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P O O L    S H O O T E R

The Adventures of FastMikie
in search of Truth and Beauty in the art of pocket billiards.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Touch: Learnable but Unteachable

On the practice table this evening
I am stroking shots with a sense of Touch
that is as pleasurable as the visual I am creating.

It strikes me that the sense of touch
which comes while "in the zone" is Un-Teachable.
It seems that it can only be learned by Experience.
Lots of Experience, with Attention.

It reminds me of the sense of touch which is
required when landing an open-cockpit biplane.
Now there is something which can not be taught,
primarily because there are so many variables,
and they are varying simultaneously,
all the while you are defying Gravity and Death,
while creating a Thing of Beauty by
touching down with the least possible sensation,
at the exact moment airspeed goes to Stall,
sink rate equals zero,
forward speed is minimized,
and the rollout is straight as an arrow.
And doing all of this while going
through the landing checklist,
communicating with the tower
and passengers, being aware of all the radio
chatter of other airplanes in the vicinity, and
looking out for traffic in the sky and on the ground,
all the while being ready for a go-around at any instant.

And if that weren't enough, there is
an interesting phenomenon which occurs
while landing a biplane which Demands
a sense of touch: the sense of sight is lost!
As incredible as it seems, all forward vision
is lost while landing because the nose is high.
Additionally, the lower wing blocks vision
straight down, so you can't really see how
close you are to the runway.
It's all done with Intuition.
And peripheral vision takes over
to keep the biplane straight
at the moment of touchdown
and subsequent rollout.

The inputs to the sense of touch
are primarily from the control stick,
held in the right hand
(a lot like a vertical pool cue)
which controls nose up/down, and wings level
and with the left hand
which controls power
and with both feet
which control nose left/right.

So both hands and feet are
engaged in this intuitive dance
while the ears are listening for the music
of the air over the wires connecting the wings,
and the sound of the engine,
and the squeak of the tires on the runway,
or slipping on a wet grass field.
Even the pilot's face is engaged in the process
as he feels the wind on his cheeks...
It all adds up to a symphony of sensations
all happening and changing while the
biplane goes from 100mph to zero,
and doing it with beauty and personal style.

I remember the many hundreds of landings
it took me to put it all together,
and to develop the Confidence that
I would make the right choices,
and do the right things,
even under extraordinarily challenging situations.

It occurs to me that
if I can develop the Touch
to make awesome landings in an open cockpit biplane,
surely I can develop the touch
to shoot pool at a very high level...

I wonder if there are other biplane pilots
who shoot pool in competition?
I'm thinking that my biplane experiences
have given me a great advantage at the pool table.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you remember, I`ve told you in some instances that there are certain things I can not teach you, that you will have to experience them, it`s a feeling.

This well written piece makes a lot of sense to me, you are on the right track.


Thursday, July 14, 2005 8:34:00 AM  

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