My practice sessions were on the verge of being boring. Worse, there was no apparent gain. I could have chalked it up to a lack of knowledge, but frankly, I have become quite knowledgeable about pocket billiards, the same way I had become knowledgeable on a variety of subjects in the past, the three R’s – Reading, researching and writing.
But that was the knowledge of a journalist; read an article, research and interview the subject and write something new, fresh and hopefully better. I have learned from reliving some of these past byline racks that my knowledge of the subject was superficial and lacked depth from having actually put it into practice.
My billiards game needs a fresh slant. I need to get beyond my comfort zone; I need to develop a plan, a set of goals projecting what I want to accomplish with this game.
So, what’s a reasonable goal for my billiards game. I am not planning to turn pro, I don’t see myself as a gambler of any kind, so it is not a money making endeavor. What do I want?
1. I want to enjoy this game, to enjoy it I need a reasonable number of wins; fewer loses.
2. I would like to contribute something so others can get more enjoyment from the game.
3. I want to play the best billiards I am able.
What I recall about setting goals from past seminars. Let’s see if it works here.
Goals should focus on only the 2-3 elements that are most important
Goals need to be specific, not vague and fuzzy.
Goals should be attainable but still challenging.
Goals should be visualized, much the same as a billiards shot.
Goals should be written down and read daily.
I came up with two goals for both practice and competition.
Attitude: I Came to Win
Objective: Make the Ball in front of me
I can honestly say my practice sessions have not shown an “I Came To Win” attitude. They have shown a lack of concentration, consistency and yes even courage.
As a result, making the shot in front of me was pretty low on the totem pole in terms of guaging success.
It was more fun to think about running out, attempting tricky banks and kicks and even dabbling (that is the right word) with trick shots I had seen the masters complete, yes, practiced, but nothing that would do my game any good.
What I lacked was a real solid plan for practicing. It needs to be a plan that is based on growing knowledge, therefore it needs to be flexible. It needs to provide an action strategy and though it needs certain risk to challenge me, it has a have a “Do It Now approach.
Wanted: Pool Practice Plan
There are probably only two classes of billiards contenders that could be a resource for a good practice plan, billiard pros and billiards instructors. By their very nature, pros are hard to come by for interviews. They are “moving targets” with little time for anything but their own practice and competition.
By understanding what practice really is, and that only Perfect Practice will make perfect, can we discipline ourselves to longer practice. There are several things to remember about learning, according to Larry Giles, Florida instructor:
#1 To learn something, we must Isolate, Concentrate, Exaggerate, and Repeat
#2 Only Perfect Practice makes perfect
#3 Practice drills are most productive when they are progressive drills.
#4 "Our minds can only absorb what our butts can endure!"
#5 We practice in the Conscious mind and play in the Subconscious mind.
Randy Goettlicher a Texas instructor agrees, “pool is played from the relative, conceptual side of the brain, done properly, you can’t get bored.” You need relative isolation to understand what you are going to practice, he added explaining that you can actually learn something in 2-3 days through exaggeration and slow motion. Break your routines into 3-4 minute segments. This allows for concentrated isolation, exaggeration and repetition.
Shear boredom is probably one of the biggest drawbacks to regular, effective billiards practice sessions. Repetition is the name of the game, and face it, most of the drills developed to enhance pocket billiardspractice aren’t the most exciting.
Two practice elements that come to mind immediately as contributing to this boredom are the length of the drills and how long we spend at them and not recording results for later comparison to gauge success.
If you work on developing your concentration skills, you will relieve the boredom often associated with consistent practice and repetitious drills. As this skill develops, you will find your game improves dramatically.