Share your "Light Bulb" stories


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Throughout our pool adventures, learning, and travels, many of us have experienced what I refer to as "Light Bulb" moments. These are discrete moments when something just clicks and a sense of excitement develops, almost like euphoria. You know, like a kid in a candy shop or a puppy at his first fire hydrant.

These periods of time have an everlasting effect and we seem to grasp something that will impact our future play, passion, and love of the game. The "Light Bulb" illuminates the way to a new found path.

Although we likely have had multiple experiences in life which have influenced our game, I invite you to choose at least one and share so that others may hopefully learn and develop a new experience of their own.

I'll start this thread with a recent "Light Bulb" of my own...

A week or so ago, I received CJ Wiley's TOI DVD in the mail. Incidentally, it came with a nice personalized autographed picture of CJ and the lovely Mary Avina which made a nice addition to the wall in my gameroom that is flooded with pictures and autographed memorabilia. Being a recreational player who enjoys the occasional tournament, I do not leave the house much to play elsewhere. I have the luxury of owning a 9’ Diamond Pro which sits in my second floor gameroom with ample space surrounding. Anyway, I began to practice with TOI and almost instantly, the “Light Bulb” went off. It was a new found technique and shots just seemed easier. After a week’s worth of practice at an hour or so daily, I made it out to the local pool hall, Buffalo Billiards, which is about 45 minutes from my home. As usual, when I decide to venture out, I make my good friend, teacher, and mentor aware. He usually shows up and obliges with some friendly 9-ball. We usually critique shots and help each other out during play. Although, my help is generally nowhere what he offers to my C-D level of play, I am able to grasp and explain concepts as well as help with his mental game. Being a lesser player to him, I am usually lucky to capture a game or 2 in a race to 7. This night was different; I was actually pocketing balls and even won a couple of extra games. I must say, this method that CJ offers provided a confidence boost which has definitely elevated my game. After confidently pocketing a shot with TOI and getting the desired cue ball reaction, the new catch phrase is “T-O-I baby, T-O-I”.

Jamie “DocHutch”


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
TOI for me also was a light bulb.

After his placebo effect was gone, another light bulb was to use a more longer bridge, than I use usually. The rail shots goes in like magic.

Now I'm using TOI for almost 3 months and my game goes up.

Blue Hog ridr

World Famous Fisherman.
Silver Member
Have to agree with you on this one Jamie. Just from the bit that I gathered from watching the TOI video, I had one of those moments and continuing to have them this past week. I seriously feel that my game just got a tad better.

The only thing is, I have no idea as to why. I know that I am using Inside, the cue ball is going pretty much where I want it to go.

CJ sent me a PM and said that once I get the disc, that it will be explained
and I will know whats going on. Funny that I don't know whats going on yet it seems to be working.

Maybe it is forcing me to focus more than I was aware of before.

Ya know, I might be kind of dangerous once I know what I'm doing and why.

Looking forward to watching the dvd myself.
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AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I posted mine a bit ago, it was when I shifted my head over my cue about 1/2 inch to the right one day. It seemed to fix a stance issue I have had for over 20 years that caused me not to be able to hit the exact spot I (thought) was aiming at. It used to cause my draw shots that I wanted to go straight back to slide to the left or right, long shots to rattle, just many seeming random things to go bad.

Now I can hit the ball dead center and my straight and small angle shots are a lot better.

The bad side to this "AHA" moment is that my cut shots are a lot worse because over 20 years I got a picture of where to aim at using my old stance, which does not look the same as it does now, causing me to undercut everything. And when I try to actively compensate, I overcut it LOL. So back to hitting balls for a few 100 hours to learn cut angles again.


Dead money
Silver Member
Two instances stand out for me. I'm a beginner so some of this is old-hat for you guys.

1) When I realized the contact point is where the CB and OB overlap

2) When I realized that a great safety is much better than taking a low percentage shot. It feels great to tie an opponent up in knots.


Pool Addict
Silver Member
Realizing that my highs and lows were caused by my fundamentals getting out of whack and then correcting them. Once I learned to maintain my fundamentals I was able to maintain a higher level of play.


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Two come to mind:

Years ago, realizing that power shots are far easier with a "long" stroke than with a "fast" stroke. Letting the cue do the work and all that.

