well, i guess i’ve been invited to write for the pool synergy project; basically, participating bloggers post on a particular topic, and new posts by said bloggers are written for each new topic. i’m a bit shocked; after all, my blog only started in july of 2009. (it’s a baby!!) so with some trepidation and no small amount of amusement, i present this post, hot little hands on my dictionary and all.
before i forget, here’s the link to volume III’s main page. you can find posts for volume III by other bloggers in the main page, i believe.
many years ago i saw this animation project where they invited about eight collaborators to work on a story. one person would start the story, draw a segment, then pass it to the next animator in line. each artist had complete freedom to take the story and drawing style anywhere he/she wanted. the resultant story was quite bizarre, to say the least. as far as i can tell, the pool synergy project is nothing like the animation project i saw. which is good.
volume III’s topic is “some activity, training, or experience outside of the world of billiards and how that could be applied to help a person’s pool game.” i personally feels it’d be a bit premature for me to talk about this before i give some parameters. so here we go.
i think first we have to figure out, for ourselves, what type of pool player we are. i typically use two categories: inward and outward, or mental and physical, if you prefer. not saying you can’t be both at the same time, but i’m talking about our natural inclination to approach the game. for some players, the focus is more inward, while for others it’s more an outward thing. as such, i’m going to discuss activities that may strengthen the two aforementioned categories.
things that may improve your inward game
reading. i would probably recommend strategy books. if you’re a chess player, chess books are quite fascinating to explore. of course, the myriad of pool strategy books are also good. some favor sports psychology books. philosophy can also be fun. while the prince may be overkill, the art of war is a fun read as long as you don’t go overboard with it. or you can read blog posts. as with anything, when reading about books/articles/posts that are written by non-professionals (such as moi), peruse it with a grain of salt. a crater-sized grain is good. a special mention here: i typically stay away from pop psychology books or self-help books. many of these types of books have poor to no research, and you may do more harm than good by reading them. again, if you must, salt liberally.
breathing exercise. taking in oxygen helps you to focus your mind, especially in times of stress. say, the finals of a tournament. 😛
strategy games. chess, checkers, go, or any board game that involves strategy and pattern recognition. things all used in pool. i do caution about casino games, e.g., poker, blackjack, craps, etc.; you can easily lose your paycheck and make the entire exercise pointless.
things that may improve your outward game
physical activities. running, swimming, walking, cycling, hitting the gym are all good choices. while this may not affect your game directly, it can’t hurt to build up physical endurance. when you get into that 10-hour pool battle next time, you’ll appreciate the added energy level.
nutrition counseling/planning. good companion to exercise. detox inside and out. ask your doctor. (also check out my previous post.)
shot/position drills. simple enough, but probably an often-ignored one. nothing like building some muscle memory to help that stroke.
things that may improve both
martial arts. i think martial arts contain many similarities with pool (minus the violent aspects, unless you play at some very rough joints). both takes focus, mental preparation, physical coordination, proper breathing, and execution. in martial arts you try to connect your foot to someone’s jaw; in pool you try to deliver a straight hit to the cueball. you can get seriously hurt by practicing martial arts, so weigh the cost/benefit and decide for yourself. (i think the trick-shot artist andy segal practices mma, and some other pool players dabble in other styles.)
games. many games involve hand-eye coordination, strategy, and pattern recognition. used appropriately, games can help build these skills. if you have kids with a crazy schedule, you can try playing games. got little kids? try operation. (there’s a spongebob edition!!) or jenga on a family night. as far as video games, i’d recommend sports games. put it this way, if you pick up final fantasy or WoW, we’ll never see you at the pool hall again. ever. sports video games (basketball, football, tennis, hockey) can be played in short spurts, and involve the aforementioned skills. don’t sound bad at all. just remember to limit yourself to an hour or less of video game time, so you don’t kill your shoulders and eyes. however, AVOID pool video games like the f~* plague. i’ve yet to see one good pool video game; right now all pool video games play like crap and bear no resemblance to actual pool whatsoever.
sports. tennis and golf are all good choices for the similarities they bear with pool. one-on-one basketball is also decent. each sport has its own unique set of injuries, so be careful when you play.
of course, since we’re talking about activities that can help your game, remember always to have a balance. the focus is your pool game. if you go overboard with any of the activities listed above, expect your pool game to suffer.
that’s it. hope you enjoyed it. now go practice. 💡