Rollercoaster ... Of Stroke

Just the other week I posted about how I had found (again) my stroke and how I was so excited to have it back, that my game went up, I had newfound confidence.  Well, those were good times.

Last Monday's league match was quite odd.  All day I had been fighting a headache (which I almost never get), so I took 2 tylenol (first time in probably 8 months I've had medicine of any sort).  It took the headache away pretty handily, but something else happened.  I took the pills around 6, went to play my match at 7.  I didn't play well, but the weird thing was my mental state.  I didn't have "medicine head", but I had absolutely no interest in the game.  I was playing horribly, but just didn't care.  Even when I tried to get upset at myself, to get some blood flowing, to make me focus on the match, it just didn't happen.  I'd walk up and shoot a shot, not even looking at the table to see where I need to be for the runout. I just shot balls in (or didn't, as it happened).  And yet, I still didn't care.  I was getting FOUR games on the wire from this guy, and I should've won as he wasn't playing his best game either - but I just couldn't focus.

I know asprin isn't a "downer", but it really felt like it at the time.  So bizarre.  I mentioned this to someone else and they were equally as surprised.

The following Wednesday, I went to The Break to get some practice time.  I went back to the same table I played on last time and had a terrible night; out of spite.  I wasn't going to let the table freak me out.  I start warming up and the table isn't backing down. So, I switch some drills, to work on some shots that have been giving me trouble lately; and I break out the Jim Rempe training ball to see how accurate I'm cueing.

It turns out, that for a large portion of my shots, where I address the cueball in all my pre-shot strokes, isn't anywhere near where I actually hit the cueball.  Anything with draw is off by a full tip.  I'm hitting the CB a full tip higher than my target location, sometimes I hit a full tip high and off to the right! 

Line-up and all pre-shot strokes point to here:
The mark on the CB after the stroke:

This was shocking and depressing to see.  It was pretty consistent as well.

I deliver the cue straight through, with no side-swing pretty well - so I'm left to assume that my timing is way off and/or I'm subconsciously raising the tip to avoid scooping the CB; which is obviously happening.

What's even scarier is that 95% of the time, I'm getting the CB reaction I expect; which tells me that I really don't understand what's happening with the CB as much as I thought I did.

However, there is one "saving grace" note to add: After I thought about the actual physics of how the tip interacts with the CB, it makes more sense that where I address the "center of the tip - to the cue ball" wouldn't actually be where the "tip hits the cueball".  The tip is round, the ball is round - I'm lining up the centers (so to speak), but when I don't hit the dead center of the CB, I also don't hit the center of the tip.  I hit with the edge closest to the equator of the cue-ball, which is automatically going to look like at least a half-tip wrong - in the direction of the 0,0 axis point of the cueball.  What I mean is, if I'm aiming with low left english, the section of the tip that makes contact with the cueball, is actually the top-right (as I look from behind the tip) section of the tip closest to center/center on the cueball!  Similarly, if I'm aiming with high-right, the area of the tip doing the work is the low-left (from behind) portion.


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Filed Under: General · Stroke · Training

The Most Amazing Shot I've Seen

During the finals of the one pocket event this weekend, Joey Gray, whose pocket is the top left here, was faced with this layout:

 After looking at everything for a good long while, he gets down and fires the cueball into the 1 ball, which then caroms into the 9 and throws the 15 into his pocket.  The 9 hits the 12, which banks into the 6, which then trickles into his pocket as well. The 8 ball goes off the 2 which goes out to the middle of the table, where the 1 ball glances off and ends up in front of his pocket as well.

Here's the resting places of the balls after the shot:


It was quite simply the most amazing shot I've seen.

You can see it in action at this link:

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Filed Under: One Pocket

Midwest 9-Ball Review (Nov 2013)

I decided to head out to Olathe, KS for the Midwest 9-Ball Tour stop in Olathe, KS last weekend.  It's always a good time and it's nice to get out of town once in a while.  I like the measure-up aspect of going there to see just how my game has come along; even though I'm often disappointed with the results.

My only concern was that it was the day after Halloween - and I tend to enjoy that holiday quite a lot.  This year was no different, other than I might have enjoyed it a little too much.  The drive across the state was not fun and I tried to nap as much as possible.  But, after a couple of hours of car-sleep I felt like a human again and was ready to go.

I've been on this weird streak of drawing some real top-name players early in the tournament, and this time was no exception.  My first match, I drew Darren Everret - a top regional player.  I didn't get too much time to warm up before the match, as I had arrived late thanks to some traffic on the road.  Darren wins the flip and off we go.  Honestly, I don't remember too much about this match.  I know that he got out on a few racks that were really impressive.  Racks that I looked at from the chair and thought, "Where's he gonna play safe?" ... only to watch as he picked apart the problems using caroms and combos then drained the 9 in the corner.  I played pretty decently when I got the chance. He got off to a quick 4-0 lead, then I got a couple of racks where he broke dry or missed a safe. I had a very nice break and run to get my 3rd rack.  But, at the end of the day, I made a couple extra errors, and he just didn't make any. I lost 9-4.  Darren would go on to take 2nd place this weekend, losing to Mark Haddad in the finals.