A little more recently, using the quiet eye.

I still fall back into old habits on both fronts. It's a never-ending journey.


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I was playing in a bar one night flirting with some girl, about 4 people playing challenge on the table.. next thing you know these 2 guys start playing kick the 8-ball in.. after about 20 minutes i start complaining about this dumb*** to this girl and he hears me.. we start argueing he finally says he quits and i can have the table, by that time i didn't even want to play so i tossed the cue-ball on the table it bounces way up and boom! lights out :) the room went dark and it was my time to go!


My first Aha! moment....

Occurred when I tightened up my bridge hand and leaned on it more. I had read here on AZB about someone mentioning their fingers and hand would be cramped the next day from playing. This got me to thinking, and the next time I went to the table, I made sure to use a deathgrip on every shot, and REALLY land on the table. In time I learned I was overdoing it, but once I got the "feel" right, I became much more accurate and consistent, both in potting and hitting the CB exactly where I wanted.

The second epiphany happened when I started slowing down my forward stroke. I had a pause at the end of my back swing, but from there, it was full speed ahead on the release. Once I figured out to slow down the forward stroke, "ease" into the shot, until just the right moment, boom, table length draw came easy as pie. You always read it's finesse, not power, that generates the action on the CB, and this proved it for me.


Silver Member
My first "aha" moment was when I realized that Cuetec cues were NOT the choice of most top-tier players (sorry Travis Trotter) and I got rid of that fiberglass-cladded shaft and got a cue with a wood shaft :thumbup:.

Second "aha" moment, I actually figured out that you don't just shoot the ball into the pocket and take whatever the result gives you, you actually have to MAKE the cueball go into position for the next shot :eek: (yes, I was a "banger", big time).

My next "aha" moment came when I realized that slow-rolling a ball for position isn't always the best way to do it, that I should use 2, 3, or even 4 rails to do so.

I've got plenty of "aha" moments, but these three were at the earliest part of my "serious" poolplaying career. In 6 years time (would've been less if I had fewer other hobbies and my age weren't a factor), I went from a serious banger to an APA SL6 (8-ball), and SL7 (9-ball). I'm not really very good, but at least I UNDERSTAND the game a lot better and I am no longer in "banger" status :smile:.



AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
My biggest one in the past few years was when I realized I was focusing too much of my attention on the balls. That might sound strange, but I think I spent so much energy deciding where I needed to hit the cue ball and where exactly I had to hit the object ball, especially on that final delivery. I would stare down that object ball like I was mad at it, thinking I could sort of "be the ball". All this attention on the balls, removed the focus from the one thing that I could actually control -- my body. Once I started focusing more on my body (my cueing really) the balls started being more obedient.


Fargo Rating 597
Silver Member
Oh man... several come to mind. None of them jumped up my game 200%,
but all together they made a huge difference.

• Realized I was spinning in every ball with low outside, which made me great at playing
certain kinds of position off rail cuts, but terrible at playing shape otherwise.
Learned to make balls with inside and no english.

• I figured out there's a big difference in cue ball action when you hit closer to center,
so it became possible to stun follow, stun draw, and basically choose other lines
for the cue ball besides my normal follow, stun, and draw lines.

• Sort of similar, I realized the power of just forcing the cue ball over with a
hard center ball hit, plus a little pocket cheat. This let me move across the table
even when I fell too straight. Recently saw the same light bulb go on with my buddy.
He asked how I managed to get the cue ball across the table, thinking it needed
right spin to move the cue ball further to the right. I explained to him that left and right
don't help the cue ball move further in those directions, only cut angle+force affect that.
Until you touch a rail of course, then left and right can work wonders.

• I resolved to stop lying to myself and just be honest about every situation.
It became ok to admit "I dunno what's going to happen if I do this".
It became ok to say "I'm gonna step out of my comfort zone to hit this ball the way it
needs to be hit... instead of settling for the way I'm comfortable hitting it.
I stopped trying to hold balls that I knew were too thin to hold,
or trying to squeak balls by that I knew didn't pass.

• I realized that trying to muscle my power draw shots with pure force was backfiring.
Ever notice how you stand up a little when you do a hard break, and hit higher than
you intended on the cue ball? The same thing happens when you try to ram a power
draw shot. I wouldn't draw at all.

