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




Monday, July 21, 2008

Teaching pool

About 10 months ago I wrote the following thoughts about Teaching Pool, and how I might do it differently than any of the ways I have learned. I didn't publish any of this text, just put it aside for later. Now seemed to be the right time because I started thinking about what I would do if my first student ever came back for a second lesson, and we got into the Physical side of billiards.

It is said that those who can, Do.
And those who can not, Teach.

Tonight I was giving deep thought to
how I might teach the game of pool,
and I got to thinking that
I would teach it as if it were
The Way of the Sword,
as it would have been taught to Samurai warriors.

I would start a student
with a way to approach the table
with respect and full commitment to a plan.

Initially, the student uses only the cue, no balls.
He learns how to approach a shot,
the stance, how to hold the cue,
the open hand bridge,
and practices with these elements
for thousands of strokes.
All before even one ball is placed on the table.

The stroke is the most important thing,
and it can be learned more easily if
the outcome-orientation of pocketing is eliminated
so focus can be on the process of
stroking through the cue ball.

Just when the student gets to the point
where they think they will never advance,
they get their first shot at a cue ball.

The student learns to
stroke the cue ball in the center,
with no regard for speed control,
just focusing on center ball hit,
a smooth easy stroke,
and the basics of stance and bridge.

More thousands of shots like this,
focusing only on mechanics of
center ball hit and smooth stroke,
all building on the previous foundation
of stance, bridge, etc.


The student next learns a modified lag shot,
how to stroke through the cue ball
and move it to the foot rail,
and directly back into the tip of the cue stick.
This gives visual feedback to
prove the true center ball hit,
and teaches speed control.

The first exercise:
Line up 3 balls on the head string,
each one opposite a diamond on the head rail.
Lag each ball downtable and back to the head rail.
One point for each ball within a diamond of the rail.
Do it until you can score 9 points in a row.

Next, same drill, except lag only
from the headstring to the foot rail.

Third drill, to lag 3 lengths,
from headstring to foot rail,
back to the headrail,
and back again to the foot rail.

All results are recorded.
Progress is charted over several weeks.

Next, the basics of side spin (english).
And then high and low hits.
Exercises to hit low and have the ball
stop spinning backwards at various chosen
places on the table.
Exercises to bank with center ball,
then banks with english.

To this point might take several months,
all without an object ball.
This builds a strong foundation in fundamentals.

Eventually, an object ball is introduced.
Short, straight in shots.
Stop, draw, follow and english are learned again
for their effects on the cue and object balls.

Short cuts, aiming, speed control,
use of rails for position...
all with only a cue ball and object ball,
with emphasis on the process, not result,
the stroke being fluid and relaxed.

Lots of video.
Review of videos of the student's own performances,
and review of videos of the great players.

(blog top)


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