Developing Expertise In Pool

evergruven

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Also being a musician I do see similarities with playing in the zone; as it exists in both disciplines.I play rock n roll lead guitar with a jazz sort of sensibility, playing the in between notes, using discordance and other wrong notes and totally making it up as I go. It is sort of like skating on thin ice, the trick being in keeping your speed up and sticking the landing.

Being in the zone in pool is like that but in slow(er) motion. I've played many games where I would only glance at where the CB needed to land, shot and stuck the landing without thinking at all about how I was going to get it there.

After I quit playing for 20 years I lost that, made an aborted comeback while fighting double vision and quitting again, I am now getting my mojo back on the table. While I do work on skills & drills, I also practice running around the table like Strickland and shooting by feel The analogy would be to learn the scales on the guitar, and then ignore them..

One thing that is different about playing lead and pool is that I hear in my mind/feel what I am going to play, immediately before I play it. With pool, that sort of still happens but it is slower, so as you say, there is time for doubt and uncertainty to creep in and 'ghuck' things up.:wink:

right on...
 

Imac007

AzB Silver Member
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Also being a musician I do see similarities with playing in the zone; as it exists in both disciplines.I play rock n roll lead guitar with a jazz sort of sensibility, playing the in between notes, using discordance and other wrong notes and totally making it up as I go. It is sort of like skating on thin ice, the trick being in keeping your speed up and sticking the landing.

Being in the zone in pool is like that but in slow(er) motion. I've played many games where I would only glance at where the CB needed to land, shot and stuck the landing without thinking at all about how I was going to get it there.

After I quit playing for 20 years I lost that, made an aborted comeback while fighting double vision and quitting again, I am now getting my mojo back on the table. While I do work on skills & drills, I also practice running around the table like Strickland and shooting by feel The analogy would be to learn the scales on the guitar, and then ignore them..

One thing that is different about playing lead and pool is that I hear in my mind/feel what I am going to play, immediately before I play it. With pool, that sort of still happens but it is slower, so as you say, there is time for doubt and uncertainty to creep in and 'ghuck' things up.:wink:

Having studied classical music, I too find a crossover to pool. Your musical ad lib requires a different process than the rote repetition of classical training. Someone mentioned activities Ike gymnastics which involve a routine, repeating the same activity. A PSR in essence tries to overlay that format on each shot, reducing each a generalized process. The difference is that each shot has that ad lib element. Treating it the same as a bunch of other similar shots will work until it doesn’t. The differences that make a difference soon sabotage plans made without appreciation of the uniqueness.

The one thing I take with me from my music into pool is the idea of transitions. Repetition of an identical set of notes mimics stroke mechanics for different types of strokes. Each set has its own timing and transitions. A riff leading to a complex change in fingering is a transition point and timing is the essence of music.

Each shot contacts the ball in a specific spot at a specific speed. The timing includes the length of backswing, its pace and the transition into forward motion plus timing to produce the contact momentum chosen. Any squeeze or tightening on the butt and/or in the bridge loop creates a transition too, consciously or subconsciously .

In pool my transitions tend to be more natural. Unless I need to elevate to jump, swerve or masse, stroke choice and execution happens more on the subconscious level. I see the complete shot including the final resting spot of the cb and my subconscious dials it into the stroke. In music I tend to sense a conscious anticipation of challenging transitions.

Pool to me has more of that jam element you find in music. There are multiple methods of getting position and I’m more creative in my pool than music.
 
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straightline

AzB Silver Member
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Having studied classical music, I too find a crossover to pool. Your musical ad lib requires a different process than the rote repetition of classical training. Someone mentioned activities Ike gymnastics which involve a routine, repeating the same activity. A PSR in essence tries to overlay that format on each shot, reducing each a generalized process. The difference is that each shot has that ad lib element. Treating it the same as a bunch of other similar shots will work until it doesn’t. The differences that make a difference soon sabotage plans made without appreciation of the uniqueness.

