The Best Advice I Ever Got
Part of becoming a better pool player is asking lots and lots of questions. Over the last 15 years I have had access to some of the best and most knowledgeable players in the game, and I took full advantage of it. Whenever I have someone in front of me whose game or philosophy I admire, I always try to get as much information as I can from them. My game is a collage of all these bits of enlightenment, and when they come up in a game I always seem to remember where they came from.
"If you don't feel confident, fake it."
This piece of info was given to me by Jeanette Lee. She said that not only will faking it eventually get your confidence back, but it won't show weakness to your opponent. Walking around with slumped shoulders makes you look defeated and many opponents feed on that.
"Don't play for the side pockets."
At the BCA expo a few years back I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Rempe. He told me that many people play for the sides just because the ball is closer to that pocket, but early in the game or when position really matters it's better to play for the corners. If you're an inch out of line for the corners it's not such a big deal. An inch out of line for the side is death.
"When you're a little off straight on a draw shot, but you want to draw straight back, add a little inside spin."
I learned this from straight pool guru Jose Garcia, and I use it all the time. That's all I have to say about that.
"Don't play position if you already have position."
This one came from Buddy Hall via a friend of mine. If a stop shot leaves you right on the next ball, don't go 3 rails trying to get a little closer. Just make the ball.
"When your cueball is against the rail, shorten your backswing to an inch or less."
I learned this one from mechanics guru Jerry Breisath. Shooting table length shots from frozen to the back rail is my specialty. The short backswing is the key.
"You still have control of the table."
George "Ginky" SanSouci used to say this all the time when we practiced. If I hooked myself while running out he would remind me that instead of getting mad or having a pity party I should come up with a solution. It's still my turn at the table, and I need to make the most of it.
"Play your percentages."
My mentor, Stu Mattana, is the single most important influence in my game. This is one of the best things that I learned from him, and if you look back in my Pooldawg archive you will find a whole article dedicated to it. In a nutshell, know your strengths and weaknesses so you can know what shots to go for and when to play safe. Going for hero shots is usually a losing cause.
There are so many more great pieces of information that I've received over the years that I can't fit all of them in this article. You can start your own collection of pool tips next time you are in a poolhall or bar. As another great player, Tony Robles, once told me, "Listen to any advice people give you about pool, even the bad players, because every now and then they know something you don't."