How to Learn Better Patterns/Shot Choices.

Zphix

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I appreciate the feedback and insight so far fellas. I'm glad that this post is starting to grow and come to life a bit more.

I didn't get a chance to read through everything multiple times but the few things that immediately stuck out were:

-Take a few steps back from the table and look at things. I definitely stand on the edge of the table when I'm planning my outs and after thinking about it I understand why this has hindered my ability to plan racks. I was watching matches on YouTube last night for hours - and would pause after the rack was broken open and I'd plan the outs. Sometimes it would take me a few minutes per rack, and sometimes I was wrong but I was surprised that some of my patterns were actually what they played. I really think that the camera angle and distance away from the table helped out.

-Assessing running into balls. I don't pay enough attention to this when I run into balls; usually it's some quick conclusion like "The balls will separate, 'nuff said" and I realize how wrong this after watching the pros.

-Trying to do too much - This is me in 80%+ of my games.

I'm also really happy that when I focus on finding the patterns in pro matches I'm actually seeing them and can understand shot choices. I watched matches for close to 6 hours straight and at first I was analyzing shot selection after shots were taken and towards the middle-end I was analyzing shot selection before shots were taken; rationalizing and working through why taking one shot over another would be beneficial.

I think I took a good first step here. Keep the information coming fellas!
 

Bob Jewett

AZB Osmium Member
Staff member
Gold Member
Silver Member
... 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.
...
The third shot for solids requires you to be within an inch or two on your position. Try setting up just those three balls and see how often you can get through that sequence to those pockets. On that particular pattern you do have the 5 available if you get wrong on the 4 and the 4 does have another pocket.

Also the position you have shown from the 5 to the 7 is not possible -- you are too straight on the 5. It would be a struggle to just get to the result with no cushion and coming off the bottom cushion would take break-shot speed.
 

Skippy27

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.

One thing I would stress is to keep it simple. You know your strengths and your weakness so play to your strengths when in a match and work on the weak parts when practicing to make them a strength.

Pattern play does not matter if as part of that pattern you are leaving yourself shots that are a weakness (say rail shots, or long spot shots) for you. Clearly part of pattern play to learn is how to get yourself to the next strength shoot while you avoid putting yourself in a position to shoot one of your weak shots. Some people see the table differently because of this and play it differently it does not mean they did it wrong.

Always look at the pocket line and know if you need the cue above it or below it for your next shoot, to get to your third shoot the way you need to in order to continue the run. Most importantly know when you need to concede the table so you can stop making balls and put yourself in a position to return to it. The worse thing you can do is allow you ego to remove most, if not all, your balls so your opponent has an open table to work with.
 

Keith Jawahir

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Tor Lowry's Zero-x billiards videos are a really good resource as well. Jimmy Reid has a bunch of videos up on his channel also.
 

Straightpool_99

I see dead balls
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.

Do these three drills for a couple of weeks. They helped my game to no end. They are not about shot choices, but more about the stuff you didn't want us to talk about (staying on the right side of the balls etc). What doing the drills will do for you is to ingrain these simple one- and two rail shots, where they are easier to recognize during the game. You will then be familiar with the easy way to play the shots. You are in a way reprogramming yourself. Once a shot is ingrained like this, the patterns will jump out at you.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9bws47rM-A
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42_-zDA2vHU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fju7xCCsi_w

Then you do the brainwashing drill. Just break the balls and shoot every shot without the cueball hitting a rail. Or set them up in a pattern like the guy below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoxauonHCNE

Telling you stuff about patterns won't help you much. For me, at least, drills are the best teachers of patterns. I have also extensively studied the patterns of Mike Sigel in straight pool. I would still say that the drills are better, but studying better players does give you extra knowledge.
 
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victorl

Where'd my stroke go?
Silver Member
There's a sticky thread for the AZ Ghost Challenge, with a great group of players posting scores and videos of themselves playing the ghost.

Post some 8-ball videos, ask for some feedback and I'm sure you'll get a lot of top-notch advice from some really good players ;)
 

jojopiff

AzB Silver 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.

This is some top notch advice. Seriously OP, look at whats here.
 

Corwyn_8

Energy Curmudgeon
Silver Member
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.

Don't neglect the possibility the reason is that they screwed up. It may (or may not) be rare, but see if their next few shots are tougher than they ought to be.

Another suggestion: evaluate every ball on the table after every shot which moved balls (other than OB). Which balls are A) pocketable as they sit, B) pocketable once some A balls are pocketed, C) need to be moved, D) break balls. (thanks G. Fels) If nothing else this makes one become acquainted with them all.

Trying to find an ordering of 14 balls amongst the 87 Billion possibilities is a hopeless task. One must reduce those possibilites by any means necessary. Find the final ball; find the key ball; find a group of two balls to take in order; find the starting ball; break clusters early; leave fallback balls when breaking; etc.

Thank you kindly.
 

Zphix

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Why the hell was this revived lol...

You guys can relax as I no longer have this problem.
 

Smooth

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
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.

first, walk the table and know which pockets are open to every ball you have

then, work it backwards as said above

your brain will get better and better at connecting the dots to the last ball.... or getting to a spot where you play the safe or break-out as part of a plan, and not just because it's all you have left or you got lucky on a leave
 

JoeyA

Efren's Mini-Tourn BACKER
Silver Member
When I do commentary or watch matches, I always attempt to predict where the cue ball should wind up after the current shot is executed.

When the cue balls winds up in a different place than what I predicted (in my mind) I decide then, if the player made better shape or worse shape than I predicted. It is kind of a competitive game in my mind.

I also try to remember shots that I was completely wrong in my prediction and practice those shots at a later date.