The one thing I take with me from my music into pool is the idea of transitions. Repetition of an identical set of notes mimics stroke mechanics for different types of strokes. Each set has its own timing and transitions. A riff leading to a complex change in fingering is a transition point and timing is the essence of music.

Each shot contacts the ball in a specific spot at a specific speed. The timing includes the length of backswing, its pace and the transition into forward motion plus timing to produce the contact momentum chosen. Any squeeze or tightening on the butt and/or in the bridge loop creates a transition too, consciously or subconsciously .

In pool my transitions tend to be more natural. Unless I need to elevate to jump, swerve or masse, stroke choice and execution happens more on the subconscious level. I see the complete shot including the final resting spot of the cb and my subconscious dials it into the stroke. In music I tend to sense a conscious anticipation of challenging transitions.

Pool to me has more of that jam element you find in music. There are multiple methods of getting position and I’m more creative in my pool than music.

I don't know if I brought this up here but while it's on my mind, in genre like legit music, you already have years going out to centuries of completed performance as examples; by tradition if not direct experience. Pool lacks that monkey see monkey do experience. It's not even a thing. It's taught in bits and pieces with no progressive repertoire of, what, runs? The only practical application offered is to find each other and outdo by trial and error. I consider this the folly of sports competition. It's ALL trial and in contrived situations; success determined by order of attrition.

There's a 9 pack by Reyes on youtube. It ended with a makeable but missed combination in rack 10. This would not happen on the worlds concert stages though it's a cool aesthetic twist. yeah everybody clams but entertainers know showtime is showtime win or lose.
Point being: jocks default to pedantic. Dramatic changeups are hit or miss and probably discouraged. I used the gymnast word because those kids go straight ahead - or nuthin. Pool needs that element.
 
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Imac007

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I don't know if I brought this up here but while it's on my mind, in genre like legit music, you already have years going out to centuries of completed performance as examples; by tradition if not direct experience. Pool lacks that monkey see monkey do experience. It's not even a thing. It's taught in bits and pieces with no progressive repertoire of, what, runs? The only practical application offered is to find each other and outdo by trial and error. I consider this the folly of sports competition. It's ALL trial and in contrived situations; success determined by order of attrition.

There's a 9 pack by Reyes on youtube. It ended with a makeable but missed combination in rack 10. This would not happen on the worlds concert stages though it's a cool aesthetic twist. yeah everybody clams but entertainers know showtime is showtime win or lose.
Point being: jocks default to pedantic. Dramatic changeups are hit or miss and probably discouraged. I used the gymnast word because those kids go straight ahead - or nuthin. Pool needs that element.

I think you would relate to this golf video. Golf is like pool in that no two shots are really the same. You have to decide on what shot and shape then build the stroke. Feel the whole and its intended outcome.

https://youtu.be/8v2F70sAJEo
 

straightline

AzB Silver Member
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I think you would relate to this golf video. Golf is like pool in that no two shots are really the same. You have to decide on what shot and shape then build the stroke. Feel the whole and its intended outcome.

https://youtu.be/8v2F70sAJEo

Watched a few minutes. Enjoyed what I saw. Couple thoughts:
"Leap of faith" is a golden expression. It could be said that it is requisite to doing anything.

On eliminating PSR to emulate pro, not so much. The pro is ostensibly fully prepped to do the golf. The observer probably isn't and short-cutting the process could short circuit the learning process.

More if this gels into postable yakking...

I'd also like to address Protractor whom insofar as that post, I agree with but I'm off to practice some pool and am preoccupied thusly.

And who talks like this anyway? I doesn't... :D
 

evergruven

AzB Gold Member
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I don't know if I brought this up here but while it's on my mind, in genre like legit music, you already have years going out to centuries of completed performance as examples; by tradition if not direct experience. Pool lacks that monkey see monkey do experience. It's not even a thing. It's taught in bits and pieces with no progressive repertoire of, what, runs? The only practical application offered is to find each other and outdo by trial and error. I consider this the folly of sports competition. It's ALL trial and in contrived situations; success determined by order of attrition.

