When I first began working with my mentor he gave me a list of ten silly mistakes players make in nine ball. My lack of knowledge made me guilty of every single offense on a regular basis. These days I am still guilty of the occasional oversight, so every now and then I refer back to my list. I hope you do the same.

1. When there is a carom or combo available on the nine, and you know it's right to play for it, do not go for the runout for either of the following reasons; a) You think it's better to practice running out. This is nonsense. Practicing combos and caroms is just as important, b) You want to look good, and you think it is more impressive to run out and demonstrate to onlookers that you are a run out player.

2. With ball in hand, do not play a position line that involves an obstructing ball if one that does not is available, otherwise, you unnecessarily chance snookering yourself. Snookering yourself with ball in hand is one of the worst pool crimes you can commit. Minimize the chance of it happening.

3. Do not play shots that have a scratch written all over them. The most obvious of these is when a ball lies just beyond the side pocket. In many situations, if you try to cut it in the corner pocket you are taking a great risk of sending the cue ball into the side pocket. You cannot change physics. Find another pocket, such as a bank, or play safe.

4. Do not leave yourself shots that require long position play with the bridge. Achieving accurate long position with the bridge is very difficult. Sometimes you need to plan on leaving a slightly longer shot to make sure you can reach it. There is a long learning curve in play here, but you need to account for which shots you can and cannot reach in your position play.

5. Unless you have already mastered the use of the bridge, don't shoot with the opposite hand, otherwise you will never get around to mastering the bridge and your game will lack a critical feature. Also, it is amazing how often miscues, bad misses and major position errors occur when non advanced players shoot with the opposite hand. Expert players may urge you to add opposite hand shooting to your game. Be smart enough to resist their well meant advice until you are ready.

These are 5 of the silliest mistakes you can make in 9 ball. There are 5 more on my list, which I will cover in my next article. In the meantime, take an honest look at your game and see which ones you are guilty of!