The Adventures of FastMikie
in search of Truth and Beauty in the art of pocket billiards.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
About 7 years ago I decided to get as good as I can at billiards. And I got pretty darn good.
I could get a lot better if I practiced more, but I'm lazy, so I try to get by with the least possible amount of effort.
That's not a winning attitude, of course, so I decided to develop the Optimum Practice routine that would give me the maximum results with the minimum effort.
I had been building this Optimum Practice routine for about 4 years, and it was been working very well. You might call it the Lazy Man's Path to Success.
In May of 2007 I decided that a key element in this Optimum Practice routine must be a Practice Assistant. Over the next 9 months I developed the concept of a Practice Assistant and set out to find and train such a person.
That lead me to Dave, the world's first Billiards Practice Assistant, and he started to work at FastMikie's Fun House.
To get better at anything, practice is essential. But, there is ordinary practice, the way you are doing it now, and then there is Optimum Practice.
Results of Optimum Practice should be double or triple what ordinary practice will bring, at a minimum. The best part is that these results begin immediately.
One of the primary goals of practice is to increase muscle memory, and that requires going through the motions.
For a pool player, Optimum Practice delivers at least twice as many shots in the same amount of practice time. Therefore results are guaranteed to double.
Optimum Practice includes these elements, at a minimum: (what am I missing?)
Goals, with dates, written down and committed to
Written, detailed Plan to achieve the Goals
Keeping records of actions and results
Frequent Review & continuous improvement of the Plan
Lessons from a Master
Video - record and review
Help - ask for it and give it
The notes above are part repost and part new material from an old blog I'm closing out. To get the complete series of Optimum Practice posts, use the search box at the top left of this page, entering the words Optimum Practice.
I ran across this excellent quote this morning, and it reminded me of Johnny Archer's visit to FastMikie's Fun House, when he gave me a lesson on how to execute a proper 9-ball break. Here's the video of that lesson:
To celebrate the new year, I am treating myself to new cloth. And with the new cloth comes new rules. No more noisy break games like 8-9-10-ball. Only quiet games like straight pool, or carom. The neighbors complain about the noise. Also, no jump shots, no masse' shots, no spitting, no cussing, no whistling, no singing, no children, no food or drinks on the table, no smoking, and no gum. Most of all, as the sign over the table makes abundantly clear: "NO SNIVELING". I hate it when they do that.
Simonis 760 Tournament Blue is on the table now. I'm thinking of making a change, and I'm open to suggestions....
Imagine the shot in your mind. See in advance the path of the cue ball after it hits the object ball(s), see the object ball move to and drop into the pocket. See the cue ball move into your next intended position, the full path sometimes 3 cushions or more. See it come to a stop. If you imagine troubling results, then adjust your thoughts and re-imagine the shot coming out perfectly. Proceed only if you see the shot.
Commit to the shot. Confidence is essential.
Sense the shot in your body. Sense how strong you need to stroke the shot. Sense the sounds of the shot. Sense the follow through. See the path of the cue ball as you sense the shot.
Now move from the fantasy world to reality...
Now look for the line between the center of the pocket opening and the place on the object ball that is farthest from the center of the pocket.
This line is a very fine line, thinner than a human hair, and therefore the point on the object ball will be very, very small.
The point where the line exits the back of the object ball is Point A. The more clearly you see Point A, the better the shot. Stand directly in line with the object ball and the pocket. See Point A on the object ball.
Keep your eyes on Point A.
Move to the table to approach the cue ball.
There is another point of interest, the point on the cue ball which is the only point that can touch Point A. This is Point O.
You will need to change your focus away from Point A, to the cue ball to align where you will stroke through with the cue tip (Point T). Your vision will switch from Point T to Point A as you take warm up strokes.
When the warm up strokes are complete, the focus returns to Point A.
Point A is where to focus prior to, during, and after releasing the stroke. That is the ideal. This consistent focus helps follow through.