There's a 9 pack by Reyes on youtube. It ended with a makeable but missed combination in rack 10. This would not happen on the worlds concert stages though it's a cool aesthetic twist. yeah everybody clams but entertainers know showtime is showtime win or lose.
Point being: jocks default to pedantic. Dramatic changeups are hit or miss and probably discouraged. I used the gymnast word because those kids go straight ahead - or nuthin. Pool needs that element.

interesting comment
I'm sure I don't completely understand
but I'm intrigued
I think one thing sport and music have in common is nuance
sure how much depends on what kind and what kind
it's definitely there tho
innumerable combinations of notes and shots to be played
and within those notes and shots, entire universes of time and space

a few things occur to me
in a public setting, musicians usually play songs, prepared pieces
and even when musicians jam, they are to some extent, prepared for that
pool players are generally at the mercy of the table
or a another player actively combatting them
but pool players can also be prepared, to some extent
in some ways pool is a symphony
in some ways pool is a cutting contest, or a rap battle

I'm curious, what do you mean by "jocks often default to pedantic"?

keep talking about sports and music tho, I'm diggin it..
 

straightline

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I'm curious, what do you mean by "jocks often default to pedantic"?

keep talking about sports and music tho, I'm diggin it..

Pedantic means attention to mechanical detail and execution or something like that. In music it's a performance no no. In sports it's been awarded high priority as a cure for losing. Funny that it also can generate unintentional turnovers; the only point I'm making.
Practice is not performance (unless performance is being practiced). Drills should be addressed with as much attention to detail as one can muster. There is no "learn it and forget it" without that step.
 

The_JV

Local_Pro
Pedantic means attention to mechanical detail and execution or something like that. In music it's a performance no no. In sports it's been awarded high priority as a cure for losing. Funny that it also can generate unintentional turnovers; the only point I'm making.

adjective. Excessively concerned with minor details or rules; overscrupulous.

By your definition I would be considered pedantic, as I placed great importance on my fundamentals and mechanics when learning the game. I also fall back on that focus when things are going bad while in competition.

I actually preach the opposite of the true definition on the forum. There's far too much effort into making the game more complex then it needs to be.

Practice is not performance (unless performance is being practiced). Drills should be addressed with as much attention to detail as one can muster. There is no "learn it and forget it" without that step.

I do not perform drills. I did give them a honest try, but find them pointless. To roll back to the golf comparison. It's like practicing the same putt from the same spot multiple times. Sure you may after a few swings have figured out how to hit it, but the odds of landing in that exact situation again while in a match are extremely unlikely. Use a simple 1ft draw shot drill for example. I have zero doubt nearly all players would nail it within fractions at least during the last few attempts. Now change the temperature of the room, humidity, balls, cloth... So much for the warm cozy blanket that drill provided you the other day...lol

Drills aren't game play. Only thing worth practicing once you reach a level of proficiency is the dealing with the randomness of the game.

Ya ya I know... pros do this and pros do that.
 

Protractor

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
interesting comment
I'm sure I don't completely understand
but I'm intrigued
I think one thing sport and music have in common is nuance
sure how much depends on what kind and what kind
it's definitely there tho
innumerable combinations of notes and shots to be played
and within those notes and shots, entire universes of time and space

I would agree, although in some forms of music i.e. Blues, it gets boring if you are the drummer because the lead guitar has all the fun (been there, done that).

a few things occur to me
in a public setting, musicians usually play songs, prepared pieces
and even when musicians jam, they are to some extent, prepared for that
pool players are generally at the mercy of the table
or a another player actively combatting them

I think the player is more at the mercy of themselves than the table or opponent. The way I look at it unless the opponent broke and ran, my loss was self inflicted.

but pool players can also be prepared, to some extent
in some ways pool is a symphony
in some ways pool is a cutting contest, or a rap battle

I think preparation is key in either pursuit.
 

