at the pool hall, i hear a lot of discussions about various pool techniques. (well, at least among the people i see at the pool hall.) when it comes to those types of discussions, i always seem to hear people talk about techniques as if they’re isolated elements in pool.
i believe that the techniques in pool are interdependent. when people tweak with a technique (at least at the PH i play at), they don’t necessarily pay attention of what that’ll do to the rest of their game. personally, i subscribe to the theory that each person is a finite system. within this system, you have to fit various pool pieces together to (hopefully) yield the optimal result. when you change one piece within the system, most of the time the change affects the rest of the pieces within the system. the effect may be large or small (depending on how much change there was), but rarely can one piece of your game be changed without affecting others.
but such is what i often hear when people talk about various ways to shoot. you know what that really sounds like? it sounds like they’re searching for the magic pill that’ll instantly cure them of all the flaws and inconsistencies, as if learning a new grip or a new aiming system will alchemically make them pocket balls without missing.
that pill doesn’t exist.
in my personal experience, the only way to get better is to dismantle your game, then conduct a thorough analysis of what works. that needless twisting of the wrist? out. that flick of the hand at impact to increase power? out. all the superfluous movements of the body? out, out, out, out, out. once you figure out the simplest techniques you can use, strip down your game to the bare essentials so you can know these techniques will work as an integrated whole, not jumbled bit parts cobbled together. once you get to that point, repeatedly practice those things as a system of techniques until you can do them in your sleep.
when you consider what techniques will work for you, analyze them in terms of you. will a technique work with your body type? your temperament? your level of flexibility? your eye dominance? for example, let’s say a gent comes up and tells you that sidearm stroke is the best thing you can learn; he uses it and the stroke works great. when you look at the gent, you noticed that he’s in a wheelchair. of course the sidearm stroke works great for him; he can’t use a conventional stroke! and now you have to ask yourself: do i need to shoot with the sidearm stroke too?
well, if you find the stroke to be much more comfortable, or you can’t use the conventional stroke for some reason, then of course. but there has to be that level of analysis before you dive in blind. just because someone plays better than you doesn’t mean that their techniques will make you better. it’s a possibility, but not a guarantee. just look at the legions of efren copycats if you have doubts.
getting better at pool is a brutal process that involves an unholy amount of self honesty. you have to be willing to admit all your flaws and weaknesses, and then figure out ways to overcome these obstacles. it is unpleasant, painful, and grating. however, if you’re willing to lay the ego to rest, something miraculous happens. you begin to see what you’re doing wrong through the prism of reason. you stop associating your pool flaws with personal failure, and start seeing your flaws as mere obstacles to overcome. there is light at the end of the tunnel, if you’re willing to invest the effort. and the earlier you start, the sooner you’ll improve.