball or 9 ball.

My neighbor beats me more time than not, but when I’m on, I am probably his equal. In recent weeks, I have a couple of decent runs in straight pool – ran rack of 14 after his opening break, missed position on break ball so run ended. Also a 15 ball run – 8 in one rack and 7 in the subsequent rack. My runs usually end with a miss on fairly easy shot or poor position leaving a tough shot.

Last session, I played poorly most games, but did run a full 8 ball rack after he came up dry on his break. Lots of times I will run only 2 or 3 balls and then miss a fairly easy shot. Have not figured out if I am aiming poorly or stroke is off. Some of the misses are not even close. I do not use any particular “aiming system”. I just “see” the angle and aim the cue ball down that line. I do look at OB last except on breaks. I understand “throw” both cut induced and English induced, but seem to misjudge squirt/swerve on longer shots. Try to stay on center axis as much as possible. I seem to have more success when aiming is sub conscious and less success when “thinking” about aiming.

When playing well, I handle position play fairly well. My neighbor is a nice guy, but a little cocky about his game which makes me want to beat him all the more. Probably “trying” a little too hard to beat him instead of just relaxing and enjoying the experience.

Had been playing with a McDermott G core until recently when I got a new Mezz with a WX700 shaft about 3 weeks ago. Maybe some of the inconsistency is getting used to the new cue.

I have a background as a professional athlete in highly competitive environment. Played on the Senior PGA Tour for 6 years in the 1990’s.

Any comments or suggestions greatly appreciated. Need to get out of this pattern of poor play.

Bruce


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05-22-2020, 05:42 AM

Bob & Scott - thanks for your responses and input.

I learned to play pool back in the late 50's (high school) when I worked in a pool hall after school. Got free table time and some of the regulars and old timers kind of took me under the wing. Rarely played again until early 2016 when bad right hip took me off the golf course with surgery in replacement surgery in May 2016.

Got "hooked" again, bought a decent cue (McDermott) and played during my recovery. Took a half day lesson from Mark Powell in mid June of that year.

We have a "Billiard Club" in our community (about 15 guys) that met twice a week at our clubhouse until it shut down early this year dur to Covid-19. Not sure when they will reopen. When they do, I will be able to get in some practice time.

I have just reviewed my notes from that lesson and will see if some of his suggestions will help. I may be keeping my right elbow too close to my body and that may be throwing my stroke off. I use my dining room table at times to practice my stroke into a beer or soda bottle. With a 10 to 12 inch bridge, I can put the cue into the opening almost every time.

Played yesterday and except for another poor straight pool game, played 8 and 9 ball pretty well.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply.

Bruce
  
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05-22-2020, 07:19 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by blehnhard View Post
Bob & Scott - thanks for your responses and input.

I learned to play pool back in the late 50's (high school) when I worked in a pool hall after school. Got free table time and some of the regulars and old timers kind of took me under the wing. Rarely played again until early 2016 when bad right hip took me off the golf course with surgery in replacement surgery in May 2016.

Got "hooked" again, bought a decent cue (McDermott) and played during my recovery. Took a half day lesson from Mark Powell in mid June of that year.

We have a "Billiard Club" in our community (about 15 guys) that met twice a week at our clubhouse until it shut down early this year dur to Covid-19. Not sure when they will reopen. When they do, I will be able to get in some practice time.

I have just reviewed my notes from that lesson and will see if some of his suggestions will help. I may be keeping my right elbow too close to my body and that may be throwing my stroke off. I use my dining room table at times to practice my stroke into a beer or soda bottle. With a 10 to 12 inch bridge, I can put the cue into the opening almost every time.

Played yesterday and except for another poor straight pool game, played 8 and 9 ball pretty well.

Thanks again for taking the time to reply.

Bruce
Hi Bruce,

Was your stroke bottle-ready to start? Many players do well with a vertical loop in their stroke and the bottle drill is not the best for all players.


-- Matt Sherman

Guide to Pool and Billiards, About.com
Instruction Staff, InsidePool Magazine
Author, Book & DVD, Picture Yourself Shooting Pool (Named to the 25 Best Billiards Books of All Time by Bookauthority)
  
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05-22-2020, 07:34 AM

Hi Matt,

Remember doing the bottle drill for awhile after my lesson with Mark. Was good at it then. Did it again last week and was still good at it. I would think that a "vertical loop" would not effect horizontal accuracy of sending the cue ball down the target line, but could effect draw and follow.

Is that correct?

I think that some of my problem when playing is that I am moving my body / shoulder that throws the stroke off. Playing again today, so will work on staying as steady as possible and only swing forearm from elbow joint.

Thanks, Bruce
  
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Talking 05-24-2020, 04:00 PM

I can't offer anything but moral support. Your description of your skill level and frustrations nearly exactly mirror my own. (Apologies if I that is an unfair comparison - sometimes I excel, other times I absolutely suck. LOL)

I've been working on my game, and with something as simple as my iPhone video and a photo frame stand as a (phone) camera mount placed at a corner pocket, I've uncovered some very basic flaws in my stance and stroke. No, not the same as a good coach, but absent a learned player watching and analyzing your mechanics, it can be very enlightening.

