This is today's bit of advice from the book Safety Toolbox.
Usually when a person gets a new instruction book, he will immediately jump into the drills or exercises section. The thought behind this initial desperate desire to practice is that this new book could be THE one blessed by the billiard gods. Surely this new book must be the new & special interpretation or viewpoint or awareness of the table secrets of the billiard gods.
It is important to practice table skills. It is MORE important to practice your thinking and analysis skills. Then, when you have selected the best shot for the table situation, you can apply the skills learned in table exercises and drills. Learn to think first, then learn to execute with precise control.
You can, of course, just review the exercises to understand the theory. Then, during competitive matches - attempt to apply the concepts you are intellectually learned. The intellectual awareness MUST be verified and validated with table practice. But even if all you know is the knowledge, that gives you a huge advantage over an opponent who lacks even the most basic of understanding.
To practice safety exercises requires some self-discipline. For each practice session, select a group of defensive exercises as well as some offensive drills.
When you are shooting any pre-match warm-ups, look for opportunities to slip in the shots you practiced. When performed successfully, pat yourself on the back. (A bit of self-congratulations on successful results is acceptable.) On any failure, figure out what should have been done to make the shot work.
Fortunately for you, the majority of your opponents prefer to follow the "learn only during competition" self-improvement process. They become practice dummies who provide opportunities to demonstrate your new awareness and skills at playing the defensive side of the game.
Even a series of 10 minute mini-practice sessions four or five times a week for two-three weeks will give you improvements that are the equivalent of a year's competitive learning experience. And don't forget that mas you master precisely controlled shots, these become life-long tools that give you many, many more wins.