Shoot Great Pool!

By Jim Meador

There is a fine line between "good" and "great": a thin veil that separates the unique among us from the commonplace in us. But try to step over that line, or penetrate that veil, and we discover that the last step is quite different than the thousands that preceded it. It's like running a hundred yard dash and getting knocked down by the tape at the finish line.

I'm not talking about the kind of greatness that comes along once every generation. I'm not referring to the Mosconis, Hogans, Jordans, and Ruths. None of us expect to become legends. I am referring to a more achievable status: a greatness that is in all of us. I am talking about the kind of greatness all of the players on the pro tour have extracted from themselves, not necessarily the kind that assures them a place in the Hall of Fame.

Maybe greatness is the wrong term, but I can't think of better one. Indeed, maybe greatness is nothing more than a level of achievement that we should all expect of ourselves: another way of saying, don't get knocked down by the tape at the finish line &endash; make one last lunge to break it.

Below (#1) is a pool shot. It is a "great" pool shot. When Joe pulls it off, spectators shout, "Great shot, Joe!" That's what makes it great, by the way. People think it's great.

Table #1 (Extreme Bottom)

Can you make a great pool shot? You can if you believe you can. Pocket the object ball on table #1 with extreme bottom right. The key is in the stroke. Most people hit this shot too hard. They believe hitting the cueball hard adds to the spin. Wrong. A medium-fast speed, with good follow-through, will do the job. Oh. I forgot confidence. If you lack confidence, forget it. Practice this shot until you can make it 8 out of 10 times (even the pros will foul it up sometimes.) Practice it until you are absolutely confident you can't miss. Practice it until you break the tape and cross the finish line.

Of course, one shot isn't the point. But, if you can accomplish the example shown with relative consistency, becoming a "great" pool player is within your reach. It is simply a question of applying the same effort to master every shot that it takes to master the example.

Okay, here's another.

Table #2 (Extreme Top)

While table #1 requires extreme bottom, this shot requires extreme top. And again, although a relatively hard stroke is required, trying to murder it will be counter productive.

The top english will curve the cueball into the first long rail (keeping it out of the corner pocket.) The added right spin (running english) will cause the cueball to take a wide angle off the short rail, as well as help it maintain its speed to get around the table.

Okay. One more.

Table #3 (Center Ball)

I'll never forget this shot, because I lost money on it. I accepted the challenge to simply pocket the object ball in the side, and stop the cueball dead. At the time, I didn't fully understand the physics of the game (as if I do now.) It is among the toughest shots in pool. Remember, the cueball can't move a sliver after the hit. It must stop dead in its tracks. You'll need a referee if you bet on it.


Obviously, learning to make these three relatively difficult shots, even consistently, will not make you a great pool player. Using the theory behind these shots to master hundreds more through practice will.

Musicians practice scales in order to make beautiful music during a performance. Think of these shots as scales. You may never use one in competition, but master them and your ability to make beautiful music on the table during competition will dramatically improve.

There is greatness in you to claim. Your claim check is stamped "PRACTICE."

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