What I think and Just For Fun

What I Think About...

This section is dedicated to sharing my insights on a variety of topics with the understanding some viewpoints are my personal take on things and may not necessarily be the gospel they simply are what I think about...

The push out after the break rule in 9-ball is a dinosaur of a rule that needs to be eliminated as the intention is no longer justified. Originally it was a means to help eliminate luck from the unfortunate player that does not have a good shot after the break. When two skilled players are playing and one of them must play a push out shot where can you push out that the opponent does not know the best response, either offense or defense.
The bulk of the time a proper push out strategy requires you to push out to a kick shot that possesses some chance in an effort to not give your opponent the upper hand by allowing them to have the first good shot. This rule is problematic for two good reasons. First to grow our sport and bring new players along simple straight forward rules make sense, onefoul ball in hand. This is readily explained and understood but under today's rule we must then go on to explain except on the first shot after the break a player can declare a push out (foul shot) and not suffer a penalty.
At this point you have now lost all levels of eash comprehension of the rules and any idea regarding the strategy of using this option. You could achieve the same level of general comprehension if you were to describe this rule mutation in Latin. Secondly the big area of luck in 9-ball is not in the first shot after the break shot. Also it is not the amount of balls that find a pocket unexpectedly. The biggest element of luck among good players occurs when someone misses the intended shot and inadvertently leaves a tough shot for the opponent by accident. The reason people today play 9-ball is the fast pace and the turns of fortunes that occur when the 9-ball is the only ball that scores.
The very nature of this game is predicated on a combination of luck and skill that has created widespread appeal. Get rid of the silly old rule that only serves to unnecessarily complicate today's game of choice. This rule has only been left in because "that's the way we have always played and why would we change?" Generally people are resistant to change but I feel that an update and streamlining of the rules would be a benefit to everyone long-term.

Pool players commonly believe a missed shot is caused by faulty aiming; However, most missed shots are caused by a stroke that inconsistently strikes the cue ball with varied deliveries. The single biggest swing problem is a swift back-swing when we accelerate the cue on the back-swing away from the cue ball, it often results in muscles tightened to slow the cue to exchange direction from back to forward.
Golfer Lee Trevino says, "Show me a golfer with a swift back-swing and a thick wallet and i'll get my clubs." The point I seem to be constantly trying to make is that pool playing is more intricate and exacting than what people give it credit. To play better we need the tip of the cue to strike the cue ball precisely where we expect, even variations as slight as 1/16 of an inch can cause a severe loss of accuracy. For improved cueing always use a slow back-swing and a smooth exchange from back to forward with continuous acceleration through and beyond where the cue ball rests.
Pro players are much more careful and exact with how straight and smooth they are with the back-swing. Amateurs merely view the back-swing as a formality to get past to finally shoot and see the results.
The main cause of missed shots is a jerky, abrupt, and quick exchange from back-swing to fore-swing. Try to slow down and smooth out the transfer using a rhythmic tempo that reminds you of pendulum that does not appear to stop moving but smoothly changes direction.

Why should we make sure our pool stroke contains a proper follow-through on contact with the cue ball?
When beginning my pool skills I never understood the exact science of what happens when the cue tip strikes the cue ball. It always seemed that once the tip touched the cue ball that sent the ball on it's way, never knowing whether the stroke contained a follow-through or stopped at the moment of impact.
Any stroke that stops at the moment of impact/contact is called a jab stroke, a jab stroke should never be used. The reason a jab stroke is ineffective is that it lends itself to inconsistency in control of accuracy and speed. The sudden stop of the tip at the cue ball contact is caused by muscles tightened to decelerate the tip to a stop, giving the cue ball varied messages.
When we complete the back-swing and begin to smoothly accelerate the tip toward the cue ball, building speed through and past the cue ball, we more consistently contact the cue ball with greater accuracy.
The tip actually remains in contact with the cue ball for some minor distance of it's way down the table, due to the fact that the tip and ball do not seperate at contact point until the resting cue ball reaches a speed greater than the accelerating tip. The tip remaining in contact with the cue ball for that momentary amount of time lends itself to accuracy and spin. Thus, the name follow-through.
"We should always smoothly accelerate the cue tip through the cue ball, never to the cue ball."