Execute the shot so that points A and O meet with enough force to drive the object ball to the pocket and the cue ball to arrive at its intended destination.
The pocket opening is judged from the perspective of the object ball, not the widest point as measured at the pocket.
As I was doing a little cleaning up of the sidebar -----> I discovered this little video experiment among my YouTube videos. I like the music (Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata); very restful. It shows a typical "day in the life", including some favorite pool exercises, the sunsets, food, etc. Enjoy...
Posts here have waned lately, and some have wondered what could possibly have eclipsed my obsession with pool, and why. Well, here's the story, starting with a little background...
There was a time, long ago, 1983, that I was quite poor. Bankrupt, in fact, the result of a business adventure that went poorly. At that time I started on the long road back to building financial independence. Of course, during the following 10 years there was no pool, no Frisbee, no real fun whatsoever; just total focus on recovering from destitute conditions, and on being a responsible member of society, paying my bills, and hopefully building a nest egg for my retirement.
It went well, and in '92 I was able to leave the world of business behind and basically go play and make up for all that I missed. I might have overdone it, what with the airplanes and Ferraris and fantasy homes. I'm like that, I have discovered; I tend toward excess. Sometimes that's a great thing. When it comes to spending money, I can hang with the best of them. But I'm getting better at being a fiscal conservative. Poverty is a good teacher.
The years since between 1992 - 2000 were filled with what could be called conspicuous consumption, and I gave a lot away to various good causes. Around 2000 I started to slow it down, and live a more conservative lifestyle.
About 2 years ago the thought occurred to me to do a spreadsheet to analyze how much longer my dwindling nest egg might last; just out of curiosity. The short answer is that there is a distinct possibility that I may outlive my resources. The good news being that I would die before the resources did, if you can call that good news. The bad news is that I could live long enough to be poor again.
The spreadsheet showed me that there was no great urgency, but it also showed me that I needed a plan of action that would resolve the issue.
Based on this analysis, it seemed that spending a lot of time on pool practice would be akin to Nero fiddling while Rome burned. I needed to get back to "Taking Care of Business".
Recently I went back to school. UCSD is only a couple of miles away. I'm taking a course called "New Business Ventures and the Entrepreneur". It's a subject I know a lot about already, having started several businesses from scratch, but I wanted to learn what they are teaching nowadays. And the best part is that it is being taught by a couple of Venture Capitalists. VCs are the guys with the money to help entrepreneurs start businesses. All my businesses have been started without VC money, but I'm thinking it might be easier/faster with VC help.
And I've been reading voraciously, everything about new technologies (my favorite business), VC blogs and books and videos. I've even been getting out in public, attending networking meetings, seminars, and reconnecting with business contacts from long ago. My inner hermit is giving way to my outer extrovert.
Mentoring entrepreneurs has been a pastime for many years, but over the last two years it has taken on growing importance to me. And, it seems that being more involved in helping others with their businesses has increased my interest in getting back into a business of my own.
Over the last year I finished a couple of book projects. The story of my tour of Europe in an open-cockpit biplane in the summer of '97 is now available on Amazon.com (see http://AirMikie.com for more information). Another writing project was the republishing of my trademark poster "The Ten Commandments of Managing a Young, Growing Business" into a Pocket Guide for Entrepreneurs (see http://ArtSciBiz.com) for more information.
I even transitioned out of super-fast cars and traded the Corvette roadster for something much more practical, heck it even has two usable back seats (but still only 2 doors, of course!). See my car blog "A Man and His Car".
FastMikie is becoming BizMikie, again. Just as it was when I left my pool playing days in college in 1964, and entered the world of computers with IBM. The more things change, the more they stay the same!
I still shoot a little bit, but as you know, without a lot of focused practice, the fine edge wears down a bit. That is unfortunate, but I gotta be taking care of business, for now.
If I play this right, I should be able to add a zero to my nest egg and get back to shooting some sweet pool again in a couple of years. Wish me luck, and watch this space for news as it develops...