Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Machine Guns!!

Ok... so there is the original Machine Gun and the Machine Gun Masse. Lets start off with the one that you can do in ANY pool hall!!

Here is the table layout: Ok.. I couldn't get the 9ft table to work at so this is a bar table layout, and I actually hate how the table comes over now.. I'm sorry they are so small now.

As you know... I always try to shoot off of the 5 ball. Kind of my thing. I like the brightness of the ball and can focus on it really well. First line up balls from the middle diamond to the middle of the corner pocket exactly one ball width away from the rail. The number of balls varies with with size table you are playing on. Every ball in this line NEEDS TO BE FROZEN to each other. Once they are all in a nice straight line... you are going to move the first two balls out a little further from the rail to create a sort of 'funnel' for the cue ball. The last ball in the line needs to be a little off center also, but this ball can not be too far off center or it will kick the ball next to it into the 'make ball'.

Next, place two balls, about a chalk width apart from each other, surrounding the first diamond on the short rail. In the above picture this is the 5 ball and 8 ball. Don't forget to put a ball in the pocket ... I watched a player once do a similar shot to this at The Masters, they forgot their make ball and hit the shot. No points. The shot was good too, but the player was not rewarded and had to continue on to his second attempt. Aaahhhem... we won't mention names.

The cue ball placement in this shot makes or breaks it. This isn't just a force follow shot... you need to FIRST hit the 5 ball, clear it out, and THEN hit the 8 ball clearing it out... AND THEN your cue ball will carom and skid down the rail into the line of balls. This angle is critical. if too steep, the cue ball will come off the rail to sharply. If the angle is too shallow, it might not clear out the 8 ball or not enter the line of balls.

Do not crush this shot. Hit this too hard and it just doesn't flow. You don't get massive force follow by using your muscles, you get it by a smooth stroke at the top of the ball. This goes in your game also. If you notice even when you are hitting the ball hard and you aren't getting follow - it's probably because you are jamming your stroke. Let it flow. LOVE the ball. Don't hate it.

This shot looks hard... but trust me... a few tries and you'll be close. A few more and you'll get it.

Now.. let's step it up to the harder Machine Gun Masse shot:

Cue ball gets placed on the long rail at the middle diamond. Three balls are frozen to it toward the corner pocket on the rail. I use the 1,2,3, ball for the balls next to the cue ball on the rail. I think it's a trick shot artist thing. But notice... the 5 ball is in the mix :) You need the four ball next to the one ball. Frozen. From the 4 ball, a line of balls is frozen to it all the way to the side pocket. Every ball is frozen to the next and EXACTLY a balls width away from the rail. You get this exact width away from the rail by placing balls along the rail as you are making the 'machine line' and removing them after the balls are tapped into place.

Tapped. Not 'pound the shit out of', TAP. If you want a ball to stay EXACTLY where you put it (sometimes the cloth already has an imperfection or is flattened already and the ball will roll from where you put it), you need to hold the ball in place and TAP the top of the ball. This makes a slight indent that is very temporary in the cloth and the ball will 'settle' into this 'divot'. You've all seen the players that take the 8 ball and pound the shit out of the head ball in the rack because they can't get the ball to stay on the spot. THIS IS SOOOOO WRONG. DO NOT be this person. A small light tap is all that is needed. Sometimes a small light tap twice.. but you get my meaning.

Again... don't forget to place your make ball in the side pocket. Now elevate your cue and hit the cue ball on the 'edge' behind and left. This is so hard to describe. You know where the cue ball sits on the rail. As you are looking straight down on it (as per the above set up picture) you are going to hit the right and slightly down (toward the rail) edge of the cue ball. Stand at the table and try to get my perspective. Hayner and a lot of other players put their leg up on the table and bridge off their leg, so their view of this set up is slightly different from what I just described. (To see pictures of this move on to my blog about bridges :)

Me? I'm short and just old school air bridge and hit the snot out of the ball. Oh. Yes. You do indeed need to hit this shot. A masse stroke is different from other strokes you use on the pool table. Depending on your grip type, you throw or use the weight of the cue to make the stroke, or you use a little more 'arm' and stroke down not moving your shoulder. I guess truly you don't have to hit the crap out of this shot, but it sounds much harder than other shots because yes indeed, your cue comes through the ball and slams into the slate... making a well known 'BAM' noise that every single pool hall owner can recognize. Over loud music. Over turning around to get someone a beer. Over outside grabbing a smoke. TRUST ME.. you will be caught. So unless you have the prior authorization to bang up some pool hall owner's tables... do this only at home.

