Coming back off a long layoff is TOUGH

Wayne Crimi

Member
I used to play pool every day when I was younger (from about age 16-20 and then again from about 30-35) . I haven't played much in close to 30 years. When I left off, my high run was 93, but I was still improving noticeably year to year. I think I can comfortably say I was playing well enough to run 100 balls. It just hadn't happened yet. Recently, I started playing again a couple of times a week. I'm kind of shocked at how badly I'm playing relative to my peak. My mechanics are terrible. They break down badly enough to miss many shots I would have been more than 95% to make in the past. Some of the shots I struggled with as a beginner but eventually got better at are a disaster again. Even when I make shots I often don't make them cleanly. So I lose the cue ball due to it coming off the object ball at a different angle and speed than I expected. All the knowledge is still there, but I can't run more than 25 balls anymore even though I used to string 50s once in awhile and run 60s and 70s fairly often. I guess 30 years is a LONG layoff, but I laid off 10 years one other time and got back in stroke within weeks and went to a new peak fairly quickly. I'm not even sure what I am asking here. Maybe someone has an insight into layoffs like this and whether I just need to lower my expectations permanently.
 

justnum

Billiards Improvement Research Projects Associate
Silver Member
It takes a while to physically adjust to long hours of pool after years of not playing pool.

Stretch and take it slow. There is no need break anything.
 

Lucky_one2

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
It will come back with some work. You will definitely play differently than you used to...and that's OK. Have fun
 

Wayne Crimi

Member
Well, I finally broke through yesterday and ran 35. The run was aided by a dead combo in the rack after a break shot, but it felt and looked pretty good otherwise.

A major part of the problem has been my right hand mechanics. I want my right hand grip to be loose, relaxed and operate kind of like a hinge as I stroke. It has been tight and instead of being hinge-like and stopping as the butt moves more solidly into the palm of my hand, at the tale end there has been a twist and/or my right elbow goes out as the stroke extends further than it should. When I consciously concentrate on getting it right, my smoothness and accuracy jumped a level. I'm not sure I will sustain it, but at least I made progress and don't feel frustrated like there's no hope of getting some of my former skill back. The right hand mechanics are huge for me. I really struggle keeping it right.
 
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Straightpool_99

I see dead balls
Silver Member
I'm trying to play some pool again after a couple of years myself, due to problems with my joints.

I think what usually has been the problem, coming from breaks such as these, for me, has been body stillness. Keeping my body perfectly still throughout the stroke and keeping the stroking arm relaxed. Keeping the head motionless, especially, is difficult. I'm impatient to run some balls, haven't got time to stand around.:LOL:
On my way to the next shot before the shot has dropped. As you can imagine, that doesn't usually go well. Working on the pressure points and keeping the head still gives results.
 

Wayne Crimi

Member
I'm trying to play some pool again after a couple of years myself, due to problems with my joints.

I think what usually has been the problem, coming from breaks such as these, for me, has been body stillness. Keeping my body perfectly still throughout the stroke and keeping the stroking arm relaxed. Keeping the head motionless, especially, is difficult. I'm impatient to run some balls, haven't got time to stand around.:LOL:
On my way to the next shot before the shot has dropped. As you can imagine, that doesn't usually go well. Working on the pressure points and keeping the head still gives results.

I noticed that with me too. My nervous system was never that great, but after decades of high stress work I guess my nerves aren't even what they were when I was younger. I find myself jumping up a lot and keeping my right arm relaxed very difficult.

I wish I had the time and table available so I could play 7-10 days in a row to see what would happen. At my best, I played every day. Now I am plying twice a week. On one level I am starting to feel like I'm playing better, but it's not leading to better results on the table in terms of higher runs. There are just fewer terrible misses.
 

DynoDan

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Aside from missing all the muscle-memory & form issues that became second-nature when you played regularly, if you are now old, likely you have to deal with the concentration & learning difficulties that seem inevitable with advancing age. Since I play so seldom now, the checklist of points to remember is just too long. If someone could repeat them all for me every time I get down on a shot, maybe I could then play at my previous level 😁.
 

Wayne Crimi

Member
Aside from missing all the muscle-memory & form issues that became second-nature when you played regularly, if you are now old, likely you have to deal with the concentration & learning difficulties that seem inevitable with advancing age. Since I play so seldom now, the checklist of points to remember is just too long. If someone could repeat them all for me every time I get down on a shot, maybe I could then play at my previous level 😁.

I've noticed four things related to age that might be a factor for me.

