Regarding Match Play
Playing well in competitive matches starts in practice. How hard do you focus when you practice? If you fool around all the time, then you try to concentrate during tournament play, then your body and mind are not used to this level of focus and your true game won’t come through. Practice as you would in tournament play so that you are familiar with your level of focus.
When you get ready to actually play your match, pull yourself away from everyone in order to give your mind a chance to find your positive and focused frame of mind. Don’t wait until you are down 4-1 before you start focusing. Start from the beginning.
Picture what you are like when you play your best pool. Concentrate on how you feel during your highest level of play and remind yourself how bad you want the win.
When aiming, before you shoot, your eyes should flit back and forth from the cue ball to the object ball, as if creating a visual thread between them. Then, when you’ve finished your practice strokes and are ready to pull the trigger, don’t look at the cue ball. Instead, focus solely on the object ball. Your stroke is fine; you’ve lined it up with the practice strokes. Now is the time to laser in on the aiming point, and let your body do the rest.
Make sure that when you strike the cue ball you don’t move your head, or anything else for that matter, except your forearm. Let the cue follow straight through, then freeze until you see the cue ball strike the object ball, preferably till the ball goes in the hole.
I just can’t stress enough how important it is to chalk up before every shot. If you don’t chalk up, your cue tip can slip off the cue ball and what might have been a great shot will turn into a fouled-up shot because you may not even get the cue ball to reach the object ball. Chalk up! A lot!
Never eat right before you play. Again, NEVER eat right before you play. Your mind can’t think because you’re tired, full, slow…..Try to eat 3 or 4 hours before a match but if you have to eat sooner than that, then eat really light easily digestible foods so that you’re body doesn’t have to work so hard to break it down and you can focus better.
Regarding Backspin and Draw Shots
What a nightmare for so many people. First, take care of your basics. Make sure your tip is shaped, tapped and fully chalked. Account for a solid bridge and level cue stick. Keep in mind that the speed of your shot and how low you strike the cue ball is based on how far the cue ball is from the object ball. If you’re getting draw, but not enough, it is usually because you aren’t hitting low enough on the cue ball. You might aim low, but if you drop your elbow at all on contact, you will end up striking higher on the cue ball than you think. Another common mistake is not hitting hard enough, especially if the cue ball is more than a couple feet away. A good exercise for this is to use a striped ball on faced horizontally. Put it on the spot and aim down the middle of the table with draw. You can see from the stripe whether or not you are getting much backspin.
Steve Mizerak’s Famous Shot
This is the first trick shot I ever learned. Set up the balls as shown, making sure that balls 1 and 4 are frozen to each other, exactly perpendicular to the rail. The 3, 13, and 5 should also be frozen together. The 13 and 5 are perpendicular to the rail, and the 13 and 3 should point toward the pocket marked by the red line. Strike the cue ball hard, with left English.
The Butterfly Shot
Just set up the table as shown, strike the cue ball hard, dead-center, and watch the shot sprout wings. Make sure to aim the 2 and 13, 9 and 3 toward the green lines and aim 13 and 11, and 3 and 4 toward the blue lines.
Snake in the Grass
Look out below—someone’s about to get bit! Set up the table as shown and announce that you are going to pocket the 8-ball without jumping the cue stick(s), touching either of the two object balls (9 and 10), or knocking it in with the cue. While your friends are still scratching their heads, strike the cue ball with a full tip of right-hand english at 3:00 with a medium stroke. It’ll hit three rails, and then move the cue stick just enough to avoid hitting the two balls before sliding down the side of the cue like a snake to pocket the 8-ball!