How to Learn Better Patterns/Shot Choices.

Zphix

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Originally wrote this as another thread so I hope the title changed.

Anyway, one of the weak points in my game is pattern play and shot choices. I'm usually told that I play shots the harder way and that there are easier options available but I don't see them... yet!

I recognize and understand that this is something that is very hard, if not impossible, to really teach somebody. But, I'm a smart guy and learn quickly, and insightful pool lessons/explanations seem to click relatively easily for me.

I shoot with somebody semi-weekly and I think he plays better patterns than me and he'll usually tell me if he sees something that I don't and I have been learning. Still though, how do I learn to play better patterns and shoot the better shots?

This is a sticking point for me. I watch pro matches to see how they run patterns out, and something I thought about doing was printing out table layouts of runouts these pros complete without watching them run them out and then recording myself shooting these patterns and comparing my shot choices vs. theirs to see what they did vs. what I did.

I also recognize that pros may not play perfect patterns either and may shoot shots that I simply cannot and I'll be aware of that. So that's one option I'm thinking about.

Do you guys have anything else!?

-Richard

EDIT: I'm not looking for the guidelines of pattern play either like rolling into the line of the shot, instead of across the line, etc.
 

gunzby

My light saber is LD
Silver Member
I'm assuming that you're talking about 8 ball or 14.1. If that's the case I'd say to look for patterns where you're sticking to stop shots or moving the cue ball very little. The more you make the cb move the more you become open to mistakes.

Practice using only the center line of the cb and before you even take your first shot step back at least four feet from the table, find the problem ball(s), the solutions to those problems and run the first four balls in your head. This sounds tedious, but it will become easier once you do it for a while
 

Poolplaya9

Tellin' it like it is...
Silver Member
I watch pro matches to see how they run patterns out, and something I thought about doing was printing out table layouts of runouts these pros complete without watching them run them out and then recording myself shooting these patterns and comparing my shot choices vs. theirs to see what they did vs. what I did.

IMO the key is that you can't just watch pro matches. You have to analyze them and it really comes down to two simple questions you ask yourself right before and after every shot. Before every shot, ask yourself how you would play the shot. Then, if they end up choosing to play it differently than you would have, ask yourself why they chose to play it the way they did instead of your way. And there almost always is a good reason.

It all comes down to reducing risk/s and playing the percentages (which you either aren't doing, or are just wrong in your percentage calculations/assumptions). Their way was reducing the risk of one or more of the following (and there are tons more that can be added to this list):
-the risk of missing the shot (so they choose to "cinch" it and take less than ideal shape for the next ball
-the risk of speed control being too critical (too much chance of over running or under running position
-the risk of getting hooked
-the risk of bumping balls into bad positions that cause new problems
-the risk of trying to do too much with the cue ball and increasing the difficultly when it wasn't necessary (not taking the more natural position route when it would have worked just as well can be one example)
-the risk that it would be too difficult to try to get shape on a particular ball late in the game (so they may try to get on it early so if they fail they still have chances to get on it again later)
-the risk that a miss in this circumstance is almost guaranteed to be a sell out and cause you to lose the game whereas in another circumstance it might not be
-there may be an alternate position route or shot choice that isn't much more difficult but that makes it a two way shot where if you miss the opponent is likely to have no shot or a tough shot
-etc
-etc
-etc

You can't just watch pros and try to remember what they do in certain circumstances. That is just memorization and it doesn't stick very well and will take you forever to pick it up that way. Plus you will get it wrong half the time anyway because you won't recognize some of the subtle nuances involved that made them make that choice when they may have chosen something totally different with another similar table layout that to your untrained eye looks like the exact same circumstance/layout but is actually totally different because of something almost unnoticeable.

The key is knowing and understanding why they did something a certain way which you can't know unless you think hard about it. What risks did it reduce over what your choice would have been? Once you analyze and figure out the whys you almost can't help but to remember what to do in those circumstances and you will start to pick things up much more quickly.

