One Rail Banking

I have always had a bit of love/hate relationship with bank shots. Years ago, long before I learned to see the edge of a ball, I would bank everything, and do it all based on gut feeling. I made a lot more banks than I missed during this time. Then I learned things. I learned about spin-banks, I learned about opening up a bank, shortening/stiffening banks, cross-banks, straight backs, speed sensitive banks, opening the pocket banks. I learned how draw/follow affect banks, left/right open/close banks. And I could no longer bank anything. I couldn't make a bank to save my life.

Obviously, I lost a LOT of one pocket games due to this problem. I bought Freddy The Beard's "Banking With the Beard" book, but since his descriptions were utterly foreign to how I saw balls, it never really helped. I don't think about shots as 1/2 ball, 1/4 ball shots. It's just not how I see them. I think of only 2 things: "Where do I cut this ball into the rail to bank it?" and "What kind of spin will help me get shape on my next shot and how does that affect this bank?".

Using highschool Geometry, it's clear that a ball on the line from the 2nd diamond should go into the opposite rail at the 1st diamond to go into the pocket, but that almost never works. So, I began hitting that ball with a bit of outside spin to help it in. Of course, this improved my "straight in" banking, but it killed me when I had to cut the ball into that path.

Over the years, I watched where 1p players would bank balls, more importanly, I'd watch the cue ball (another reason I adore the measle ball). I noticed they weren't banking at the diamond, they were banking just short of the diamond, on the side closer to the target pocket. I took this to the table and noticed that on that 2-1 diamond path, if I aimed about a ball's width past the diamond, the ball went with more regularity. So, I extened this to the 4-2 track and again noticed that if I aimed at around 2-ball-widths past the diamond, the ball would drop!

Fast foward about a year, during which my eyes got better and cuts got sharper - meaning I had to bank less and less. I hadn't been playing hardly any one pocket so banking was all but foreign to me again. I always had a good eye for those reverse long-rail banks, but anything on the short-rail cross-corner was a 30/70 to miss.

Then I found Michael Reddick's blog Angle of Reflection. More importantly, I found his drill section on banking. It was a godsend. I did my best to memorize those reference lines and try to adjust to the tables I most frequently played on. I really came in handy for my 1p game, obviously. But after a few months of not playing 1p, I again lost the eyes for banks.

Each time I was faced with a bank, I tried to remember those numbers, then I would add english and CIT into the equation. Sometimes, the ball would hit the 2nd diamond on the short-rail, others it'd come straight across as if I hadn't cut or spun it at all. It's incredibly disheartening to watch the local 3's and 4's in league bank balls like nothing when I, a 7, can't make a "straight in" bank. Then a teammate posted Ralph Eckert's Bank Shot Reference Lines video and it contains nearly identical information on the offset of the diamond-to-diamond paths. Ralph's is less "fine-tuned" than Michael's, but it is likely the more versatile. His formula is simple: 1/4 diamond at medium speed, for every 2 diamonds on the starting path. (or 2/8ths of a diamond for every diamond)

That means that a ball on the 2-to-1 line should be cut to the .75 diamond, not the diamond itself. Extrapolate to the 4th diamond, instead of the 2nd diamond being straight in, it's actually straight when it's in the 1.5 diamond path (4/8 or 2/4). In the middle, the "normal" 3-to-1.5 line is actually the 3-1.12 path (3/8 diamond adjustment). On the 6th diamond then, instead of the 6-to-3 line, it's actually 6-to-2.25 that's a "straight in" bank. Similarly, a ball on the path from the corner pocket to the 3rd diamond (8 diamonds = 1 full diamond adjustment) is a straight-in. And lastly, a ball from the 1st diamond to the .38 diamond is a straight in and medium speed.

Of course, as with every system or reference line, your mileage may vary. And also, speed plays a huge factor. If you hit a ball on the 2-to-.75 at slow speed, it will open up more and you'll go wide of the pocket. Spin also plays a huge part of banking. Experiement at first with just nailing stop-shot banks, straight-ins. Then try cutting the ball into the path with no side spin. And lastly, trying spinning banks in. If you take the time required to master these "feel" shots, you'll be a lot more deadly in both your banking and kicking games.

Now I need to follow my own advice and just spend some quality practice time at the table building my own feel for these shots. ;)

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Filed Under: Training

TAR 34 NOW ON DEMAND!!!!

Just announced on the TAR Facebook page:

After years of false starts and dead ends TAR On Demand is here. First video available is TAR 34: Efren Reyes vs Shane Van Boening One Pocket Race to 11. The 10 Ball and 8 Ball are coming this week. You can buy the one pocket for $5 or all three days for $15 and have access to them when they go live in a couple days.

These are big files so I make no guarantee on downloading them. You should be able to by clicking the download button but due to so many possible variations I can not guarantee it will work for you on such large files. I only guarantee the streaming video will work. You have access to the streaming video for one year and you can download the file to keep forever. Again no guarantees if your ISP drops the download or whatever.

So here is TAR 34: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/tar34 . Remaining two days are being converted now and will be up by Friday.
-- TAR

I am SO HAPPY this is finally happening. There are so many TAR matches I didn't get to see and can't find DVD's of. Hopefully they'll start going back through their catalog and getting the older matches up there.

In the meantime, I will be enjoying this rerun - and if you like One Pocket, want to learn it, or just want to see 2 of the greatest players in the world battle, GET THIS!!

