The first step to taking pool lessons is to acknowledge that it’s time for pool lessons. There comes a point in your game when all the books, videos, and practice alone are just not enough. No matter how resourceful you are, there’s only so far your game will go without a little bit of coaching. No amount of reading can replace having an experienced player observe you and share their knowledge.

If you’re fortunate enough to live in a town that offers free clinics or instruction, jump on it! That’s a great place to begin. More often than not, those instructors also teach privately and you can get a good feel for their teaching style.

When searching for the right pool instructor, here are some basic things to take into consideration. Decide which are the most important for you.

1. Your Current Level
2. Your Pool Goal
3. Are you seeking a Coach, a Mentor, or Just Lessons?
4. Knowledge & Experience
5. Reputation / Referrals
6. Personality & Communication
7. Their Own Playing Ability
8. Cost & Location

What is your current playing level? Are you a beginner player, starting from scratch that needs help with the basic fundamentals? Are you an above average league player that could use some fine tuning? Or, are you an advanced level player that would just like to improve your strategic game? A good instructor will assess your level and tailor the right training program to suit your needs.

What is your goal with pool? It’s tough to know what to expect from a pool lesson if you’ve never taken one before. To get the most out of your lessons, think about what you would like to accomplish before you start. Maybe you want to improve your handicap in league or win your first tournament. Maybe you just want to beat that boyfriend of yours. Have a purpose in mind.

Are you seeking an instructor or a mentor? What level of commitment do you expect from your instructor and from yourself? How much time are you willing and able to commit? Based on how serious you are, you may find you’re looking for a consistent relationship with someone who is dedicated to your game. That’s a mentor. If you’re really not that competitive and just looking to improve a little then maybe one or two lessons with the resident pro will suffice. Remember, you can’t expect to get more out of anything than you’re willing to give.

Is knowledge and experience important? It may be tough to tell how much knowledge and experience an instructor has after one lesson. Come prepared with a list of questions and consider doing a phone interview before you commit. A good instructor does not need to have previous coaching experience. You might even be their first student, but if they have the knowledge and the intent to help you succeed, that may be all you need.

Reputation / Referrals: Always ask around. It’s true that your friend’s favorite instructor may not necessarily be yours, but if someone comes highly recommended by many players they should be worth trying out. Do the research. If it doesn’t work out, try someone else. It’s perfectly acceptable to have more than one instructor, just make sure they have similar philosophies.

Personality & Communication: The best players do not always make the best instructors. Just because someone is a world champion and can run racks in their sleep does not mean they will be able to effectively convey their knowledge to you. Spend some time with an instructor before your lesson to get a feel for their communication skills.

How well does your instructor play? Like I mentioned before, the best player is not always the best instructor. However, is it important to you that your instructor be a better player than you? What if they are unable to demonstrate what they are trying to teach? Can you still respect them if they’re retired but still full of information? Only you know the answers to these questions. These are all important things to consider before committing to a coaching relationship.

Cost & Location: Do these two words play a factor for you when considering your new coach? Choosing an instructor for the convenience of being in your budget and area may not always be the best decision but it’s still a good start. Remember, you get what you pay for.

Entering into a teacher-student relationship makes us a little vulnerable. It requires us to let down our guard and reveal all our weaknesses. No matter who you choose as your instructor, remember to keep an open mind. Improvement only comes with change and acceptance. Have fun choosing a coach and enjoy your lessons!

The next time you’re in the mile high area and looking for a Denver billiard instructor, be sure to look me up.