Yes, because of the skill differences some of their choices may not always be correct for someone of your skill level (much more often than not they are still the right choice for you too though), but as soon as you learn to recognize why they do what they do, you will quickly be able to adapt that knowledge to your own skill level and make the highest percentage choices for your own game. The key is just recognizing the risks they were concerned about and the whys of their choices and how that mitigated some of those risks and then knowing and remembering what to do starts to come pretty easy from there.
 
Last edited:

Colin Colenso

<-- My Kids
Silver Member
Good points above by Poolplaya9!

It helps to watch run outs you haven't seen before, so you're looking at them without a one track mind. A player worth studying is Ralf Souquet. He doesn't rely on big shots with extreme accuracy, power, english as much as some others might. Also, there are plenty of videos of him playing.

Though painstaking, pausing between shots and thinking of the shot options for the next few shots and thinking about the error margins and logic of the previous shot is well worth the effort.

Colin
 

(((Satori)))

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
EDIT: I'm not looking for the guidelines of pattern play either like rolling into the line of the shot, instead of across the line, etc.

To me thats kind of like saying you are looking to learn how to make a cake but you are not looking for the ingrediants.

My advice is three things...
1) Read Phil Capelle's book and learn all of the principles that you are not looking for

2) Do drills and lots of them. It is a fun way to learn the game because you can set goals to beat the drill games and each drill will teach you something about how to play better. Without a doubt you will find out what the cueball can actually do.

You see learning the principles is not enough because too many times I see players try shots that would be great, if they were possible, they would fit right into the principles but the cueball simply will not do what they were trying even if Shane stroked the ball. A player has to know what he can actually do and then he applies the principles based on that.

3) Learn a good stroke. I think drills are an excelent way to do that too.


I mentioned Phil Capelles book earlier but you can also learn all three of these things at Max Eberle's ProPoolAcademy.com. He has an excellent drill section plus he breaks down the fundamentals and he walks you through numerous racks of different games explaining why he does what. It"s an excellent choice for only $99 lifetime membership.

Good luck
 
Last edited:

RiverCity

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
First question I would ask is what game are you asking about? Different games have different strategies requiring you to employ different patterns to run out etc.

9 ball: For most games, the lay of the balls tell you the pattern. If there is a cluster, look to see if and when it can be broken up. If it cant be reasonably done, look for the safe. The pattern play itself is to play most balls to the closest pocket, but that 'rule' is not set in stone. Sometimes if playing the ball to the closest pocket would require forcing the cb to do something unnatural, maybe playing it to a different pocket would help. In my head I subconsciously number the pockets as to how they relate to the balls, ie the closest pocket is #1, next closest make-able pocket #2 etc.
 

Zphix

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
To me thats kind of like saying you are looking to learn how to make a cake but you are not looking for the ingrediants.

My advice is three things...
1) Read Phil Capelle's book and learn all of the principles that you are not looking for

2) Do drills and lots of them. It is a fun way to learn the game because you can set goals to beat the drill games and each drill will teach you something about how to play better. Without a doubt you will find out what the cueball can actually do.

You see learning the principles is not enough because too many times I see players try shots that would be great, if they were possible, they would fit right into the principles but the cueball simply will not do what they were trying even if Shane stroked the ball. A player has to know what he can actually do and then he applies the principles based on that.

3) Learn a good stroke. I think drills are an excelent way to do that too.


I mentioned Phil Capelles book earlier but you can also learn all three of these things at Max Eberle's ProPoolAcademy.com. He has an excellent drill section plus he breaks down the fundamentals and he walks you through numerous racks of different games explaining why he does what. It"s an excellent choice for only $99 lifetime membership.

Good luck

The only reason I'm not looking for them is because I already know them. Basically, I know the ingredients but don't have the directions and a great many people (AAs and up) have told me the only way to learn this part of the game is through experience, not drills. As for my stroke... It gets compliments :p

For everyone else: I am talking about 8-ball in this particular post.
 