1. I'm having a little more trouble seeing the edge of the ball on deep cut shots.
2. My nerves are worse
3. I find myself not getting down as low on the shot as I used to. My chin used to get right down on the cue. I see the balls better that way, but it's uncomfortable now for my back. I'm standing higher unless I consciously think about getting down.
4. My concentration falters quicker. It may just be that I don't care as much about missing because I'm not playing a game, but I miss shots and get out of line more often just because I'm not concentrating.

I was making some noticeable but slow progress playing twice a week, but I didn't play for 8 days due to other responsibilities. I played yesterday and it was a nightmare. My back hand mechanics were atrocious. It's very frustrating to have dropped this far from my peak. I really wish I could play more just to see what I could get back, but it's tough to find the time and availability these days.
 

Wayne Crimi

Member
Here's an unusual thing.

I'm more of a 14.1 player and consider myself better at 14.1 than 9-ball.

I consider 9-ball to be more demanding from a pocketing and position perspective. The trick with 14.1 is taking the balls off the table in solid patterns, going into balls with a backup shot and getting to the break shot and hitting it well. A lot of that is knowledge that you would think would not go away off the layoff (and it hasn't).

Yet somehow my 9-ball game has dropped less than my 14.1 game???? It's still down, but not as much.
 
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sparkle84

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Here's an unusual thing.

I'm more of a 14.1 player and consider myself y better at 14.1 than 9-ball.

I consider 9-ball from a pocketing and position perspective to be more demanding. The trick with 14.1 is taking the balls off the table in solid patterns, going into balls with a backup shot and getting to the break shot and hitting it well. A lot of that is knowledge that you would think would not go away off the layoff (and it hasn't).

Yet somehow my 9-ball game has dropped less than my 14.1 game???? It's still down, but not as much.
That could be because while pocketing in 9B may be more demanding, precise position is not that critical.
The fine position touch needed in 14.1 is very difficult to recapture after a layoff.
 

Straightpool_99

I see dead balls
Silver Member
Here's an unusual thing.

I'm more of a 14.1 player and consider myself y better at 14.1 than 9-ball.

I consider 9-ball from a pocketing and position perspective to be more demanding. The trick with 14.1 is taking the balls off the table in solid patterns, going into balls with a backup shot and getting to the break shot and hitting it well. A lot of that is knowledge that you would think would not go away off the layoff (and it hasn't).

Yet somehow my 9-ball game has dropped less than my 14.1 game???? It's still down, but not as much.
14.1 is a brutal game when it comes to revealing weaknesses. It takes a certain kind of stroke to open a big cluster. If you are at all uncomfortable or timid, you'll get stuck, you'll hit the cluster in the wrong spot or too weakly. I think you may be babying your shots. You are holding off on speed, spin or just in general overthinking them. Just a guess, as I havent' seen you play, but an educated guess based on what I've seen from others. You can get away with it in 9 ball as you can shoot your way out of the trouble you cause. 14.1 is not so generous, especially in the early to mid rack phases.

It's the same with fine touch shots. You have to dare to shoot them, they won't shoot themselves. Shoot the shots like you mean it, and the way you know they should be shot.

There is a certain feeling when you hit the balls with purpose, without decelerating, without fear or doubt. That's the high run feeling. You can't explain that feeling to anyone, but you know what it's like, since you are a 14.1 player. When I try to find that stroke, I set up a Mosconi breakshot and I shoot it over and over until it feels right. You feel you really hit the topspin AND the right speed and the cueball "digs in". Granted it's harder than you hit most shots, but it's the blend of speed and spin that needs to be right. When it's not right it feels disgusting to me. I can't freaking stand it when the cueball doesn't dig properly in, when it dies, slides off, bounces off or just doesn't have the power to do the job. I have a feeling you know what I'm talking about.

When you feel the perfect blend, when you feel the stroke being unforced, free. Then hit some long straight ins the same way, with purpose, maybe some stun-run-throughs...Start to take a little bit off and feel the right kind of stroke coming back...It's one of the great pleasures of pool. I always found it easier to work from the hard shots and down. I guess I'm a banger...but the thing is, once the firm shots feel right, the soft touch shots seem to improve too. When the true deads stroke arrives, when you can count the rotations of the cueball, the soft shots no longer feels like pokes but strokes.
 
