I am happy to introduce guest author: Steve Jennings.

Steve is a BCA Advanced Certified Instructor and this month he’s a guest author for the topic: What training, experience or activity outside of the pool world can be employed to improve one’s pool game?

As a lifelong poolplayer, and a professional billiards instructor, I have often found myself taking things I learn in my day to day life, and applying them to my pool game.  Over the years, I have come to understand that pool is just a microcosm of life.  Many of life’s lessons can be directly applied to one’s pool game.  Sometimes, they are the obvious little rules of life that fit neatly into a 4 ½ by 9 foot rectangle.  We have all heard the old saying that “Practice makes Perfect”.  And while that is a good philosophy, it’s not quite accurate.  “Perfect Practice makes Perfect” is more appropriate.  We know that we must practice in order to improve, but our best improvement can only come if we are practicing the right things the right way.  Or how about “Knowledge is Power”?  That would seem to say that the more we know, the better we will become.  But knowledge is only power when application is included.  We must take whatever knowledge we gain and then apply it to our game in order to gain any benefit.  With that in mind, anytime I learn something valuable, I try to find a way to apply it to my pool game.
Several years ago, I worked for a very well known and well respected large corporation.  When I decided to move into management with them, I began an intensive 3 month training program.  During that training, I was fortunate enough to get to learn from the CEO and founder of the company.  This man had a way of breaking things down to their simplest form.  And in one meeting, he made a simple 7-word statement that really stuck with me.  He said “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”.  Throughout my career in the business world, I found this to be true on nearly every level.  A good manager has to be able to measure the results of every activity in order to control those activities for which he is responsible.

So what does that have to do with pool?  Quite simply, we are the “managers” of our personal development, and we are the one who must manage what happens when we are at the pool table.  And if we are to be good managers, we must find ways to actually measure every aspect of our pool game.  I can’t tell you how to do this, but I can tell you how I do it.

There are three things we control on every pools shot. Those things are Angle, Speed, and Spin. (There is a 3 letter acronym that makes that very easy to remember!)

To measure your angle, we have basic geometry to lets us measure cut angles for different shots.  I use a system that takes 6 different angles that, with some flexibility, will cover most all of the shots that come up on the table.  So when I look at a shot, I need to decide which angle is the closest to what I am facing.  If it’s a number 3 shot, I know where to aim to make it.
In pool school, we also teach a scale to measure speed.  Speed on a pool table is not measured in miles per hour, but rather in the distance the ball will travel with a specific stroke speed.  I use a scale ranging from 1 to 8 to measure different speeds.  My number 1 speed is a simple lag shot, while a number 8 would be the speed I would use for my break shot.  For reference, each number higher would cause the ball to travel about 2 diamonds beyond the distance for the previous number.
As for spin, we simply measure that by the amount of tip offset from a center ball hit.  I measure a tip of spin by the area of the cue tip that actually makes contact with the cue ball.  If you look at the chalk mark left on the cue ball, you will have a good idea of what I’m talking about.  If you look at some of the training balls on the market, they are marked to show those increments. In any case, using this method will allow you to apply up to 4 or 5 tips off center and still make good solid contact with the cue ball.  Those simple measurements will allow you to develop control of the amount of spin, and what kind of spin, you are applying on every shot.
Measuring the results of your practice time is just as important as anything you do in your quest to improve your game.  About once a week, I take a few minutes to measure my performance.  I put 10 balls out on the table and give myself ball in hand and start shooting.  If I miss a shot, I take that ball off the table and continue until the table is clear.  I do this 5 times, and then write down in a log book what my percentage made was for that week.  This way, I can easily see if my shooting percentage is improving, staying level, or even falling off.  This helps me plan for my practice sessions for the next week.
These are just 4 ways that I have found to take some very sound business advice, and use it to help my pool game.  How many more can you think of?

For more interesting stories and articles on this month’s topic, click here to read the index!