Forever it will be marked that on Tuesday August 30th Ray “Cool Cat” Martin beat Oliver “The Machine” Ortmann and proved that even at 76 he still has what it takes. Not only did Ray prove he can win at any age he hasn’t even been playing professional pool for 20 years. Coming out of retirement he easily showed that he’s got the skills to take on those eager players. Ortmann would normally have had the advantage but Ray was not going down without a fight. Amongst a packed crowd Martin scored his victory over last year’s champion. He has also been inducted into the Hall of Fame this evening, which is clearly well deserved.
Everyday people try and talk themselves out of purchasing one of America’s favorite pastime games, a pool table. Why they would want to pass up the opportunity to have what is in my opinion one of the greatest game pieces you can play is beyond me. However, I do understand that price and logistics is a big factor when thinking about purchasing a pool table.
- It can last for decades (well maybe not decade(s) but at least 10 years): While it might be expensive upfront it’s an investment that lasts.
- Statement piece: Every room needs one of these. A statement piece that brings about a great conversation topic is even better like “where did you get this” and “I love that carving on the legs” or “those pockets are unique”.
- It great for the whole family: As I stated in a recent post this game is great for people of all ages. It is one of the few games that can be learned at a very young age or picked up later in life. No matter what age your family is or how many of you their are it’s a great game that anyone can enjoy.
- Wouldn’t be a game room without one: Not that you’re trying to keep up with the Jones’s but you rarely see a great rec room or game room without a pool table. It’s the very essence and core of a the entire idea surrounding a game room.
- It’s one of the best games to play: Not only can be be played by everyone it’s amazingly fun. Now I may be a bit bias over here but it’s one of those games that you can play daily or pick up every so often and still love it.
Last week I wrote a post on “How to Rack and Break” but this week I wanted to get a bit more granular and post up some tips on how to really crush the rack. Most games a good break will determine if you continue playing or not so having the skills to really smash it are definitely to a players advantage. Here are a few basic tips to help pool players set up their next breaking of the rack:
- Power and Accuracy: The 1st rule of thumb when breaking is to hit the head of the ball, which in almost all games will be the 1 ball. If you are able to hit that 1 ball accurately and on center it should transfer all the energy and momentum (aka power) into the rack. So if you hit it dad center you don’t have to hit it as hard because you will have all that energy transformation working in your favor.
- Play for the Best: Always play like your striving for the best results. The only good break shot is the one that sinks all the balls. So don’t be afraid to switch up your cue ball positions or change speeds.
- Position Tricks: Every pool table will break differently but if you want a few tricks to find out those sweet spots here they are. 1) Check the cloth for signs of wear, players before you have probably found the best position for the cue ball so follow suit. 2) Try and get to the table beforehand to see where players are breaking and their speed to find out whats working.
- Where to Look: The debate is whether to look at the cue ball or the objective ball. Basically it comes down to where you want your focus during the break stroke. Some like looking at the rack’s head ball where other’s keep their gaze on the cue ball making sure they hit it accurately. It all comes down to personal preference even some of the pros confess they don’t know which one or where they focus on during the break shot.
- Timing: One of the key ingredients to a successful break. A player should try and have everything working together to make the movement effortlessly in less than a second. Really understand how your body works each person will be different so end up doing what works best for you.
Since the title of this blog is “You Rack I’ll Break”, I thought it would be important to talk about the fundamentals of breaking a rack. Billiard sports have been popular for centuries—with fans such as Mozart and members of French royalty. One element of the game that all players strive to perfect is the break hit. Here are some basic tips that can help improve your hit:
- Position your cue ball as close as the rules allow.
- Hold cue level with the tip, creating a loop with your non-dominant hand.
- Aim for the very center of the cue ball.
- Focus on hitting the head ball—the one that will be closest to you.
- Stand straight and keep your knees slightly bent.
- Hit the ball as hard as you can.
- Try different methods to find what works.
- Practice, Practice, Practice
When I think of pool I think of a few different scenarios: one is in a dimly lit pool hall with smoke filling the air, the other is flipping through channels and finding the one station that’s playing a professional tournament where it’s dead silent and everyone is staring with anticipation of the players next move, and lastly the most endearing is family memories around a pool table.
This post is dedicated to the latter. Pool is by far one of the most family friendly games, dare I say an all American family game. It’s a game that can be played at all ages young and old. It may be a little more challenging to teach those who are younger but I found a great article and book here if you are really struggling to teach your youngster how to play. The most important part is to create a game where everybody wins and that’s by having fun. Whether you are a player beginning the game or returning after a long absence it can be enjoyed and understood by all. The great thing about pool is that it’s more of a finesse sport the ultimate recreational game. It’s more mental than anything else which may be a bit harder for those who are older and younger to comprehend but no less challenging to others.
