Productive Practice - Making the best of your practice time

Written by Bryan Mitchell

When asking players how they practice between matches, I got the following three answers:

Player one complained about not getting enough practice time during the week. But, one day when I met him to play a few games of 8 ball, he told me with great excitement how he got in practice the day before and worked on his bank shots.

Player two who has a table at home told me that if he misses a shot during a match that cost him a game, he goes home and practices the shot over and over.

A third player told me that he practices by playing games against himself and runs rack after rack. It should be noted that each player had less than a 50% win percentage in their 8 ball league.

I have a problem with each of the practice strategies above. Player one has limited practice time, and yet, he spent his precious time working on bank shots. Bank shots are fun, but I know that I might shoot one bank shot out of every two or three games I play, unless someone is trying to "safe me to death." If you play good position shots, you should not need to shoot too many bank shots.

Player two is spending his practice time on a specific shot. If your record is less than .500, you are having trouble with more than that one shot. And if the shot cost you the game, it might be a shot that you will never see again at the table. It is a good idea to master each shot you are having trouble with, but it should be a shot you will face on a regular basis. You can trust that Kobe Bryant's shooting percentage is less than 20% from half court, but I assure you that he spends zero time working on this shot during practice.

Our third player has the best idea of the three, but he is still wasting his practice session. When you simply break balls and shoot them off, you are spending 75-80% of your time shooting shots and playing positions that you could make in your sleep. In order to be a good player you do need to run racks, but this should not be the bulk of your practice session. What do people who do not practice at all do? They PLAY. Playing is not practicing. Football players, basketball players, baseball players, etc., spend a very small percentage of their practice sessions scrimmaging. Practice time is for practice.

Each of our three players would have spent their time better by working on shots they will face 10 to 20 times during a match and yet they still have trouble making: Shots such as long stun and stop shots. Short draw shots and long follow shots come up offten. Playing shots off the rail with inside english and basic position play are good elements to work on. If you make all of these shots with consistency, you will win more matches in easier fashion. You will not need to worry about that exotic shot you missed while playing the money ball because you will be in such good position it will not come up very often.

This is not to say that you should never practice your bank shots or your 2 rail kick shot, but the amount of time spent working on a shot should have a direct correlation to the "importance" of you having that shot mastered. In future articles we will discuss how to make practice sessions more fun.

About The Author: Bryan Mitchell is a highly skilled player/instructor from the Northern Delaware area.

Other Articles from Bryan
· Buying a Pool Cue - Part 1
· Buying a Pool Cue - Part 2
· Buying a Pool Cue - Part 3
· Goal Setting and Pool
· Your Personal Stats
· Self Talk - Are You Talking to YOU?
· Productive Practice -
      Making the best of your practice time

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Author Info - Bryan Mitchell