body double

of my random musings of pool, i sometimes wonder about copying a certain player’s style.

at times for whatever reason, a player feels the need to emulate another’s style.  (this can happen to both beginners and advanced players, i’m sure.)  some choose to copy another player completely; others will take only small bits for minor enhancement.

i wonder if copying another player, whose body type (or build) is similar to you, will make the integration smoother.  for example, if you’re 6’3″, 240 pounds, it may be tough to copy dennis orcollo (or is it orcullo?).  or say if you’re 5’1″ and 100 pounds, then kid delicious’ style may be out of reach.  how about temperament?  does copying a player with a similar temperament to you make the transition easier?  anyway, you get the drift.

i truly don’t know if this makes sense, but i wonder if things will click faster if you copy a player that is more similar to you (from body type to everything else).  i’m assuming, in general, that the effect is greater the more parts of a player’s game you choose to copy.  in short, if you decide to copy a player’s style completely (versus just using another player’s stance), then i wonder if more care should be invested in picking who to emulate, since the +/- effect on your game will (presumably) be greater.

the reason i ponder about these things is because at one point, i was a self-imposed victim of the efren stroke.  when i first started playing pool, i watched efren reyes play by chance.  i became so enthralled with efren’s game that i decided to play the way he played.  let’s just say that i don’t have efren’s body type, or his temperament.  regardless of this fact i still copied away.  for the next two years my game showed ZERO improvement.  it took quite a long time after to break out of the “efren habit”.  of course, the more i learned about pool, the more i realized the complexity of efren’s stroke.  and django’s.  and how difficult it is to copy them.

(i watched django’s stroke up close, from 3 feet away.  there are A LOT of twists and turns to his stroke.  definitely not for beginners, or even mid-level players.  this is off-topic, but i think the few players [IMO] that are pretty successful w/ the efren-type stroke are santos sambajon & ronnie alcano.  however, not even sambajon and alcano shoot like efren exactly.)

i wonder if i had copied another player’s style, one who had the same body type as me, i would have improved quicker.  i’ve also seen a number of filipino players’ games suffer from using the efren stroke (these aren’t pro players).  perhaps when a player feels the need to choose a style to emulate, the player should choose with a cool head and the cold eyes of reason instead of with emotions.  it seemed those filipino players, whose games suffered from using the efren stroke, chose the efren style out of some unconscious pride of their hometown hero (i’m only guessing here).  nothing wrong with having a hero in pool, but a player should probably consider if that person’s style will be compatible with him/her.

doubtlessly, there are exceptions (IMO).  i personally think you can’t really go wrong if you copied kim davenport’s, or ralf souquet’s, techniques.  those two have that nice textbook style that does very little, if any, harm to your game.  i’d call these two “beginner-proof” styles of play; that is, you can teach kim’s or ralf’s style to a beginner without fear of screwing him/her up.  i’m sure some will disagree; it’s merely my thought on kim and ralf’s styles.

i suppose this comes down to personal preference.  (isn’t that the answer to every question in pool?)  if you’re gifted in pool you can probably figure out your own style in no time; some folks are naturals.  others will need more guidance.  for those who don’t believe in pool coaches/teachers, or those who can’t afford one, i wonder if copying a good player who’s more similar to you will make your game grow faster than copying a player who’s more different.  keep in mind that i’m only talking about the physical aspects of the game, e.g., stroke, stance, bridge hand, rhythm, etc., since you can learn positions/shots from any knowledgeable player.  a good coach helps greatly.  an experienced player with a keen eye (arrgghh!) can also aid in developing your style.  no matter what, your coach should be able to put his/her bias aside (ideally) and consider styles of play with YOU as the central point.  after all, you, not the coach, is the focus.  i should mention that my good friend and mentor, while teaching me to play, racked his brain to come up with a stance and line-up specifically tailored for my body.  strangely enough, he taught the stance & line-up to me over the phone!!  it worked out so well that i’ve been using it for over 15 years without feeling the need to change.  it just feels so natural.  i wish everyone can find a good teacher/coach that can help you the way my friend helped me in my game.  thanks, man.

please remember that what i said in this post are just unproven theories.  none of the info in this post has been tested.  no studies have been conducted.  if you disagree or have alternate theories, your thoughts are much appreciated in the comments section.