Luther "Wimpy" Lassiter
Luther Lassiter was considered by most pool players to be the best "money" player ever and by the time I was involved in the sport he was a legend. Finally I had the opportunity to watch him play in the late 70's at the U.S. Open. He was old beyond his years at this time from so many all night sessions of pool playing while his chronological age was only about 60. Despite the disadvantages brought on by advancing years he could still play as well as most anyone but could no longer dominate as he once was able. This was a dream come true to actually get to see the legend perform in person and so I watched his every move with the hope to find some magic of my own. Luther lived near Norfolk, Virginia and had played pool around there all of his life. He had developed a following of fans from his age group that had grown old with him as their hero who could provide victory with certainty for all of their years. The tournament audience was full of life long Lassiter fans that were barely still ambulatory but would not miss the opportunity to see "Wimpy", with a shock of stark white hair, still render other good players to the loser's bracket. I was captivated to see the sincere devotion and total confidence of Luther by these elder supporters that could have only been perpetuated to this degree from thousands of previous episodes played out over years. This confidence prevalent among the Lassiter fans was not expressed boisterously or in bragging but nonetheless quietly existed and could not go unnoticed and was also highly infectious to us relatively naive pool babes. Once swept up in the enthusiasm I am still as impressed today as that day so many years gone by.
He played the younger hotshots and would generally win by decisive margins. One night one of the most promising young top money and tournament players, Mike Carrella looked over as Lassiter passed by and issued a challenge, "How about you old man, do you want to play?" I was mortified at the ignorance and genuine lack of respect to publicly perhaps humiliate someone that had possibly forgotten more about great playing than this much younger straight shooter had ever known. I remember feeling offended that an attack had occurred by someone who was never capable of even carrying Lassiter's cue when Luther was in his prime; However, Luther was undaunted and seemed more surprised than offended as he looked Carrella's way, "I'll play with one condition he said firmly". Carrella instantly asked what that was and Luther said he would play him on a table which demanded maximum skill if he wanted to really play then he sure could try Luther's best game on a 5' X 10' pool table in the corner of the room.
Carella agreed to play on the table of Luther's choice and at midnight the match began. One hundred dollars per game until someone lost a thousand dollars or until 6 a.m. as they both had afternoon tournament matches that would require some rest prior. I could not wait to see a real live Lassiter money game even though this would not be one of his thousands of vintage performances of years back. They played as I had found a table side chair and both players played tremendous fueled more from pride than money. I'll never forget Lassiter facing an end raild to end rail impossible bank shot which he thin cut in the pocket from a position that none of the other great players would even attempt in a serious match, the cue ball would travel several length's of the table while the object ball would still be trickling to the corner pocket which in it would ultimately drop and I am not exaggerating even a little bit, it was amazing. Later in the match the same shot came up and once again Luther pocketed the 10' thin cut that is still hard to fathom after seeing it. Should you ever wonder about my story just find one of Lassiter's contemporaries and ask for a story of their recollection and they will equally amaze you with another chapter of one his playing performances. Despite Lassiter's best effort Carella was able to break even at six in the morning when they both called the match a draw. Most of the other top players at that time would not even risk playing the much toughened young straight shooter whom I feel would not even have been anything but an easy victim for a younger Luther Lassiter.
On another occasion Luther was in between matches and was trying to climb up into the bleachers to be with his friends and fans of his age group as I stood behind him also wanting to be sitting in the bleachers. Luther gamely attempted to power himself up the rather large first step and failed twice. Upon the third attempt as I stood behind him as he had almost conquered the hurdle but appeared to begin losing ground I pushed firmly on his back and helped propel him into the stands. His head slowly turned back and he looked at me and uttered weakly, "thank you". He then took his place among his peers and began chatting as I quietly sat nearby. After a short time a reporter came to him for a short interview and began quizzing Luther about pool, tournaments, and aspects of his career. The reporter then asked a question that has stuck with me in my thoughts for all these years. "Luther, do you think that you could win this tournament?" The response came in elder mans creaky voice and was not issued with cockiness but rather a soothing assurance, "If I thought anyone could be me I would be practicing RIGHT NOW?" This portryaed the essence of a great champion to me.
My other occasion to watch him play was during a three day challenge match of straight pool which he was losing going into the final night. The challenger had ran over 100 balls in two consecutive innings and for the final nights match Luther needed 337 balls while the opponent only needed 139 balls. The Lassiter fan club was all in attendance and they all seemed to feel that, "Wimpy will get him", as the match was to begin on this final night. During the first couple of innings Luther recaptured the world class form of yesteryear and managed to run 147 balls and safe followed up by a run of 108. The uninitiated audience members were awestruck as Lassiter now had the lead and only needed 82 balls while the old time fans were pleased but not surprised with all the savvy, experience finesse displayed this day like so many before. The opportunity to be in attendance was something that I will always appreciate and never forget as to the magic and inspiration this created for me in my future endeavors, never give up is quite a lesson produced in person by the legend. The final outcome was not to be as the opponenet played the spoiler with stellar consistent pool and Luther's loss came at no fault of himself. Despite the loss I was able to see what made Luther "Wimpy" Lassiter one of the greatest.

