: Emily Duddy
Recently I became friends with a woman player in her late 20’s who is determined to get better. She started playing on a bar table at a young age, but played infrequently up until now. This has left her with decent fundamentals & reasonable pocketing skills. Now she has become obsessed with playing as much as possible, which is a feeling all of us pool junkies know too well! Unfortunately this young woman has a couple things that could hinder her progress & many in her situation end up giving up the game altogether. There are circumstances that can greatly impact new pool players & determine whether they stick with it. I hope this article can help the new player just picking up the game, as well as veterans looking to encourage the growth of our sport.
Let’s face it when a new female enters a pool room looking to become a player, all of a sudden she has a ton of men (all skill levels & not necessarily great instructors) trying to teach her & give her tips. This is because there are still many more men playing pool than women, although we are starting to tip the scales. Some may have good intentions, but others just want an excuse to talk to her. In the end this trend has pushed many women right off the pool tables & out the door. Right now my new friend’s head is spinning with contradictory information & others stylistic preferences. No matter what the gender, information overload can happen to any new player excited to learn.
My advice to the newcomers is to find an established player with a style that you want to emulate & offer to pay them for lessons. Then don’t be afraid to make changes to fit your personality & help you be comfortable at the table. Have fun & don’t be afraid to be different. Also experiment & pay attention, you can learn a lot on your own from trial & error. Try not to overthink while you are shooting, keep it simple & focus on consistent fundamentals. As for all the veterans trying to give advice, consider the new player in a new social environment & offer friendship first. You might be trying to help, but unless the information you’re offering is taught repeatedly it probably won’t stick. Consider if it will be helpful before blurting it out & consider if they asked you for the advice or not.
2. You must pay your dues.
One day the aspiring player mentioned above asked me about competition and leagues. Early into the conversation she stated, “My plan is to practice hard & get a lot better before I join a league or competition, I want to make sure that I will win.” Oh if only this were possible, we’d all be champions! Also we would probably not continue to compete because there would be no challenge. Competition in a game like pool is not ideal for the faint of heart. It’s especially difficult for those with the need to win all the time. Between skill levels, luck & bad days winning comes & goes; however, with the right attitude competition is a great tool to help your pool game & to build strength of character.
I explained to her, that the feel of playing under the pressure of competition takes a lot of practice. If you want to be a consistent competitor you have to love the intensity & be ready to lose more than you win. When I started competing 12 years ago I was shocked by how poorly I would play at times, even though I was a decent player. In order to advance through each level- local, amateur, national, semi-professional, professional, & international, I had to endure an adjustment period to get comfortable that often lasted years. Now that I am at the top it’s a full-time commitment & more work than ever to get comfortable & win. Although I have won matches, I have not been ready to win a WPBA event & it could take a decade for me to win a tournament at the international level. I also accept I might not win a World Championship, but I love every second of the competition & will give it my all. There is a lot of growth that comes from tough loses, achieving hard earned goals, and climbing through skill levels. If you love pool, I believe it is worth it. The bottom line is, jump into league & competition that is appropriate for your skill, & start paying your dues. The time you put in will equal the result you enjoy.