This month’s Pool Synergy topic is: Poolosophy. Meaning, what’s your approach to pool? Your philosophy about pool? Is there a system of thought you use when approaching the game?
My own poolosophy has changed a few times over the past year. The reason being is that my purpose for playing pool has changed. Up until late last summer I only played to pass the time during lunch or because there was a table near the bar. I’ve always enjoyed playing and I always want to play, but it served no real purpose for me, nor did I give it any purpose when I played. Then in just August of 2009 I decided that along with a new cue should come new knowledge and I really wanted to become a student of the game. I was tired of not making more than 3 balls in a row, tired of chasing balls around the table, tired of not understanding how people moved around the table with a seemingly effortless stroke. I finally had a purpose to assign to my pool playing: Improvement. In effect, it was more like self-improvement. I went to the internet and found forums, other bloggers, books and videos. I was a young sponge and I attempted to gobble up every piece of information I could find about the game – as long as it made sense. I found drills, practice regimens, diagrams and exercises and I tried to do them (horribly, I might add). I created a practice and game journal where I could record each inning I was at the table, how many shots, how many misses, what types of shots, banks, kicks, combos, caroms, jumps, safeties, escapes for each rack. I immersed myself in pool. I watched as many ustream and youtube videos as I could find. (Thank You BClub for all the great 9-ball matches – and Thank You InsidePoolMag for the 1, 2 or 3 HOUR long unedited matches you provided!) I created this blog to serve as a record of my progress and also a resource for anyone else who’s just starting out in the pool world. I was absolutely fascinated with the amount of information available. So many players I had never heard of, so many games unknown to me, so many… things! It was truly amazing to discover such a huge sub-world (for lack of a better word, for me at the time). I wanted to be a part of it.
I ran drills and practice layouts every week and it never seemed to get any better. With more failures than successes it was inevitable that frustration would eventually win and I would succumb to the anger. I knew this would be a certain downfall if I didn’t get it under control, so I set out to see how other people have dealt with frustration. That’s when I found Zen Pool by Max Eberle. It’s also when I discovered that pool is a mental game. Not necessarily a thinking game, but a game that requires significant mental strength for self control. The mental game of pool is about keeping calm, clearing the mind and not interfering with your body. This takes more mental strength than most people would ever imagine. Not only when you’re playing poorly, but also when you’re playing very well. You need to be able to turn off emotion and act almost robotically. If you get angry, you’ve lost. If you get happy and comfortable, you’ve lost.
It’s here when my attitude towards pool changed again. It went from a personal drive to just get better at something I enjoy, to something I can use and focus on as a means to develop my own self. Not just at the table, but with situations outside of the pool room. Online gaming? Road rage? It’s just frustration. At the core, being cut off in traffic is no different than getting a bad roll on the table. It’s a reaction which is beyond your control. You can’t get angry at it, well you can, but really, what good will it do? Will it make the car in front of you move? Will it make the ball suddenly roll backwards into the pocket? You just have to accept it. To pull a line from ABC’s Lost, “What happened, happened.” There’s nothing else that can be done.
The title “Zen Pool” is a great one, in my opinion, because not only will being Zen at the table improve your game, but it can, as it did for me, allow a student to apply lessons learned on the table elsewhere in their life. Similarly, there are players who were living Zen long before they found pool, and they were able to bring that mentality to the table when they picked up a cue. Also, there are the risk takers, the adrenaline junkies that skydive with snowboards onto the “K-12”1, these are the gamblers, the shooters who fire at 4-rail banks and 3-rail safeties and jump “full table with a muecci”2. It’s in this way that pool is also a reflection of a person’s lifestyle. Determining if a person is conservative or aggressive can be observed by watching their pool game. Pool is a reflection of the player as much as it is defined by that player.
To close: Pool is what you make of it. It can be a pastime, a way to challenge and improve yourself, an escape from a bad day or it can be a reflection of your life. We are allowed to define what pool means to us and what it can do for us. Best of all, we are allowed to change those definitions to suit our needs.
To see what other bloggers’ poolosophy is, click the Pool Syngergy logo at the top of this entry. Do it, you will not be disappointed!
1. From a cult classic 80’s movie “Better Off Dead”. The K-12 was the name of a local mountain that only insane people with a suicide mission would attempt to ski.
2. Search youtube for “joe rogan as earl strickland”.