This shot is harder than the first, but totally within your wheelhouse if you try. I know Hayner is the exception to almost every single person I've ever seen pick up a cue... He listens. He doesn't question when being told something mechanically new. He thinks. He tries... over and over. Within a week of meeting him.. and the 1st day he ever tried a masse stroke, I had him hitting this shot. He got it on his 3rd try. He can step away from the table and not play for months and he can pick up a cue and hit this shot within 3 tries all day. Once you get this shot... you have it. Forever.

Of COURSE I have a pic of Hayner's first make on this shot. ;) Click.

Ok. I rarely do this. But wanna' see me making this shot??? Ok. Ok. Twist my arm. Here's a link to the shot on the Golden Cue youtube account.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Golden Bridge

Or should I say bridges?? There are oh so many more bridges than the standard TWO most people talk about. OK... so there really is only two (open and closed) but those two HAVE to be adapted to almost every shot! And NO ONE talks about it!!! Leave it to me to talk about it! ;)

First and foremost I'd like to thank Mike Hayner for playing the part of male model. HA. I have a male model.. WOOT. Actually he shoots INSANE so I'm lucky he helped me!

OK. Let's start with the open bridge. First you lay your hand on the table flat with all of the fingers touching. Next, keeping the base of the thumb tight to the forefinger, stick the top of your thumb out. This actually creates a 'V' grove for your cue. Like this:

See how only the top part of the thumb is sticking out in the picture to the left? That's what you are looking to do. Next, spread out your fingers for a nice comfy stable base.


Keep in mind that the most important part of an open bridge is the side of the thumb to the first joint staying tight to the hand. I tend to tuck my pointer finger under because of my smaller hands. This creates a guide for the cue on the left side. Depending on the height of the bridge needed sometimes other fingers will be used to raise or lower the bridge. Note in the picture to the left that Hayner has his middle finger tucked under to raise the cue to hit a follow shot.

Let's be honest. An open bridge is really NOT meant for beginners. It's for the player that already has a straight stroke. Period. No joke. I am not kidding. Unless you can go up and down the table (foot spot to head spot to rail and back to foot spot) and hit the tip of your cue 10 times in a row... you are hereby NOT ALLOWED TO USE THIS BRIDGE. Unless you play snooker... totally different story. (Balls are smaller, cues are smaller... it's a view thing...) Also, if you are putting draw on the cue ball... you are not allowed to use an open bridge. And, if you are putting force follow on the cue ball... you are not allowed to use an open bridge. Oh.. and if you are putting massive right or left on the cue ball... you are not allowed to an open bridge.
I know, I know. When are you allowed to use this bridge? Center ball, stop shots, 1/2 tip of follow, and 1/2 tip of right and left. That's about it. Unless you are Alison Fisher... give it up, this bridge is NOT for you. And don't bother to argue, you can do whatever you want... you'll just continue to shoot bad.

So what bridge can you use? That would be a closed bridge. I don't want to hear about how small your fingers are, how uncomfortable it is.. blah, blah, blah. Hayners hands are literally a whole joint bigger than mine... and I can do it. It was so important to learn that The Black Widow had this unfortunate accident with duct tape. (Buy and read her book ... it's an awesome story!)

These are correct closed bridges:
This is a draw closed bridge.

This is a follow closed bridge.

Do you see the difference in Hayner's hand in the above pictures? To elevate his cue to hit the follow shot, he has actually moved the tips of his fingers closer to his palm. Put your hand up, palm out and 'wave' using just your fingers. See how your fingers get closer to your palm? THAT'S what you do on the slate to raise up the closed bridge. As your finger tips get closer to your palm, it will bring UP your thumb and forefinger that are creating the loop of the bridge. Note how the shadow in the above pictures change as Hayner's thumb raises off the slate.
I have small hands, so sometimes I even tuck my middle finger under to get a little more height, just like I explained in the open bridge section. But just because I tuck my finger under does NOT mean I raise my palm off the slate. Never never raise your palm off the slate unless it is an open bridge.
This is an off the rail closed bridge.
All masse bridges are closed, but some float and others do not. A floating masse bridge tucks the elbow tightly into your side... there should be tension because your hand is FLOATING thereby NOT ON ANYTHING!!! Without the elbow pulled in tightly, your bridge will wiggle.

Now.. the next masse bridge can only be used by... ummmm... slightly TALLER people. ie: NOT ME!! Actually... I can if I stand on something.. which I'm allowed to do in the trick shot tournaments!!! Judge me on my shots not my height! Ha! The following masse bridge is insanely stable and should be used whenever possible!

Let's talk jump shots. The most important part of a jump shot is the back hand. I teach the dart grip, because it is indeed the better form for jump shots. I personally use a overhand grip (regular pool grip), but this is a 'do as I say, not as I do' lesson. Deal. I did take other pictures of Hayner using the dart grip but I just had to use this one.