Protractor

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I do not perform drills. I did give them a honest try, but find them pointless. To roll back to the golf comparison. It's like practicing the same putt from the same spot multiple times. Sure you may after a few swings have figured out how to hit it, but the odds of landing in that exact situation again while in a match are extremely unlikely. Use a simple 1ft draw shot drill for example. I have zero doubt nearly all players would nail it within fractions at least during the last few attempts. Now change the temperature of the room, humidity, balls, cloth... So much for the warm cozy blanket that drill provided you the other day...lol

Drills aren't game play. Only thing worth practicing once you reach a level of proficiency is the dealing with the randomness of the game.

Back when I first started playing the game (pre internet, pre-VHS) I would drill to learn various skills, such as stroking, draw/english, breaking, banking, kicking, etc. Once I had them down, I only used them to refresh or resharpen. I now focus on simulated play.

Mastering a musical instrument and performing are much the same. Once you've got the mechanics and scales down you can only fly if you aren't thinking about that stuff while playing.
 

Protractor

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
My technique.

Alhough a geophysicist, I’ve never taken out a protractor or did any calculus on some curve of energy displacement. My technique...’brain dead and hit the cueball with my stick...’

...The point. Contrary to oft repeated nonsense. Yes, ‘I’ developed a level of expertise by banging balls around, zero dedicated practice and zero formal lessons. ‘Just play and have fun’. Yes, sounds Sacrilegious to the billiards gurus and everyone claiming to have magical insight.

‘You won’t improve banging balls around’. Actually, Yes you will. You’ll get a natural feel for the game.

I stumbled onto this when I was first learning. Started playing in first year of college when was 18 and living at home. The student union basement had 2 GCs and a snooker table and by the second semester I received a letter that my Mom intercepted, suggesting that since I had not been to classes for months I should just drop out. I was playing/practicing 8 hours a day for 5 days a week by then.

The only book on pool I could find back then was Willie Mosconi's little red book; no VHS or Internet yet. A couple guys showed me a couple things but I mostly just batted balls around until I got the feel for it. As I mentioned in the other post, I only did drills in order to figure out a type of shot, and this is still the case.

After while I got to the point where I could just look back and forth at the pocket and OB and see the point of impact needed to pocket it, including for banks . Having taken geometry and physics helped. Got to the point where I could run every 3rd or 4th rack of 8 ball on a GC and none of my friends would play me.

I loved feeling the zone. I would look for the next shot, decide where the CB needed to land and just shoot it.Now I am more methodical and analytical, so I watch freebie video lessons and matches on YouTube.The latter has been more helpful in incrementally improving my game because I shut the sound off and start picking out the pattern along with the pro.
 

Geosnooker

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Re the music references.

I’ve had two indoor hobbies for 52 years. Playing billiards and playing guitar. It’s just a coincidence that I started both at age 14.

Expertise is used differently. Billiards expertise is all about physics. Musical expertise is as much about culture. I’d ‘rather’ (a judgemental word) listen to a young half decent Miles David improvise for 20 minutes on the horn than hear version number 509 of the most acclaimed pianist performing ‘Moonlight Sonata’. Who was best?....all judgemental. In contrast billiards has a measureable outcome.

This extends to the guitar. By age 16 I knew basic chords, even bar chords, and since hen have basically noodled on guitars. There isn’t getting any ‘better’ after a few years of playing...not the physics. One can Improvise, go off on tangents etc, but this isn’t ‘measurable’. Learning all the scales, their modes: etc, doesn’t make the final product better. A hundred million teenage girls will choose 4 chord doowap over Chopin. In contrast, billiards has a definite physical outcome.
 
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evergruven

AzB Gold Member
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Pedantic means attention to mechanical detail and execution or something like that. In music it's a performance no no. In sports it's been awarded high priority as a cure for losing. Funny that it also can generate unintentional turnovers; the only point I'm making.
Practice is not performance (unless performance is being practiced). Drills should be addressed with as much attention to detail as one can muster. There is no "learn it and forget it" without that step.

gotcha, thanks
I agree in music, feeling is why most folks tune in to tunes
tho sometimes *how* a sound is achieved is worth admiring
in pool, the opposite certainly seems to be the case
I guess that's a big reason I appreciate efren so much
and in other sports, players like federer, and jordan
those guys just ooze talent and feeling
so much so, that they actually appear different from their contemporaries
tho you know, they practiced so much to get to where they got
but somehow they seem to transcend the typical, and coincidentally(?)
have the stats to back them

can you explain
"Practice is not performance (unless performance is being practiced). Drills should be addressed with as much attention to detail as one can muster. There is no "learn it and forget it" without that step."
?
 

