I have carefully studied this game for over 35 years. It has been a journey of mind, body and spirit. This section deals with fundamental body mechanics and an associated set of visualizations that will help you play the game more effectively. When I began playing, very few would discuss the “secrets of the game” and knowledge was dearly acquired through experience and observation. I’m not sure this isn’t the best way to learn, however, I have always worked to help pocket billiards become more of a mainstream sport. So, for the “younger” player, I leave this small legacy in an effort to foster earlier success based on what I perceive to be proven methods. Please take this with “a grain of salt” as there are no hard and fast rules in this game. There are exceptions…BUT…these fundamentals will apply to most players.
For most of us, learning this game is not an event, it’s a process. You first learn to do certain things, according to your interest, and proceed to build upon that knowledge until you achieve what you consider an acceptable level of play. This is written for the player who would like to increase his skill level and more closely approximate his capability at the precise moment he needs to do so. It is my intention to formalize the experience through a logical examination of elements (tba) and identify certain transcendental points from which further advancements can be made. I will begin by breaking down my version of body mechanics while maintaining a constant dialogue of the psychological (psychiatric) elements because no discussion of competitive excellence is complete without paying constant attention to mindset and motivation. I hope to present usable concepts to a wide spectrum of skill levels. Consequently, some early observations may seem contradictory to more advanced players who have already discarded learning devices in favor of more advanced techniques. However, when you play poorly or reach a plateau where your improvement has slowed or stopped; a conscientious player will first go back to the basics so he can look ahead again with a new set of eyes.
I believe it is important to “tear down” your game at regular intervals to eliminate bad habits which tend to creep in. You will gain proficiency through conscious practice and honest self appraisal. Avoid fantasy and embrace the creative. The balls always do what they are told, no more…no less. Remember always, you are playing the table, not your opponent and what occurs on the table is physical and explainable, not personal. There is an undeniable element of luck in the game which diminishes as you become more accomplished and pit yourself against better players and more difficult games. Luck has a season but withers against discipline and skill. It’s a matter of time, so play like there is a tomorrow. Learn to tell the difference between luck and “good rolls” created by excellence. Playing well creates momentum.
Probably the most palpable illusion of the game is the state of being “in-stroke”. While this legendary condition is easily recognized, it is difficult to explain because every player’s experience is a little different. The purpose of this section is teach yourself how to reach and maintain in-stroke, because at the end of the match, your success will likely have more to do what is going on in your head than what’s going on with your arm. What you are about to read is my opinion on the “in-stroke” condition as displayed by the successful players I have seen and competed against. Many of these techniques are common to successful players while some are devices I worked out for my use. However, better players display attributes similar to those shown by better players in other sports…solid risk assessment, the ability to concentrate on the immediate task without sacrificing intermediate and long range goals and the ability to execute a plan.
I developed this “system” over several years. I haven’t kept up with the teaching trends because I had my system “developed” before there were teaching trends. I am not trying to refute anyone and I don’t think I am copying anyone. I do, however, think it would give me a certain sense of validity if I were to find another person who came up with a similar system independently. The following sections build upon one another, please take the time to cover them in order. I will dedicate a forum section for discussion on this if necessary.