This is an open high bridge on the rail. The cue is elevated and it is an open bridge... it's safe to say that this is indeed a jump bridge. He's aiming (from his point of view) at the middle of the cue ball. A jump shot shoves the cue ball into the slate so hard and fast that it rebounds back into the air. A jump shot is NOT A SCOOP. In order to jump, you have to hit DOWN on the ball. The higher the cue is elevated, the more angle the cue ball will leave the table (more vertical.) The harder you hit the cue ball, the farther and higher the cue ball will travel. Since you have to hit down on the cue ball, the hardest shot to hit on the pool table, hands down, is the jump draw shot. In order to hit a draw shot, you have to hit low enough for the ball to spin backward. But in order to jump a ball, you have to hit in the middle of the face. So there is obviously a very fine line here. Hit too low and you shove the cue ball forward before it jumps which means it'll take off late, which means you've probably just hit the ball you were trying to jump. If you don't hit low enough, when the cue ball is done jumping... it will not draw back. So. What's the solution? Practice. Sorry. No short cuts here.

Let's get tricky. To the left is a slightly different back hand grip than the jump grip I showed earlier. This grip is for a one handed jump shot. Just have confidence... and do not try this at your local pool hall. Consider yourself warned.

So lets talk rail bridges. There are three basic rail bridges. The one you use depends solely on the distance the cue ball is away from the rail.

The first is just an open bridge that is placed on the rail. This is used when the cue ball is pretty far from the rail but you still can't put your hand comfortably on the slate.

This bridge is used when the cue ball is closer to the rail, but not resting against the rail. Lay your hand flat on the rail palm down. Rest the cue next to your thumb. Now bring your pointer finger over the cue. The thumb must be on the 'inside'... it acts like a guide.

This is the same bridge as above except it's used at an angle on the rail.

Remember that the whole idea is to keep the bridge at a comfortable distance from the cue ball and to keep your cue LEVEL!!! The following bridge is for when the cue ball is actually resting against the rail.

This is almost just like an open bridge on the rail. Place the tips of your fingers on the edge of the table. Then tuck your middle finger down and push it against the table. A lot of people do this bridge without the finger pushing against the table, so go ahead and try it that way... your whole hand moves up and down very easy. Now tuck the middle finger against the table and all of a sudden you have a VERY stable bridge. Having the cue ball directly on the rail is one of the most hated shots. Admit it. You hate it!! This bridge will help. Oh.. and see how Hayner can get a wicked level cue? That's what you should be striving for!

Now lets talk about bridges in a pocket. Sometimes where to make a bridge and which bridge to use can get confusing and awkward. Note how Hayners fingers sometimes rest on the slate AND rail at the same time!

The last bridge I'm going to talk about is the hated high bridge. I saved the best for last. This is an open bridge. And everything I wrote earlier about open bridges applies. This is a bridge you use when the cue ball is up close to another ball.

The strongest shape in the world is a triangle. Therefore... you should have THREE points of contact on the slate. If you stick your hand out and look at it, you'll notice that your middle finger is the longest finger. Which means... you can NOT just go up on the tips of your fingers with this bridge. How could you? Your fingers are all different lengths and your bridge would be so wicked unstable. To compensate for the differing lengths of fingers... tuck under the middle one. Some guys even tuck under two fingers, their middle and ring finger. Look at the picture to the left and notice that Hayner has his middle finger tucked under. 1. This makes the bridge stable because his actual palm is supported now. And 2. He can actually get his hand closer to the 5 ball to make it easier to get up over it.

See Hayner's ring finger in these pictures? It looks funky right? Yeah... well... it is. Not funky bad.. but as in funky odd. Hayner has found this position more comfortable rather than tucking both his middle and ring fingers under. He also has really long lanky fingers. And I'm totally ok with this weird funkyness. No two bridges are going to be alike. The main thing is to have a stable.... let me say it again... stable... one more time for good measure... S.T.A.B.L.E. bridge. His is dead stable, so he's good.

I can not also stress this enough: THE MINUTE YOUR PALM LEAVES THE SLATE YOU HAVE TO USE AN OPEN BRIDGE. None of this funky 'up on finger tips and closed bridge loop' crap. 'Cause that's exactly what it is. CRAP. JUNK. You need the pointer finger for the stability of the base not to loop around the cue.

So. That's about it. Any questions? Ask away. I'll answer... probably. And Thanks goes out to Hayner for all the help ;) click!

You didn't think that was it did you??? Here are pictures of Hayner's and my FAVORITE (as in sends us into eye rolling laughing fits) BAD, DO NOT DO, HORRIBLE, TOTALLY WRONG bridges. None are made up. We've actually seen each and every one of these bridges in action. Cover the kids eyes.... this is gonna' get ugly!!! This is like a bloopers reel for pool.