My next match wasn't until Saturday at 5pm, so I had plenty of time to relax and enjoy the environment.  I didn't get into any action, just played with a friend for a little bit, then went to the hotel and slept a good long night's sleep.  Saturday I got up, got ready and went for breakfast. Took my time drinking coffee and waking up. I got to the room around 3 and hit some balls to warm up.  At 4:30 I went to check in for my match and discovered that my opponent had to quit the tournament for personal reasons, which gave me an automatic win and moved me to the next round - which played at 8:30.

I had a small bit of food and waited for the finals of the One Pocket tournament to begin.  Joey Gray's 9-ball match took a little longer than expected, and so by the time he was done with that, I was just about to play my next match.  Luckily, I had a friend monitor my camera and I filmed the finals to watch later.  I still haven't watched it, but heard it was an amazing set.

At 8:15 I went to check in for my match and found that I was playing Mike Durbin, of Durbin Custom Cues; who is friends with my cuemaker, Josh Treadway.  I was really nervous about this match for some reason, mostly cuz it's a name I recognize and Josh joked with me prior "Beat him with a Treadway!" - a nice little pun about Jim Buss's tagline "Run over your opponent with a BUSS".

I felt the adrenaline from the start of the match, the drive and focus and the nervous energy; but I wasn't shaky - like normal nervous jitters; strange.  Whatever I was doing, was working as I found myself up 5-1.  He was making some strange errors - and even stranger still was he wasn't getting any rolls at all.  Working really hard through a tough rack, then on the 8, bumps into the 9, makes it and the cueball banks cross-corner into the pocket -- kind of weird stuff.  But, the water or my lead drained the adrenaline from me and I felt that nervous/focus energy dissipate.  He caught up and tied it at 5, then took the lead at 6; and I thought to myself - well, I think he's supposed to beat me?  Then I countered "so what?! I wanna win - how awesome would that be?!"  I tried to get back some of that adrenaline, but couldn't generate it. However, I kept my head in the game and took advantage when I could and tied it at 7. He broke and nearly ran the next rack, but bobbled a ball late, and I cleaned up to get on the hill, 8-7.  Then I broke dry, but left him tough, he tried it and left the 1 in front of a cluster of balls on the side rail and the cue nearly parallel with it.  But, the 9 wasn't too far from the corner pocket, and the 1 did go into the side, but the rest of the rack of a mess.  I decided that I would go for the carom on the 9.  I looked it a little longer than the 45 second shot-clock guideline, but finally got down and sent the cue ball into the 1, it glances on the tangent line, then the forward took and cut into the 9; which hesitantly dropped into the pocket to win the match!  I win 9-7!!

My next match was just 10 minutes later, barely enough time for me to grab my cigarettes and check on the 1p finals.  I played another name I had heard before: Mike Wagaki.  Unfortunately, all my luck and patience had been depleted in the previous match, and this guy was taking 1-2 minutes on nearly every shot. I was falling asleep.  And in my haste to get going in the match I might have not taken the time I needed to ensure a solid pre-shot routine.  As such, I missed some balls I should never miss; and I wasn't getting any of the rolls.  In short: I dogged the entire match.  I lost 9-2 - but the match took longer than my match with Durbin.  I was out, and I was furious.  Oh well.  I held it together during the match pretty well, other than complaining under my breath about the terribly slow play.  Next time I will be going to get a shot-clock from the tournament directors.

I spent the rest of the night watching other people gamble.  I saw sets for $1,500, $3,000 and $3,500 - all from the same 2 guys, and the same guy lost each one; not to mention the side-bets going on.  The barking and woofing was pretty entertaining, and reminded me of Derby.  A game-maker/backer was bored and decided to throw a pretty drunk top player into action with a young and sober and eager local hot stick; it didn't end well, but I was still impressed with just how well the drunk guy played and could extrapolate from there what his sober game would be.  I'll probably draw him next time. lol

Sunday we left early and stopped off in Columbia to visit a friend and hang out.  Played some pool and I found out that my break is perfect for table 8 at Billiards on Broadway.  The pop'n'stop SVB patented break was in full effect for me.  That just felt awesome to do it consistently.

Overall, I'm mostly pleased with my performance this weekend.  I made it one round further than I have in the past, even if it was by the grace of a forfeit.  I got a match win - a legitmate win, against a tough opponent.  I got to watch some great pool all weekend.  And I look forward to the next one!

I wont even bother mentioning the disaster that was my league match last night.  I clearly need more sleep than I used to.

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Filed Under: 9-Ball · Tournaments

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