Self confidence can help a player reach their potential. It’s one of those games where you shouldn’t hesitate to praise yourself and accept the praise of others after a good shot. Take credit for your good shots, decisions, and position play. Don’t just brush it off a luck. It’s ok to make mistakes, admit it and then forgive. You can be your own worst critic so avoid that and give yourself a pep talk you might just amaze yourself how much you can grow.
Don’t get burned out, if you find yourself on excessively long binder sessions of practice and competition you can easily loose concentration, become irritable, and well all around bored. So don’t do it. Maybe take a break walk away read some instructional books, time off can be enjoyable I promise.
Keep your head in the game, not every day or every match will be a great pool playing day for you. Even pro’s admit that it wasn’t their best day. Try and keep a positive mental attitude. If you want to become good at any cue sports you have to be patient. The game offers many opportunities for failure and it will be your positive attitude and determination that will get you past the tough spots.
Patience is always a virtue, if you take this and conservative play you can find those long awaited victories. Just don’t forget to be prepared for the chance to grad the best opportunity.
Remember to take those lessons to heart and learn from them. The next time you are in a tough situation, try to remember back when you were in a similar situation and got yourself out of it successfully.
Seasoned players automatically do an instantaneous search of every other time they found themselves with a similar problem and then proceed accordingly. Basing your decision on a positive thought will add to your confidence and your success.
I started off this blog letting readers know how to properly use a pool cue but I think it’s about time to let readers know how to choose a pool cue. First let’s go through the different areas of a pool cue.
As you can see on the picture it’s important to know what material is used on certain areas of a pool cue. The most important and obviously most used area is the wrap or butt of the cue. It’s essential this area of the cue is comfortable and feels good when you grip it. Some cues come with leather wraps if your looking for a smoother feel.
Taking a look at the shaft of the pool cue your most likely going to see some sort of high grade maple used to make this section. When choosing a cue make sure you know what type of material is used here and what the shaft diameter is. The smaller your hands the smaller the diameter you will want. Most range from 12mm to 13mm but various manufacturers will allow 1/4 increments size changes.
Cue weights range from 12 to 21 oz. This is another aspect of the cue that is a personal choice there is no guidelines here just what feels the best.
A well made quality cue will generally range between $150 and $300. Anything over that you are looking at added details to the cue that make it more appealing. We can call these the show stopper cues. We would recommend taking a look at Billiards.com or PoolCues.com for the best pool cues in either of these price ranges.
I’ve always been a fan of technology and what it can do for me. Recently I just saw this article about an app where Alison Fisher can coach your pool game. Pretty cool right?
This world champion was selected to be the rep for pool and cue sports. The app is an overall sports training but it features one-on-one coaching tips from legendary players and coaches like Fisher.
The app is called Get in the Game (sounds like a song from high school musical if you ask me) and is available at the App store for your iPhone.
I think it’s a great way for aspiring player to be inspired and hear some great tips from the players they look up to.
For those of you who follow pool on the professional circuit i’m sure you tuned in this weekend to what happened in Doha, Qator. The 2011 World 9-Ball Championship crowned a new winner. Yukio Akagariyama kept his cool to win 13-11 over Ronnie Alcano. Almost 1500 people were there to watch putting a good amount of pressure on the 9-ball championship. Yukio played a great game very consistent all week. All in all it was a fantastic match and a great championship for 9-ball.
Uses for a pool cue: warning some humor may be involved. Pool cues were made for just that, shooting pool you know hitting billiards balls on a pool table. They were not made to be used as for javelin throwing or limbo contests.
The Do’s and Don’ts:
Chalk designs on the ceiling may be made easier with the help of a pool cue but we suggest you don’t try it. The tip of a pool cue is made of leather and attached to the shaft of the cue with a ferrule. Essentially the most vulnerable spots on the stick. When the come in contact with anything other than chalk or a billiard ball it may not be a happy ending. Loosing it’s original shape can cause inconsistent shots and severely affect your playing ability.
If you did you the pool cue for that aforementioned duel or javelin contest just don’t leave it outside. Exposure to the outdoor elements can be disastrous and possible fatal for the poor old thing. The shaft and butt of the pool cue is made of wood and can warp, this is an unfixable mistake. The only plausible use for it now is firewood.
If you use it to conduct the music aka bounce the stick to the beat you are affecting the bumper. The pumper is there to protect the cue but it also adds a precise amount of weight to the cue. The bumper can eventually crack if it gets too used an abused.
Lesson learned you paid a lot of money for that pool cue, if you want it to work properly be nice to it. Your Welcome for the etiquette lesson.