Ok. I'll start out easy and nice. This is a closed bridge that is ALMOST correct. You can really see the problem in the right picture. Hayner has not turned his wrist and has not spread out his fingers. Your middle finger must be under the cue shaft. Go back and look again at the correct bridges above.

Remember how I told you that the minute your palm leaves the slate, you should be using an open bridge???? Yeah... the above and below are perfect examples of someone NOT following that rule. The above picture shows the thumb on the slate, the one below has the thumb tucked up. I know they look the same, but really they aren't. At least the one above is trying to become a stable bridge, whereas the one below is wicked unstable.

This is such a typical bar shooter bridge. We've seen this one a million times.

Again... pretty typical. Someone that knows that the finger should be over the top of the cue.. but really has no clue as to why or how.

Ummmm...... yeah.

Really... I can't say enough.

This is not a joke. We've seen this. More than once even. It blows the mind.

This one is a fairly typical open bridge. Not bad... but again not good either. Without the base of the thumb tucked tight to the first finger, there's no groove for the cue to follow so it will wiggle sideways in this bridge.

A friend of mine shoots with this bridge. Shoots PROFESSIONALLY with this bridge. No lie. His nickname is The Praying Mantis. He plays great and shoots unreal... with that said, Do. Not. Do. This. I'm pretty sure no one out there is teaching kids to swing like Jack Nicolas... so again... Do. Not. Do. This. Thank you.

I don't have words for this. But again... we aren't making it up.. we've seen this.

This one I call 'Death Rail Grip.' And we've seen it like a million times. I guess it's better than just shooting the ball one handed with no bridge at all... but only barely.

Last... but FAR, FAR from least... we have the behind the back shot. This does NOT make you look cool... it makes you look like an absolute TURD. Hayner and I go to unreal lengths to get each others attention when someone is about to attempt this stupid shot. And it's the whole thing... from swinging the cue around to get it behind the back... 3 out of 5 times the cue gets whacked on the table next to them... to the actual shot.. which 9 out of 10 times is missed horribly. And the people taking this shot??? ALWAYS, ALWAYS thinks they are cool. The person that attempts this shot almost always also 'twirls' their cue like Tom Cruise in The Color Of Money. The MINUTE Rocky installed ceiling fans... this became MUCH MUCH more enjoyable to watch. Inevitably the look on the poor guys face when the cue goes 'BANG' on the fan and gets thrown out of their hands is so freaking funny.... it's all fun and games 'till someone loses an eye... and since that hasn't happened yet... please, please keep doing it.. it makes our night!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In Memory Of Frosty

Recently a good friend of mine died unexpectedly. He was only 42 years old, and he will be greatly missed. He started the organization named Quicksticks. Here are a few pictures that I hope everyone will enjoy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Last Ball Hiccups!

Ok... I'm going to start off by being honest here... I totally stole the idea for this particular blog from This is the same place where I create all of my table layouts. They have this forum that I occasionally post things in that's pretty cool. And one of the topics was from Dave Manasseri "To spin, or not to spin?" Which got me thinking... and writing. Lucky you!!

Have you ever missed an easy 8 ball or 9 ball in a game? Be honest! Most people have! And still do!!! When I said 'easy' I meant easy for YOU. An easy shot for me may very well not be an easy shot for you and vise versa. But it's a shot that clearly you can make at any other point in time. So why did you miss it? Pressure? Maybe. Wanna' know how to make it next time?? Keep reading.

I teach a lot of people that get to the point in their game that they miss 9 balls or whatever 'out' ball we are talking about just because it's the money ball. And I don't care if it's actually for money, or for league, or just for pride... it's the money ball- that's the lingo :) They know how to make the ball... and do it all the time so why miss it just because it's the last ball?

What's the difference between the LAST ball we have to shoot in and every other stinkin' ball we shot in before it? Ahhh... SHAPE. That's the difference. Normally you occupy some of your brain thinking about shape. This is how hard I have to hit it.. this is the english... this is the side of the pocket I need to hit... etc... You get down on that last shot and if you aren't thinking about shape... you are actually shooting that shot totally different from any other shot you shoot!!!

Not to mention the approach to the last shot. Instead of thinking about shape you might be letting your mind wander to... 'OMG I could win' or 'OMG I could loose' or 'this is so easy' or 'this is sooo hard' or 'I wonder what Brad had for breakfast' you get my point.

You've set yourself up perfect, straight in shot in the side. Why do you have to think about shape for goodness sake? Because you don't want to FOLLOW THE CUE BALL IN AFTER!!!! Geeezzzz...

I know I'm going to get "Yeah, yeah, yeah... pro's don't think of shape off their last ball" Oh WAIT... they think about scratch shots... therefore... they must have thought about the cue balls path after making the ball... thereby... thinking about shape!! I love it when I'm right. Ok.. so I love it more when Hayner is wrong but.. oh, did I say that out loud????