Hope that helps.

JoeyA
 

victorl

Where'd my stroke go?
Silver Member
Why the hell was this revived lol...

You guys can relax as I no longer have this problem.

I'm glad you got that pesky problem fixed in just a few months.
It's taken me 15 years and I'm still working on it! :(
 

Skippy27

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
It is all about being able to control the cue ball because you can draw out the perfect run every time, but rarely will you execute it without being pretty close to professional level.

Most important thing to know is the tangent line and how you can move the cue around to get where it needs to be based on that not only for your next shoot, but the shot after.

Ultimately it is going to come down to shots you are comfortable with and good at. You are going to have to establish your key ball for the win and for any break outs. Then consider if planning yourself for the perfect run out is no good if one of those shoots require you to have perfect leave, long draw, perfect breakout setup or something else you simply are not great at. So you may have to sacrifice the perfect way for your best way. There are many times that I make a shot knowing what I want to do, but because I may have left myself harder than expected or wrongfully above/below the shot line for the next I have to reconsider. Maybe I see that I left myself perfect for another ball unexpectedly and it would be the best opportunity to take it or it would help me get back in shape for the one I messed up.

In a nutshell, I believe you have to be pretty damn good to draw out an 8 ball or 9 ball run out pattern and stick to it throughout the entire inning. Maybe you are, but don't be afraid to just go 3-4 balls down in your planning and adjust as you need to. Once you can pull those off constantly, then maybe you have the cue ball under control enough to start trying to run out full racks in your head before you do it on the table.
 

philly

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
It is all about being able to control the cue ball because you can draw out the perfect run every time, but rarely will you execute it without being pretty close to professional level.

Most important thing to know is the tangent line and how you can move the cue around to get where it needs to be based on that not only for your next shoot, but the shot after.

Ultimately it is going to come down to shots you are comfortable with and good at. You are going to have to establish your key ball for the win and for any break outs. Then consider if planning yourself for the perfect run out is no good if one of those shoots require you to have perfect leave, long draw, perfect breakout setup or something else you simply are not great at. So you may have to sacrifice the perfect way for your best way. There are many times that I make a shot knowing what I want to do, but because I may have left myself harder than expected or wrongfully above/below the shot line for the next I have to reconsider. Maybe I see that I left myself perfect for another ball unexpectedly and it would be the best opportunity to take it or it would help me get back in shape for the one I messed up.

In a nutshell, I believe you have to be pretty damn good to draw out an 8 ball or 9 ball run out pattern and stick to it throughout the entire inning. Maybe you are, but don't be afraid to just go 3-4 balls down in your planning and adjust as you need to. Once you can pull those off constantly, then maybe you have the cue ball under control enough to start trying to run out full racks in your head before you do it on the table.

Very well said and thought out but easier said than done. All you say is true. There is a lot of knowledge and CONFIDENCE in the head of a true run out artist. I try to keep things simple and lately it has come down to one thing for me and that is "trust your stroke." Doubt is the killer of all runs and doubt is the result of OVERTHINKING. When you learn to trust your stroke you slip into the zone. At least I do.
 

SmoothStroke

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
As soon as you learn the cue ball and stroke technique the easier it is to see patterns and run the cue ball into insurance zones or hit lay ups .

Rotation is as simple as it gets.

Let's take straight pool.
Lay out 20 different racks and the best 20 players in the world will play them 20 different ways. The experts commentating matches are constantly calling the wrong shot, or what they think the best pattern is. What does that tell you?

Learn the technique, and then play it.
It’s a lot of work, master it, be the complete player, find your natural, make the game your own.

Find a 3 cushion table and sleep on it, a year from now they will be asking for weight.

It's all about the cue ball; it's an art, everything else is easy compared, including pattern play.

The Confident Cue Ball

Sincerely: SS
 

TATE

AzB Gold Mensch
Gold Member
Silver Member
Just want to say it's hard to play patterns unless you have good control over the cue ball. Here's one tip: try to always play to a specific spot, a specific distance, on one side of the OB or another. This is critical in learning cue ball control. The attempt at doing something precise gives your brain the feedback it needs to learn. There are not very many basic shots to master, but you can't master them until the cueball is well under your control. The more you practice, play the ghost, etc the better you will be. It's not easy and it takes patience and a lot of play.
 
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IamCalvin06

Yang "The Son of Pool"
Silver Member
Take time in weighing your options percentage wise.

Find the problems that prevent you from running out first.

Decide which shot allows you to open your balls but also gives you shape on your set as well. In 14.1 it's called a safety valve. Breaking a cluster is not a random thing and should be thought out carefully. Be exact on which ball you should hit so that it allows u to open ur balls and gives you a shot on the next ball.

If ur balls are in the open then choose shots that play easy position and minimal CB movement. Try to use a ball close to the eight for shape on the eight.

In eightball shot selection is the whole key to running out. Don't be stubborn, be willing to change your plans when things go astray.

Don't run 6 if you can't run 8
 

Skippy27

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Very well said and thought out but easier said than done. All you say is true. There is a lot of knowledge and CONFIDENCE in the head of a true run out artist.

Oh I know it is harder than said. One of the biggest problems with someone like me is that I think I can do more than I can so I end up running out further than I should and typically have to walk away from the table without having control when shooting for fun.

My confidence and knowledge make me think I can run just about ever rack and my ego leads me to try it way more than I should. Unfortunately I still lack the needed cue ball control and physical ability to actually execute it as often as I should. However, it is practice so no harm no foul. :)

If I am shooting in league I have a tendency to go the other way and play more conservative, which has cost me games/matches as well. :confused:
 
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