5 Things To Practice

Written by Mark Finkelstein

I just came back from the Super Billiards Expo in Valley Forge. What a great time! It is always a thrill to see old friends in the pool world. I had a blast in the NYC Grind Booth, meeting new friends and seeing old ones.

One of the things that struck me while at Valley Forge was how good all the players are. The margin between winning and losing is really much thinner than we imagine. The winner usually has a little better skill set, a stronger mental frame of mind, and maybe a roll or two goes in their favor. Now we can't do much about the rolls, but the mental frame and the skill set are things we can work on.

In this article I want to talk about 5 skills that many games hinge on, yet we rarely practice. These are difficult and uncomfortable situations, and we most likely try to avoid them. When they come up in a game, we do our best, and move on. The purpose of this practice sequence is to give you more confidence with these skills.

We are going to be racing the ghost to 5. You miss you lose! For each rack, I want you to really break. This will give you lots of practice breaking. Remember you are trying to make a corner ball and stick the cue ball in the center of the table so that you have a shot at the one. Really concentrate on this as many games hinge on the break.

Now for the first set, I want you to play every shot off the rail. Put the cue ball where you want, but it must be on the rail. Shooting a set just from the rail will give you a lot more confidence when your cue ball winds up on the rail.

We are going to be racing the ghost to 5. You miss you lose! For each rack, I want you to really break. This will give you lots of practice breaking. Remember you are trying to make a corner ball and stick the cue ball in the center of the table so that you have a shot at the one. Really concentrate on this as many games hinge on the break.

Next, after you win this set (you are thinking positively?!), you are going to race the ghost again. This time, bring a ball with you and put it behind the cue ball so you are jacked up on every shot. This is a fun drill! How did you do?

Now, we get to play a rack left handed. Race the ghost to 5 again but this time, play left handed.

Here is a bonus tip this week. A lot of you really wind up on the break to generate extra power. That is a good thing. What is important to watch for though is what your bridge hand is doing. If your bridge hand is picking up off the table, and then you are putting it back down, you will lose a lot of accuracy. Make sure when you rear back, you keep your bridge hand frozen on the table. Keep pressure on your bridge hand. This will increase the accuracy of your hit and improve your breaks.

That's it for this week. I hope you enjoy practicing breaks, off the rail, jacked up, left handed, and using the bridge. I guarantee you that these skills will win you a game this week.

See you on the road.

About The Author: Mark Finkelstein is a professional pool player, a BCA Master instructor, an American Cue Sports (ACS) level 4 instructor, and house pro at Slate Plus in New York. Mark can be reached via phone at 347-545-1916, email at nycpool<at_char>gmail<dot_char>com or thru his website at www.mfpool.com.

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Author Info - Mark Finkelstein