Anyway.. back to shape on that last ball. If you look to see if that last shot has a potential scratch to it, you already are thinking a little about shape. Now all you have to do is pick a spot and get the cue ball there. And trust me it'll get to the point that you don't even realize you are doing it... it'll just be part of your game. And that's the point right? Making the money ball just part of your game.. no unneeded pressure, no random misses... just a clean flowing game.

Here's a couple of shots to set up and do this with... some are intended to scratch some are not. Enjoy!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Skins and the Rear View Mirror

Ok. So. I'm totally stealing the following analogy from a former pro player. I'd name him.. but I think it would be more fun for y'all to guess :)

What would happen if you drove down the road looking only into the rear view mirror? You'd crash into things in front of you, right? Pretty hard to make good, consistent forward motion that way, huh? Well. Same in pool. If you are so caught up in what happened before it's hard to move forward. I know I've talked about this before, therefore, you can conclude... this is probably pretty gosh darn IMPORTANT!!!!!

Let it GO. And that means to LET IT GO. Stop dwelling on the bad things, don't sweat the 'small' stuff. Fine. If you loose the whole darn match.. stomp off and dwell about it for days.. but if you're in the middle of a match??? LET. IT. GO. You popped a cue ball off the table in an effort to draw the ball like 20 feet? Woohoo... move on. You missed a safe by 6 balls leaving them straight in? Yesssss.... move on. You missed a straight in shot 2 feet away from the pocket? Sweeeet.... move on.

Actually.. I'm totally not kidding about the whole losing the match thing (unless you have more matches to play that day,) and dwelling about it for days. See, if losing doesn't affect you... you will NEVER EVER be better. Seriously. Confused yet?? :) What I'm indeed asking from you is for you to CONTROL your emotions. God forbid right? I don't want you to like missing a ball or shape. What I want is for you to DISPLAY the dislike of doing something wrong at the appropriate time. And in the middle of shooting... isn't it. But at the same time, if losing doesn't piss you off, you'll never become great.

Ok... so on to the fun stuff!! Sooooo many people think that practically every shot is a scratch shot. They hardly are. Actually... I lie.. almost EVERY SINGLE shot is a scratch shot... they just aren't natural scratches. Meaning you really have to do something to make the cue ball scratch. When I coach someone and they constantly ask if they'll scratch on the shot.. that's when I pull out the following two games. Scratch 9 Ball and Skins. The first game is for beginners and the second is for more advanced. Ugh.. there I go trying to lie to you again. They both are pretty hard, the first is just meant as a learning device, while Skins is an old time gambling game :) But don't gamble kids... it's illegal.

So.. this is the table layout for the break on Scratch 9 ball.

Yes. You are breaking with the 1 ball with the intent of pocketing said 1 ball. Every ball you intend to make.. you must shoot into the cue ball and then into a pocket. For example, here's the shot after the break:

You shoot the 2 ball into the cue ball making the 2 ball in a pocket. Easy right??? HAhahahahaha!!! Ok.. so here are the rules: push off the break. No 3 fouls. Scratch by not hitting the cue ball means ball in hand of the OBJECT ball to the incoming player. Scratch by pocketing the cue ball means ball in hand of the CUE BALL to the incoming player. Called pockets (you wouldn't learn anything otherwise.. and I don't want to hear about 'this is nine ball..' it's only 9 ball because the game is quicker :P) No combo's allowed... caroms yes.. combo's no. My game. My rules.

Once you feel like you are doing pretty good at that game. Move on to Skins. Here's the table layout for the opening shot:

The 1, 2, and 3 are on the foot spot, frozen in a line straight back. The cue ball is on the head spot. The object of this game is to pocket all three ball in a single turn. You must call your shots. And just like Scratch 9 Ball, you must hit the object ball into the cue ball, pocketing the object ball. As you can see from the set up, the opening shot is probably the most difficult. You must bridge over the 2 and 3 ball. Oh, and I just used the 1, 2, and 3 ball.. this is not done in rotation. However.. bridging over the 2 and 3 ball means you will be jacked up and applying follow onto the 1 ball making pocketing the one ball slightly easier. Aim for a slightly fuller hit and hit hard. If you make the one the cue ball should come back around the table and 'break out' the 2 and 3.

Keep shooting until you miss. If you make all three.. wooohooo!!! .. you are the first on the board. The balls are set back up and you go again. Winner breaks. If however, you do not make all three.. lets say you make one.. that ball comes back up on the spot and the incoming player has the table. The only time the table is reset back to the opening position is when all three balls are made. If the cue ball is pocketed it gets put back on the head spot and it's the next persons turn. You can play this with just two players or ring it up. Once you ring though.. remember that the etiquette for ring games is different and could get noisy... but personally... that's the whole fun of it!

