Developing Expertise In Pool

straightline

AzB Silver Member
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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.

If that's your level, no argument from me. One should always learn or evolve through experience. Fear of failure is just one element. Some have none and just go for it. If they had good footing to start with then they'd have a string of positive experience and nothing credible to worry about. Filler and Shaw come to mind. As far as it being practice, well a couple months of 1K sets might be considered precursory to um real scores lol. I wouldn't know never been and not likely to be.
 

evergruven

AzB Gold Member
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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.

agreed
immediately, I think "showtime" inherently promotes the idea
of playing at an order of magnitude above the practice
leading up to that moment

in a match, *shouldn't* a player play in a more disciplined, more thoughtful way?
playing in a match seems to inspire that way, naturally
so, unless a player chokes, shouldn't a player play better in a match, than in practice?
prompted by your words, just thinking out loud
with that in mind, admittedly not with much else
(it sticks out that much, and yea, I'm spitballin' here)
the axiom "practice like you play" might actually be a hinderance, to playing well
 

Protractor

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Sorry in advance if this might be a little long...

When I first leaned to play I was fearless because I just kept winning, and just kept winning because I was fearless. The player that most reminds me of my young self is Filler. That mode worked for a long time, even without practicing, until my playing went into the ditch.

Fast forward to joining leagues for the first time, had always played bar rules, never 'Valley' rules, never played defense, had always had the attitude of just smoking the opponent so bad they would give up.

First league match, had not been practicing (did not have a table yet) did a break and run on the best player on the league. My performance went up and down from there because I started missing easy shots and doubt was allowed to creep in. Eventually my game degraded to the point that I ended up quitting league in the middle of the season in disgust and my pool table became a shelf.

Several years went by before I discovered that I had double vision that was subtle enough to look like blurring that I had attributed to aging eyes. It turns out that it was congenital; only 20% of the population's eyes are perfectly aimed at the same spot. My brain had been correcting for it until my eyesight had degraded enough.

Two operations later - that were intended to avoid corrective glasses and ultimately failed - I am seeing better in general due to a very large decrease in my stress level. I also have glasses that have no correction except for prism to correct for the double vision that I use just for pool.

Now to the chase...

Because I had a very long run of successful pool playing based on intuition and muscle memory, I struggled when I went back to playing pool. Performance and Confidence got into a stumbling sort of dance where they were stepping on each other's toes. My stroke wasn't working so I had to start over by trying different strokes to find something that I could trust and this is where paying attention to minutiae bit me.

I found that the slow text book long stroke that Dr. Dave demonstrated did not work because of some sort of mechanical problem in my stroking arm that caused the shaft to move side to side as it traveled. What did finally work best was the non text book i had used back in the day, best exemplified by Kelly Fisher. Along the way, I discovered a few more so I now have about 4 strokes in my quiver.
 

Protractor

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
(Damn, clicked the wrong button..).

(Continued from my previous post, on the topic of practice...)

Once I was past that hurdle I still did not have a defensive game or a solid practice of taking all of the time that I really needed to map out the best pattern in 8 ball and on shooting zone or pinpoint position. The way I solved that is by what I call "playing the Devil" - sorta like ghost ball but switching suites when each turn ends, emulating two different players to the extent that I can..

That includes playing safeties which means I also get practice at escaping from them. I figure this is a close as I can get to a real match game while practicing and it has helped my game to the point that I am again doing break and runs and if I don't seal the deal I can run out the other suite, in practice.

Since I've gotten back to form our team has taken first in league twice and second once (lost by half a game). Some of the weaker players hate playing me now, just like the old days. I'm pretty happy with that but there is room for improvement, so I will be playing in two leagues again this year.

Based on my Jekyll and Hyde history I would advise that it is good to learn fundamentals early on instead of late in the game, and that both the intuitive and trained approaches to playing work, as long as you are bullet proof with them.

