As I travel for pool, I end up in a lot of interesting conversations with non-pool players – it’s a really fun part of my life! Pool is such a unique activity because everyone has experienced it differently. My last cab driver taking me to the airport, who was in his 40s, said he had never played a game of pool in his life, but was always curious about it.
The average person I meet tells me they have played a little, comment on how much fun it is, but finish with the fact that they suck (which I usually respond with- you just need a good lesson and some practice!). Then other people, like myself, grew up with family that loved pool and began playing young. In my case, playing pool growing up was a huge asset when I started competing in college and decided to pursue it professionally. My parent’s philosophy was to get me involved in a wide variety of sports, game and subjects so I could figure out what I wanted to do with my life and be ahead of the game when I did.
In general, people enjoy doing something more when they are better at it, but many don’t want to look like a fool while they are learning. Pool is no exception to the rule and since there is a large learning curve, there is more time to look silly. Every person has some level of pride and ego. The bottom line is more people would play pool if they were better at it. However, the tricky part is that pool is a set of skills that are very unnatural, particular and complicated. The fundamentals alone are very involved! Then there is pocketing, English, position play, pattern play, banking, kicking, defense, and the list goes on. Still, the more you play and learn, the more you will progress, which is the fun part!
In order for the pool community to increase its numbers, appeal, and popularity, we must turn to the human psyche for the answers. Pool can be fun, exciting, rewarding, challenging, and beautiful…but it can also be complex, intense, boring, overwhelming, and slow. Let’s consider some ideas of how to introduce newbies to the game of pool and show them why we love it! Here are some ways to get more people into pool!
1. Start teaching the youth.
The younger a person begins learning a skill, the more quickly they can develop those skills and add new ones. With so much to learn while playing pool, this is the best way to build the game we love. Share it with your kids, family members, students, or neighbors. Our youth can benefit in so many ways from learning pool. If they are into it, buy them a lesson with an instructor as a gift! The skills can last a lifetime.
2. Keep it simple.
If you have a friend, family member, or co-worker who is interested in playing pool, simply ask them to go and play. At the beginning, don’t overwhelm them by trying to teach them too much or asking them to join a team if they don’t feel comfortable. Give them pointers if they ask, just teach them basics and have fun!
3. Buy the newbie a lesson or a pool cue.
When someone you have been playing with starts to take a serious interest in playing more or joining a league one day, encouraging them with a gift that can take them to the next level, like a lesson with a local Pro or getting them a decent pool cue to get used to.
4. Take them to play during the daytime.
When you start playing with or teaching someone who is just getting into the game, try to make time to play with them during the daytime when the pool hall isn’t really crowded. That way the person will feel less embarrassed as they learn and will look forward to a fun afternoon shooting pool.
5. Invite them to watch you play at league night.
Instead of inviting someone to play in a league with you when they are first starting out, just invite them to come watch. That way they can see how fun and social it can be and also what a wide range of skill levels are needed to play. Then encourage them to join a league when they are ready. They will also learn this way if it is something that is right for them.
6. Share your favorite pool stuff with them!
There is a lot of cool stuff in the pool industry and we have access to a lot of it online. If you have friends that you are trying to help appreciate pool, then share with them your favorite pool stuff. From players, to websites, training articles, videos and merchandise, the pool world is available online and growing by the day.
Together we can share why we love pool and maybe help others experience that joy along the way!