Not getting any better?!

tomatoshooter

Well-known member
So I've been shooting a lot and, while every aspect of my game is getting better, my results are not showing much improvement. I've been playing seriously for the past year and I am not at the level where it should be so hard to improve. I struggle to beat players that do not impress me. Somehow I always come to the table with either no shot or the only shot I have does not allow me to play position. This is playing 8 ball and safeties are very hard for me when I've got to hide 5 or 6 balls. I feel like I'm missing one ingredient to pull it all together and improve dramatically. I know I still have plenty of room to improve in all areas of my game but I still feel like the skills and strategy I have should be generating many more wins and more convincing wins but somehow I am in too many situations where I can't use them effectively. What are some potential ideas that will help me win more? I feel like I should lose half as many games as I do now but every game seems like that game where nothing rolls my way.
 

FranCrimi

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Whoever has control of the table will have the best chance of winning. It sounds like you need to work on your safety game so that you can get control back from your opponent, even if they leave you tough by accident. Every time you approach the table, there is a solution. You have to figure out what it is. It's usually kick shots and safeties that will get control of the table back for you. Study better players and practice those shots.
 

evergruven

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
not an instructor
pool to me is like life, every time I figure something out, I realize there's something else I don't know
I'll give you a concrete/phenolic example- often I throw balls out and play rotation, I usually run them ok
tonight kind of by accident, I was faced with balls more in the middle of the table, rather than near a pocket
running these was much more difficult, because it was so easy to miss position and have my run end
I realized pretty quick I had to focus more on sending the cb into the shot line, rather than cross it
this is pretty common advice, but when balls are over a pocket, you can fake a good cb and still get shots
not only did I have to focus more on position, but I needed more skill to do it, cos I wasn't used to these shots
so my bubble burst a little..I realized that my game had another hole in it that I'm gonna have to work on
in the moment, it sucked to suck- but then I also realized that hey, I learned something..and I'll be better for it
I say all this to say that it's easy to not be a strong pool player. pool is hard. but little by little, things add up..
hang in there. show that you care about what you're doing, but don't forget pool's a game- have fun with it!!
 

measureman

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I've seen players that have been playing for decades and they have trouble running 3 or 4 balls and have just stayed at that level.
Also I have seen players become real good after a couple years.
I call it natural talent.
Something just clicks and the game gets easier.
It's not a very hard game.
 

Bob Jewett

AZB Osmium Member
Staff member
Gold Member
Silver Member
So I've been shooting a lot and, while every aspect of my game is getting better, my results are not showing much improvement. I've been playing seriously for the past year and I am not at the level where it should be so hard to improve....
Describe your typical practice session -- the things you are currently working on and how you work on them.
 

Pin

Registered
The thing about 8-ball, is if you run most of your group but don't get out (and the other guy has most of his balls on the table), you're a pretty big underdog.

So when a player is getting better, and playing attacking pool, he might keep putting himself in a position where the worse guy has a big advantage.

There are two solutions to this (or maybe other people can think of some more):

- Only try to run out if you're pretty sure you'll do it (or if the other guy will win next innings if you don't try now).
If you're not trying to get out, focus on pocketing or developing your hardest balls, and leave your easy ones alone.

- Accept this as a part of the learning curve. You said you can tell your skills are improving, so that might be good enough for now, and you could accept that your match results might start to improve a little further down the line, as your skills keep getting better.

I recommend doing both of these things.

I'm not an instructor though.
 

tomatoshooter

Well-known member
Describe your typical practice session -- the things you are currently working on and how you work on them.
My main drills are the stop shot into the corner pocket, the centerfield drill, and a drill that is shooting balls placed at each diamond along the long rails into the corner pockets. Sometimes I line up several balls across the middle of the table and work on my draw. It just occurred to me that I can modify the centerfield drill by trying to return the ball to other areas besides the middle of the table. I'll also shoot scrimmage games against myself, or throw several balls onto the table and try to run them in rotation.

Last night I was trying to do the two rail bank into the corner. That shot is so touchy that it's basically a Hail Mary. The four rail bank is much easier if the path is clear. Sometimes I shoot banks and kick shots, sometimes I try to shoot a rack of 6 balls in the end and middle pockets, if they go past the middle of the table I have to bank them.

