A New Stroke - Again

So, it appears I've somehow changed my stroke, yet again. This weekend, I played a while but was still thinking about Thursday and how I didn't feel right at the table. Actually, I haven't felt "right" at the table for a month.  Personal interferences aside, my mechanics just feel foreign all of a sudden. I've gotten to a point where I don't have to focus on my stroke, but in doing so, I think I have neglected it too much.  So, Saturday while I was shooting around I tried to focus on swinging straight and accurate.  I had recently been analyzing the arm movement of Shane van Boening and I noticed something very subtle.  During his pre-shot strokes, his elbow is tucked just a bit closer to his body, then on his final stroke - at the end of his backswing, his elbow comes out and is now 100% in line with the cue to start his forward movement.  I think this is the cause for the subtle shaft movement you'll see during his stroke.  It's not as wild as Bustamante's, but still, it's so fluid it's very visually attractive.  It's also very purposeful while still adhering to basic stroke guidelines.  

But, my stroke is not SVB's stroke, however I have taken some notes and tried to use those for my own.  As such, my stroke now is sort of a mix of Bustamante and SVB... My pre-strokes are pretty loose and a bit loopy, but now, my final backswing is slow with a mini-pause at the end before I bring my forearm forward and let my wrist and hand trail and whip the cue forward at contact.  

Last night, I went and practiced alone for 2.5 hours, playing BB 8-ball trying to prepare for tonight's league match.  After I got warmed up, I noticed immediately just good my stroke felt.  It felt deliberate, yet natural - and I was very accurate with position and pocketing all night.  I never broke and ran, but the table was not breaking too well and I didn't really focus on it as a primary goal.  I wanted to work out whatever kinks had worked themselves into my stroke, and I feel I have done just that.  I didn't take any video, but I'll get some later this week.

I feel confident and ready for my match tonight - and that's a good thing since we're tied for first place and we're playing the other team tied for first. :) So, whoever wins tonight wins the whole session and bypasses the playoffs in the championship tournament in February.

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Filed Under: 8-Ball · Stroke

Year End Review and New Year's Thoughts

So, it's that time of year again and the "what did I do this year" question is looming large.  So, I had a review of my goals for this year, which I fortunately documented in this post. Now, the funny thing is how wrong I was about so many things when I made those goals.

First off, a year ago, I was unable to accurately and objective judge my skill level. I mentioned that I felt like I was SL5, which is entirely wrong.  At BEST I was a 4 then.  But since I had no real standards or other measures to use, I just kind of threw a dart in the dark.  I wasn't too far off, but my expectations were.  I had said that I wanted to raise my level from a 4 to a 6.  Also, keep in mind that at the beginning of January, I was not in a league, so the numbers were "mystery" numbers to me.  It wasn't until the next month I joined a league and started to see how 4's, 5's, 6's and 7's play.

Anyway, lets look at the goals I set out with:

Goal Desired Result Actual Result Notes
Personal Rating 4 to 6 4 to 5 I joined a league, was rated a 4, will end this session as a 5.
Practice Partners Find several Found Tattoo John, Mike Renick, and Dustin Only Dustin is interested in drills, but John and Mike have been excellent sources of knowledge as well.
Run-out Frequency Weekly Weekly While it took me the bulk of the year to get to the point where I can/do run out at least once a week, it's a goal: accomplished.
Speed Control 6" Position 12" Position This was an undocumented goal, but necessary to improve runout percentage. I'm far better at getting area position, but still not as precise as I would like.

So, when I look at it this way, my year was pretty successful.  I achieved all the goals I set out with at the beginning of year, with the exception of the rating level, but I can't really count that since I had no real foundation for making that a goal.  However, I did raise my rating and that has come because of my smarter play, more consistent ball pocketing and better CB control.  While I will be a 5, officially, at the end of the next week, I know I'm not a strong 5, so I will have quite a bit of work to do in order to help the team to a full 5's potential.

I don't practice as much as I used to, and I believe that I did spend more time alone at the table than messing around with other guys, I'd get back to the rapid improvement I saw the last half of 2009.  You guessed it, this will feed directly into my goals for 2011 (which will be a different post).

To sum it up with videos, here's a video of me playing around with some 9-ball back in July and here's a video of me playing around with 9-ball from November. Even the videos of me running out aren't perfect. I still rely on getting a roll once in a while because my position isn't as accurate as it needs to be. Still, I'm a better shot-maker than I was, I come up with better ideas and I execute them more solidly than I did a year ago. I'm excited about what 2011 will bring!

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Filed Under: General

It's Finally Here! Power One Pocket!

I just pre-ordered my copy of Power One Pocket with Scott Frost!!! I really can not wait for this to get to my doorstep - and you shouldn't either, click the link and order your copy today!!

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Filed Under: Gear · One Pocket · Training

Random Thoughts (Dr. Cue Classic, League, General Play)

The biggest news I have is that I attended the finals of the Dr. Cue Classic IV tournament last weekend.  I got to meet Florian aka "Venom" and Dr. Cue as well as a few other trickshot guys.  Those guys are seriously awesome.  They are nice, open, friendly and won't hesitate a minute to show people how to shoot their shots.  Every single one of those guys would be a great public representation of the sport.

Case and point: After the tournament there's a raffle.  One guy bought a bunch of tickets, so he won a few things - but most importantly, and impressively, he won the custom cue being raffled.  It's not important or impressive that he won the cue... it's important and impressive that he GAVE IT AWAY!  He accepted the prize, looked around and found a youngster in the crowd, a 10 year old boy that was helping out randomly through the tournament and he gave the cue to him.  This was an $1,100 custom made cue, and he just handed to someone else.  How AWESOME is that?!

In league news, I went 2-2 last week.  Made a couple of really dumb mistakes, but also made a few nice outs.  I found that I succumb to the "taking this game for granted" mentality when everyone on the team says to me before my match "there's no way you should lose to anyone on their team".  It was the iconic "playing down to the opponent" kind of night.  I wasn't scared of them, or threatened, so I didn't really worry about getting back to the table if I missed.  I took awful risks - one of which actually cost me the game when I tried a low-percentage 2-rail kick at the 8ball... I missed the ball and scratched.  Later I asked my captain why in the world didn't he jump up and stop me? He said I had to learn that lesson.  I replied that if he had just stopped me, that would've been enough.  He said that there was no way I'd forget it if I lost a game because of it.  In the end, he's right... I'll never not ask for a coach nor would I attempt a 2-rail kick on the 8 against a player rated 2 with 4 balls left on the table.  Sometimes you *do* have to the opponent.

That last statement actually is a major key in the book, Pleasures of Small Motions.  I finally finished it on the train the other day and that point didn't surface until near the end.  There are so many great points contained within that book I'd have to reprint nearly all of it to share any of it with you.  I can't do that, obviously.  But I can strongly recommend it to you!

In general news, I met up with a fellow AZBer last night.  It was great getting to meet another local who's about the same as me in a lot of respects, abilities, goals, practice methods, etc.  We shared drills and stories then shot around for a while.  I didn't shoot terribly well, but I didn't get upset about it either.  We'll be getting together more often, I'm sure.

Last night made me realize that I *really* need to get back to doing my drills.  I kept explaining drills and whatnot then had to follow them with "I haven't shot this in months.".  I preach the value of drills, but I haven't been following my own advice lately at all. *sigh*

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Filed Under: General

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