Last week something awesome happened with my stroke. I rediscovered my *snap*. I hadn’t realized it was gone until it showed up again, which might explain why my game as of late has been so stagnant. I knew my stroke was lacking efficiency, but couldn’t nail down what exactly was missing. I checked my stance and alignment and I felt like I was bringing my forearm forward before my wrist, but I wasn’t getting the kind of CB action I’d expect. I had only recently realized that I’m not following through the cueball, consequently not finishing my stroke.
So I started to focus on following through. I even went back to the beginning (and waited for Vizzini) and shot balls off the foot-spot to check my follow-through and stroke line. I was able to pinpoint why I wasn’t moving the 3-6 inches beyond the cueball and that helped me feel a little better about things.
Then, in the middle of a set with my practice partner I felt my wrist truly “snap” through the cueball. And a light went off in my head. I spent the rest of that set trying to enforce that feeling on every shot, no matter the speed. The next set we played, I played much more consistently and much truer to my actual ability. Even though I lost the set on the hill, I was happy at how I played. I told Mike that only in retrospect can I explain that previously my wrist had been stiff and trying to control the cue whereas now I’m back to “throwing” it through the cueball. My pocketing is more consistent and I’m moving the cueball around with less effort and more accuracy. I don’t feel like I’m fighting the cueball anymore.
The next night was Masters league and I was both anxious and scared to play, hoping that my stroke would still be there. I had to focus a little bit to get it back and not fall into my old habits. I didn’t play terribly well, but that was because I made bad decisions at that table, I didn’t miss shots, I just decided to make everything much harder than it needed to be. Oh well.
Friday, I met up with Mike again and we played a couple of sets of 10-Ball. I lost the first, but won the second, then lost the 3rd. But, even though I lost the night, I still felt great about how I played overall. I made some really great shots over the course of the night. For example, here’s a really nice out from me, and there’s enough various angles here so that my wrist action can be seen. Jump to the 3:34 mark for the start of the run. It’s the first rack, so I guess you can wait for it too if you like, or hit the link below the video. (The shots on the 3, 5, and 6 specifically).
I do get the rolls through this set, admittedly, but I also take advantage of the opportunities when they come; which is more important, in my opinion, than getting the rolls. Most people get opportunities, but not everyone can take full advantage of them. This has been my biggest obstacle of the last year. I’m hoping to finally clear that hurdle and leave it firmly in the past.
Monday was my other league night and I was playing another B player (we play even). I found myself down 1-3 and playing on a table that I really, really hate and it was my 3rd week in a row playing on it (losing the last 2 weeks). I decided to not complain about the table and just wait for the table to spit out the balls for the other guy it had been spitting out on me then cleaning up when I got the chance.
The universe took notice of my change of mindset and it gave me the opportunities I sought. I fought back in the set and even had a break and run – the first in a league match in many months. Towards the end of the set, every rack was just one inning, unless I played a safety. I played smart, simple shapes, taking longer shots which ensured good pocket-speed, instead of forcing the cueball around the table for an easy next shot. I ended up winning the match 9-5.
I stayed and played Mike a quick little race which didn’t go well for me as I had gone and stuffed myself silly on mexican food immediatley after my league match. After he left, I played a race to 9 with another local who was looking to practice his 9-ball game. My food had finally settled and was out of carb-coma by now. I had another break and run during that set, and won that 9-6.
Overall, I’m gaining more confidence and I’m getting a lot more comfortable with my stroke. Most importantly, I’m actually excited to play again. And this is awesome timing… as I’m heading out to Olathe, KS for the Midwest 9-Ball tour stop there this weekend. I’m really hoping to stay on the right side of the bracks for more than 1 round this time.
I’ll report back next week with results.