(This is today's bit of advice from the book Safety Toolbox.)
You don’t need to dedicate the daily multiple hours that professional players devote to practice. They need this to keep a razor edge on their playing skills. But that doesn’t mean you can advance your skills only by playing in casual and competitive environments.
You must devote a certain amount of time on a regular basis to dial in the fine control necessary to become a smarter shooter and player. How much time you do spend is up to you and your level of dedication. It doesn’t matter how often you can practice, so long as you do practice on a schedule.
The amount of time can be as little as 5 minutes or two hours. It is whatever you can do at one session. Boredom is your greatest enemy. As soon as you get bored with practicing, you stop learning. And when you stop learning, you are wasting your time. That’s the reality of practicing. Practice until you get bored, then either take a break to refresh your intentions, or quit for the day.
Let’s get down to reality. Practicing is serious. It’s best done alone. The time must be used to improve something specific. It could be a shot, speed control, fundamental, etc. The secret is well-known - repetition. Set it up, do it, set it up, do it, over and over. This builds up muscle memory for the physical action and experience in what works and what doesn’t.
You need to come to the practice table with a plan. Here is a basic regimen:
- 5 minutes – dial in your cue ball speed control.
- 5 minutes – practice shots that created problems in your last match.
- 15 minutes until bored – specific exercises from this book and other drills.
Repeat as needed.
Throw some balls out on the table and work on these goals. Work on getting your fantasy closer to reality.
- Practice your two-way shots with different cue ball target areas.
- Think your way out of trouble and then try different options.
- Use different safeties for the same situation (bad angle, distance, off the rail, etc.)
- Work on developing ball control.
Practicing 8 Ball offense-defense
Standard 8 Ball rules apply. “You” (offense only) play against “Yourself” (defense only).
"Yourself" can win only if a pre-determined number of innings are played (5 or 10). "You" can win if you pocket all the balls before the number of innings is reached. Increase this innings requirement the better you get.
Practicing 9 Ball offense-defense
Standard 9 Ball rules apply. “You” (offense only) play against “Yourself” (defense only).
“You” must pocket the 9 ball before “Yourself” forces too many innings. Adjust the number of required innings according to your skill. Increasing the required innings forces “Yourself” to be serious about playing defense.
Against a co-practicing opponent
Every once in a while you will have to go into a practice session with a friend. This is not a good process for learning, but you may like to have a person around for companionship. Practice won't be as effective, but still can get results. Use this process:
- Do warm-ups at opposite ends of the table.
- Work on individual exercises or drills on your half table area.
- When done, play the 8 Ball and 9 Ball offense/defense roles against each other.
- Finish off by a race to three or five. Put a little money on it to force each other to concentrate. (Make any necessary handicaps.)
Do not let this competition degenerate into a friendly and casual match. If you do so, you are wasting valuable table time for no good purpose. Practice is practice. Be serious and focus on moving your game up a notch.