The Ultimate American Martial Art: Pocket Billiards

by Ken Tewksbury, Master Instructor

Last updated on November 1, 2003. Created February 28, 2000.

Even those that have never a single one of the many forms of martial arts are familiar with the concepts. The goal is to arrive at a peak level of physical and mental performance through strict and disciplined training.

Among the common denominators in all forms of the martial arts are the requirements that one should, 1, learn specific physical skills. 2, adhere to prescribed strategies. 3, make abundant use of the powers of concentration. 4, absorb all the precepts through continual practice until they can be performed naturally and instinctively.

As the title suggests, the cue sports also make the same demands on participants who desire to reach higher levels of proficiency at the table. Unfortunately, however, many players are first introduced to the sport in a very informal manner. Usually at social gatherings, and are never made aware that pool is a sport that is also a science and an art form.

You first must master the basic fundamentals. Then learn the strategies and physical laws governing the balls, and finally, perfect your skills to a point that they can be performed naturally and instinctively.

An acronym that could easily be used to outline the five areas all players must become and remain proficient in,(whether they are beginners or highly skilled professionals) is the word---



You will agree that it would be awfully difficult to even read the word ideas if you only knew the letter "s" and had no knowledge of the other four letters in the word. Yet it is amazing how many of pool's participants begin by shooting without investigating how to aim, and stand, or even care where the cueball will end up.

By training with IDEAS in mind. Here is what you should be looking toward perfecting in each area.

I. IDENTIFY WHAT YOU SHOULD DO! The first thing you need to know in any sport or game is how to plat it. If you are playing 9-ball and are shooting at the 1- ball, you must first identify where you want the cueball to arrive for a shot at the 2-ball that will easily allow you to move on to the 3-ball.

In learning the "I" part of the game, you are perfecting your strategy, learning the rules, figuring out how to win, when to play safe or take the percentage shot. As your other skills increase, so will your evaluation of the various situations presented to you at the table. Greater skills result in more options, therefore, knowing the "I" portion of your game as a continual learning process.

D. DETERMINES EXACTLY HOW YOU PLAY THE SHOT!Before getting into your stance, you should know exactly what it is that you intend to do. If you have no idea! The letter "D" requires that you know what english you are going to use. How you are going to hit the ball, and visualization of the result.

E. EXECUTE YOUR STANCE:After you have identified what you should do and determined how you are going to accomplish your goal, you must take a balanced position at the table that will allow you to make a bridge comfortably and perform in a manner that is unhampered. Many professionals are strong believers that this part of your game is one of the main keys to success. When their games get off just a little bit, they often look first to their stance, bridge, stride and other physical forms for minor corrections. Again, the letter "E" also requires that you first have knowledge of the "I" and "D" to do it right.

A. AIM AT THE TARGET: You have already identified everything you need to know about the target, and determined the stroke you are going to use when shooting at it. And have executed the correct stance that will allow you to accomplish what you are about to do. In aiming and taking your warm up strokes you are simply fine-tuning the shot. It is in this part of your game that you will often encounter the highest mental anguish. It is here that self-doubt and a loss of confidence often creep in. however, be of good cheer, if you have trained properly in "I", "D" and "E" the letter "A" rolls off your tongue as easily as saying IDEA. Be confident that you have learned the game from the ground up and that you are well on your way to conquering the negativity that often keeps average player from becoming great layers.

S. STROKE AND SHOT:We have now finally arrived back at that point where most new player errantly begins at. However, we have learned all our letters and can now read the entire word with confidence. What you will train for in learning the letter "S" is developing a smooth natural stroke and follow-through. When shooting, you must not be tentative or overly aggressive. You have taken all the proper steps to give your brain the information it needs to accomplish this final step. Now, you are free to let your hand-eye coordination take over as you focus on the target and stroke your shot naturally and instinctively.

When using the martial arts concept in you're pool training, and specifically when learning each area. Review each letter on every shot. You will soon find that this conscious effort will become part of your subconscious game as well. What will initially seem as a boring repetition of thought, will eventually only take a few seconds, it can even be accomplished in the blink of an eye as your proficiency increases.

I wish you great success with your new found look at {pocket billiards} Ken Tewksbury. "MASTER INSTRUCTOR" 2-25-2000