Practice with Purpose

How do you practice? Do you just throw a bunch of balls onto the table and shoot them in? Do you set up a shot that you missed in a game and drill it over and over? Do you set up a plan and follow it? Do you even practice at all?

Everyone could use some practice no matter how good they think they are. I can’t think of a single area in my game that doesn’t need improving and I play fairly well. In fact there are so many things in my game that I want to improve on I have a hard time figuring out which things I am going to work on during practice. So to help with organizing my practice I have come up with a routine.  A planned routine can really help you focus on improving your weaknesses.

To begin with you need to decide what areas you need to work on.  It helps to have some other people opinions when deciding this. After all, you may think your position play is fine but others who have watched you may not be so sure. Be willing to listen and accept others criticism. Keep this quote in mind, ” I have learned a thing from someone who agrees with me.”

Try to find someone who knows a thing or two about body mechanics as it pertains to pool. Ask them to critique your fundamentals, your stance, grip, stroke etc.

Once you have made a list of the things you want to work on you need to decide how much time you can devote to practice. I try to maintain 1 hour a day practice, although I fall short at times. I recommend you only practice a comfortable and reasonable amount. Don’t expect to improve much if you only dedicate 15 minutes a week. Also you want to be careful not to overdo it. At one time I was trying to practice 3-5 hours a day. This was actually detrimental to my overall game and I soon got burnt out on pool for a while.  Don’t exceed your attention span, if you find that you are forcing yourself then you may be doing more harm than good. I enjoy my practice and look forward to it so the amount of time spent on it doesn’t bother me.

Here is an example of one of my practice routines;

10 min straight in shots ( this serves as a warm up)

20 min 2 rail position shots

10 min break shot (this week 9 ball)

5 min small position drill

5 min safety drills

10 min play the ghost in 9 ball

I like to finish with something I consider to be fun, and for me playing the ghost is always a fun challenge.

Some other things to consider;


Drills are great teaching tools. They can be an excellent way to sharpen your skills at the table. The thing about drill is that you need to change them up often. Don’t allow them to become to repetitive. If you are doing the same drill over and over it will lose the majority of its effectiveness.

Challenge yourself–

If you are doing Bert Kinister’s mighty X drill and you are successful 90% of the time, you are not learning anything new. If you are succeeding 75% of the time (or better) it’s time to move on to something more challenging. I was practicing a certain style of break the other day and I was only successful at it 10% of the time.  At first I was discouraged and didn’t want to try  it anymore. But after i gave it some thought I realized that it was worthwhile and I kept at it. Now I am up to 25% success rate and that’s 2 1/2 times improvement over what I was doing. Just remember, if you want to get better at something you will have to challenge yourself.  If you continue to work on things that you can already do well you will not improve much at all.

Set a goal-

Setting a goal keeps you focused on the tasks that you have given yourself. If your safety play is weak then set up some drills to work on it. When I wanted to improve this I started playing this guy i know that is better than me in 9 ball, I made it my mission to 3 foul him every chance I got. And my safeties got much better. No matter what you’re doing it always helps to have a reasonable goal to work towards.

Educate yourself-

The more I play the more I realize that a smarter player always has the edge over an equally skilled opponent. There is so much info on pool today. Books, DVD’s, web sites and personal instruction are all great ways to learn this game. I HIGHLY recommend going to a  professional instructor to help you get started and to continue to improve. A good instructor will correct any fundamental flaws you may have right off the bat. You would be surprised at how much that alone can do for your game. But for those of you who don’t have access to a pro instructor there are several books and dvd’s that are the next best thing.

Another thing you can do is buddy up with one of the better shots in your area. Most people are will to give a few pointers here and there.  Getting into a league is also a good way to learn from other people.  Not everyone’s advice is going to be right, so you need to learn to weed out the bad from the good when dealing with free advice.

Here are some instructors that are well known to be the best in the business. Their experience and ability to teach has been utilized by beginners and pro’s alike. This is only a list of people I have personal experience with or who have an extremely  good reputation, I am sure there are several others out there for you to choose from that are not on my list but are still good instructors.

Scott Lee

119 Apperson Road

Battle Creek, MI 49015


Email:, Site:


Mark Wilson

8561 Prarietown rd

Dorsey, Ill 62021


Email:, Site:


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