Well have fun and remember to only glance into that rear view mirror!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Statistical Annalysis of Pool?

10th grade rolled around. I had moved to a new school. No friends. Except... the JV boys soccer coach lived across the street. Mr. Manny. And he thought the best way to make new friends was to stay after school with him and help him coach. 2nd day in? Two hot shot boys went up to head a ball... one came down with a broken nose. Blood EVERYWHERE. Everyone was racing around like chickens with their heads cut off. I just went right up to the kid, grabbed his nose, and ran my thumb and side of my finger straight down from the bridge to the tip. He freaked. He threw a punch. I tripped over, I don't know what, trying to dodge the punch and landed on my rear, crab crawling away from him. He was the most popular kid in my grade. Who knew?? Once he realized I had just set his nose saving him from the ER rebreaking and setting it (it was waaaaay crooked when it broke) he mellowed a bit. Four hours later he was at my doorstep with his Mom gushing thank yous... apparently the doc at the ER said he couldn't have set it better. And apparently Mr. Manny was correct.

I hung out and did statistics for the team. I noted every shot on goal, where it happened from, and what the results were. For both ends of the field. It was cool to see the data shape the coach. And the coach shape the kids. And the kids improve. What appeared at first to be random became this really cool pattern. To this day I can't watch soccer casually... I get intense and start seeing the patterns.

What does this have to do with pool? EVERYTHING. One... being able to set a broken nose on the fly makes you invaluable going on the road hustling. HA! Totally kidding. Pattern play is what I believe to be the most difficult thing to teach someone regarding pool. I think this has something to do with the fact that in most cases there just isn't only one way to run. There might be a 'better' way to run most of the time. However, depending on an individuals strengths and weaknesses.. your run might and most likely WILL be different from my run, on occasion.

Sooooo.... how do you teach someone how to run then? I don't. And I never will. Totally not kidding. Once the basics are learned, I start playing straight pool with a student. I show them typical break shots. I show them the back and forth runs at the foot end of the table that are so common in straight. I give them the concept of an 'out ball.' And then we play. I talk the whole time. (shhhh... shut up peanut gallery - no comments!) I tell them what shot I'm taking and why. I never correct them with their shot selection. If they ask, I tell them what I would do in a given situation.

After a few weeks of this... I stop talking. We just play. I know, I know... still not at the statistical point yet... I know. Here it comes.... then I get them to play someone else while I watch. Although, I'm not just watching. I'm keeping track in a notebook as to which shots were missed. THIS is probably the most valuable thing I do for my students. Not only does this give ME a list of shots to work on... it can illuminate pattern problems for the student. If you do this in a race in 9 ball... it can even show breaking problems and strategy mistakes.

It does NOT need to be a struggle to learn how to play pool. In the old days I couldn't BEG help from the local pool guru's... now? Totally different... EVEN at the Golden Cue. Players are more willing to help other players. I guess they are even learning that unless new blood comes into this sport.. it won't BE a sport.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Hold the cue like this. Keep your head down. Put your head up. Hold your hand this way... hold your hand that way. No wait... the BEST thing I've ever heard??? This 'drill Sargent' talking to a crowd of people at the Expo... shocking that he didn't recognize me (baaaaaahahahaha).... says to this glued crowd "Whatever you do, don't watch the trick shot artists. They all do it the wrong way." Swear. That's exactly what he said. I've left the 'political' arena of pool so now I can say... ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME????????? Seriously???? I'm gonna take the advice of some wacko in fatigues over the guys (and girl ;) who can not only jump a ball, but can jump a ball one handed, jump two balls AT ONCE... no WAIT... JUMP 3,4 and sometimes 5 balls at ONCE (that would be the most awesome Dave 'Triple Jump' Nangle.) And when I say at once I mean holding 2,3,4... etc... jump cues AT ONCE. But yeah. We don't know how to jump.

Know what a Delta 13 rack is??? Well (shhhhh... see Abram... I didn't even mention you....) the current World Champion Jamey Gray can jump a cue ball out of the center of 3 of them stacked high. With balls between the racks. And make a ball in the side pocket. Like it was cool.

My friends Nick and Andy??? Mmmmm... well I really, really love how they jump 6 balls out of a rack into the side pocket. One handed. And they can do it fast. I don't know what it is about them and that shot, but when they shoot it, it's like butter.

Oh. And then there's the very first time I saw Massey and Dr. Cue playing each other and they were doing a double jump over... I think domino's... and putting both balls into the side pocket. I turned to my mentor and said... pfffftttt.... I can do that... watch.... and guess what? I did. LOL!!! I was just totally bluffing... AND IT WENT!!!! It was crazy. It was exactly a day before I left for my first tournament. Oh... I DESERVE to shoot with them.

