Unless you have our own home table, finding a table for pool practicing is one of the problems you face in your goal of becoming a better pool player. It often takes more time to get your stuff together and drive back and forth to your local playing environment (pool hall, senior center, lodge) than actually spend time with practicing pool shots and setups. A dedicated practice trip will take 20-30 minutes to get there for a practice time of a half hour, and then the trip back. BTW, playing with friends is NOT practicing, so get that idea out of your head. Practice is practice. Use your playing friends to demonstrate your new skills.
But all is not lost. You don’t actually need a pool table for pool practicing. You can actually become quite good very rapidly. Simply setup some of your pool practicing routines on the kitchen table. A standard kitchen table is the same height as a pool table.
For example, some of the routines you can do for pool practicing include:
- Bridge hand setup
- Butt stick grip
- Feet placement
- Waist and knee positioning
- Head position
- Arm positioning and alignment
- Body balance
When you settle over a shot, inspect yourself to make sure everything falls into position. Test your balance, alignment (head, arms, and grip lined up). Setup a mirror in front to observe yourself.
Work on repetitive strokes. Concentrate on making sure the stick doesn't wander side to side during the stroke. Practice this with short strokes (6 – 8 inches) and longer strokes (12 – 16”). Basically, the cue tip will betray any stroke action that is not true back and forth. Make adjustments accordingly.
The stroke is the critical part of playing. It is what propels the cue ball to do wonderful things. And make sure your back elbow is over the stick and doesn't move up and down. Just let the forearm hang from your elbow and swing back and forth like a pendulum. Subdue any side movements and make the action consistent. You will make a lot more balls more easily with this control.
Here is how you can use your kitchen table for practicing time, There are several advantages, one of them being no table charges. Throw a thin blanket on the table. Put blockers (cans, food packages work well) along the edge. If you don’t have a personal stick, buy one from a sporting goods store. You aren’t using it in competition, so the cheapest will work. You will need a few used tennis balls.
You can even set up a couple empty cans to be “pockets”. Shoot a ball to hit the can and it is considered pocketed. If you have a table extension, you can setup shots on the table that can range from three to six feet in length.
To further improve your game, purchase your own set of balls. You have the option to get the cheapest set you can find or one of the professional sets (check the internet or a local sports store).
If you throw a thicker blanket over the table, you can use the practicing time for practice shots that require more speed. For shots where you want to master precision speed control, use a thin blanket. Because the balls are heavier than tennis balls, make the rolled up sides of the table taller or set up packages of spaghetti and other boxed foods to prevent balls from dropping to the floor. Practice with both thick and thin blankets.
The best part of “practicing” at home is that you can work on something for five minutes, make yourself a snack, practice another five minutes, check the grass growing in the front yard, practice another five minutes and do this throughout the day. You only have to actually clear the table for meals.
Just a month or two of this practice routine will save you five or more years of flailing around trying to learn during matches or competitions. It won’t take very long before you can reveal new skills to beat your buddies.
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