One of the most popular questions that I am asked when I’m in a pool hall is, “How can I get better?” My answer is that if you’re asking me this question, then you probably won’t get better. If you think that’s a harsh assertion, let me explain myself.
1. If you’re asking me this question you probably have no idea what your weaknesses are.
If you haven’t assessed your own weaknesses by the time you are asking me this question, there is probably no chance you ever will. The people who constantly improve are the ones who carefully self-assess and work to improve the holes in their games. If you’ve ignored your weaknesses thus far, then you probably don’t have what it takes to work on something that you absolutely hate until you want to shatter your cue in a million pieces and/or have a nervous breakdown. You’ve probably never felt utterly demoralized and broken down by that one thing that you can’t seem to master, yet you come back day after day and keep grinding. And you’ve also never experienced that moment when it all clicks, and suddenly you have a glimmer of hope, which only makes you double the effort.
2. You want to skip the struggle.
You are asking this question because you want the magic bullet. You want me to say something so profound that your game goes up once my words meet your medial temporal lobe. I can’t tell you how many people I see in the pool hall with gadgets and gimmicks all designed to create a quick fix that will make you instantly better. I see low level players adding an extension to their cue “because Earl does” or buying different cues in hopes of instantly morphing into whatever champion is using it. These champions didn’t get that way by a gimmick, a gadget or a cue. They got that way because they obsessively spent every moment in the pool room working on the things that they find most unpleasant until they master them.The best players literally shed blood, sweat and tears until they become that way.
3. Your ego is too big
Chances are you’ve asked other players this very question, but upon realizing that your game didn’t magically improve, you came in search of answers from me. Maybe when the other players said your break was too wild, or your position was too weak it sounded like too much work to fix. Or maybe you think those things are already great, and that it must be something else. I can’t tell you how many times someone has asked my opinion about something, and then told me they’d rather do it their way. If your mind isn’t open to new ideas, then your ego will forever hold you in lower echelon of pool.
I’m sorry if I sound callous, but this is the reality of improving your game. I’m not talking about the kind of improvement that happens by default if you keep hitting balls. I’m talking about improving beyond your natural plateau. Improvement that people notice and talk about. The kind that makes people ask you what you’re doing. For that kind of improvement, there are no quick fixes. There is no product you can buy. It’s just you facing your weaknesses. Until you work your ass off to make them strengths. And then your old strengths become your new weaknesses. So you rinse and repeat until that shit is squeaky clean.