Missy’s Pool Mentalities. ~ Missy Moran Capestrain

Pool related conflicts are really quite easy to avoid with only a bit of knowledge and understanding.

How many times have you heard that somebody does not want to play those really good players because they don’t have a chance, and would only be donating? Or on the flip side, s/he should want to play me/us — the better players — to make their game better? For ease of understanding levels of play, players will be divided into one of three different divisions — upper, middle, and lower.

Lower division players are those who are new to the sport: beginners. Their skill level has only just begun to be developed. It is very early in establishing a level of play. At this point players have not established themselves in the pool world.

Being mostly self-taught, they have not learned English; they have not learned patterns, nor are they familiar with safety play (for the most part.) Games are often a series of shot making or attempting shots as well as leaving opponents badly, as a pattern play and execution has not been learned.

Most here have not taken lessons, do not practice drills, and may never intend to do either. League night is recreation. It is a chance for a night out with the guys, their girlfriends, to have a few beers, hit some balls, and maybe even win a few games. They are the beginners, the newbies of pool. They have fun on league night.

The middle level players are probably much more competitive, have more of a skill set, and want to win. Sure, they want to have a few beers and have fun on pool night, and win some games. Their ability is generally a good bit higher than that of the lower level players. Most middle players have their own cues, have had some instruction, have or are working on their game, and want to win.

They are appreciative when given help, especially by a very good player, but only when they ask for help and not when approached out of the blue, being told about all of the mistakes they made. Advice is welcomed if the player has asked for it.

Middle players are there to play hard and win some games. These players may have had some formal instruction, and want to continue improving their game. They will practice, run through some drills, and do their best to stay in stroke. Most often they will want and welcome a chance to play the big dogs… not in every pool situation, but on occasion.

Finally, we come to the upper level players. These are the very good players. They have worked hard on their games.

Many have had advanced lessons and deeply understand all aspects of the game. Much time and money has been spent developing their advanced skill set. They have done their time!

They are there to win. They are not there to drink and party, but if they do, it is only a couple, and it is controlled. For most at this stage in their pool lives, league is not a night to go out and have fun, but rather to compete fiercely and win. If fun is had along the way, that’s fine.

At night’s end these players want to know how many games they’ve won, and how many runouts they’ve had. They may be seen discussing shot choices, be it their own or opponents, and how they may have been better played.

By far, this is not a complete set of descriptions of player ability, but it is a start. It is a place to begin to understand where a person is in their skill set — appreciate and respect it. Not only is it important for the player her/himself to know their own play, but also to recognize others’ levels because it dictates and allows for placement in different pool situations. Players will understand with whom to and not to compete or play with on a team or tournament.

Sure, we’ve all come up through the ranks, spent lots of money, practiced for hours, mastered our strokes, and got our game faces. Most of us moved up in a methodical manner, and not too quickly. Here’s my point on this, and to which I alluded earlier…

Beginners definitely should, at some point, begin competing against players better than themselves, but not too quickly. To put a newbie up against an advanced player too soon could cause major damage to the newbie’s esteem. Moreover, his/her entire game may be hurt.

They should not be up against “Crusher” the third time out or “Killer” the next time. Also, lesser players will only play for so long against better players… will only “donate” their money for so long, whether on leagues or in tournaments.

Everybody wants a chance to win, not just be beaten time after time.

Those of us who have run pool leagues and tournaments learn this lesson early on and often the hard way when players come to us asking that something be done to separate the levels of players. We all know exactly what is implied in those words, if not obliged.

We will lose our leagues.

We need to accommodate as much as possible. So we implement handicaps or divisions on our leagues to even out the the playing field . After all, we are there for all players, not only a select few.

Different mentalities exist in pool. The sooner we understand this, the sooner we will have less problems at the table. It’s not rocket science.

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