Like any other game, if you want to become a great pool player, then you should be willing to learn.
Every game you play should be a chance for you to showcase your prowess with little adjustments here and there.
Yes, you might be already aware of pool fundamentals (ball striking, attaining accurate follow-ups, etc…
But if you let down your guard then you can easily mess, even when you’re a pro.
Below are some result-oriented tips you can apply to better your game
1. Cue Holding
Each player in the pool game holds their cues differently. And that’s alright since they can’t all be the same.
Many times, beginner players tend to stand straight whenever they’re taking their shots. While they might be lucky to hit the target, most of the time they end up missing.
The best way to keep the cue is horizontal. And for this, always purpose to have the shaft of your cue resting on the bottom of your chin.
This gives you a clear view of the cue, thus allowing you to place an effective strike.
Also, ensure you spread your fingers, with your thumb slightly raised into the air. The purpose is to form a cage with your hands to support the end of your cue.
The video below makes a great illustration;
2. Better Your Stance
In a pool game, your stance plays a very important role in determining your win or loss.
So if you haven’t mastered it yet, ensure your front foot is always a shoulder-length apart from your rear one.
To ensure stability, let your rear leg settle at 45-degrees as the front one remains forward and straight.
This will guarantee an equal distribution of your body weight on both legs, such that you wouldn’t experience any difficulties leaning forward.
Combine this with your bridge hand and lowering your head as you level over the pool and you can comfortably form a “tripod” stance.
Watch the following video to help you practice on your own;
3. Choosing Your Cue
If you want to be a pro pool player, then you just don’t use any cue.
Rather, you should give importance to the cue selection process, even if you’re using a pub one.
First, ensure the tip of the cue isn’t unevenly worn down or loose, as this can significantly affect your shot.
The best way to test this is by giving it a roll across the playing table. And if it gives you a smooth straight roll, then it’s in perfect condition.
But if it doesn’t (appears bent), then get another one.
Also, if you prefer a heavy cue over a lighter one, then weigh out the available ones using your hands and go for the heaviest feel.
Remember, the start determines the end. So purpose on beginning right.
4. Carry a Chalk
Yes, you heard it right!
If you’re a beginner player, then you must be wondering what the use of chalk is, but you will find out in a bit.
Chalking your cue before each shot ensures the cue doesn’t become sticky as you play.
You should, however, ensure that it’s the chalk in motion and not the cue during application.
There isn’t anything annoying and disrupting as the noisy click sounds of a moving cue and you would want to avoid that at all coast.
If you don’t, you might end-up misplacing your shot and giving your opponent an advantage over you.
Some players prefer using green chalk. But you can also use blue chalk.
Here’s how to properly chalk a cue;
In as much as you might not like breaking, like many other pool players, sometimes you have no choice but to break!
And when you do, you have to ensure you do it effectively.
The best way to ensure this is by using a heavy cue. In fact, the heavier it’s the better.
It doesn’t matter if you prefer playing using a light cue, get a heavy one when breaking.
This is because the extra weight of the cue combined with your forceful hit in the middle of the cue ball will ensure you pocket a ball or two.
For best results, aim at the central and nearest colored ball in the rack.
Bonus Point; if you can let your opponent have their way in breaking. It will be advantageous to you if they are the ones to mess 1st, as you get to choose from various colors!
6. Hitting the Cue Ball
How hard is too hard or how much softness is right?
The first rule is that, if you have no idea where the ball will land, then you are most likely going to be in hot soup!
So always ensure the force you use when whacking the ball, is enough for that particular shot. ONLY use as much power as necessary.
As the last thing you would want is to have the white ball in the pocket or are forced to abandon the blackball unceremoniously thus losing the game.
Wherever possible, give a gentle shot to get the ball into the pocket, especially if you are already on the black go.
Sometimes the cheers might not accompany the soft shots, but the score will be worthwhile. Isn’t that what matters in the end?
7. Keep Track Of Your Opponent
In the playing area, your opponent is your business 100%.
And while they might not change your capabilities, but they determine the way you play and thus determine how many games you win.
Remember, if you’re honest and can readily tell your opponent when you have fouled and given them pints, they might not always be like you.
