Sunday, December 25, 2005

Brokeback Billiards

I’ve got to be honest with you: I have no wish to be known as a good bar box player. It’s my contention that if you can play pool on a regulation table you should be able to handle yourself on the small tables as well. In fact, as I recall, back when I could actually play this game I had a hard time missing on a bar table, even at times when a miss was in order.

In addition, as regards my playing now, I don’t think playing on the small tables is doing anything for my game. Yet, since there’s not much going on in the local pool rooms, I find myself playing in bar tourneys three nights a week. And that’s it. No mas, no mas. So, when I was recently invited to join a bar pool league, I declined. Most of my pals from the bar tour play every night of the week, including two nights, Mondays & Wednesdays, set aside for leagues. Guess they don’t have much going on at home.

Anyway, I was asked to sub this past Wednesday and, because it didn’t involve a season long commitment, I said I would. I won my four games so I don’t have to carry any guilt around for letting the guys down. But as far as the league experience goes, it’s not for me. Too much high-fivin’!

I come from the pre-touchy-feely generation. I don’t believe guys should be touching other guys except to shake hands when it’s appropriate or to knock someone on their freakin’ ass. I lost my appetite for bowling when it turned into a high fivin’ marathon. Not only did my fellow bowlers feel the need to celebrate their camaraderie after every frame, some wanted to touch hands after every ball! That’s ten frames, times two balls, times four other guys, times three games… God, it boggles the mind.

Speaking of God, the “give your neighbor the sign of friendship” hand holding is a big reason why I gave up church going.

If I win a game, tell me “Good game.” If I make a good shot, say “Nice shot.” That’s all I require. That’s all I want. If you feel the need to touch somebody, go console my opponent.


Mr9ball said...

Greetings from Norway

Hello Ace

I just happen to stumble into this site after searching for some pool t-shirts.
I’ve been reading much of your posts now, and I must say you have nice touch to it.
Seams like your writing is getting more practice than your stroke ;-)

My native language isn’t English so pardon me if it looks like am 5 years old. Its not easy to get down on paper or screen everything I’d like to say and it probably wont come out as clear as I want it to be but it won’t stop me from trying.

I would like to comment on your quest to becoming a better player, improving aim, stance etc etc. Hope you don’t mind me doing so.

Try not to get your self tangled up in the never ending search for perfection in all areas.
Much of the things you seam hung up on are basics witch by now am sure you know just as good as any A player in the US.

I have seen and studied various techniques and I found most if not all, useful for its purpose. As long you can center your chin over the cue and your legs isn’t too far away from what is natural and you can execute a decent swing, you got the tools for the job.
I agree that this isn’t to be taken lightly especially not for a beginner. I’m just trying to make a point and from what I’ve read and understood you’re passed that point a long time ago.
So relax your arm and let it swing baby.

I agree with old Willy but also with the 90% angle dude, both techniques work well. Personally I believe it should be an inch inwards so that the pendulum effect gets more time to build up speed. (and more)

Breathing and rhythm is what I think you should be focusing on in the future.
Especially when you’re in a tourney or playing a practice match.

Rhythm is your pace around the table. It’s in the decision making process. It’s in your stroke.
A good rhythm will give you that “dead stroke” more often than just being in a good mood that day. Instead try to picture your self being a Zen Buddhist trying to reach Nirvana 50 times a day. You’ve got a pre flight check list to go thru before a shot, do it and move on to the next check list witch is getting down into your stance with your chin centered over the cue. You know the expression, never take your eye of the ball, well it’s the same thing in pool but it’s not the cue ball but rather the object ball.

Take a walk around the table, clear your mind of any uncertainties and eventualities.
Your mind should be doing one thing only when you’re aiming and not three things.
If it’s a long and difficult shot, take extra care and step out to the side of the table and check that angle again. Focus your eyes on the spot and walk back to the cue ball in a good and steady rhythm and while you’re doing that, Never take your eyes away from the aiming point. Now from an upraised position ca 1.5m behind the cue ball, move in and get down in a fluidly fashion. When your stance is in the ready “locked” position, only then it’s ok to look at the cue ball and aim for English, draw etc. A Pro golfer or Pool – Snooker player have much in common in this routine.

When you’re training try to take the shoot without looking at the cue ball at all. Stand upraised and get down and fire away, you’ll be surprised how true your aim is.

Hope you don’t see this as me criticizing you or the way you play, I’m just speaking out loud after a short read. This was just a wild guess hoping it would give you a push in the right direction. Witch again I have no idea if it was needed.

I got plenty more I’d like to add and re-write  but I’ll have to save it for another time.

Take care Ace and good luck in your Quest.

With friendly regards only 


Ace Toscano said...

Thanks, Tore, you've given me something to think about and I'll bear it in mind when I practice. And it is probably time for me to move on - I don't think my old bones are capable of producing the perfect stroke of my dreams.

Mr9ball said...

Hi again Ace

Cool to see your answer so quick.

By the looks of your photo it seams like your old bones are still fit for fight.

A perfect stroke is rarely needed if your position play is good.
Try to leave your self some margins for error and consecrate on setting up the cue ball in the right angle before the next shot.
It’s called Zone play. It’s a “triangle” with the max and minimum angle you can live with for setting up the next one. You want the cue ball to travel into the zone from where the “triangle” is widest; this will give you more room for error.
A good player like your self shouldn’t have much problems potting a ball no matter if the distance is 40,60, 80cm away from the corner pocket.

I believe that we should go as low as we can over the cue, 5-20 cm.
You can teach/train your mind and eyes so that you can pot balls standing with your chin 30cm left or right over the cue. It’s like shooting from the hip but it will still work.
So most aiming methods can be used; it’s just a matter of practice.
I’m not saying that all methods are equally good.

The main reason why we should place our chin directly over the cue, and as low as possible, is that we are lining up the cue with our eyes. Not the opposite. Our eyes are true in their aim and this is why you should be focusing on the object ball From Start: Witch is your body in an upraised position. Too Finish: Witch is your body locked in your stance.

Bar room players tend to use a high stance, often as high as 40-50 cm.
Reason why they do that is that they feel more comfortable aiming when they can see the angle of witch the object ball is taking. The biggest problem with this technique is that they will fail to get their eyes & chin centered over the cue. The gap between chin and cue is too wide so they fail to notice that they are standing 0.5 - 2cm to the left of the cue.
This is because the body (depends on stance) will have a natural tendency to lean to the left.
(Right hand people)

I don’t believe (any more ;-) that there are absolute truths in Pool as long as you understand what the weak spots in your technique are. A high stance will work great on a 8ft and even good on a 9ft table but it will never work good on a snooker table.

Well this was all I had for now Ace.

Oh BTW. Try to get hold of a game called Virtual Pool 3D. It’s an insane good and simply fantastic Pool simulator.