(((Satori)))

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
The only reason I'm not looking for them is because I already know them. Basically, I know the ingredients but don't have the directions and a great many people (AAs and up) have told me the only way to learn this part of the game is through experience, not drills. As for my stroke... It gets compliments :p

For everyone else: I am talking about 8-ball in this particular post.

I should mention that Darren also has an excellent series of drills that will help you learn the game and get the experience you need. I can tell that you are someone who has never taken the time to master even the simplest of drills. When you shoot a drill 1000's of times you learn things.


And Chuck is right, game strategy is another consideration you need to account for. Again Max goes into all of that on his site, ProPoolAcademy.com. You should check it out.

Good luck.
 
Last edited:

RiverCity

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
For everyone else: I am talking about 8-ball in this particular post.

Work the pattern backwards from the 8..... Best tip I can give you. And when you are figuring out your pattern, do it in such a way that you have 2 or more shots each time. Again, not a set in stone thing, but a little extra forethought is a good thing to include into your run out plan. That will help should you get out of line on your first choice.
 

Colin Colenso

<-- My Kids
Silver Member
For everyone else: I am talking about 8-ball in this particular post.
Oh, very different story for 8-ball imho.

I think the best thing is to break open racks and study the route options for a couple of minutes, then do it over and over. You have to practice running some too, to see where your plans meet up with your ability.

The more I play, the faster I can sort out a better pattern and then focus on the execution.

One way to train your mind may be to use the random 8 ball break featuer on the pool.bz cuetable program. Open the tool section and it's fourth left from the center pocket.

Spend 30-60 seconds after each random break to work out a plan.
 

Zphix

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
16HlMZL.png


7Maybzl.png


BQ3Rhvg.png


Here's an example set of diagrams I'll put up. This would be my plan to run out either solids or stripes with BIH after the break.

One thing I'll mention is that I don't necessarily like doing these because the overhead view is a lot different for me than standing at the table trying to plan things out. Not very separate from one another but separate enough that I don't think about my plans like this when I'm at the table.

For solids, the colored number represents my shot by shot selection and the white number represents where I want the CB to end up.
For striped, the white number represents where I want to shoot the colored number shot choice from.
 

(((Satori)))

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
16HlMZL.png


7Maybzl.png


BQ3Rhvg.png


Here's an example set of diagrams I'll put up. This would be my plan to run out either solids or stripes with BIH after the break.

One thing I'll mention is that I don't necessarily like doing these because the overhead view is a lot different for me than standing at the table trying to plan things out. Not very separate from one another but separate enough that I don't think about my plans like this when I'm at the table.

For solids, the colored number represents my shot by shot selection and the white number represents where I want the CB to end up.
For striped, the white number represents where I want to shoot the colored number shot choice from.

The 14 is not a good key ball. The 13 is much better.

Let's say you make it to the position after shooting the 11 in the side. From there it is 10 in the side, 14 in the corner, 9 in the side, 13 in the corner, then 8 in the corner. My prefered route.
 
Last edited:

PoolBoy1

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
my way is to put up 4 balls with ball in hand and play the lowest number and also allow for play on next highest ball till table is clear in a run. Eventually you'll graduate to 5-6-7-8 balls etc. it's easier to see smaller amount of ball patterns on a table. Find the simplest route with angles and minimal english for each ball.
 

Neil

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Get the book Mastering Pool by George Fels. It covers pattern play very well.
 

dr_dave

Instructional Author
Gold Member
Silver Member
I'm not looking for the guidelines of pattern play either like rolling into the line of the shot, instead of across the line, etc.
Even though you wrote that you don't want pattern play guidelines and principles, some of them still might help. Check out all of the info, illustrations, and videos here:
pattern play resource page

The following might also be helpful:
strategy resource page

I hope you find at least one thing of benefit on these page.

