Putting It Together

by Jim Meador

Mosconi was reportedly asked the secret of becoming a champion pool player, and he responded, "Don't miss." His answer was so obviously simplistic, one might think he was being condescending. I believe he was offering the best advice he could give.

When I watch pro players compete, I take their shot making for granted, partly because they rarely miss, and also because they make it look so easy. The time they take studying the table is to plan their position, and other strategies.

I believe that is what Mosconi meant: you must reach a level of skill where thoughts of missing do not interfere with your position strategy or confidence. The only way to get there is to practice making balls from every position on the table, and when you can do it consistently, practice some more.

But, while learning to make the object ball is critical, cue ball control should be introduced early in the educational process. We not only need to learn ball control for position and safety plays- there are many times when we need to know how to get out of trouble to avoid a ball in hand foul. Knowing how much spin to put on a cue ball, or exactly where to hit the rail with the right amount of spin can (at times) win games. Of course trying circus shots can also lose games.

Shot making and position control are separate but equal considerations, that must somehow be homogenized without one or the other suffering.

While I do show the fundamentals for good shot making, practice is the only way to make progress. There is, with few and slight exceptions, only one place to hit the object ball in order to make it. I can not offer alternatives.

The instructions in this newsletter deal mainly with the physics of the game. I believe knowing why is a big step in knowing when. By adjusting the spin placed on a cue ball, the same solution can be applied to many different problems. (If I explain convincingly and clearly why you can drown in 8 feet of water, it should not be necessary for me to explain why you can drown in 9 feet of water.)

So, practice the physics in the newsletter, but never forget that the knowledge is without value if you can't sink the object ball. Practice both skills, and then put it all together at your own pace.

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