One more piece of advice: a lot of players, including me, will throw balls up on the table and just shoot them down to warm up. What I do now is pick out a shot that might be a challenge and shoot that first. Before shooting I pick out the next ball so that I can pull shape on it.. If i see bank shots, I take those. By the time I get through a couple racks, I am ready.

Thanks for indulging me on this, but my experience seemed to illustrate a lot of what has been discussed and was not intended as horn tooting.
 

straightline

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
agreed
immediately, I think "showtime" inherently promotes the idea
of playing at an order of magnitude above the practice
leading up to that moment

in a match, *shouldn't* a player play in a more disciplined, more thoughtful way?
playing in a match seems to inspire that way, naturally
so, unless a player chokes, shouldn't a player play better in a match, than in practice?
prompted by your words, just thinking out loud
with that in mind, admittedly not with much else
(it sticks out that much, and yea, I'm spitballin' here)
the axiom "practice like you play" might actually be a hinderance, to playing well

There are many formulae to this. We all know guys who have "never" practiced and have only played for money; ever. They know the territory by heart. I consider them "observe only" lol.
Anyway, I found this article that might shed a little light on the big mystery.

https://www.thecut.com/2016/08/why-having-big-goals-can-backfire.html
 

Protractor

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Great article, nails it. I don't have much to add to that and hadn't yet gotten to that aspect of playing on this thread but focusing on the process instead of the outcome is something that I have been practicing at the table.

Whenever I had been focused on winning my game went into the ditch. A previous league team captain kept telling me, "Ya gotta win, we need to win this round." I started telling him "if you want me to win, stop telling me that. If you just let me do what I intend to do, which is to win, I'll make it happen. Otherwise, you are being a distraction."

Although he is not the captain anymore, he is on the team and being the somewhat loud and boisterous type, he is still in the habit of yelling "Make em hate it!" as each of us are walking up to start our game. So now we yell that at him when he is at the table LoL.
 
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evergruven

AzB Gold Member
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straightline

AzB Silver Member
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... I think

Therefore you am. I was just reading the latest developments in the JS arithmetic thread and it's still on dumb jock stuff like the highest numbers and cheating and fraud and all these world class pro performance aesthetics. I'd like to see pool go past all that pedestrian crap. Seems we've dumped a load of boulders on 007s thread too (major problem with high-speed rail transit) :D
 

ShootingArts

Smorg is giving St Peter the 7!
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every day, weekly or monthly, season end goals

There are many formulae to this. We all know guys who have "never" practiced and have only played for money; ever. They know the territory by heart. I consider them "observe only" lol.
Anyway, I found this article that might shed a little light on the big mystery.

https://www.thecut.com/2016/08/why-having-big-goals-can-backfire.html




I don't know where I developed the idea from, probably a composite of what I have read and heard. Anyway, I try to set short and long term goals.

Performing at least as well as I felt I should when setting goals is enough for a daily effort. For a weekly or monthly effort I might look at the competition and realize that I am facing four or five people that are operating on another level than I am. Realistically I should finish 5th-6th. Somebody nipping at my heels might pass me on this occasion, I am definitely trying to beat one or two people I shouldn't.

During the event there is only first place and first loser. On the way home there is time for reflection: Did I beat everyone I should have? Did I "steal" one or more places beating people I probably shouldn't have? Now I am realistically looking at my skill level and that of others. While in competition, nothing but first place was acceptable.

A young man came up to me after an event. "I have been trying to beat your score all season and tonight I finally did it!" My first impulse was to point out I had a rotten night and I had moved back, not him ahead. However that might patch my ego, the young man didn't deserve my sour grapes. I congratulated him as warmly and sincerely as possible, then told him to keep beating me.

Another time a youngster was talking to me and said something about reaching the level of "you guys". I started to say something about not being in the ranks of the big fish but caught myself. In that small pond I was genuinely one of the big fish and false modesty wouldn't help either of us.

The mental game is endlessly fascinating, seeming more challenging than the physicall game sometimes. There is a quiet satisfaction in winning when I should, there is more of a feeling of accomplishment if I beat a few people I shouldn't.