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Mensabum

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
I used to play pool every day when I was younger (from about age 16-20 and then again from about 30-35) . I haven't played much in close to 30 years. When I left off, my high run was 93, but I was still improving noticeably year to year. I think I can comfortably say I was playing well enough to run 100 balls. It just hadn't happened yet. Recently, I started playing again a couple of times a week. I'm kind of shocked at how badly I'm playing relative to my peak. My mechanics are terrible. They break down badly enough to miss many shots I would have been more than 95% to make in the past. Some of the shots I struggled with as a beginner but eventually got better at are a disaster again. Even when I make shots I often don't make them cleanly. So I lose the cue ball due to it coming off the object ball at a different angle and speed than I expected. All the knowledge is still there, but I can't run more than 25 balls anymore even though I used to string 50s once in awhile and run 60s and 70s fairly often. I guess 30 years is a LONG layoff, but I laid off 10 years one other time and got back in stroke within weeks and went to a new peak fairly quickly. I'm not even sure what I am asking here. Maybe someone has an insight into layoffs like this and whether I just need to lower my expectations permanently.
My stroke had so many bugs in it I needed an exterminator!!🤣
 

Wayne Crimi

Member
14.1 is a brutal game when it comes to revealing weaknesses. It takes a certain kind of stroke to open a big cluster. If you are at all uncomfortable or timid, you'll get stuck, you'll hit the cluster in the wrong spot or too weakly. I think you may be babying your shots. You are holding off on speed, spin or just in general overthinking them. Just a guess, as I havent' seen you play, but an educated guess based on what I've seen from others. You can get away with it in 9 ball as you can shoot your way out of the trouble you cause. 14.1 is not so generous, especially in the early to mid rack phases.

It's the same with fine touch shots. You have to dare to shoot them, they won't shoot themselves. Shoot the shots like you mean it, and the way you know they should be shot.

There is a certain feeling when you hit the balls with purpose, without decelerating, without fear or doubt. That's the high run feeling. You can't explain that feeling to anyone, but you know what it's like, since you are a 14.1 player. When I try to find that stroke, I set up a Mosconi breakshot and I shoot it over and over until it feels right. You feel you really hit the topspin AND the right speed and the cueball "digs in". Granted it's harder than you hit most shots, but it's the blend of speed and spin that needs to be right. When it's not right it feels disgusting to me. I can't freaking stand it when the cueball doesn't dig properly in, when it dies, slides off, bounces off or just doesn't have the power to do the job. I have a feeling you know what I'm talking about.

When you feel the perfect blend, when you feel the stroke being unforced, free. Then hit some long straight ins the same way, with purpose, maybe some stun-run-throughs...Start to take a little bit off and feel the right kind of stroke coming back...It's one of the great pleasures of pool. I always found it easier to work from the hard shots and down. I guess I'm a banger...but the thing is, once the firm shots feel right, the soft touch shots seem to improve too. When the true deads stroke arrives, when you can count the rotations of the cueball, the soft shots no longer feels like pokes but strokes.

I think you nailed a lot of of what's going on. There's no confidence in my stroke at all.

It's partially (maybe mostly) in my backhand mechanics. I'm not sure if this makes sense but my back hand is not working like a hinge that stops as the butt moves firmly into the palm of my hand at the end of the stroke . What's happening at the tail end of the stroke is that my elbow is going out instead of the butt moving more firmly into my palm and the cue stick tip tends to hit to the left of the cue ball target. When my backhand is operating well, I can feel my stroke recovering. But then I don't play for a few days and I'm back to square one.
 

Mensabum

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
I think you nailed a lot of of what's going on. There's no confidence in my stroke at all.

It's partially (maybe mostly) in my backhand mechanics. I'm not sure if this makes sense but my back hand is not working like a hinge that stops as the butt moves firmly into the palm of my hand at the end of the stroke . What's happening at the tail end of the stroke is that my elbow is going out instead of the butt moving more firmly into my palm and the cue stick tip tends to hit to the left of the cue ball target. When my backhand is operating well, I can feel my stroke recovering. But then I don't play for a few days and I'm back to square one.
Idk if this will help you, but when I started playing again, I used a mid cue extension bcuz I am tall. Not only am I fighting the bugs, I'm having to acclimate to the longer stroke, which I like and has helped.
If you're tall, try an extension. It may help eliminate some of those backhand issues you're having trouble with.
Just a thot.
 

Wayne Crimi

Member
Idk if this will help you, but when I started playing again, I used a mid cue extension bcuz I am tall. Not only am I fighting the bugs, I'm having to acclimate to the longer stroke, which I like and has helped.
If you're tall, try an extension. It may help eliminate some of those backhand issues you're having trouble with.
Just a thot.

Interesting, because the opposite is true of me. I'm only 5' 5". Oh well. We'll see what happens this week.
 

ShootingArts

Smorg is giving St Peter the 7!
Gold Member
Silver Member
Interesting, because the opposite is true of me. I'm only 5' 5". Oh well. We'll see what happens this week.

Wayne, the layoff for me was twenty years. To make matters worse I decided that I would learn how to play "right". I had been a pretty dominant player so I don't know how much righter I was gonna get but I gave it a shot. I played like crapola! I knew I had never played on modern equipment before but I thought I should adjust easily like taking a ride for a week or two and tackling whatever I found.