What is confidence? How can I get confidence?
This is not something that you just possess but rather something that is acquired from experience and cannot be artificially manufactured or conjured up just because you think you need to possess some. Confidence is developed from experience with both success and failures along with serious analysis as to what created each. Then this complete cycle, which being hard earned leads to obtaining serious confidence and not pretend bravado that some people have tried to substitute. Confidence is knowing what you are doing. To understand what you are doing you have to have made all of the mistakes many times to fully understand all of the possible failures as well as what goes into success. Confidence is not a tangible possession and will vary during differing circumstances. Whenever our confidence is down our life preserver is to not get wrapped up in the outcome of a troubling circumstances but to concentrate on our ideal stroke mechanics and pre-shot rituals to enable our energies to be channeled on what we may control for the best possible results.

"The Wild Thing or Not"
Many people know that I love baseball and pool which seems to go together and especially when regarding the pace of the game. Neither one was designed to be played against a time clock as is basketball and football. Certain game situations just require study and sometimes a lengthy defensive struggle to avoid allowing your opponent a great opportunity to shoot. Individual players also play at a variety of paces between shots suited to each person's style. Some players have a semi frantic or hyper shooting speed, Luc Salvas and Lou Butera, and other are very methodical and deliberate, like Buddy Hall.
This characteristic is also existent in baseball and Chicago Cub fans may remember the Red Baron and the Wild Thing. Rick Sutcliffe was a large man that had red hair and a dominating fastball with accuracy, thrown from such an easy and smooth motion which added to his control but also deceived the hitters as the ball seemed to be "on top of them" much quicker than anticipated based on such a slow methodical throwing motion. Rick was successful for so long that his effectiveness and hair color yielded the nickname, "Red Baron". The polar opposite on the Cubs was the closer known as the "Wild Thing", Mitch Williams.
Mitch was left handed and was used in the final most tense moments of the game; However, his "electric fastball" was frequently erractic as far as accuracy, but unhittable when it found the strike zone. Good days produced rapid total success but all too often he would create problems from extended periods of wildness which allowed batters to reach base due to four consecutive pitches out of the strike zone. This wildness could occur at any moment and seemed caused by a rapid jerky throwing motion which did not allow for consistency. The manager would insert the legendary, "Wild Thing", and the crowd along with the manager and players would begin the daily rollercoaster ride of emotions and frustrations that had to accompany this style. The manager even had a commercial brought on by the drama and stress produced where he was seen in the dugout using a product to settle an upset stomach caused by nerves. Once during an interview Rick as was asked about his throwing motion compared to his wild counterparts, his answer was, "when i'm pitching it looks like a man throwing from a lawn chair and when Mitch takes the mound it looks like a man pitching which his hair on fire."
Pool players also play at differing speeds and tempo, some are slow and still others play much quicker yet neither is right or wrong just individual. Frequently situations arise that require some thought and a touch decision must be rendered on a circumstance that does not possess a certain and correct answer. These moments exist for everyone regardless of their playing tempo; However, once a shot selection has been determined while stalking the table or standing behind the shot and you initiate the stroke execution process bending over the cueball, then the amount of time spent over the cueball should be uniform and constant irrespective of the shot difficulty.
Consistency in the stroke execution is best produced from a uniform and precise cue delivery pattern that uses a uniform span of time. Frequently a threatening shot will crop up and the fear of an error will cause us to try to avert an error by applying some additional time, care, and extra focus. This aids inconsistency with the sudden change in tempo and the extra time spent is often accompanied with some indecision or second guessing regarding this difficult situation. The phrase, "paralysis from analysis" can apply and we can enter so many thoughts of "what if" that a clear mindset during the stroking phase does not exist. We then attempt the most challenging shots with some hesitancy or mental ambiguity which creates a mental fog and the level of exactness needed is just not present.
Once you establish a shot selection and begin the stroke delivery process you must be commiteted to your decision. "Miss with commitement not ambiguity". Take your time in between shots evaluating and decision making and even should you choose the wrong shot spend your effort in a focused optimistic stroke delivery and your success with all shots "right or wrong" will increase. Present a confident up-tempo pace once commencing the execution phase after the decision phase, no more thinking! The mindset of aggressively attacking this confrontational shot will and has served many well. Despite my mention of a committed attitude and the up-tempo pace used to pocket though shots we must still use the slow final back-swing and the cruical smooth exchange from back to foreswing, just do not stand over the shot using a much greater time span and practice swing count than usual. Implement uniformity in your stroke execution and time frame on all shots, not carelessness on the less difficult and greater care on the more demanding shots. Imporved percentages on the crucial shots will soon be yours from the use of a clearer thought and execution pattern.

