FINDING THE RIGHT BALANCE
I am always amazed when I see players pocket a ball and then dive down into the next shot. Without thinking about what they want to do, feeling and seeing the shot and weighing the options, they jump into the shot ready to pocket the next ball and fire away. Yes, then often make the ball, but wind up in a bad position, or in a death trap, or worse, totally miss the shot.
What I’d like you to do to raise your game to a higher level is to stop and ask yourself three questions before you jump in to a shot.
Asking yourself these questions and the process of answering them will give your brain the certainty that it needs to perform at its best. You won’t be guessing and you will have a specific target, all keys to playing better pool.
So the first question we want to ask ourselves is “Where do I want to shoot my next shot from?” We want to be as close as possible to our next shot to increase our pocketing and positional percentages, we want to be able to reach the cue ball easily, and we want our cue ball to stay out of trouble. Deciding where we want our next shot starts us on the road to creating a quality shot.
The next question we ask ourself is, “What is the easiest way to get there?” Pool is a hard game and if you can get to your desired position with a rolling ball, that is easier than a jacked up draw shot. We want to have a specific shot in mind that will maximize our chance of pocketing the object ball and having the cue ball fall on the next shot at our predetermined target.
The final question to ask yourself is “Am I trying to do too much with this shot?” Every shot has only so much you can do with it and still have a reasonable chance to pocket the object ball and stay at the table. We don’t want to miss the shot trying to do too much with a shot. The classic example is a long, difficult shot, and countless people use “a little” of this and that to move the cue ball. In these cases just pocket the ball and let speed and the angle take you to the next shot. Sometimes you can only do so much with a shot.
Let’s look at an example:
We have this lay out. We are on the one, and want to get on the two to get straight on the 3. Let’s ask ourselves our questions. Where would I like to shoot the 2? Straight in somewhere. How can I get there? Well I could use inside spin and come off the short rail, I could draw the ball hard into the long rail with spin to get on the two, or I could use a no spin stun shot to go 4 rails and come down the line of the two and get perfect.
Yup, that is what Efren Reyes did in a match! He took a longer route to get perfect on the two, using speed and angles rather than spin! So ask yourself, "Where do I want to shoot my next shot from?"