(S&D) Safety & Defense - Study Your Opponent

(About the author)

Safety Toolbox (Advanced)

This is today's bit of advice from the book Safety Toolbox.

You need to put serious effort into learning about your opponent. To start with, every person can only play so many shots at one session before his game starts to disintegrate. He has good abilities to focus, think, and select decent choices when he starts. An opponent is less effective when he is mentally and/or physically exhausted.

You can observe this in yourself. After a certain point (so many shots), you start getting silly. If you play for several hours and then face a fresh opponent of equal skill – he would bury you.

Consider a decent opponent who is physically out of shape. After about 75 shots, he starts getting tired, his back begins hurting, and he stops concentrating. His whole body interferes with his ability to analyze.

Every player has only so much brain energy he can apply to a playing session. Like physical energy, there is an upper limit. It varies for different individuals. Some have more and some have less. Use yourself as a comparison for players at your skill level.

For example, a player has 100 units of brain energy available. On regular and routine shots and patterns, 10 shots might burn up 2 units. On a tough kick, he might use up 1 unit. Shooting off a cushion might use 1/2 unit. Shooting over a ball might use 1 unit. When all 100 are used, the quality of each playing decision drops significantly.

Essentially, when a person stops concentrating on evaluating every aspect of a shot, billiard god luck (chaos) has an opportunity to enter into the game. The more unplanned activity there is on a table, the more chaos occurs.

For you, chaos is your ally. When you face the same type of shot that is problematic for your opponent, you see it as a challenge to your ingenuity and cleverness. Where he sees a roadblock to his success; you see an opportunity to create problems for him. In other words, what he thinks is a dilemma is your excuse to have fun.

Here are a few pointers:

  • Catalog his skills and abilities along with comfort and chaos zones. See Comfort/Chaos zones on page 66.
  • Determine his personality type. See Personalities on page 82.
  • Monitor his emotional state. See Up & down Cycle on page 161.
  • Make good playing decisions. See Mindset matrix on page 75.

Against this, you compare yourself.

  • How much control do you have over the cue ball?
  • Can you play a shot and predict where the balls will go?
  • Can you recognize small and large opportunities?
  • Can you make effective offensive and defensive decisions?

Make calculations and decisions based on a true portrait of yourself and a realistic evaluation of your opponent. Without this, you are playing guessing games and making fantastical decisions without any basis in fact.

How to Win by Helping Your Opponent Lose

The FAQs of Pool & Pocket Billiards


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