Then of course there's The Dragon. Ok... so it wasn't REALLY a jump shot... but he did shoot the Over, Around, and Under with a Railroad... one handed... bridged off his foot... yappin' on the phone. Classic.

Wanna talk fast??? Well this kid Moody out of Texas jumps balls into the side pocket faster than you can even imagine. Don't believe me? I was watching when this video was made:
Go ahead... try it... lol

Did someone say railroad? Huh... well there's this kid... Michigan Kid to be exact.. who takes the railroad, puts the cue ball outside the cues, then jump masses it up onto the cues making the shot.

Oh, and there's jumping balls out of a rack TOWARD yourself into the side pocket. Jumping half the table to hit a carom/combo. And really... who can leave out the 'Most Dangerous Jump Shot EVER'... those of you that were in KY know what I'm talking about there.

And there's Gabi. One handed Jump On It And Beat It. Must I say more???

But yeah... whatever you do, don't let the artistic pool players teach you to jump. They only do it for a living. And they only put more english on jump shots than anyone in the business. So you wanna learn to jump draw? Go to the geek in the fatigues... he makes me quiver. Or throw up. One of the two.

Psssst... by the way.... if you have a steady high bridge, I can get you jumping a full ball in less than 5 min. Even if you've never tried before. Full cue, not even cheating with one of the little ones. But yeah... you don't want to learn from me. I know nothing. ;)

Buuuuttttt... if you feel daring... come in to Diamond Eight... I'll 'try' to teach you. For free. Why? Cause I'm just a typical Artistic Pool player that loves to help people learn. I love my boys. And I guess I am just like the typical 'mom'... I'll defend them till it hurts! :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I keep getting asked about drills. First, let me tell you that drills are boring as snot. Most players might do a few then just walk over to the rail and pick up a game. Wanna' know the trick about doing drills? GET A COACH. Seriously. And preferably one that knows what they are talking about. Pegging a ball into a pocket... walking down and setting the ball up again... walking back... pegging a ball into a pocket... walkin... are you getting the picture? Imagine pegging ball into pocket, pegging ball into pocket, pegging ball into pocket, all the time someone giving you immediate feed back. This is how you shave years and years off your progress toward greatness. I'm not saying this is easier ... it's not. TRUST me... it just saves time. Back, shoulder, and arm fatigue sets in faster. But muscle memory builds faster. Pain. I'm not kidding. Real, honest to goodness pain.

So, lets just say you've either found a coach or you are the dedicated type. Here are some drills I did last night with Hayner. Coaching really is a very personal thing.. maybe if someone asks I'll talk more about coaching, however what I choose to do with Hayner... IS NOT, in all probability, what I'd do with YOU!! I chose these particular shots for reasons applying directly to Hayner's current game/ability.

Note, my placement of the cue ball and object balls is specific. It makes no sense to drill if the shot you take isn't the same EACH time. Chalk the table, lick your finger and dab it on the table... don't care... just make it the same each and every time.

This first shot is just a basic rail shot with up-table shape. This is achieved with about a half tip of top (for Hayner... he has what is called a 'monster' stroke already so he needs to tone it down a lot...) approximately medium speed. Can you get shape on this ball with draw?? OF COURSE. As a matter of fact using draw means you will be going less rails... hit this with bottom left to prevent a scratch in the opposite side, you don't get the spin and you'll just scratch in the other side... lol... but bottom left gets you better shape. But that's not the point.. the point is to take a easier shot with easier shape with almost no worry of scratch. Do this with at least a rack of balls. Mirror the shot and do it again.

This next shot is 3 to 4 rail shape back to the same end of the table. One: this is a good cut shot to know, two: learn now when you can and can not hold up the cue ball. Some players look at this shot and say that I'm letting the cue ball run. Yup. Sure am. But it's ok to let the cue ball run if you KNOW where it's running to!! I tell them 'no... I'm playing shape.' Response? 'Lucky... that's all.' OK.. keep thinking that.. lol. I've seen players take this shot with bottom left, bottom right.. anything to not let the cue ball go. Advice? LEARN where the cue ball is going then let it go! Again, do at least a rack (I do over 20, but under 30 with Hayner on any given shot.) Mirror the shot and do it again.

5 balls from the spot down. I only let Hayner get what I call a 2 second peek at the ball and then he shoots it. Over cutting is ok. Once he makes the shot, he moves to the next one. Once he hits all five, he mirrors it. Normally that switch is the hardest for players. A longer look is needed, but let them learn that lesson slowly. The hardest part of coaching is when to let a player learn from their mistakes and when to tell them what to do. It's a fine, fine line. This drill is over once all five balls have been made in each corner pocket, then move on.

