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Long and Straight

Long and Straight
Long and Straight

Here's a great trick shot. Set the balls up as illustrated above, with the cue ball 4 or 5 inches from the bottom rail near the corner pocket, and the object ball in the middle of the table on a direct path to the opposite corner pocket. Now sink the object ball.

Trick shot? You bet!

If you can't make this shot consistently, why bother practicing all those 10 rail, double-jump-kiss, upside down, carom-masse' shots. If you want to be a good pool player, don't waste valuable practice time trying shots you will never face in a regular game. I have never been impressed with circus shots. I am impressed with shooters who can sink a full table, straight-in shot consistently. I believe it is the toughest shot on the table. Most average players will miss it more than half the time, and the odds don't improve much for advanced players. It seems practice only marginally improves the odds of making it in a game. But marginally is better than none! Advanced players will miss this shot, because they, like the rest of us worry about it. The pros practice it a lot, especially prior to a tournament.

Think of practicing the long straight-in shot as conditioning, like stretching exercises for runners. The shot is a measure of our overall readiness. If we are making it consistently during a tournament, everything else seems to work as well. It is a mental thing.

So, how is it shot? I know what I've been told by the experts, each of whom take a different approach. But, I honestly don't know any secrets. When I am on my game, it isn't a problem. Unfortunately, the shot itself will often put me off my game. When I walk up to the table for my shot, and I realize I am faced with a long straight-in shot, my head starts swimming. However, I have learned not to avoid it. I just treat it like any other shot, and this has helped. I am gaining confidence in my ability to sink it, which in turn improves my chances. And I guess that would be my advice to others.

I might not be able to offer a sure way to make the shot. I can offer a sure way to miss it. Just start thinking miss, and sure enough you will. Missing is the fulfillment of expectation. Expectation is what we train our minds to achieve. So, if your brain believes you expect to miss, it will use your the nervous system to instruct your muscles to do just that. Your brain acts on what you expect, not what you wish. Practice is a method of conditioning our minds to respond to positive expectations.

Practice is the only way to build confidence in anything. Pool is no different. It may not make you a world champion, but it will galvanize your skills against doubt and apprehension. Champions believe with all of their hearts that they deserve to be champion. They are right. It is no coincidence that they practice regularly, and that they are well conditioned, positive thinkers. They expect to win, and the brain does everything it can to fulfill that expectation.

Now, go make that long, straight-in shot and know with all of your heart that you deserve it.

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