So, it’s up to you to monitor their every move and identify faults that might otherwise be ignored by themselves and the referee.
And for this, you have to be aware of the various faults.
For instance, if their clothes, hair or any part of their body touches the ball, then they have fouled and owe you points.
8. Shot Selecting
You have to play smart when selecting balls.
Always place your “safety” first until you are sure you can clear.
If not, always cover up one pocket with any hanging ball to prevent your opponent from using it, as you think of a way to get more balls to follow it with.
It’s a win-win situation as they will be forced to give you points if they end-up pocketing your ball.
Be slow but sure. You might seem like you don’t know what you’re doing, but your opponent will understand with time and it will be too late, for them.
9. Assessing the Balls
Don’t just rush into your next shot.
Take time to assess the balls on the table and master their positions.
This will help you to quickly plan your next move.
The ball you choose to shoot should be the best option, based on the kind of shot you’re planning to place.
And as you do this, keep in mind what you’re “willing” to let your opponent have if things don’t go as planned.
Your plan should not only include the immediate shot, but also the two to three that would follow.
10. Start to Finish!
Don’t start a shot you aren’t sure you will complete.
Rather, if you start a shot, ensure you stick to it to the bitter end. And that’s until you pocket it and earn your hard-earned points.
If you keep hopping from one shot to the next, you will appear unsure/confused to your opponent, and they will take advantage of that to “finish” you.
Besides, chances of committing fouls become high and that’s the last thing you want.
Yes, we said it, relax!
While this might not seem like the perfect time to relax, if you’re playing surrounded with tension then you aren’t likely to achieve much.
You need to be 100% sober for a great game and tension isn’t part of it.
So the first thing you should do is let your body be at ease.
Let your backhand remain loose and relaxed.
Remember, if you apply too much pressure on your cue stick, then it won’t travel straight and you will have a hard time placing shots.
12. Analyze Your Mistakes
If you ask around, every player will admit to having committed mistakes now and then.
Even those pro players you look up to, aren’t immune to this.
So whenever you commit mistakes/misses, be easy on yourself.
And instead of driving negative energy from the experiences, purpose to learn from them.
For instance, once a turn is over and you realize you have committed a lot of misses, take a few minutes of your time to figure out what just happened.
Afterward, take a mental note of all the corrections so that you don’t repeat the same when you play again.
This is one of the best ways to ensure you get better and better after every game.
13. The Cross Rest
Using the cross rest is the best way to counter a difficult shot.
Place ONLY your thumb at the front end of your cue to give it support.
And then let the butt rest on the cloth as if you’re holding it with your other hand.
Now use your free hand to position your cue in a cross at the other end of the cue, before adjusting accordingly and shooting.
This is more effective as compared to the famous tiptoes that beginner players frequently use.
The idea is to use the rest as your spare arm by getting as comfortable as possible and then giving it a fast lift from the table after a shot.
This way, you won’t risk touching another ball on the table with it or unintentionally hitting another ball with it while the cue ball is in motion.
14. Have a Shooting Ritual
Ever heard of the saying “bad habits are hard to get rid of?” Well, today I want to give you to replace it with this phrase, “good habits stick more than glue!”
Typically what we’re trying to say is that; the more you practice some habits, the more they stick and the easy it will get for you to use them even when under pressure.
So if you want to better your pool playing skills, set time aside and list all the vital shot-making steps you would like to take.
Afterward, get practicing until it becomes your ritual.
It will help you stay focused even when things aren’t looking up as you can easily avoid unnecessary mistakes.
15. Create a Phrase Command
Many times, your biggest enemy isn’t your opponent or those around the table, but the little negative voice stuck-up in your mind.
It could be as a result of the negative experience you had in the past or present.
The best way to overcome this is by creating a simple phrase that you will be feeding your mind as you play. Even when things get tight.
For instance, to block all the negative vibes, you can command your thoughts to scream “calm”, “play on”, “feel that ball”, etc.
As evident from the above tips, learning is an important part of pool playing.
So if you want to get better, you have to keep an open mind to new ideas around you.
Learn by watching other players play and by indulging in some positive habits to help you place better shots, keep track of your surroundings and control your movements.
It might seem hard at the beginning, but remember nothing good comes easy.
Commit to reap. A better game awaits!