When I first started playing pool I had unlimited time and no responsibility, so putting in 10 hour days at the pool table was routine. Today my practice is wedged in between work and caring for my son, which sometimes leaves me with only a couple of hours at the table. While a short practice is better than no practice at all, a little bit of structure can make a two hour practice very productive. When my spare time is low and I have an event looming I will often use this two hour practice to make sure I'm ready.
30 minutes of the straight in drill
I wrote an entire article on the straight in drill because that's how important I think it is. Line up balls one through fifteen, as shown, and set up a straight in shot from line 1, 2 or 3. Beginners should use line 1, intermediates line 2 and experts line 3. As you work your way through the balls focus on everything about your mechanics: Where are your feet? How low is your head over the cue? Which eye is over the cue? Is your arm moving in a straight line? How is your grip? Figuring out what works for you and trying to do it on every shot is the first step to mechanical perfection.
30 minutes of break practice
The break is the most important shot of the game, so give it the proper respect and add it to your practice routine. Move the cueball across the headstring to find the best spot, or if you're an 8 ball player, try the second and third ball breaks. If you're in a league where the 8 on the break is a win, hitting the second ball on the break gets the 8 moving toward the side pocket. Focus on your mechanics and timing as you come through the cue ball and try to find the sweet spot.
One hour playing the ghost
Playing the ghost is a great way to work on position play and execution. Break the balls, take ball in hand and try to run out. If you miss, you lose. When you miss a shot you feel you should make, execute the shot ten times then move on to a new rack. If you're a beginner, only use three or four balls. Play races to seven and keep score. If you are winning more than half the time then add another ball. Things to focus on while playing the ghost: Make sure you use the mechanics that you worked on during the straight in drill. Try to get as close to the next ball as you can. Try to play position lines that travel into the ball (more on this in an upcoming article!)