Orignally featured in the Fall 2004 edition of The American Poolplayer magazine.
The Doctor Is In – A Secret of Sorts
As each of you approach local, regional, and national events in the APA League system, I hope you are experiencing victory in your practice and competitive play modes. In this regard, I want to provide you with a secret of sorts to improve your league and tournament performance.
!@#$%^&*()_+ — Something is definitely wrong!!
L@o$o^k*S)h+arp — Better, but still not right!!
Lo#ok^Sh(ar+p — Warmer, keep trying!!
Look%^Sharp — You’re almost there!!
Look Sharp!! — Now you’ve got it!!
The above chameleon text holds within its pattern a golden nugget of instruction—to correct specific glitches in a player’s mechanical movements, before, during, and after a shot. The foundation of this analogy is based on an in the present mode by me, as I type each line, and then review it. Making the appropriate changes as I go, from line to line, is a necessity to eventually get the last line to Look Sharp!!
In a similar light, you can enter an in the present training mode to your game components. Back in 1913, Welton Harris, the grandmaster of billiard instruction, created teaching techniques that produced some of the greatest champions and teachers our sport has ever known. Maurice Daly, Walter Lindrum, and Joe Davis became crusaders for the champion’s wisdom of Harris, using this proven method. I have been using similar techniques for years now with player-friendly results in clinic presentations; therefore, I would like to pass these elements of training success and player improvement along to you in a written rendering for your reference and application to your game.
An instructor’s analysis/diagnosis of a student has minimal value, if some method of corrective remedy is not prescribed for an existing glitch or glitches. Pre-stance, chalking efficiency, alignment, stroke, and/or the obvious errant movements of grip, bridge, head, and other body parts can all cause a player to play poorly and look dull. A less than professional image can give away percentage points of confidence to an opponent who is a student of the game himself or herself. Many of the games we lose are the direct result of not looking sharp at the table in our preparation and execution skills.
What is truly amazing about this in the present training technique is that each of you has been using it most of your life— without a pool table in front of you. The secret? A mirror! How simple! The process of prepping yourself to Look Sharp occurs each morning; if something looks dull or out of place, you correct it in the present with a trustworthy feedback deep from within the mirror’s reflection.
Imagine looking in a mirror and seeing yourself chalking the wrong end of your cue, stepping erratically into a contorted body/stance position, swinging the cue in a wild twisting hand/wrist/arm movement, pumping oil with the lower arm in relation to the upper shoulder hinge, and/or jumping mightily up from a final stroke movement with your head or upper body. What would you think if you saw these glitches destructing your game? You probably would agree it would be time for a transformation to a new you in the game you love. You can correct any glitch of muscle memory or pre-stance by talking to yourself in the mirror until the correction is made with comfort in a reinforced subconscious image implant. Tuning yourself to Look Sharp in a mirror—with each mechanical component in its proper order and movement—will allow you to take the new you in the mirror to the table. It is okay to talk to yourself in the mirror as you correct each glitch. Do not accept the you in the mirror, just settling for second best in your poolplaying image! Note: Don’t be alarmed that the image in the mirror is reversed! It still works!!
Prescription from “Dr. Cue”: One to two minutes a day in the present with a mirror for 3 to 5 days, and then every 3,000 games or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first! Chalk consistently on each approach, align body with cue under shoulder, step forward into down stance position, maintaining the cue/shoulder relationship, balance yourself with a parallel to the cue rear foot movement, start swinging the cue in a non-twisting and unrestricted motion of the hand/wrist/lower arm, with no upper shoulder/body/head movement, make a final, slow back swing, hesitate, and free flight the cue forward to the awaiting tip in the mirror.
Goal: Straight alignment and straight stroke motions…under the shoulder…with “2 tips” in a gentle unified perfection to each other.
Result: A new, improved you—Look Sharp, Be Sharp, Feel Sharp!!
Until next time, when The Doctor Is In.