10 Bad Habits That Keep You From Running The Rack

Written by David Sapolis

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Article Index
10 Bad Habits That Keep You
     From Running The Rack (page 1)
Bad Habit #2 and #3 (page 2)
Bad Habit #4, #5 and #6 (page 3)
Bad Habit #7 thru #10 (page 4)

Many players believe that they get bad rolls, or that certain situations develop on the playing surface of the table that keep them from running out. I believe that the reasons we fail to run the rack is mainly due to bad habits that we have developed over time. I believe that there are 10 bad habits that we have all had at one time or another, and that we utilize these habits subconsciously, either out of desperation or by necessity. Bad habits are the result of poor decisions. They are also the result of laziness. We find the easier, softer way, and avoid progress at all costs. These habits root themselves into the deepest and most difficult to reach parts of your game, making it seem nearly impossible to ever alleviate the symptoms and deal with the problems head on. No situation is impossible. No situation is helpless. When faced with problems such as this, we shouldn't stay in helplessness, Instead of saying, "I can't because," train your mind to say "Well, how CAN I?" Along with identifying these bad habits, I will pass along to you 10 good habits that can and will enable you to run out the rack! Remember, we don't have bad habits, they have us! BUT.... we can replace the negative habits with positive ones, and become trapped into doing the right thing, all of the time!

Bad Habit #1: A display of power on the break.

This is the downfall of many a player. Throughout this book you will here me say time and time again, "Never sacrifice ACCURACY for POWER." All of us want to make a few balls on the break, but the reality is that as long as you make "a" ball, you get to keep shooting. There's no rule out there that says you need to make two or three balls on the break, just one will suffice. The other reality is, that to accomplish this, you don't have to blast the rack to smithereens. Why?

Bad things happen when you break the balls too hard. More times than not, the cue ball either flies off of the table, or the cue ball flies into a pocket. This does nothing to help you, as your opponent will more than likely have a wide open table and ball in hand. Not a good thing from where you're sitting.

Most guys have this "macho thing" about blasting the balls real hard. Of course it's real intimidating to watch three and four balls rocket into the pockets off of the break, but if you have no control over the cue ball and the one ball, your chances of running the rack are slim. Why? Not only do you need to break and make a ball, you also have to get a shot on the lowest numbered ball. Remember? We're trying to play this game at a higher level now, which means that we need to abandon the idea of pot luck position. In "Breaking To Win" I cover all of the bases of why I use the break that I use. I play the one in the side (or bank the one to the corner which I'm breaking from) and I stop the cue ball in the center of the table. I stroke the cue ball at medium speed for maximum results.

Many of us get caught up with the excitement of having just won a game, and now we're breaking. We want to smash the hell out of the balls before the other guy lifts up the rack. We're already down in our breaking stance while the guys racking the balls. STOP DOING THIS!!!

This will only heighten your excitement and cause you to rush the break shot. Wait for the balls to get racked, examine the rack, and then set up your break shot. A good way to remain calm before breaking is to hold the cue ball in your bridge hand until the rack is lifted. Staying down in your stance only helps to tense up your muscles and your brain. Remember, before we can control what is happening on the table, we need to first control what is going on in our head. If we have no control over what's occuring inside the coconut, bad things can and will occur outside the coconut. Now to dispel a rumor: Power is not all that important on the break. Accuracy is! Over a period of time, you will see that being more accurate (as opposed to being more powerful) a ball is more likely to drop on the break. Why is this? I'm not a physics major or anything, nor do I really preach the physics of pool (I leave that to others) but I believe that the less that's flying around the table, the better chances I have of a ball dropping into the pockets. The Big Bang Theory of nine ball has always puzzled me. I would rather know exactly where my cue ball is going, and where the one ball is going. That way I know I will have a shot when something drops. How many times have you made a ball on the break only to get stuck rolling out or to be left with no shot at all? I bet that has happened plenty of times. This bad habit can be eliminated from your game. I have argued this next point over endlessly with countless people, but I still stand firm to my belief that the when the balls are blasted on the break, they tend to spread out to the rails at first, giving the illusion of a "nice break". After a about a second and a half, the balls tend to zing around the table at various speeds, eventually "mushrooming" back to or near the center of table. Why is this? What happens when a ball travels to a rail at a high velocity? It contacts the cushion and then goes to another cushion. These balls repeat the process until the ball eventually stops. Usually, it stops back where it originally started, or it clusters with two or three other balls. To put this in perspective, let's say that you are running out a rack, and you are now shooting the four ball. As you attempt to make the four and get position on the next ball, how many of the balls need to be moving? Preferably just the cue ball (for position) and the four going into the desired pocket. What would be your chances if you spread the remainder of the balls around the table in that situation? The shot on the four is no more and no less important than the break shot. If you have power, fine. Control it. If you cannot control your power, take it down a notch or two. You'd be surprised.

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About The Author: Blackjack David Sapolis played professional pool for 20 years in The United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

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