Last December I set up a lesson with a well known instructor named Mark Wilson. Mark has been a professional player and instructor for over 20 years. He has played all over the world and taught people from all over. His skill and spotting flaws in a persons game and knowing how to correct them has amateurs and pros alike seeking his guidance. The first thing I noticed about Mark was his passion for the game. He really cares about pools future and how to improve it. He has dedicated his life to improving how the game is played by others. The day of the lesson I wasn’t even sure we were going to be able to have it at all. It snowed all night the night before and road conditions were horrible. I had to drive 90 miles to meet Mark at Cue and Cushion pool hall in Overland Missouri (just outside of St. Louis). But the conditions were so bad it took over 3 hours to get there. At one point were were stuck in traffic at a stand still for 1 hour without moving because there had been a bad wreck.
Mark also had a decent drive ahead of him to get to the pool hall so I was impressed when he didn’t want to call off the lesson. I would have made it if I had to walk, that’s how bad I was looking forward to it! So, Mark shows up and right away he gets down to business. He starts me off with a series of shots to determine my skill level and to have a look at my stroke.
Mark takes video of his students so he can show them their flaws, from their stance, grip, balance whatever. He starts me off with the basics and explains to me how important each one is and why. The whole time he weaves in a few stories and other items of interest so that he can maintain your attention. It was obvious that he put a lot of thought into his lessons. I really appreciated his attention to detail, his professionalism and his dedication to improving my game. I really felt that he cared as much about the way I play as I do.
It wouldn’t be fair of me to tell you everything he taught me but I will say this, if you get the chance to work with Mark, you wont be disappointed. The lesson went on for about 8 hours, I stopped once for a restroom break for about 3 minutes and that was it.
Here is a guy that had a little over a hour drive, in bad weather. Then spent 8 hours teaching me the finer points of the game. Then, had another hour drive ahead of him and only charged me $300.00!!! If you think that’s impressive than wait until you hear this. As our lesson comes to a close Mark asks me what hotel I was staying at. He said he would be willing to give me a ride there so my wife wouldn’t have to get out! (My wife stayed at the hotel while I was working with Mark, and did some shopping!) Mark said that he had to run by Lindenwood University first but he would drop me off after. He said he wanted to show me the billiards program that they had started at the Unviersity and that he was the coach. So of course I want to go!
So we head out to the school and Mark takes me around the campus and tells me about the history of the place. Eventually we get to the building where they set up a brand new pool room for the team. Only the team gets to use it, it’s not for the rest of the student body. They bought 4 brand new 9 ft Diamond tables and diamond lights. The tables are covered in Simonis tournament blue cloth and have brand new Super Pro Aramith pool balls! My dream room!
For me this is like walking into a church! Mark said he had a few things to do on his computer and invited me to play some while I waited! He didn’t have to tell me twice! I played around for 45 min or so before Mark finished and by then my arm was about to fall off anyhow from shooting so much that day. So we packed it up and headed for the hotel. Mark dropped me off and gave me his number with instructions to call him in a couple of weeks to go over what I had learned and he would give me a few more things to work on for the future. I went back up to my room and told my wife how it went. I couldn’t believe the effort Mark puts into his teaching. He really cares about his students and it shows. It put a desire in me to really improve. He gave me the confidence and the knowledge to reach that next level and he showed me how I can continue to teach my self to improve. He even invited me to meet up with him at the Derby City Classic tournament and said he would introduce me to some of the pros and maybe play a few games with them! By the time the night was over my head was spinning. I had gone over a ton of info with Mark, he set me up with a solid plan to improve my game and has continued to talk with me over the phone and through emails to answer any questions and check up on my improvement.
I told him I had a 9 ball tournament coming up and asked what he would recommend I do to get ready for it. He set me up with a excellent practice routine which I outlined in a earlier post. I can not recommend this guy enough. If you really want to break through to that next level of play I really suggest that you take some lessons from a professional. Obviously, I recommend Mark Wilson but there are other great ones out there and a few of them travel across the country teaching folks.
EDIT: While I was writing this Mark Wilson was selected as the captain for the 2014 Mosconi Cup American team! Congrats Mark, you deserve it.