Short range goals should be hit every day, students go home happy. Midrange goals are tougher to achieve but achieving each one narrows the gap between today's performance and the big goal. With the accomplishment of these smaller goals one day you look up and realize, that "Big Dream" goal isn't so far away. It now seems like a few more building blocks and it can be achieved. What seemed like Mount Everest at one time is just the top of a ridge now and you are most of the way there. Without smaller goals, chances are that not much progress has been made and the "Big Dream" is still just a dream on the distant horizon.

Hu
 

evergruven

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Therefore you am. I was just reading the latest developments in the JS arithmetic thread and it's still on dumb jock stuff like the highest numbers and cheating and fraud and all these world class pro performance aesthetics. I'd like to see pool go past all that pedestrian crap. Seems we've dumped a load of boulders on 007s thread too (major problem with high-speed rail transit) :D

plenty of boulders to drop and trip over
lighten our loads
and we all fall
but I'd rather hit the ground here
and maybe chip away at a few
 

Imac007

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
There are many formulae to this. We all know guys who have "never" practiced and have only played for money; ever. They know the territory by heart. I consider them "observe only" lol.
Anyway, I found this article that might shed a little light on the big mystery.

https://www.thecut.com/2016/08/why-having-big-goals-can-backfire.html

This seems like a good time to introduce the ideas of certainty, confidence and cognitive dissonance. Starting with a cognitive dissonance definition we find it is when two cognitions are psychologically inconsistent and apparent conflicts. Our natural instinct is to want to reduce the perceived differences. A pool example occurs when a player, especially instinctual talents, move quickly from shot to shot. As the player gets down they often sense that their cue line is off slightly. The dissonance, wrong alignment versus correct line, is logged by not acted on. However, by a twist of the wrist or sliding the bridge mid stroke, the shot can often be made. That is the natural inborn tendency to reduce the dissonant gap between the shot needs and misalignment.

Next we look at confidence. While it may seem the same as certainty, they are different. Confidence is about self assurance in our abilities. Certainty is about the situation and decisions. There can be dissonance between the two. If the mind decides that a particular shot is the right one, the gap between what the body is being asked to do and an assessment of skill level, can trigger dissonance. Without confidence the player finds it hard to commit. Doubt creeps in making it difficult to make a confident stroke. Hesitation is often the result. So how can this help at the table?

One of the problems with dissonance is that it is a red flag indicator. However, many people have a high dissonance tolerance. Their way of reducing dissonance is to lower its importance. ‘Hell ya, I can make that ball, no problem.” In a sense, they simply ignore it. Problem is they are right, making the ball isn’t the issue. While the dissonance detector needs to get past that checkpoint first, it often doesn’t deal with the real issue.

It can however, be an excellent trigger to start over. In my game, once I’ve picked a shot, I view it from behind and above the shot. When I get down, I simply bring the cue to the chosen shot line after sensing a neutral stroke. My body moves to its cueing position and my bridge slides into position. At this point I harness cognitive dissonance. Moving the cue I sense whether I can maintain neutral cueing. If I sense that a subconscious adjustment is lurking inside the stroke, I reset by getting up. If I feel with certainty that the shot will succeed with neutral cueing, then dissonance has been resolved. Getting up and restarting had been one of the hardest skills I had to learn. Moving from a full size snooker table to smaller pool tables, I found pocketing ridiculously easy. The shape is where things can break down, when you just bang most shot in. That is why my definitive dissonance flag is set on, where the cue ball will settle. The neutral grip needs to produce the intended position not just the shot. Unless I can resolve the dissonance I don’t shoot.

I think this is a process mindset. It keeps me focused on what I’m trying to accomplish on each shot. When players are often fixated on technique, part of that focus needs to be on avoiding mistakes. Part of our team culture is to remember the “there are no easy shots”. Treat each shot with respect.
 
