How To Be A Better Pool Player

It is a fact of life that some people are more competitive than others in their careers, relationships and billiards. Perhaps you are happy playing pool with your buddies in a bar, maybe its “just a game” to you and if so that is great.

However if you have a burning desire to be the best that you can be, read on and join the rest of us as I show you how to be a better pool player.

Decide What You Want

Well that seems to be simple and obvious doesn’t it but you would be surprised

Set up some realistic personal goals

I can hear you now complaining about the title of this section. “Just tell me how to get better as quickly as possible without putting in too much effort.

Goals, ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Long Term

One year or more

Medium Term

6 months to a year

Short Term

Today to 30 days

Are Your Pool Goals Congruent With Your Personal Goals

If you want to turn pro at pool so that you can fly your own personal Leer jet your goals are at odds with each other.

Take Video Your Pool Playing

These days there is no excuse for not recording your play on video.

Use your phone and get a cheap tripod.

Record different angle to suit your needs you might need to see your grip, your backswing, or your follow through for instance.

Record your practice.

Record your matches.

If you are brave, live stream playing the ghost. If there are a few people watching it can be good for applying some added pressure.

Then when you have time transfer the video to computer and analyze the results. There are also coaches online who will take a look at your footage and give you some valuable feedback for a fee or membership payment. Steve Barton comes to mind, he’s a UK snooker coach but that shouldn’t matter.

Practice drills

Drills are a part of learning that I did not use until recently. Years ago I just didn’t see the point in playing practice drills, I just looked at them and said “I can already do that!”

Now, I set up a drill and work through it for maybe 10 minutes and then move on to the next one give it 10 minutes and so on.  Each day you will perform better, you will learn what works and what doesn’t making progress each day.

I have tried difficult drills that really challenged me at first but after a few days things just came together.

Its a progressive improvement mechanism and should not be overlooked.

Play On Your Own More!

When you play on your own you need less time for a quality practice. If you only have an hour don’t waste time valuable practice time playing someone else.

Be strict, its your time. If someone asks you to play them respectfully say no!

You get more time, double the practice and less hassle. Trust me on this one.

Don’t Just Bang Balls Around Randomly

Have a plan always.

Play repeatable shots that you can set up over and over again until you get the shot right. Mark the shots with sticky donuts if you are allowed.

Its ok to play shots that you are already good at to keep a level but playing your weak shots and practicing them will give the biggest return on your time.

Recreate Pressure Situations In Practice

The mental side of pool is huge, try to incorporate mental skills into your practice. Put yourself under pressure deliberately. Visualize playing in the finals and try to recreate how you will feel playing when it matters. How will you feel when you win?

Work On The Basics Of Pool For 10 Minutes During Each Practice

  • Basics of stance
  • Stroke technique
  • Pre shot routine
  • Bridge placement
  • Stroke execution & stroke drills
  • Body Alignment
  • Eyes patterns

Practice Physical Skills

  • Cue action
  • Cue ball control
  • Ball speed control
  • Ball Potting
  • Position play
  • Breaking skills
  • Ghost ball practice
  • Combinations and cannons
  • Bank shot
  • Break shot

Practice Mental Skills

  • Match Temperament
  • Coping with loud music and loud people
  • Distractions – people places things
  • Breathing exercises
  • Visualization techniques

Keep A Journal Of Your Performances

– log difficult shots for practice

-Learn from all sessions even when you don’t play at your best.

-Reassess your goals on a regular basis

Play Better Players

Play sessions against players who are slightly better than you. The ideal type of player is one that will punish you and keep you in your chair for a while when you make a mistake. If I had to be precise, maybe 9-10% better than you in Fargo rating points:

  • If you are 650, they need to be 675 – 710
  • If you are 600, they need to be 640 – 670
  • If you are 500, they need to be 530 – 550
  • If you are 400, they need to be 420 – 440
  • If you are 300, they need to be 310 – 330

You get the idea. You may have to play cheap to keep the better player interested, but it will be money well spent for sure. I have one particular player who plays better than me, we play $5 sets, race to 7, he’s happy to play and I don’t mind donating. I always learn something!

Watch Videos Of Better Players

  • YouTube is a goldmine
  • Watch local top players live in tournaments
  • How do they play, patterns, shape
  • How do they behave, are they professional or nits

Try to be like a TV commentator. Examine how you would do things compared to how they actually play the shot. What were the reasons behind the choices made, was your shot more risky or low percentage.

Don’t Tinker With Your Stroke

Part of playing great pool is consistency. Repeat the elements that work over and over again until you learn to trust and rely on your mechanics.  Your mechanics need to be automatic so that you can use your thinking for tactics and match play.

– If you try something out in practice give it a reasonable time to work.

– Stick to changes for weeks not hours

– Big changes require time to become part of your game, part of your subconscious

Being a better pool player is a process that can be learned by any player of any standard. Trying to improve as a player is a worthy endeavor that can be very satisfying and rewarding. Improvement at any sport takes a great deal of time and dedication but you can do it if you apply yourself.