Protractor

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
...

The question players, who want to take their game to the next level, need to ask themselves is "what part of what I’m doing can give me an incremental advantage."

What do you think is the primary area, of finer distinctions, that most likely will lead to expertise in pool?

I've been reading this thread since it began and meant to add my $.02 earlier on, but then life happened, So now that I have the time...


I'm not sure about the finer distinctions part of it. When I have found improvement it has typically been something broader that led to incremental improvement over time as I became more practiced.

In another thread... https://forums.azbilliards.com/showthread.php?p=6554061#post6554061

... titled "Components Necessary to Become a Pro Level Pool Player?" I posted the following...

1) natural ability
2) desire
3) drive
4) mental toughness

While that topic was based around picking out young talent for further development, it seems to be relevant here. No, most of us are not going to join the pro ranks but why not emulate that which works for them, if it improves our game? I am proof that an old pool dog can learn new tricks.

I don't question my natural ability. My eyesight is not what it used to be but I can still see patterns and make shots well enough with or without my shooting glasses. Playing with feel is still a big part of my game.

My desire and drive are still very strong, but my mental toughness took a dive when I lost confidence in my stroke. Losing that and getting it back were both game changers.

If a player is lacking in any of those 4 areas I doubt that focusing on fundamentals or such is going to lead to big improvements. On one of our league teams our captain had to fire one of the team members that was a good shot with good fundamentals but not a good player. He would miss an easy shot and just shrug it off, concede the 8 ball and other boneheaded mistakes. It didn't help that he had a significant fondness for alcohol.

Although not part of the list above, focus is what I've been working on lately, as it has always been a challenge for someone like myself, being borderline ADD, where thoughts can start running in every direction like a pack of scared rabbits.

I try to stay in the here and now by practicing the right kind of self awareness when approaching, and being at the table. The thinking part of it should be done before addressing the shot but sometimes my restless mind butts in and I have to get up off the shot, make adjustments, or not, and start over. My goal is to have all my awareness in the moment, on the shot, in the zone (Zen?).

I know I am getting there when my opponent or someone else has to yell at me to get my attention. Otherwise I don't even notice they are talking to me.

I am also better now at focusing on the game as I walk back to my seat, especially if I did not seal the deal, analyzing what went wrong, and staying in the game while seated.

While maintaining focus contributes to my mental toughness, it also helps to be a stoic. I can't control what my opponent does or leaves me, or the jukebox playing gansta rap at full volume, or other such things but I can control what I do, so I don't sweat the former and focus on the latter.

If I miss a shot or blow my leave, getting upset is not going to solve the problem. As my elder buddy says, "there is no such thing as luck on a pool table; someone caused it to happen."
 

evergruven

AzB Gold Member
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I would agree, although in some forms of music i.e. Blues, it gets boring if you are the drummer because the lead guitar has all the fun (been there, done that).



I think the player is more at the mercy of themselves than the table or opponent. The way I look at it unless the opponent broke and ran, my loss was self inflicted.



