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Starting Strong: How to Win the Lag

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Hello again!
 
The time has come for us to talk about something that is truly one of the most important shots… THE LAG!  Yes, that is correct.  The lag is one of the most important, if not THE most important shot we will take in the entire match. 

Many tournaments and league matches start off with the two combatants squaring off at the head rail for true test of control, an excersize in repeating fundamentals and judgement.  The two players will lag their respective ball down the table and back up again, the player who gets their ball to stop closest to the head rail wins the all coveted first break of the match.  No matter what the format, winner breaks, alternate break or even loser breaks, the FIRST break is your chance to strike the first blow and hopefully move that first bead to your side of the score board.  Drawing first blood in a match or even staying in control of the table is all determined by the ever unpracticed lag shot.  I can hear you now “but I am an accomplished player Mikey, I don’t need to practice something as trivial and easy as the lag”.  Sadly, so many good players have this mind set, and sadly they will not get that first break advantage as often as the player who practices the art of lagging.  Lagging the ball is a skilled shot, just like shooting a jump shot, banking, or any other shot you have in your repertoire.  In order to master this skill we must practice it!

WHERE TO START

Let’s begin with our attitude.  When practicing the lag, don’t just go into it half-heartedly.  Be sure to approach this shot with the same focus and discipline as any other shot.  Use your good pre-shot routine, visualize your target, judge your speed and proceed to execution.

CHART YOUR RESULTS

One great way to practice your lag is to make a game of it.  Ask one of your pals to join you in a friendly challenge that will be both fun and educational.  Lay a ruler flat on the table extending out from the head rail.  This will be your guide to plot your results.  Each player takes turns lagging ten times.  Using the ruler, plot the results on a piece of paper and see who can get the closest the most times out of ten.  This will make practicing the lag both fun and entertaining, while at the same time sharpening your skills.
If there is any lesson I want you to take away from this article, it is how important the lag is to giving yourself the best chance to win.

In closing, always remember when practicing the lag:

1. Approach this shot like every shot you take, with the same focus and will to win
2. Make a game of your practice session.  This allows you to plot your results and keep track of your improvement.
3. Practicing the lag is not beneath any player of any skill level, not if they want to give themselves the best chance to win.

Until next time,
Mikey V.