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Filed Under: General

9-Ball Top Gun (FL2012) Tournament Review

I'll spare you all the gory details of the terrible tournament I played in Saturday, and just pony up that I went 2 and out. Yes. It's extremely disappointing. It's even moreso because Friday I spent about 7 hours at the table and feel like I finally worked out whatever kink was happening with me (see previous post). A teammate from my Masters team came up and we played two races to 10. Each of them went hill-hill and I was fortunate enough to snap my only 9 on the hill-hill break. But, the moral of that story is that I just needed some good stiff, but friendly, competition, I think. Something without meaning, but still serious. I broke and ran once and more often than not, with a good spread, if he missed at all, no matter which ball, I was out. Of course, so was he. It was almost like playing the ghost. It was a great time - and I'm guessing, *exactly* what I needed.

Saturday morning, I get there a little early and warm up, still playing about as well as the previous night. I'm feeling particularly good about the day, and I'm hoping to make it into the final 4. I thought I was a favorite - a lot of people thought I was a favorite. I'm glad there wasn't a calcultta. Like I said, I went 2 and out.

But, the point of this post is this shot I pulled off. I actually don't remember if I overran position from the 2 to the 3 or if my opponent missed the 3 and left me here. Regardless, I studied it for a good long time. Probably a minute or so. Then, I saw it. "Rail first with inside spin will reverse off the 2nd rail and bring me back up to the good side of the ball. I visualized the shot, comitted to it, got down and let the cue fly. To my entertainment (and judging by the peanut gallery's response, their amazement) the cueball traveled perfectly across the table then spun right on up to the long rail giving me an angle on the 4.

I was hoping that would be the shot that turned the match around for me, but as good as I was playing, I just couldn't outrun giving up 9 balls to these players when the good rolls and bumps were more on their side than mine. Sure, I got some, but they got more. I played decently, but I just couldn't get started. The break was the biggest factor for me. I wasn't getting good spreads, I tried several positions and speed combos and if I did make a ball, I was hooked on the 1 or could only try a safe. When I missed a shot, I left them so much more perfect than it laid when I came to the table. shrug Just one of those days.

I spend the rest of the day as a railbird watching people win, lose, blow a gasket and cheer for/against random people. It was a good day overall and by the end of the night, I didn't really care that I had lost so badly earlier that morning.

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Filed Under: 9-Ball · Tournaments

I'm Broken

Something is broken. Aside from my confidence, that is. After the Masters match,which I lost 3-7, I played (and won) the standard APA match the following Wednesday, against a 4 (I'm a 7). I never broke and ran - cuz I'd blow shape something fierce. The next night is Masters, where I lose 0-7! Whatever. Skip to the 29th, Monday. It's the start of the Cue & Cushion league. I can't make two balls. I get beat 3-9. Skip to last night, I play 8-ball, lose the lag by a centimeter, then proceed to lost the match 0-5, each in 1 inning. I'm a 6, playing a 7. He gave me one chance each rack (except for when he snapped the 8) and in each of those chances, I made maybe 2 balls before hitting something right into the rail. Immediately after that I have to play a Masters make-up - against the same guy. He was kind enough to buy me a shot before we started, as I was already at the bar in line for one. He again wins the lag by a centimeter and calls for the break. I decide to play 8-ball, hoping something would change (insanity definition?). It didn't. He won the first 5 - making him, for the night, 10-0 on me. We switch to 9-ball and he flubs late in the rack a few times and I was somehow able to win 4 racks before he got his last 2. Still, I lose 4-7.

So, to recap, in the last 3 weeks, I've lost 10-38 in rack-counting games. WHAT THE F***?!?! I'd like to blame it on my playing with my break cue, but that's not the case. I played really well with it overall, at least in bar-league (9ball). Besides, I got my regular cue back Monday, all shiny new-finished and everything. Still can't play a lick.

I know it's something to do with either my stance or my head placement, because I would bet all the money in my pocket I'm lined up dead perfect to make this ball - but when I pull the trigger, this happens:

So, clearly my eyes aren't telling me the right thing, as I think I'm lined up center cueball to edge of the object ball. But I'm obviously not. It's like... It's almost like my dominant eye has switched. I feel like I'm in the same position over the cue every time. I adjust a little to the left/right based on the angle - which I've always done - and when I was playing really well, this happened without me having to think about it.

In addition to that, I know my timing is way off in my stroke. I have NO idea where this issue came from and it's even more disturbing. I'm "finishing" my stroke way early - sometimes before I even hit the damn cueball - but like the sight picture, I feel right when in my pre-shot routine. Then I'm totally confused as to what happened. Sometimes, I can feel my stroke arm being pulled under my torso, so there really is a stance/alignment issue happening.

I've been racking my brain trying to figure out what has changed recently to cause this. The only thing that's really changed is that I've started working out again. I'm not sore when I play, I don't feel [any more than usually] tired. I'm hydrating properly, eating well, same as always. I've only been back at the fitness for around 2 weeks, not enough time to add any kind of bulk that would be interfering with my stroke. The only thing I can think of is that while I'm not any larger, the muscles are becoming less fluid and so when I move I have more things working (or in the way, in the case of the lats/shoulders) which is causing this slight stroke issue. I'm going to have to try and work on this tonight and tomorrow if I want to have any hope of playing well in the the Top Gun tournament this weekend.

This has to be resolved, I have zero confidence these days, as evident by my demeanor at the table, and the results I'm logging. I keep trying to 'fake it' by not slothing around the table, making sure I walk with a purpose, put on the game-face, slight furrowed brow, focused eyes. I exact my pre-shot routing, picking the exact spot for the cue ball... but nothing is pulling me into the zone nor are any balls dropping.

...sigh...

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Filed Under: Training

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