who will guide you there

i suppose people may debate the merits of having a teacher/coach to further your pool skills.  some believe firmly in it, others will tell us that we can learn by ourselves from books, dvds, and watching pro matches.  i’m not sure which approach is the best, but a good teacher can really shorten the learning process, sometimes shrinking years of self-struggle to a mere few months.  that is, if you find a good teacher.  so below is a random list of things i would look for in a pool teacher/coach.  yours may vary.

1. your teacher/coach can emphasize YOU.

when i say emphasize you, i mean the teacher possesses knowledge that can help bring out your strengths, or find the best forms/techniques that you can use.  in short, the teacher can be “you-centered”.  ideally, the teacher is not too interested in teaching only his/her system, but is very focused on things that will work for you, the individual.  as i said many times before, not one in 10,000 can learn the efren stroke properly.

2. your teacher checks his/her ego at the door.

hopefully, your pool teacher is interested in helping you learn, and not trying to impress you with his/her various accolades and sundry credentials.  my previous post talks about just such fine gentleman; this supposed teacher is so intent on impressing his students with his knowledge that his sessions are basically pointless.  i mean, how effective can a teacher be if all he/she does is rapidly mouthing off shot after shot, without really explaining each shot?  not sure if any of his students ever learned anything.

3. your teacher is knowledgeable.

beware if your teacher explains something to you but just cannot demonstrate it on the table, even after 20 attempts.  this can mean the teacher’s knowledge is either dubious, or the person does not know as much as you originally believed.  although not a total deal-breaker, if your teacher can’t properly demonstrate the things he/she is talking about, exercise caution.

4.  your teacher listens.

this is basically related to #1.  if your teacher is willing to listen to your difficulties, it means he/she is trying to solve the problem with you.  but there needs to have a balance; if all your teacher does is listen to you, he/she may not be able to give you discipline when you need it.  conversely, if your teacher never listens to you, think about leaving.

5. your teacher is fair.

by fair i mean your teacher will charge you for the services provided, and no more.  most likely your teacher needs to make a living, and by charging fairly, he/she can provide a great service at a reasonable cost.  unfortunately i can’t really say what price is fair; that can be affected by region, average rate, experience, reputation, etc.  the best thing you can do is to check around first and get some feedback from previous students, if possible.  sometimes internet forums can be helpful, since you can contact people from across states and nations.  also, talk to the teacher and see if you get any gut instincts.  a test drive (taking one or two lessons first) can also help you gauge things.  bottom line: a good teacher can help you improve.  at least you have some objective criteria here.

that’s all i can think of right now.  one more thing: if you are the student, please honor your appointments.  there’s nothing worse than booking a session with your teacher and not show up.  i mean, at least call ahead (i’m thinking at least 6 hours ahead) if you cancel.  your teacher could be holding another lesson if you cancel early.

btw, i totally forgot to do this one wordreka moment! last month when i hosted poolSynergy.  so here it is.


Smassy: a combination of smart and sassy

there. now it’s official.  😀

6 comments on “who will guide you there

  1. A coach is good to have in any endeavor, whether it’s pool, chess, or any other hobby or sport in which you want to improve.

    I’m not really a big fan of paying people to teach me a hobby. I suppose if you want to be concert pianist it’s fine to pay someone for piano instruction; but for example I was very fortunate to be able to study chess under the prolific chess author Bill Wall, and when I asked him how much I should pay him, he said nothing, with the caveat that I would not charge anyone for chess instruction myself. To this day, I’ve never charged anyone for chess coaching.

    I love capitalism as much as the next guy but I think that somehow when you get money involved between a learner and his coach, the relationship is fundamentally altered in that there arise expectations of the both the learner and the coach that may not be mutually beneficial to the student-teacher relationship. It’s hard to express exactly, but charging for chess lessons never appealed to me, for this reason.

    • i personally think that pool is one of those games where a novice benefits greatly from a teacher. sure you can do the trial and error method, but you improve much quicker with a teacher. i mention paying the teacher because you can’t always expect someone to teach you for free. of course, there’ll be pros and cons to pay/not pay for a coach, but i personally don’t think paying a teacher to teach you pool is a bad thing. just have to make sure you turn your BS detector on high so you don’t get ripped off by a bad coach.

  2. We’ve been looking at a coach for the both of us. Two years ago we had an opportunity, unfortunately the time when the coach was going to be in town did not work for us. So instead, we had two friends who signed up instead.

    We had the opportunity to watch the coach in action with our two friends.

    Sometimes the problem is not with the coach, but the student. One of the student is still looking the “magic pill” that will transform his game. The coach gave a list of drills to do, but this friend never does them.

    Keep in mind that we can’t transform into a better player overnight just because you paid a few hundred dollars for a good coach. As you have said in many of your post is that you have to practice.

    Coaches around this area aren’t that great. I heard one horror story where the coach would teach for five minutes, and then take a call on his cell phone for the next half an hour. Another so called “coach” does not check his ego at the door.

    I think the internet forums is a fair place to look for coaches who are good. Usually the forums are not censored, so it is a good place to start.

    • i think good coaches and good students are sort of looking for each other, mainly because it is a pleasure to have a dedicated teacher or student. when they find each other it’s quite a symbiosis.

      “I heard one horror story where the coach would teach for five minutes, and then take a call on his cell phone for the next half an hour. Another so called ‘coach’ does not check his ego at the door.”

      that’s just sheer unprofessionalism. i would demand a refund or get a new coach immediately. instructors like that are not worth our time, especially when we’re paying the person. personally i think when a student wants to pay an instructor to learn, it denotes a serious intent. this means that the instructor should return such serious intent with professional lessons. if the instructor can’t even keep up this simple exchange of services, it’s time to look elsewhere.

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