I've gone from totally lost in my stance and playing an unnatural tightrope stance to a natural stance, and smooth(er) stroke in the last few weeks, making a 6.5-ft straight in shot with the OB about halfway between the CB and the pocket now around 90% vs just 50-60% two weeks ago, just from finding a minor but impactful flaw in my stroke.

Take what I say with a proverbial grain of salt since I am not a terribly skilled player; rather I am one really trying to elevate my game, and in this Covid19-induced isolation, thankful I have my own table to hone my game.
  
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05-25-2020, 06:48 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by blehnhard View Post
Hi Matt,

Remember doing the bottle drill for awhile after my lesson with Mark. Was good at it then. Did it again last week and was still good at it. I would think that a "vertical loop" would not effect horizontal accuracy of sending the cue ball down the target line, but could effect draw and follow.

Is that correct?

I think that some of my problem when playing is that I am moving my body / shoulder that throws the stroke off. Playing again today, so will work on staying as steady as possible and only swing forearm from elbow joint.

Thanks, Bruce
A vertical miss affects vertical spin, but a well-timed vertical loop does not. Also, some players have a little wrist move that makes the tip dip a bit to conclude a practice stroke or etc. and their timing is still good. Whatever it takes to strike the cue ball where you've aimed to strike it.

Feel free to post a video of your stance and stroke. You need not confine your arm movement to lower arm only, so let's take a look at both your natural swing and your pinned-from-the-elbow attempts also.

Thanks.


-- Matt Sherman

Guide to Pool and Billiards, About.com
Instruction Staff, InsidePool Magazine
Author, Book & DVD, Picture Yourself Shooting Pool (Named to the 25 Best Billiards Books of All Time by Bookauthority)
  
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05-25-2020, 06:49 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by dquarasr View Post
I can't offer anything but moral support. Your description of your skill level and frustrations nearly exactly mirror my own. (Apologies if I that is an unfair comparison - sometimes I excel, other times I absolutely suck. LOL)

I've been working on my game, and with something as simple as my iPhone video and a photo frame stand as a (phone) camera mount placed at a corner pocket, I've uncovered some very basic flaws in my stance and stroke. No, not the same as a good coach, but absent a learned player watching and analyzing your mechanics, it can be very enlightening.

I've gone from totally lost in my stance and playing an unnatural tightrope stance to a natural stance, and smooth(er) stroke in the last few weeks, making a 6.5-ft straight in shot with the OB about halfway between the CB and the pocket now around 90% vs just 50-60% two weeks ago, just from finding a minor but impactful flaw in my stroke.

Take what I say with a proverbial grain of salt since I am not a terribly skilled player; rather I am one really trying to elevate my game, and in this Covid19-induced isolation, thankful I have my own table to hone my game.
You're not alone in your efforts, so feel free to post some videos here to get free instructor advice.


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05-27-2020, 06:26 AM

Will try to get some videos taken and post here. Would the following be sufficient?
Down the line both from behind and in front, and 90* to shot? Straight shot to corner pocket with OB 3 diamonds up from corner and CB 2 diamonds from OB? Use stripe for CB and set stripe vertical? Use follow to show any CB wobble after it strikes OB?

Played pretty well yesterday. Down 49 to 37 in straight pool game to 50 and ran out to win. Won 8 ball 3 to 2 but lost 9 ball 3 to 1 when my 9 ball bank hung in the pocket.

In the next to last 9 ball game, I decided to "test" my stroke out with the following "long" draw situation. 7 ball 1.5 diamonds from head rail corner pocket and 1/2 diamond off side rail. CB 2 diamonds up from foot rail and 1/2 diamond off side rail. 8 ball on foot rail. Shot successful with cue ball drawing down to opposite side rail below side pocket and into perfect position for 8 ball.

Thanks to all for comments.

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05-27-2020, 02:03 PM

Hi Bruce,

You are in a rare and fortunate position of being a professional athlete. You know what it takes to improve. There are no shortcuts in pool, just like golf. If you keep missing a particular shot, you have to shoot it until you can accomplish it on demand. As you know, in competition, you don't get a second try.

Instead of trying to improve your entire pool game at once, think of it in terms of improving one shot at a time. As you're working on that one shot, you're also automatically working on your fundamentals.

So take note of a shot that gave you trouble each time you play your friend and diagram it for yourself so when you have a chance, you can practice it until you can shoot it on demand. This will also help you learn your tendencies at the table. Mistakes always have patterns. What do your mistakes have in common? Is it the angle? Distance? A particular type of spin? Shot angle of left to right or right to left? Figuring that out will help immensely in troubleshooting your game. Often times, in fixing one shot, you're actually fixing an entire group of similar shots.

Last edited by FranCrimi; 05-27-2020 at 02:13 PM.
  
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05-27-2020, 03:46 PM

Hey Fran, thanks for jumping in. Always enjoy your posts. As soon as our clubhouse reopens, I will be able to get in some practice time. As it is now, just "playing", but at times I will some shots or position plays a little out of the ordinary to "test" myself.
No gambling done with my neighbor. Just the satisfaction of beating him and bragging rights.
Hoping to get back on the golf course soon. Have not played since late Feb in FL when wife and I were there visiting my son (very accomplished golfer - Div 1 back in the day).
  
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