If I have an interesting shot, I'll mark the table and try it different ways.

A lot of times I try to shoot straight pool but the break shot never works out.
 

tomatoshooter

Well-known member
Only try to run out if you're pretty sure you'll do it
It's a safe bet I won't. Like you say, I need to sink a ball and then get safe, break up problems, etc., and think of leaving my opponent nasty as important as sinking balls. Let HIM get frustrated.
 
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boogieman

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that ping.
It's a safe bet I won't. Like you say, I need to sink a ball and then get safe, break up problems, etc., and think of leaving my opponent nasty as important as sinking balls. Let HIM get frustrated.
I struggle with this and it can lead to me losing to a worse player often. Every shot is a 2 way, making things better for me, trying to hold control of the table, but at a certain point, you must run balls to win. You have to accept less than stellar shape and just make up for it with shot making, or at minimum you have to not concentrate on a 2 way and run balls. Early 8 ball strategy is taking care of problems or ducking and letting your opponent take wild swings. Leave them only the option to blow up a cluster. At a certain point in a game it's our opportunity to win. It may be with 6 balls left on the table, or 2 balls left. It changes, but rest assured that if we don't take the opportunity we may not get another. Flukes happen, low level players make a hail mary shot, etc. You gotta pounce at the right time or the ebb and flow might get you.

Think of a cat. He toys with the mouse, but if he doesn't go for the kill eventually, the mouse just may get away! That mouse may be beat up but he gets out to live another day.

I think 1 pocket is the best game to learn how to get good at 8 ball strategy. The reason being, there's a ton of safety play and just bunting balls around. However, when it's time, you have to make hay while the sun shines. You might have to run 8 in a row if it's time. You might have to run 1 and duck. It's a great game for learning strategy and how to evaluate control situation on the table. Plus if you play hours of it when you go to play 8 ball it seems easy! You get all 6 pockets! :)
 

tomatoshooter

Well-known member
but at a certain point, you must run balls to win.
Yes. I've heard the cliche "defense wins championships" but I think out of all the pool I've watched I've only seen 1 rack that had more safeties than scoring shots.

You have to accept less than stellar shape and just make up for it with shot making

It seems like I get one or the other. I can generally make a shot and move the cue ball to a productive area but if I try to make the cue ball do too much I miss the shot.

I think 1 pocket is the best game to learn how to get good at 8 ball strategy.

I hear people say straight pool is good but I think there are often too many shot options, at least with my current skill set. With 8 ball, I have 7 potential balls and 8 potential blockers. There's some sophisticated pattern play to set up your break ball in 14.1 but I get more shooting practice out of it. There's always a combo in every rack and shooting a cluster and having the right ball go into a pocket feels like a magic trick! I do love one pocket and can see how that would add a lot to my 8 ball game.

I was just shooting some 8 ball and looking for safeties as a primary option instead of only when I can't find a shot. I think I'm going to focus on that for a while. If I consistently make better decisions I'll bet I'll lose half as often. If I can also consistently shoot near my potential, I'll also lose half as often. That would move me up the power rankings substantially.
 

dquarasr

Registered
Not an instructor (you may have seen my many pleas for help in this section!)

Sounds as though we might be close in skill.

I have some suggestions that may or may not help.

- play the table but also play your opponent. Faced with an iffy shot? Will your leave give your opponent a hard shot or an easy shot if you miss? Is your opponent likely to get out or is he or she a lower level player? If a good shooter, consider a safety or a two-way shot. If not a good shooter, ensure if you do miss your shot you leave the object ball in a place easy to convert in the next innings.

- as mentioned, in 8-ball, try to attack groups of balls near each other. Try to avoid going up and down the table.

- learn how to maneuver the cue ball with rolling rather than draw.

- avoid low percentage shots. I can’t tell you how many times in league I’ve watched a medium or low level player try an angled short shot into the side pocket and miss with only a small portion of the pocket available, when a longer corner shot is a higher percentage shot.

