Not everyone owns a pool table. And going to a pool hall to practice every day can get both inconvenient and expensive. So how do you get better without practicing?
I recently wrote about the Kaizen way – how small one minute tasks can make a big difference. I wanted to find an easy way to practice pool for a minute every day. What I decided on was the bottle drill.
Place an empty bottle on a level surface (I use an ironing board). Place your hand about a foot away from the mouth of the bottle and stroke the cue into the bottle without touching the sides. I do this for just about 30 seconds to a minute, after which I switch hands and repeat the exercise.
This drill is perfect for the subconscious mind to learn quickly because it provides the brain with a simple goal and immediate feedback for auto-correction.
The first two days I did this drill, I touched the bottle a lot while stroking. However by the third day my subconscious had already realized what I was trying to achieve and had started “fixing” anything that was causing me to touch the sides. I started loosening my back arm muscles, softening my grip. I also discovered exactly where I need to keep the cue below my eye so that I can aim perfectly.
Over a period of two weeks, I can now go 20 – 30 strokes without touching the sides (and 3-4 with my left hand). This exercise is improving my concentration and ability to hit the cue ball exactly where I need to. It is also making it a habit for me to stay down on the shot (since getting up makes the cue tip hit the bottle).
The improvements on the pool table have been phenomenal. I had no idea my stroke needed so much correction. I thought I shot well before, but over the last couple of weeks my shooting has been getting better. Last night, I hit full table length, straight in, stop shots perfectly and consistently. Even my table length draw shots are getting consistent.
I had been going through a losing streak the last couple of months, and this one little exercise has got me shooting better than I have ever shot before. It has me feeling excited about shooting and playing pool again.
The cool thing is, because it is only one minute a day, I find this drill both easy and convenient to do. I haven’t skipped this exercise even one day since I started.
For people who would like to improve their shooting and need a convenient way to practice and improve their game, this is probably the answer you are looking for. If you are in a slump or plateau, the reason for it is usually a defect in the pool stroke. This simple, almost silly, little practice exercise will change your game for ever.