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straightline

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I'll use Kuh Bing Yi (the Chinese are lousy spellers) as partial confir-buttal.
When he first came to my attention a few years back, he did that double take thing on just about every shot. He seemed to have incorporated cognitive dissonance into his PSR. He did show that it wasn't (that) dorky to double check and proved by example that it was smarter than pulling the trigger just because you're already down on the shot.

On easy shots, I don't like the term: "difficulty". I'd venture something like, there is no easy to difficult range of shots though there is a very real range of available margins or tolerances that must be considered.
 

Imac007

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I'll use Kuh Bing Yi (the Chinese are lousy spellers) as partial confir-buttal.
When he first came to my attention a few years back, he did that double take thing on just about every shot. He seemed to have incorporated cognitive dissonance into his PSR. He did show that it wasn't (that) dorky to double check and proved by example that it was smarter than pulling the trigger just because you're already down on the shot.

On easy shots, I don't like the term: "difficulty". I'd venture something like, there is no easy to difficult range of shots though there is a very real range of available margins or tolerances that must be considered.

It isn’t just the jock that get engrossed in the finicky details. Neuroscientists take it to a whole new level. Distilling it to the essence is the challenge of sport science.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5378479/pdf/nihms853585.pdf

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326738

I investigate trying to discover ways that real science can help us play better and simply. In a world of details distilling to useful essence is an art. The forest and trees insight applied to the pedantic is needed.

Unused knowledge is just data.

Applied knowledge is wisdom in action.
 
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Imac007

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
The pool player faces more variables than someone performing alone on or alone in their lane. Racing circle track I hit my line as close to perfect as the naked eye of fans could see unless I was in traffic, then I built new lines. The surgeon is micromanaging, as is the builder of the engine and many other components of that race car.

With pool we set things in motion when we are ready. That allows more than one way to get ready to execute. When I played nightly I did things rarely looking at angles, playing only occasionally right now I often look at angles and contact points. When both result in a table run, is one better than the other?

Hu

Years ago I was asked after a lay-off what was the main difference I noticed. My response was that I had to think about my mistakes I was no longer making them without thinking.
 

straightline

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
You mentioned classical training. Just to scale that, can you get through a program? a piece? and what do you think when in do mode?
 

Imac007

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
You mentioned classical training. Just to scale that, can you get through a program? a piece? and what do you think when in do mode?

Forced piano lessons from age 7. Daily practice 10 months a year. Was forced to play a piece perfectly three consecutive weekly lessons to advance to next level. Used mastery learning. Played from beginning until I made a mistake and then started over. Sometimes redid the error portion, then started over. It taught me that the perfection was in the transitions. However, I don’t teach pool that way.

I use Effren’s process instead. I noted that he threw the balls on the table and with ball in hand ran balls. When he missed a shot he either pushed it to a hole or set it up again. He didn’t start over though. He went on to finish the run. The spread balls were an easier setup than many breaks. His attitude seemed to be that when the pattern was there to allow him to run out that he needed to always count on that.

Starting students with the end in mind, I run the game situation in reverse. Learning how to get from the setup ball to the money ball is first. Then add a ball. I start them with ball in hand. They need to choose a setup ball. The other ball needs to get shape on the setup ball so it can transition to the money ball. This starts their pattern play development. Adding a 4th ball with ball in hand adds more options. These 3 and 4 ball positions are now complicated by a concept of taking the game into the practice, as opposed to taking practice into the game.

Take the 3 ball setup then add interfering balls, like stripes when they are solids in eight ball, now with ball in hand, navigate through the obstacles. Start by adding a single ball in the midst of three balls. Don’t freeze it to any balls. Set up situations as Effren did, the runout is there and should be made. Learn to finish is at the heart of these setups. Players who do this have an advantage over those who develop an ability to run past that 4th ball making 5 then 6. Their inability to finish becomes the hallmark of their game and stalls their progress.