- personally, I avoid combination shots because for me they’re usually low percentage shots.

Real instructors, please feel free to support or refute my SL4 suggestions.
 

dquarasr

Registered
Yes. I've heard the cliche "defense wins championships" but I think out of all the pool I've watched I've only seen 1 rack that had more safeties than scoring shots.
Are you watching primarily pro videos? If so, then, yes, they have the shot making ability to almost always be on offense. But a lower skilled player should play defense on shots that may challenge their skills.
 

FranCrimi

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Last night I was trying to do the two rail bank into the corner. That shot is so touchy that it's basically a Hail Mary. The four rail bank is much easier if the path is clear. Sometimes I shoot banks and kick shots, sometimes I try to shoot a rack of 6 balls in the end and middle pockets, if they go past the middle of the table I have to bank them.
Those are fun to practice but the only time you should shoot low percentage shots like that in an actual game is if you make it a two-way shot --- that is, that if you miss, you're not selling out.
 

BilliardsAbout

BondFanEvents.com
Silver Member
So I've been shooting a lot and, while every aspect of my game is getting better, my results are not showing much improvement. I've been playing seriously for the past year and I am not at the level where it should be so hard to improve. I struggle to beat players that do not impress me. Somehow I always come to the table with either no shot or the only shot I have does not allow me to play position. This is playing 8 ball and safeties are very hard for me when I've got to hide 5 or 6 balls. I feel like I'm missing one ingredient to pull it all together and improve dramatically. I know I still have plenty of room to improve in all areas of my game but I still feel like the skills and strategy I have should be generating many more wins and more convincing wins but somehow I am in too many situations where I can't use them effectively. What are some potential ideas that will help me win more? I feel like I should lose half as many games as I do now but every game seems like that game where nothing rolls my way.
A frequent issue for 8-Ball players "missing that one thing" as you wrote is shot selection. Call or write and I'll help you--no charge for my time--we can even fix this in many cases by telephone.

Thanks.
 

sparkle84

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
In 8ball, if you want to run out, then shot selection is critical. That however is not the OP's missing ingredient. You need to reach a certain level of proficiency before shot selection starts being a factor. Judging by his descriptions he has many more pressing issues which can't be determined accurately without seeing him play. Bob is on the right track but to give effective advice more detail and video is needed.
 

evergruven

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
In 8ball, if you want to run out, then shot selection is critical. That however is not the OP's missing ingredient. You need to reach a certain level of proficiency before shot selection starts being a factor. Judging by his descriptions he has many more pressing issues which can't be determined accurately without seeing him play. Bob is on the right track but to give effective advice more detail and video is needed.

good point that I refer to, myself
that "knowing is half the battle" means you need the other half, too
 

BilliardsAbout

BondFanEvents.com
Silver Member
Why so private, Matt? What's the big secret that you can't share here?
45 minutes of runout, sequencing and safety decision making that would be thousands of words on a post.

I also have several pool books in print but thought I'd assist the OP personally.
 

FranCrimi

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
45 minutes of runout, sequencing and safety decision making that would be thousands of words on a post.

I also have several pool books in print but thought I'd assist the OP personally.
But this is a forum. Other people might benefit from your written answer. Why not help others with an answer posted here rather than turn it into a private lesson? Is it really that impossible to answer a question without turning it into a private lesson?
 

tomatoshooter

Well-known member
But this is a forum. Other people might benefit from your written answer. Why not help others with an answer posted here rather than turn it into a private lesson? Is it really that impossible to answer a question without turning it into a private lesson?
DUDE! I have enough trouble winning as it is!

League is going on break so I'll have more time to rebuild my game instead of just wanting the quickest improvement. My stroke could use a lot of work, too.

I definitely think cue ball control should be a priority. I can set up easier shots instead of trying to keep the ball in a productive area and taking what I can. One of the biggest examples of my need for more control is that when I am shooting a ball on the other end of the table, I struggle to keep the ball down there. When I go for a safety, a lot of times the cue ball rolls a little too far, making it a lot less effective. I'm going to start looking for safety opportunities and think of hooking a guy good as just as valuable as dropping a ball.
 
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