General FAQs and Laws of Pool ~ by Allan P. Sand

These apply to just about everyone. It is nearly impossible to avoid these laws and their consequence. They don’t apply every time, but when they do, it is a personal intervention from the hands of any one of the many billiard gods.

• The more balls you make in an inning, the easier it is to miss an easy shot. • On a 9 Ball hill-hill game, if you make the 9 ball, the cue ball will scratch. • The better you play, the easier you can be beaten by a lesser player. • The better you get, the worse your luck. • If the game is very competitive, the louder the music will be playing. • The longer you have to wait before your match, the greater the chance of losing. • If the planned cue ball path goes within 6 inches of a pocket, it will scratch in perfect center pocket. • If you make a difficult shot and the next one is easy, if there is any place on the table where you will not be able to make it, the cue ball will go there. • If you make a successful bank shot, your next shot will also be a bank shot and it will not be successful. • If you have others, add them to this topic. • If you get perfect position on a shot, the chances of missing go up immensely. And, even if you make the shot, your next shot will be out of position. • The importance of making the shot indicates the greater chances of a miscue or doing something stupid. • The more difficult the successful shot is, the fewer people there are congratulate you on your success. On the other hand, when you miss the easiest shot with money or pride on the line, there will be dozens of witnesses.

What is a pre-shot routine?

A pre-shot routine means exactly that – all of the little activities you do from bending over the table up through the final forward stroke to hit the cue ball. When you perform these steps properly, you get consistently good shooting results. When you skip individual actions, or are not attentive, you get poor results. You want most of the elements of the pre-shot routine to be part of a semi-automatic checklist. A perfect example is using a hammer and nail. When first learning, a lot of little actions are consciously done, one after the other. The consequences of not doing so are painful. After a few thousand nails, most of these become routine. The more experienced players have their routines so automated that absolutely no thought goes into the actual setup for the shot. The only thoughts that do cross their mind are related to the tactical considerations. A thinking player compares the results of his shot to his intentions. Any variation between actuality and the plan are mentally reviewed. Mental modifications are done to ensure the next opportunity matches his intentions. Too much thought about all the muscles involved leads to brain overload. Consciously thinking through all of the necessary adjustments turns a 10 second shot into two minutes. Some people cannot let the back brain take over common actions. When you first start including a pre-shot routine into your playing habits, a basic check list helps:

1. On making the shot choice, lay the stick onto the aiming line. 2. Step forward and bend down into your shooting position. 3. Verify that the stick is on the aiming line. 4. Do the practice strokes while imagining the correct speed. 5. Stroke the shot with follow-through. 6. Observe the results and compare the reality to your intentions. Vow to make the necessary adjustments in future similar shots.

Eventually, over thousands of shots, this routine becomes, well, routine. You make the shot decisions and the next time you notice anything, you are either considering the next shot or heading to your chair. And this is the way it should be. However, when your game is not following the expected routine and you become aware that something is slightly off, you have to go back to your fundamentals. The pre-shot routine is generally the first to be re-examined. Follow the above process, step by step, with full attention to your movements. Try to identify what you unconsciously changed. It could be that you stopped putting the stick onto the aiming line, or you shuffle your feet into position instead of stepping forward into position. You could even have eliminated the imaging of your stroke before committing yourself to the shot. Whatever it was, firmly put it back into your routine. This will get your game back on track.

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Author: Allan P. Sand Editor: Chris Freeman

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