I'll start. I'm playing three nights in leagues. I come in 1 to 1 & 1/2 hours before practice time and do mother drills on league nights. Then I work on problem shots and form. I always do this alone. Then I play to win and get into the zone if I can.
The other 4 days I practice or play for about 4 to 8 hours unless I'm pursuing my other hobbies or working around the house. I always practice the first hour even when playing on my off days. I don't care if I win during the first hour.
For me it's brutal. I have Adult ADHD, and so compulsion is one of my worst enemies, and yet at the same time, my best friend. the smallest weird feeling about a drill (me thinking it sucked) will drive me to do it, for literally as long as it takes to fix it. That, however, is self-defeating, because as the practice wears on, stuff tends to go down the tubes anyway.
Forcing myself to mix things up is critical. Even in working out at a gym, the experts say "don't stick with one routine for a long time" because you'll develop muscle memory (which is, in that area, a bad thing)
In billiards, muscle memory is generally considered very good, and is linked/confused by most as "consistency".
The problem with that, is that there is a direct trade-off between muscle memory/consistency, and versatility - which is what is very valuable in league/competitive play.
I guess balance is the key.
The one other rule I must vehemently stick to is that you must focus on changing ONE variable at a time when trying out new techniques. If you change 2 variables, you'll never know which one was helpful. One session, one focus.
I practice a lot at irregular times. I do a lot of shot making in order to keep my stroke in rhythm.When I miss a shot I keep doing it over and over until I make it with ease. The reason for the missing is in most cases (1) dropping my elbow, (2) rushing the shot which in turn effects my stroke.
Hey, can you explain what you mean by "dropping your elbow" ? I assume you mean a movement that causes your cue tip to strike the cue ball slightly high? I always overlook those problems, I'm sure I have a million of them.
How did you discover that you were doing that? Did someone point that out?
Some time ago in my blog I wrote a small piece about watching the ferrule. It will tell you what you are doing right or wrong. So, I began to take my own advice and when I began to miss shots I watched where the cue was in relation to the ferrule. I began to notice that when I missed a few shots in a row my tip was pointing upward which means I dropped my shoulder followed by the elbow (not much...could be a smidgen) which caused me to hit the CB in an upward stroke. I am very conscious of it now and that is the first thing I check. To this day whenI'm aiming I will notice exactly where the cue tip is and many times I said to myself back off and reset because I noticed the tip was off somewhere.
I was thinking of posting the piece in the forum a few times but never got to it.
The short version. Add this observation to the practice session.
The ferrule on the end of a pool cue is like a lifeline to the dominant eye that most players use when aiming. The cue slides back and forth on top of or through the bridge formed by the players hand. And it is at that time, if the players watch the ferrule it will tell him/her what they are doing wrong with the stroke. It will indicate if the grip hand is going up, down, left or right, or short on the backstroke. Or short on the follow through where the stroke becomes a poke and the pockets remain empty
Not to step on quickshots reply; look at your cue tip if you drop your elbow and BTW your shoulder will drop also almost on every shot. It you drop the elbow the tip of your cue has to go up. Not the desired result. You should finish with either a level cue or with the tip of your cue on the playing surface even with force follow. There is also a chance for you to jump up if you drop tour elbow. Also not good IMHO. I now lock my left knee to stay down
If gave the impression I like drills you're wrong. I hate them with a passion. It's the only way I can improve my game. I tough them out for a hour or so every day I play or practice.
I'm playing in two master divisions this year and I'm holding my own. My progress has not gone un noticed. That as they say is another story.
Thanks! So then is the solution to start and end with a low shoulder (no drop, but just always low) or to start "normal" (whatever that is) and focus on keeping a consistent shoulder level through the stroke?
I found this video on my other site, billiard television. It's the simplest explanation of the "pendulum stroke" drill - which seems to be the prominent method that everyone mentions for making sure your stroke is fluid. The guy says that one should envision stroking "through" the ball, and try to to "stop at" the ball.
I believe that's Roger Long in the video. The important thing to note is his elbow is at 90 degrees. Where you grip the cue depends on your bridge length or the pivot point.
After a recent lesson and realizing the contact time on the cue ball is only 1/1,000 of a second you do not need to follow through more then 4 to guessing 6 or 7 inches. Mine is a mere 4 1/2 inches. I did not get the impression Roger was saying stop at the ball after completing the shot but I could be wrong?
"I see people with their hand square at the back of the cue, but this guy's hand is up much further."
Depends on their wing span and bridge length I believe. As long as it's 90 degrees at the elbow and you don't drop it it's fine IMHO. I grip 4 inches forward of the bottom of my wrap and my bridge length is 12 inches now.
I was thinking about this just last night (while practicing).
There are plateaus on the way forward. A time when you "have" the needed data, but just cannot execute to the plan. Hitting balls helps you cross the plateau, and when you are completely comfortable its time to add one more set of things to your game: something like::
There comes a time after a person has learned the basic fundamentals that simply hitting balls and developing the muscles is the right thing to do (that is no drills in particular). (APA 3-ish)
Then a little later, there comes a time to learn the tricks and traps of english, where deliberate drills and practicing of those is critical. (APA 4-ish) After this, its back to simply hitting balls.
Then a little later, there comes a time to learn position play and how to move the CB around after making contact with the OB. Then its back to simply hitting balls with all the skills you learned. (APA 5-ish)
Now, it becomes time to start a regimen of drills that
counteract bad stroke tendencies
develop sensitivity and touch
begin the safety parts of the game
eliminate misses in your game.
eliminate bad position from your shots
eliminate good position to your opponent
At this point, you should be making just over 1 mistake per rack. From here on in, its not about making more shots, its about driving the error rate down; first to 1/2 mistake per rack (APA 6-ish), the 1/3 mistake per rack, then 1/4 mistake per rack (APA 7-ish).