Job Disrespect & the credit cad clerk
My favorite things in life are pool playing and baseball. I move to St. Louis so I could more closely follow the best baseball team ever, my beloved Cardinals. While attending a game at Busch Stadium I decided to participate in a credit card sign-up drive for the free souvenir Cardinal travel bag for simply filling out the application and awarded on the spot regardless of approval for the credit card which comes through the mail. When I had completed the rather lengthy application I resubmitted it to the clerk who had a multitude of people in line behind me waiting. While establishing the authenticity of the information I had provided the clerk looked up at me and said, "Sir, under employment... pool player... well could you explain." I was embarrassed, as none of the people before me had been so interrogated and certainly the people me were impatient but amused. Catching me off guard and stunned by this attack on my vocation of which I am proud, I felt offended by this perceived disrespect of my chosen profession. I quickly replied, "Listen, I'm not making fun of your job" and at that point he must have nonverbally agreed and gave me the gift.

Tip Radius
I have often been told and heard that the tip radius should be the same curvature as that of a nickel or dime coin shape. I have often wondered just how and why that is the proper crown for the tip of the pool cue and what does coin shapes have to do with pool playing. After much deliberation I discovered that the tip shape is relevant when applying spin by striking the outer edges of the cueball. When the tip radius matches that of the cueball radius the more tip surface can grab the cueball because of the blending of the two convex and concave surfaces with matching curvatures. Therefore the tip radius should match the cueball's. The concept of a nickel or dime radius is probably visually about correct.

Just For Fun

Famous Players Birthdays

Name Birthday
Maurice Daly April 25, 1849
Buddy Hall "Rifleman" May 29, 1945
Mike Sigel "Captain Hook" July 11, 1953
Johnny Archer "Scorpion" November 12, 1968
Earl Strickland "The Pearl" June 8, 1961
Nick Varner "Kentucky Colonel" May 15, 1948
Jim Rempe "King James" November 4, 1947
Steve Mizerak "Miz" October 12, 1944
Kim Davenport "Kimmer" November 15, 1955
Jose Parica "Amang" April 18, 1949
David Howard "Lil' David" April 14, 1953
Mike Lebron "Spanish Mike" March 31, 1934
Ernesto Dominguez April 30, 1955
Tony Ellin "Hurricane Tony" July 19, 1965
Mike Massey "Tarzan" April 9, 1947
Allen Hopkins "Young Hoppe" November 18, 1951
Jeff Carter "Pool Monster" February 1, 1951
Jim Maytaya "Pretty Boy Floyd" September 25, 1949
Howard Vickery February 14, 1947
Tommy Kennedy February 7, 1965
Francisco Bustamante "Django" December 29, 1963
Willie Munson August 17, 1938
Billy Incardona "9-Ball Billy" December 2, 1943
Pat Fleming "Accu-Pat" November 30, 1948
Efren Reyes "The Magician" August 26, 1954
James Paul Mccartney June 18, 1942
George Harrison February 24, 1943 - November 29, 2001
Richard Starkey, Ringo Starr July 7, 1940
John Winston Lennon October 9, 1940 - December 8, 1980
Lou Butera "Machine Gun Lou" May 15, 1937
Willie Mosconi June 27, 1913
Jimmy Fusco "Philly Flash" July 5, 1948
George Breedlove June 27, 1966
Dick Lane "Night Train" March 2, 1949
Larry Hubbart "Ice Man" February 22, 1941
Willie Hoppe October 11, 1887 - 1959
Loree Jon Jones November 6, 1965
Tony Robles April 1, 1966
Rudolpho Luat "Boy Sampson" December 8, 1957
Thomas Engert October 23, 1965
Oliver Orttman June 17, 1967
Tom Storm March 18, 1965
Rudolph Wanderone "Minnesota Fats" 1913 - 1996
John Brunswick 1819 - 1886
Don Willis 1910 - 1984
Ralph Greenleaf 1899 - 1950
Luther Lassiter 1919 - 1988
Joe Balsis "The Meatman" 1921 - 1995
Cathy Wilson "Karaoke Cathy" April 29, 1957
Suzanne Marie Wilson June 29, 1935
William J. Wilson November 24, 1933
Mark Wilson "St. Louis Shooter" June 19, 1955
Derek Keith Cox March 14, 1981
Dylan Paul Cox September 29, 1985