Sunday, December 12, 2010

Making the Shot

Last night I decided to do something I had not done in a quite a while, so I went out to shoot pool. My game was really off.

There was a time when I was pretty good when I worked a job at night and one of my buddies also was off in the afternoons and we used to go shoot. Uncle Phil was a good at the game and he taught me lessons that I just had to start remembering to get my game back on track. He wasn't really my uncle. It was just that we used to call him that because he was a bit older than the rest of us, and he was a better shooter than the rest of us.

We also used to play chess, and there is a carryover between the two. In chess you learn to think several moves ahead. In pool, good shooters do that too. You want to sink your next ball, but you also want to know where that places you after that ball sinks, otherwise you can leave yourself in a place where you don't have a next shot. It sort of relates to that other axiom when you are playing someone else: if you can't sink it, hide it. That way your opponent will be as stuck as you are now and will be forced to leave you a good opening.

One of the first ones was that you have to visualize the shot before you can make it. If you want it to go a certain way, you have to cut it or bank it a certain way. When you miss it's because that's the direction you sent the ball in when you hit it.

If you want to get better control of where you are sending the cue ball, you have to have a tight bridge, which where you set your sights over the left hand.

You get the best leverage holding the cue in your right hand where you can balance it perfectly.

When you feel the tipping point of the balance and you have good aim, then just hit the ball hard enough to get it where it is going. This way you have more control over what happens next and will leave yourself in a good position for a follow up shot. People who hit way harder than necessary just make a mess.

There's another reason why the light touch works better. Uncle Phil taught me that the closest shot on the table, no matter how tough the angle, or how tight, is always a better percentage shot than the long shot.

If you can see the shot you can make it. If you can't see it you can't make it.

So as I was shooting last night, I started to get my game back on track. It's a long way back to my previous skill level. But that's what happens when you don't practice for a while.

The pool shooting then became a meditative practice for me and I started thinking about how to get a better aim on my business expansion.

It pays to play and get your mind off business so that you can come back sharper, with some fresh ideas. Who would have thought I would have gotten some new business ideas while trying to pocket a few balls.

And I am sure that was part of what old Uncle Phil had in mind while he was teaching me about shooting.

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