Once I realized that, I learned to just hit much lower than before,
out of my comfort zone, close to the miscue limit... and I learned to just stroke
through the ball instead of trying to cream it. Suddenly the shot became no problem.

• The pause, which is frequently mentioned by the SPF instructors on here.
I think I saw Niels using it in a Bert Kinister video, and everything he did looked
so deliberate, mechanical (in a good way) and and precise. I spend several hours
doing it and I noticed a huge tendency to steer my stroke. If you're honest with
yourself and you use the pause, this kind of stroke flaw is easy to self-diagnose.
Not so easy to correct but I've worked on it to good effect.

• When I realized how important cheating the pocket is for cue ball control.
Like if you want to hit a straightish cut with high inside, hitting towards the 'fat side'
of the pocket gets dramatically better results than the thin side.
I tried to illustrate an example -

So now I play for one side of the pocket or the other on many shots,
so that I don't need to spin the cue ball as heavily to get the desired result.

• When I realized if I want to spin around 2 or 3 rails with inside, and I want absolutely maximum effect...
center inside gets better results than high inside.

• I figured out low inside, basically draw drag + inside, lets me get maximum result
off the rail for certain soft shots. It's sort of a way to kill the cue ball.
I saw this shot in ray martin's 99 critical shots during my first year playing, but didn't get it for ~5 years.

• When I figured out banking with a touch of outside + medium speed allows it to play naturally,
along the "angle in = angle out" mirror line... thus making banks easy with a simple system.

• Lately, a touch of inside seems to make long thin cuts easy. Not so much other shots.
But I'll take what I can get.

• When I first saw using draw+running english on straight in shots... the ball comes straight back to a rail,
then the running english kicks in and spins it down the table. Showed it to another buddy and he
fell in love with it, nicknaming it "Super Monkey Draw" which eventually became our team name.

Man, I could probably go on but I'll just leave it at that. Lots of little lightbulbs.


AzB Gold Mensch
Silver Member
To me the light bulb went off when I realized that defense is just as important as offense. Offense does you no good if you're not getting a shot.

When I realized that playing safeties is a skill set and knowledge bank of it's own, and I needed to improve my safety game and my safety choices and kicking game to have any sort of chance against the top players. At that same time, I recognized that kicking to hit the ball is Ok but without having some specific goal or control of the outcome, most of the time you'll sell out to a good player.

Offensively, anything that discourages laziness in aiming is a good thing.


My first "aha" moment was when I realized that Cuetec cues were NOT the choice of most top-tier players (sorry Travis Trotter) and I got rid of that fiberglass-cladded shaft and got a cue with a wood shaft :thumbup:.

Funny, that was my first "aha" moment also. They say a good player can play with a broomstick. Given the choice, I'd take the broomstick.

I had this conversation with a friend after league play two weeks ago about that stick. He wondered why I hated the thing so much. I told him the next time I saw him I'd give it to him. That's probably going to be tonight.

Blue Hog ridr

World Famous Fisherman.
Silver Member
Ah yes, the old Cue Tec, Scorpion story. I had one of each and thought I was on top of the pool world in my little city. Then I found EBay and AZ.

Now me has more cues than brains so to speak. Its been a wonderful journey and I'm not so sure its over just yet.


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Ah yes, the old Cue Tec, Scorpion story. I had one of each and thought I was on top of the pool world in my little city. Then I found EBay and AZ.

Now me has more cues than brains so to speak. Its been a wonderful journey and I'm not so sure its over just yet.

I remember where the "good" players played with a Joss, the beginners had McDermotts hehe. If you had a "custom" you were a god.


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member

Thanks for all of the great responses thus far. I can certainly say that some of these have caused my light bulb to flicker also.

The best part of a thread like this is to process information that is highly regarded by others.

It is not "He who HOLDS the most knowledge, WINS!" Instead, "He who APPLIES the most knowledge, SUCCEEDS!"

We all have our individual levels of success and goals that we would like to achieve.

Jamie "DocHutch"


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Great thread! Ill have to read this over many times and maybe someday I will have an "AHA" moment instead of a "WTF?" moment!