Regards,
Dave
 

dr_dave

Instructional Author
Gold Member
Silver Member
IMO the key is that you can't just watch pro matches. You have to analyze them and it really comes down to two simple questions you ask yourself right before and after every shot. Before every shot, ask yourself how you would play the shot. Then, if they end up choosing to play it differently than you would have, ask yourself why they chose to play it the way they did instead of your way. And there almost always is a good reason.

It all comes down to reducing risk/s and playing the percentages (which you either aren't doing, or are just wrong in your percentage calculations/assumptions). Their way was reducing the risk of one or more of the following (and there are tons more that can be added to this list):
-the risk of missing the shot (so they choose to "cinch" it and take less than ideal shape for the next ball
-the risk of speed control being too critical (too much chance of over running or under running position
-the risk of getting hooked
-the risk of bumping balls into bad positions that cause new problems
-the risk of trying to do too much with the cue ball and increasing the difficultly when it wasn't necessary (not taking the more natural position route when it would have worked just as well can be one example)
-the risk that it would be too difficult to try to get shape on a particular ball late in the game (so they may try to get on it early so if they fail they still have chances to get on it again later)
-the risk that a miss in this circumstance is almost guaranteed to be a sell out and cause you to lose the game whereas in another circumstance it might not be
-there may be an alternate position route or shot choice that isn't much more difficult but that makes it a two way shot where if you miss the opponent is likely to have no shot or a tough shot
-etc
-etc
-etc

You can't just watch pros and try to remember what they do in certain circumstances. That is just memorization and it doesn't stick very well and will take you forever to pick it up that way. Plus you will get it wrong half the time anyway because you won't recognize some of the subtle nuances involved that made them make that choice when they may have chosen something totally different with another similar table layout that to your untrained eye looks like the exact same circumstance/layout but is actually totally different because of something almost unnoticeable.

The key is knowing and understanding why they did something a certain way which you can't know unless you think hard about it. What risks did it reduce over what your choice would have been? Once you analyze and figure out the whys you almost can't help but to remember what to do in those circumstances and you will start to pick things up much more quickly.

Yes, because of the skill differences some of their choices may not always be correct for someone of your skill level (much more often than not they are still the right choice for you too though), but as soon as you learn to recognize why they do what they do, you will quickly be able to adapt that knowledge to your own skill level and make the highest percentage choices for your own game. The key is just recognizing the risks they were concerned about and the whys of their choices and how that mitigated some of those risks and then knowing and remembering what to do starts to come pretty easy from there.
Excellent post. FYI, I added a partial quote on the strategy resource page in the "general" section.

Good job,
Dave
 

Dockter

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I still suck at picking the pattern but...

Do you record yourself playing when shooting alone? I knew my patterns weren't the best but when I started recording myself playing I could really see how wrong I was with some shots. It's really caused me to spend some time looking over the table and remembering what I did wrong in past times. I'm still not great ( or even good ) but recording myself has helped a lot.
 

hang-the-9

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
There is a video I think called Buddy Hall on 9 ball where he plays a bunch of racks and goes through his though process on each shot. Also watch player review videos from AccuStats, you can learn a lot about why and exactly how they shot many of the shots they played.

Stuff like this is what separates good players from just "straight shooters" that can pocket balls but don't know much else.
 

accustatsfan

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I enjoy reading this thread. This is the kind of a thread about how to play better that makes me log on to AZ.

Patterns only make sense to a player if they can play the position shots.

i would watch the David Sapolis (hopefully I didn't misspell his name again)14.1 videos on youtube. He has many excellent pattern videos that focus on end game patterns that would work well for 8 ball.

Capelle's 8 ball book and the "8 ball bible" books are must reads for better pattern play.
 

u12armresl

One Pocket back cutter
Silver Member
Here's something I do (although take it for what it's worth as I only play one pocket)

When I get to a situation when I think I might be making a borderline wrong decision, or there is a better decision on the table to a better player. I quickly pull out my phone, and snap a picture of the layout.

Then either later on, or afterwards, I set up the situation again, and I ask others how they would have played it.
 
Top