10 Ways To Stay In Stroke
As the weather gets warmer, the poolrooms historically get emptier. With more and more outdoor activities to choose from, our old friend pool ends up taking a backseat as our entertainment of choice. Of course it’s acceptable to have a life outside of the poolroom and play some other games, but what happens once the summer is over? Without reinforcing that muscle memory during the summertime, your stroke arm will feel like that sixth grader on his first day back in math after three months with no long division.
You’ve worked hard to develop those pool skills so don’t let them slip over the summer. There’s no reason to go back to square one when fall pool league starts back up again. Here are 10 fun ways you can keep your game from slipping in the summer:
1. Watch some videos. Even though you may be taking a break, it doesn’t mean the rest of the pool world is too. Catch some live streaming from just about any major event on any given weekend. Or, check out some of the latest Bonus Ball matches, pool’s first professional billiard league. Their season is heating up and you can stay in stroke “Charlie Brown” style, vicariously through watching some great matches.
2. Read a new book. Think you already have every instructional pool book on the market? Well, have you read them all? If you’re anything like me, then you probably have one or two favs that you’ve read over and over. Well, flip through a new one, buy a new one, or start reading one of the many billiard novels out there. Inspiration can be found inside those pages.
3. Learn a new drill. There are thousands of different pool shots and drills on the internet and even more variations of them. Try something new and different that is enjoyable. The whole point of keeping things fun is that it’s your summer break and though you don’t want to forget everything, you still want to keep it enjoyable. So, pick some drills that are fun and interesting to you and set goals that are tangible and realistic for your summer lifestyle.
4. Meet your friends. Schedule a set time and place to meet up with your friends or teammates for a weekly practice session. That way, you’re spending time with people you like while all working together to improve. Play heads up, scotch doubles, cut throat, whatever works best for everyone. The important thing is you’re hitting balls.
5. Play in a weekly tournament. With so many of the top players out of town for nationals or taking the summer off, show up and snap off one of those weekly tournaments, build your confidence a little bit and show them who’s boss!
6. Join a summer league. This is one way to guarantee you’ll be playing at least one night of pool per week. We all know it requires more than one day a week to keep improving but when you have summer fever, one day a week is a lot better than no days a week.
7. Learn a new game. It’s easy to get stuck in the same ol’ rut of playing the same games over and over again. Learn a new game that will pique your interest again, just like the first time you tried your now favorite game. There are so many various billiard games to try. Equal Offense, Fargo, or Cribbage are some fun old school favorites of mine. Texas Bumps, Billiard Football, and Bonus Ball are some newer fun ones which require some props. Whatever you try, as long as it keeps you at the table, that’s the point.
8. Get a new toy. You don’t have to go off and buy a new cue but sometimes, even the latest and greatest new tip tool is all we need to get excited again about playing. Revisit your wish list and budget.
9. Take some lessons. If you really start to feel your game and mechanics slipping, it’s probably time to call in the professionals. Seek the guidance of an experienced instructor in your area. Set up a few regular lessons over the summer and give yourself something to work on in between lessons.
10. Create a summer playlist. If all else fails, update that playlist with some fresh, upbeat tunes to keep you motivated and excited about pool again. The right summer jams on the way or during a practice session can stimulate the brain to doing some great things.
Staying in stroke this summer doesn’t require 40 hours a week of heavy practicing. It’s just a matter of maintaining the skills that you’ve worked so hard to develop. Don’t start from scratch every new pool year because you haven’t hit a ball all summer. Stay ahead of the game by playing it. For more information on youth billiards programs or to find out how to support the future of our great sport, visit the Billiard Education Foundation.