One of the “problems” of loving the Green Game is that pool practice is necessary to fix problems and improve skills. Think of pool practice as similar to basketball practice. If you don’t spend time shooting balls and developing the moves to help get baskets – how can you expect to become a better basketball player? If you are playing “horse”, you will always lose. The same applies to playing pool. You have to get on the table and work on shots and setups. When you can make shots during pool practice, you can make shots during competitions with your buddies.
Unfortunately, there isn’t any way around the necessity of pool practice. You may read about some cool trick or shortcut to a particular shot, but if you don’t put some table time in, you are not going to be able to play the shot in a competitive game or match. Basically, there are no short cuts that make your pool practice easier. Practice is practice and necessary if you want to play competitively. In basketball, if you want to get good at free throws, you are going to have to get onto a basketball court and shoot – and shoot – and shoot, over and over. That’s the only way you can get the right “feel”.
The secret to “enjoying” practice is to only work on one type of improvement for a few minutes. A written plan (assembled from careful consideration of past experiences) is an excellent beginning.
Sets of pool practice exercises or other similar workouts provide a structure that ensures that your pool practice time does not get wasted in a pointless waste of your time. Effective practicing doesn’t require hours of daily effort. Five minutes on this exercise, 20 shots on that exercise, and any combination will give you measurable results in a couple weeks.
- Straight-in shots, working through various distances.
- Pocketing balls close to the rail from various angles.
- Angled shots, starting with easy cuts graduating to more difficult efforts.
Cue ball control exercises:
- Simple, short range stop shots, extending the distance as your skills progress.
- Slight angle shots with follow or draw to get to different locations on the table.
- Spot shots from various distances, targeting different cue ball locations (put a sheet of paper on the table and get the cue ball to roll onto the paper).
Safety pool practice:
- Kiss the cue ball off another ball and try to lay the cue ball on the first, second, third, and then the fourth rails. Advance only when you can repeat the shot three consecutive times.
- Repeat the same process, but control the object ball. Get it to stop near one rail, then two rails, followed by the third rail. Start with full hits, then 3/4, 1/2, and 1/4 ball hits.
- Practice forcing the cue ball to stay on the tangent line (and predicting the path).
Miscellaneous pool practice exercises:
- Kiss the cue ball off an object ball and run it one, two, or three rails to hit another object ball. (Helps cue ball control for safety shots.)
- Kick off rails to contact an object ball at different locations and angles.
- Master double-kissing the cue ball and object ball. (Learn to predict the path and locations for both balls at different speeds.)
- Randomly throw three balls and start with cue ball in hand. Run them in numbered sequence. When this gets easy, go to four balls. (When you get tired of practicing single shots.)
These, and any pool practice variations that catch your fancy, should pick up your interest in practicing. Focused pool practice time will guarantee you will improve. Even if you can only do 10-15 minutes at a time, real practicing will have immediate results (such as more games won). When you schedule pool practice time - don't mess around. Stick to your pool practice schedule and more important, don’t drag along a friend.