Didn't happen. In my mind I knew I was having difficulty adapting to equipment I had never played on. Then a pub and pool hall opened near my shop. For some reason these tables had been stored since the early eighties! Do you remember those horribly abrasive cloths that would wear your fingerprints away in a day of play? Damn I hated that cloth! Never-the-less, something strange happened and balls started falling like rain on this bar table! Four balls on the table and my only shot was a long rail bank. Drilled it, then the ball that had been beside it. The balls remaining could be long rail kicked. Drilled it and the one beside it the following shot to finish the day with four reasonably tough shots.

This really reinforced in my mind that one issue is that I am not accepting the conditions of today and playing what is instead of what was. Old age does none of us any favors and this too factors into what is wrong. Mainly though, I need to accept today. While I don't accept it well I no longer have the eyes, the back, any of the things of my youth. I naturally head for the biggest toughest table in the place but a few years back I was getting ready for a tournament and got on the seven foot tables one night. In this time I had forgotten that the Valley tables bank and kick far differently.

I worked on the Valleys, got things working somewhat. Then I moved over to the seven feet Diamond. That thing was perfect for me. Cushions banked reasonably honest. better than the nine feet Diamond I thought. Later I read that the nines use different cushions. I dunno, I just know the seven shot sweet for me.

Hu
 

justnum

Billiards Improvement Research Projects Associate
Silver Member
In another sports group its called BDE: Big Directed Energy.

I went into the old 14.1 league saw old faces, got nostalgic, did a practice workout and paid in $1 bills, counted out in a flashy way.

Covid has really been awful, its nice to finally get out again. The best part about being active again is the feeling I get from knowing I can bring decent competition to specific situations. All these new people out on the scene and they look like dead money to me.

The young people with attitude and sloppy behavior and lousy conversation, its awful. One server didn't know how to upcharge me for service.

Billiards bars and clubs need better hospitality. There are countries that specialize in hospitality management and some colleges though rare graduate Hospitality management specialists. New York has tons of hotels and tons of experienced pros that want to see certain workplace standards in the classroom.

Let me know I am going public with my identity.
 

ChrisinNC

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I used to play pool every day when I was younger (from about age 16-20 and then again from about 30-35) . I haven't played much in close to 30 years. When I left off, my high run was 93, but I was still improving noticeably year to year. I think I can comfortably say I was playing well enough to run 100 balls. It just hadn't happened yet. Recently, I started playing again a couple of times a week. I'm kind of shocked at how badly I'm playing relative to my peak. My mechanics are terrible. They break down badly enough to miss many shots I would have been more than 95% to make in the past. Some of the shots I struggled with as a beginner but eventually got better at are a disaster again. Even when I make shots I often don't make them cleanly. So I lose the cue ball due to it coming off the object ball at a different angle and speed than I expected. All the knowledge is still there, but I can't run more than 25 balls anymore even though I used to string 50s once in awhile and run 60s and 70s fairly often. I guess 30 years is a LONG layoff, but I laid off 10 years one other time and got back in stroke within weeks and went to a new peak fairly quickly. I'm not even sure what I am asking here. Maybe someone has an insight into layoffs like this and whether I just need to lower my expectations permanently.
Sounds like you are at least in your 60s? Yes, I’m afraid at this age you do need to adjust your expectations. I ran 98 balls when I was in my mid 40s and was so disappointed I didn’t get to 100 that I laid off for a while, although I continued to play 9-ball.

Then in my 60s (I’m now 67) I started trying again, and I’ve rarely managed to string more than 3 racks. I was so obsessed with achieving a 100 ball run that I switched to attempting it on a Diamond 7 footer just so I could say I’ve done it. I was able to run 110, but honestly that gave me little satisfaction.

I’ve accepted that a 100 ball run on a 9-foot table is not likely to be obtainable in my future, but I can still play strong enough 9-ball to compete with our top younger players, although I can’t maintain a high level of play as consistently as I used to.

Obtaining a long 14.1 run even in a practice session requires a sustained level of focus for 7+ racks that I’ve accepted I just don’t have anymore, and I can live with that.
 

Wayne Crimi

Member
Sounds like you are at least in your 60s?
Yes. I'm 65.

I'm not convinced I am incapable of getting back most of my skill or even reaching a new peak. It's the opportunity that's a problem for me now. I have too many responsibilities to play several hours every day and it's not as convenient for me to get to a poolroom now as it was when I was young. I understand that playing once or even twice a week for an hour is not going to cut it, but I'm disappointed with where I am now. We'll see. Hopefully things will calm down for me soon and I'll have a little more time to try.
 
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