The functional intent behind strong pattern play development is not the pattern play itself, it’s about generating chances to finish

The difference is clear in games

Players who are break and run practice types get anxious when they get down to the part of the game they haven’t practiced. In contrast those who work on finishing often fumble through the early stage of a game but relax when they get down to the familiarity of the finishing stage.
 
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Protractor

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I use Effren’s process instead. I noted that he threw the balls on the table and with ball in hand ran balls. When he missed a shot he either pushed it to a hole or set it up again. He didn’t start over though. He went on to finish the run. The spread balls were an easier setup than many breaks. His attitude seemed to be that when the pattern was there to allow him to run out that he needed to always count on that..

I agree. Although I didn't mention it earlier, finishing the run is the most important part of my "playing the Devil" game simulation. If I rattle a ball I might push it in if I got the desired shape but otherwise I set the shot up again to continue the run.If the balls get bumped around a bit during the repeat I adjust the pattern as necessary.

Sometimes I throw all the balls on the table and shoot from wherever the CB landed, playing it as though my opponent broke dry.

taking the game into the practice, as opposed to taking practice into the game.


The functional intent behind strong pattern play development is not the pattern play itself, it’s about generating chances to finish

.

Amen to that.
 

Protractor

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I think this is a process mindset. It keeps me focused on what I’m trying to accomplish on each shot. When players are often fixated on technique, part of that focus needs to be on avoiding mistakes. Part of our team culture is to remember the “there are no easy shots”. Treat each shot with respect.

Having watched many pros in action as well as league play it is apparent that the player who makes the least amount of mistakes usually wins.

Once in a while I will tell one of my teammates that they need to practice "not missing".(which includes botching the shape) as a shorthand way of getting this across. Chances are I have already told them to stand back up, take a physical and mental breath and go at it again if they catch themselves still thinking/rethinking while down on the shot, or if something just doesn't feel right.

If you take care of each and every shot, the game is in your reach.
 

Imac007

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Having watched many pros in action as well as league play it is apparent that the player who makes the least amount of mistakes usually wins.

Once in a while I will tell one of my teammates that they need to practice "not missing".(which includes botching the shape) as a shorthand way of getting this across. Chances are I have already told them to stand back up, take a physical and mental breath and go at it again if they catch themselves still thinking/rethinking while down on the shot, or if something just doesn't feel right.

If you take care of each and every shot, the game is in your reach.

A variant I developed for 8 ball practice involves when there is a miss. Instead of resetting the shot or pushing the miss to the hole, I treat it as a turnover by an opponent. It echos your “not missing” mindset. When an opponent misses, after making a few balls, you can play a game where you limit opportunity, in order to craft a win. It’s a bit like the kids game of keep away. Depending on jump shot local rules and opponent ability, the strategic difficulty varies. The current league I’m in has few accomplished jumpers. Once an opponent has cleared most of their balls, the safety play resembles snooker or rotation games.

My mindset is a combination of patience and making it so that the miss always leads to a loss. If a safety or shot is missed, the Effren process is applied. The idea is that the miss should lead to a loss by your opponent, not a back and forth game scenario with misses playing out. It elevates the importance of the shot to nothing, patient safety play and breaking out balls first before trying to run the balls. More balls equal more cover. This incorporates kicking practice as you play the original miss player, too. Effren used to do this when a miss led to a kicking situation.

A progression using a half hour of endplay followed by full table spread ball with ball in hand transitioning into finishing with run outs sprinkled with what I call “fatal miss” practice, is good. You can increase the likelihood of fatal miss situations by adding it to ghost ball practice that uses a break to start. Usually a break instead of spread balls creates more difficult break and run setups. You get to practice your break with that process.

Schedule breaks that let you debrief and emulate play to simulate league or match play. It’s part of taking the game into practice. Teammates can help by filling time you would normally be seated. This is another way of taking the game into practice.

One player works on break and run while the other player adds the fatal miss practice, getting mulligans. Dry breaks can be handled as a fatal miss or allow the breaker to take ball in hand.

I think you get the drift.
 
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