Sunday, January 18, 2009

Two Steps Back

It was less than a month ago that I beat one of our local sharpshooters to make it into the finals of our local open nine-ball tournament. My would-be opponent in the finals, the best player around here, had been up since 4 AM and asked if I would like to split the pot. Knowing he’d most likely beat me, I said yes. He later observed that he had never seen me play better than I had been that night. That was good to hear.

I had been seeing the balls better lately which accounted for improvements in my shot making. But my stroke was still pitiful. I knew that – it was nothing like the stroke I had when I was a kid, smooth and fluid and relaxed. But, I had it in my head that at my age (I’ll be collecting SS in June) there was no way I could will my bones and muscles to produce a good stroke. Then, while I was practicing one day, an old-timer, a guy probably a dozen years older than me, came over and started giving me advice on my stroke. Well, I figured, if he doesn’t think I’m too old to learn, maybe I’m not. So, that’s what I’m doing now – working on my stroke.

One exercise he’s got me doing involves shooting spot shots. I’m not to aim, per se, just go for a half-ball hit – aim thru the center of the cue ball (cb) at the edge of the object ball. You can’t make this shot, he claims, unless you put a good stroke on the cb. Of course, there are other factors involved, like form, stance, etc., and I’ve been practicing those at home in front of a mirror. I try to keep them in mind at the pool room as I’m shooting my spot shots. After that drill, I throw all 15 balls onto the table and pocket them deliberately, using my new and improved killer stroke. It’s a little awkward, right now – I’ve taken a couple weeks off from gambling – but I’m sure I’ll be back at the table shooting better than ever very soon. Count on it.

1 comment:

Barry Craig said...

Hey...I agree with you on that! That's what I've been doing myself...working on my stroke. I pocket balls okay, but I can always learn more. This old dog has to learn new tricks...good blog.