Saturday, October 08, 2005

Rack 'em Up: Hot Tips for Learning How to Play Cool Pool


(MF) - Forget the stuffy images of cognac-drinking and cigar smoking Englishmen playing in the billiards room, or the young, down-and-out hustler trying to make a fast buck in seedy pool halls of cinema lore. The game of pool was popular long before Paul Newman in "The Hustler," or Tom Cruise in "The Color of Money." These days, people of all ages find the game approachable, affordable, and highly entertaining.

Billiards refers to all cue sports - including pool, snooker, and carom. While shooting pool is traditionally seen as a male pastime, whoever considers it a "guy thing" today should think again. In fact, some of the best professional pool players in the world are women. It's a truly unisex game, with no strength requirements. Male or female, making a difficult shot under pressure is the essence of cool - be it in a televised world championship tournament or a noisy bar.

Besides its high coolness quotient, the game teaches superior hand-eye coordination, strategy and tactics - as well as the more obvious principles of motion physics. To shoot winning pool in any situation you need good technique, a gentle finesse, grace under pressure, and of course, lots of practice! With a little time and effort, you can become enough of a player to beat most of your average opponents-while calling every shot.

Next to learning the lingo, rules, and practicing and playing as often as possible, the quickest route to shooting winning pool is taking private lessons from a professional. Your game will improve dramatically. If you are new to the game, consider getting some friends together to practice or play by yourself once a week for an hour. You might want to join a team that competes in a league against other bars or pool halls. A handicapping system helps to even out disparities between players' skill levels.

Always try to avoid playing on tables near television sets-they can break concentration, mood, and interrupt the natural flow of a game. If possible, try not to shoot pool in a crowded, boisterous bar, or anywhere the focus is more on socializing and alcohol. Bar pool equipment is notoriously poor and the disorganized chalkboard list or long "quarters-on-the-table" waits are frustrating. When you finally do get to play, you'll often be accidentally jostled during your shot. Also, remember to steer clear of pool scenes centered on gambling.

There are a myriad of resources online, such as the Billiard Congress of America, if you are interested in learning the game or getting better if you already play. Before long, your confidence, concentration and practice will have you experiencing "dead stroke" - the feeling a pool player has when in the zone and on top of their game. Rack 'em up!

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On the Net: Billiard Congress of America:
http://www.bca-pool.com

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