There is a famous quote by Benjamin Franklin that goes something like this: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
If you are someone who wants to become a better pool player, you should take heed from this powerful statement. Setting goals is a key ingredient to accomplishing pretty much anything in life, and becoming better at pool is no exception.
When a student hires me to be their private coach, the first step we take is discovering what level they are currently at. To do that I have the student play a game of pool (their choice of game) so I can analyse all their habits and skills, and determine exactly what their strengths and weaknesses are.
Then we discuss what level he or she ultimately wants to get to. So, that is the first goal that we set as a team. I call this the “Dream Goal.” It might be too early for us to be sure that the Dream Goal is actually attainable. This is what my student wants to achieve however, so we write it down and set our sights on it anyway.
The next step is to discuss the time and effort that the student is ready and able to put into accomplishing his or her goals. This is when we come back to reality and set mini goals that we both believe are attainable in the time frame that we have committed to.
For example: Bill’s current skill level is B, and his goal is to become an A+ level player in four months. But Bill can only commit to four hours a week of practice time for the entire four months — so I would have to recommend that he change his goal or increase the amount of practice time, or both. Everyone is different. What is doable for one student may be impossible for another. However, committing only four hours per week to practice and wanting to reach a goal of three skill levels above your current level in four months is unattainable to almost anyone.
Setting mini goals along the way to reaching a major goal is important in a person’s development. But setting unattainable goals can be very dangerous. After each coaching session we agree on an action plan that includes the why, what, when, and how to improve one or more specific skills that are important to reaching the goal.
During each of our coaching sessions we begin by discussing the failures and/or successes that the student has had in improving