Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It's OK to miss

You aren't that good. A very handy point to remember when you're playing pool. If I had to pick the most common tactical error that amateur pool players like me make, it's trying too hard to make a shot at all times.

There's a time and a place for trying to make every shot, like if you're trying to impress somebody, or you want the practice. But if there's money on the table, or if you're playing in a league, the object of the game is to win. And that means doing whatever it is that gives you the best chance of winning.

There are actually a couple of separate cases here. Take the tough shot. Some people will attempt a tough shot because they've made it before, or seen other people make it, and they think, hey, I should be able to make this. And if I do, I'll be in great shape!

But what if you're not that good, and it's a low-percentage shot? And what if, in missing it, you'd be setting up your opponent, who maybe is that good? Not a good idea. You've got to know yourself, and know how likely it is that you'll make a given shot, and understand the consequences of missing. In some instances it'd be better to play a defensive shot of some sort.

And what about the high-percentage shot? Soooo many times a player will see one of their stripes dangling in front of a corner pocket, and another ball in an awkward position, and they'll shoot the sitting duck, because they're afraid to miss the other one. But then what? Now you've opened up that corner to your opponent, and you still don't have a decent shot, so what have you gained, really? It might be better to leave that ball dangling over the pocket for future use, and have a poke at the trickier shot. If you miss, you leave the table in better shape than you would have if you'd taken the easy shot and then missed.

It's OK to miss a shot. Everybody but everybody misses. We know all of this in an intellectual way, but it's good to keep reminding ourselves, because our emotional impulse is almost always to make the next shot. We aren't that good.

No comments:

Post a Comment