I think preparation is key in either pursuit.

thanks for the reply
I can see wanting to do more, especially with so many possibilities out there
but maintain that even in the simplest of sounds, beats, patterns
totality exists..lifetimes and dimensions and lifetimes and dimensions
whether we choose to acknowledge it or not

speaking of time..in pool and in music, we might be on kind of a clock
they might be different, but there are limitations to both
to play a song, we might have to hit a certain note here and there
to shoot good stick, we might be relegated to a general area on the cb, etc.
but even with the clock, we have good time to play
and in between the seconds we can bend the notes, skip them entirely,
and add new ones

the drummer might be going a little fast, somebody's playing in the wrong key
somebody just threw a water bottle at you..playing in a band must have its challenges

and even when another player is actively campaigning against you
trying to get you to miss a shot, or a kick

I think you're right
at the end of the day, we're all ultimately responsible for our own game
for our guitar, or cue, or..
with concern for others, but without blame
we must surrender to ourselves
and let the music play through us
 

straightline

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
gotcha, thanks
I agree in music, feeling is why most folks tune in to tunes
tho sometimes *how* a sound is achieved is worth admiring
in pool, the opposite certainly seems to be the case
I guess that's a big reason I appreciate efren so much
and in other sports, players like federer, and jordan
those guys just ooze talent and feeling
so much so, that they actually appear different from their contemporaries
tho you know, they practiced so much to get to where they got
but somehow they seem to transcend the typical, and coincidentally(?)
have the stats to back them

can you explain
"Practice is not performance (unless performance is being practiced). Drills should be addressed with as much attention to detail as one can muster. There is no "learn it and forget it" without that step."
?

Sure. Take a theater rehearsal. The players gather to work out the FLOW of the scene and not the acting per se. Sure things will touch on interpretive approach and all those mysterious hustles of good acting but the idea is to bring it to life. They are practicing the performance.

Conversely, practicing entails more pedestrian matters. Maybe you keep mispronouncing something or you wave your hands too much - I don't know I'm not an actor. But it is the body of work; years spent developing the skills to integrate into a role that may take only a few minutes. That's the essence of practice.

Little bit of digression here but to bring this back to pool, common "wisdom" is to play like you practice. It's familiar territory so you dog it less. If you compare to Efren and Michael and Earl and Onan Don the net effect is you are not playing. You are still practicing.
 

evergruven

AzB Gold Member
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Sure. Take a theater rehearsal. The players gather to work out the FLOW of the scene and not the acting per se. Sure things will touch on interpretive approach and all those mysterious hustles of good acting but the idea is to bring it to life. They are practicing the performance.

Conversely, practicing entails more pedestrian matters. Maybe you keep mispronouncing something or you wave your hands too much - I don't know I'm not an actor. But it is the body of work; years spent developing the skills to integrate into a role that may take only a few minutes. That's the essence of practice.

Little bit of digression here but to bring this back to pool, common "wisdom" is to play like you practice. It's familiar territory so you dog it less. If you compare to Efren and Michael and Earl and Onan Don the net effect is you are not playing. You are still practicing.

thanks
it's an interesting thing to consider
personally, I can't practice like I play
it's not the same thing
but I don't care to liken the two, either
I would probably be a better player
if I did practice and play the same way
but if I did that
I would also be a different player
it's an interesting thing
 

straightline

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
thanks
it's an interesting thing to consider
personally, I can't practice like I play
it's not the same thing
but I don't care to liken the two, either
I would probably be a better player
if I did practice and play the same way
but if I did that
I would also be a different player
it's an interesting thing

Maybe we got crossed up and keep in mind too that I speak of an ideal and totally hypothetical player that does the machine thing better than everybody. As in all performance disciplines, you should play an order of magnitude above your practice. IOW practice is mostly R&D and maintenance. Play is showtime. No looking back.

Back in the real world that state of accomplishment is probably a long way off BUT, that is the goal.
 

The_JV

Local_Pro
Little bit of digression here but to bring this back to pool, common "wisdom" is to play like you practice. It's familiar territory so you dog it less. If you compare to Efren and Michael and Earl and Onan Don the net effect is you are not playing. You are still practicing.

I consider every time I play an opportunity to practice. There will always be a bigger moment, so you may as well take the current one to grow accustomed to battling through the fear of failure. Which is the whole point in practicing to begin with...lol

I equate this to the likes of Jordan "wanting the ball". Don't shy away from the moment. The risk/reward percentage on shot selection doesn't change based on the magnitude of the moment and/or who you're playing. However the amount of sweat sure changes for the uninitiated.
 
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