SYNCHRONIZED CUE DANCING

PLAYING POOL IS LIKE dancing; not only your shooting form, but also your movements in between shots. The way you walk, carry your cue, chalk up, look at the table, line up, and eventually stroke the cue all give clues to how well you play, as well as affect your results on the table. I think it serves the pool player well to be fluid in action and have rhythm. This could entail graceful, powerful and controlled motions while at the table. You have a unique was of moving your body around the table and stroking your cue. Be like a child. Dance around uninhibited and filled with joy. Be like a ballet dancer. Find freedom and expression in your range of movements. Be like a hunter, focused and stealthy in your approach. Your positive body language alone will counteract the disabling effects of fear if you have any. Acting indecisively can plant the seed of doubt in your mind, thus causing you to flub a shot. Would you not rather ROCK the shot, ROCK the run out, and ROCK this game?! Your mind is one with the creator’s. Trust yourself and play your game of pool. Act confidently and you will be confident. Act smoothly and you will be smooth. Act unflappably and you will be unflappable. Stay down and keep your eye on the ball and you will run out. Dance around the table and you will dance the balls into the...

MINIMIZING CHAOS

A CHAOTIC SYSTEM IS ONE that shows sensitivity to initial conditions. Any uncertainty in the initial state of the given system, no matter how small, will lead to rapidly growing errors in any effort to predict future behavior. Basically, very small changes can result in greatly different final states in a weather system; this could mean that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Australia may lead to the formation of a hurricane in the Caribbean; hence the “butterfly effect.” In a pool shot or “system,” this could mean that a slight change in the way you address the cue ball could entirely change the outcome of the shot. If you watch a good pool player who first started out playing snooker, you may notice that he has exceptional ball pocketing skills. This is partly because snooker requires tremendous aiming accuracy to pocket a ball; however, excellent cueing skills are equally important. Out of necessity, world-class snooker players are not only excellent at keeping their body still; they have finely honed a skill which surely comes in handy for playing all types of pool—ACCURATELY CUEING THE CUE BALL! In saying “cueing the cue ball,” I am referring to the contact point between the cue’s tip and the cue ball at impact. Accurately cueing the cue ball means that the player actually hits the cue ball on the spot that he intended to strike. If a pool shot is the result of a chaotic system, then the behavior of the balls can be predicted only if the initial conditions are known to an infinite degree of accuracy, which is supposedly...

FROM LITTLE ACORNS DO MIGHTY OAKS GROW

IN POOL, AS IN life, it is the little things you do over and over that create the reality you experience, and it is your thoughts which control your actions. You do have the freedom to choose your thoughts at all times. You must be very clear about your desired results so that you can create thoughts, and hence action, that will produce the intended outcome. When you are faced with a shot and have already determined where you want the cue ball and object ball(s) to go, then it is time to figure out the best way to get them there. Now, formulate your approach considering the path of the balls, spin, speed, stroke, stance, bridge, equipment, humidity and so on. Next, imagine the shot happening perfectly in your mind. If you think you cannot do this, think again—you can. Visualize the exact line and resting point of the cue ball instead of thinking “in that direction somewhere over there.” While in games such as 9-Ball you can run out by playing area position, it will always improve your touch to pick an exact spot within the position zone. See the line or gutter of the object ball going right into the pocket instead of “towards the pocket.” You may be playing on tight pockets or have to squeeze the object ball around interfering balls. Many times it is necessary to shoot the ball into a certain side of the pocket for position’s sake, so develop clarity of purpose. Do your best not to miss a shot on account of position. Feel your cue tip strike the cue...

ARE YOU READY?

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...

TRUST

AFTER ALL THESE YEARS of playing pool, I have determined that the most important skill in the game is trust. Sure, fundamentals and knowledge are very important, but trust is the ingredient that gives life to concentrated effort. If you do not know much about the game and have poor fundamentals, trust will not magically make your shots and put the cue ball into perfect position for you. So you will need to study the game and actively learn a sound way of playing pool. You will need to improve your skill. Trust alone will not pocket the balls for you. You need craft, and this takes time and effort. Even if you have some good moments, you will need to keep working, keep learning and keep improving. Trust is the final ingredient for a master of the craft. Trust is what makes champions play their best and light up a table. Trust is what enables a master to make the game look really easy. To a master who is clicking physically and mentally, the game is easy. Yet trust is also the first ingredient to put you on the road to mastery. If you have a goal, a vision of how good you want to be, you have got to trust you will make it there before going down that road if you intend to succeed. With this in mind, you have got to accept and expect that you will make mistakes on the way there, but trust that if you keep trying, you will correct those mistakes and move closer to your goal…closer every day. You have...