MIKE SIGEL ONCE SAID he never shot until he was ready, and back in his heyday, he did very little missing. Once at the U.S. Open 9-Ball, he told me and Charlie Williams, “Back then I didn’t miss.” All he had to do was show up at a tournament in order to win. Possibly a slight exaggeration from Mike “The Mouth,” but based on his record, not too far from the truth.
Have you ever stroked a shot even though you knew or felt you were not aiming correctly? Only to exclaim “I knew I was going to miss that!” in an attempt to justify your result? It may be true that every pool player who has ever missed has experienced this feeling at one time or another.
Conversely, it may also be true that every pool player who has ever made a ball has had the feeling of knowing that a particular ball was going into the pocket.
If you are going about the business of pocketing balls and running out, it would be to your advantage to eliminate the feelings that you will miss a shot. Doing this requires a respectable amount of patience and discipline, especially in regards to those moments of uncertainty.
In the past, I have dealt with this situation by shooting anyway because I just couldn’t wait. I was in a hurry to make the ball and run the table. Upon missing such a shot, I would feel thoroughly betrayed and disgusted.
One can only take so much pain before the change response takes effect, and with experience and maturity I have learned to stand up and start over in those rare occasions when my aim does not feel correct. This takes a good deal of patience.
While it takes patience to stand up if the shot does not feel right, it takes discipline to minimize those uncertain moments. Discipline in terms of a pre-shot routine including: clarity of your intended outcome, positive body language, finding the aiming point, body positioning, warm-up strokes and eye movement routine, and keeping your body still upon delivery of your actual stroke.
By having a pre-shot routine or SOP (Standard Operating Procedure), your feelings of knowing a ball will drop will increase, and you will be more equipped to create rhythm and run out consistently.
If after all this you still aren’t ready, either stand up or take some extra strokes without over doing it, until your shot is “on.” Figure out a formula that works for you. How good would you be if you only shot when you were ready?
Copyright 2000 Max Eberle. All rights reserved.