This last shot is a little weird. This is where a coach comes in VERY handy. The coach will stand at the side pocket putting ball after ball up, but also watch where the ball is being cut into the pocket. Yes.. where. As in what side of the pocket. It's totally not good enough to just cut a ball into a pocket, you need to know where in the pocket... as in... right side? center? left? 1/2 left???? And then you need to be consistent with it. As far as I'm concerned... if you weren't supposed to pick which side of the pocket the ball is supposed to be put into, then the pockets would be exactly a balls width with a little wiggle room for error. Instead they were made to be 'cheated'. This is a center, top, left, right drill. Note... NO DRAW. I start with shape on the one ball and work my way to the 6 ball. But I only have three balls on the table at once: the cue, the object ball and the target shape ball. The first time you drill this... the player gets shape on each ball with ALL FOUR FORMS OF ENGLISH, getting good shape 5 times in a row before moving on to the next type of english. Note.. some shape will be better than others.. this is a PATH RECOGNITION drill. This is for getting around traffic or breaking out balls.

The last shot I did not diagram. A true spot shot with the cue ball and object ball on the spots. I'll pick the pocket and which side of the pocket. If he's hitting the pocket in the wrong spot... I'll make him get it 5 times in a row before moving on, if he hits the first two tries.. we move on. Reward... Punishment. It'll all part of the plan! :)

Hope this helps! I'll keep posting my drills if people like it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sneaky Bank

This is a great shot that sets up quick and always has people looking twice. Place the two ball on the long rail with the right edge of the ball lined up at the point of the side pocket. Freeze the one ball to the two ball straight out and tap it very lightly in place. Carefully move the two ball out from between the long rail and one ball. Now freeze the 2 ball to the one ball so that they are lined up to the middle of the upper left corner pocket. It's essential that they are frozen! Now place the three ball in the upper right corner pocket. The cue ball is as shown, slightly beyond the side pocket and slightly closer to the long rail than the one ball, approximately 3/4ths of a ball off the rail.

You need top left english on the cue ball with a medium hit. Aim for approximately a 1/3rd ball hit on the one. The one will bank into the corner pocket BEFORE the two drops into the same pocket! The cue ball will then travel 3 rails and pocket the three ball last.

I know I've spoken about throw when balls are frozen. If you set this shot up with the cue ball further from the long rail, the hit on the one ball will throw the two ball. You would have to line the two ball up with the long rail point on the corner pocket to compensate for the throw. Since the set up I showed you has the cue ball closer to the rail, the actual throw on the two ball is very minimal and it makes the bank much easier to make. See, if you set up the two ball to the point, it would change the place on the long rail that the one ball would carom to... meaning you'd have a greater chance of making the one ball go to the short rail, rather than in the pocket. But if you keep missing the two ball to the short rail, you might have to line it up to the point. Before you do that though, try hitting the shot a little harder. The harder the hit, the less the throw- you might not need to change the set up. It's really a sweet simple shot! Have fun with it!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jump Six... Make Two

This really is a pretty easy jump shot. But it looks cool! Just place the one through six ball between the 1st and 3rd diamonds as shown below. Place the eight in the side pocket and freeze the nine to it so they are lined up to the right side of the corner pocket.. they are frozen remember, so they will throw to the left. Well, they'll throw to the left if you hit the eight on the right side!

This is a JUMP, so the english on the ball is as if you are looking DOWN on the ball. I hit this shot with a full jump/break cue.... 'cause I can. :) You, you should probably hit this shot with either an actual jump cue or a broken down jump/break. The elevation on this shot is pretty steep. I'm above 45 degrees with my full cue, but under my shoulder with a jump cue. Remember, the cue ball needs to get over a full ball less than a diamond away, hit it's peak just past the 2nd diamond and get down on the table before the side pocket. So really what is critical on this shot is how high you get the jump. Get the shot too high and you'll either slam into the 8/9 on the fly or go over them. Get the shot too low and you'll either not get over the first ball or come down early into the 4,5, or 6 ball. To be honest, I actually hit this shot with a slight draw. I want the cue ball ON THE TABLE when I hit that 8/9 combo.. that way the cue ball isn't bouncing off the table to the right.

I've always said I can teach anyone with an ok stroke to jump a full ball in under 5 minutes, and time and time again I've proven I can do it. The other day, this kid Pete wanted to learn to jump, I had him doing the above shot with a broken down jump/break in a few minutes. Really, it's not that hard!! I watch the guys at Golden Cue struggle and struggle with jumping (which, by the way, is not allowed at that pool hall!) They need to get beyond the fact that I'm a chick and let me help them!! Remember, I'm always at Diamond Eight to teach, have fun, or show off! Come in and say Hi!!