Tom Simpson © March 2002 – All Rights Reserved – PoolClinics.com
Don’t be in a hurry. Sometimes the smartest thing you can
do is take a lap of the table.
Let’s discuss a few of those occasions:
- The Victory Lap – Ever make an insanely
great shot, only to step up and miss the no-brainer easy next shot? Of course,
we’ve all done it. The best thing to do after an extraordinary shot is take a
lap. Saunter around the table as if you’re studying the layout. I don’t care if
there’s only one ball left. What you’re really doing is taking a moment to calm
back down after the thrill of making that wonderful shot. Yeah, sure, nothing
ruffles you; you don’t have to do this. Well, the rest of us tend to get a
little self-conscious at these moments, and we’re either feeling proud of
ourselves for making the shot or we’re feeling sheepish because we know we just
got lucky. In either case, we’re distracted, and it’s vital to pull ourselves
back together, so we can hit the next shot with our full focus. Take a lap,
and get over yourself. Take two if necessary.
In the finals of the 2001 US Open, winner Corey Deuel hit
an outrageously good shot early in the first game, sinking the nine. The crowd
went crazy. Corey raised his arms to acknowledge the crowd, and promptly walked
right out of the arena. He took a short break and returned, re-focused and
ready to shoot. Talk about taking a lap!
- The Nervous Lap – OK, you’re playing one of
your heroes in a tournament match. There’s a crowd watching. You’re feeling a
little shaky. You can’t sit down and meditate or do some chi gung or get a
massage. You have to step up to the table and perform. Take a lap, even if the
balls haven’t been broken yet. Nobody will think anything of it. While you’re
circling the table, try to focus on the layout of the balls, the feel of your
cue, the sound of your chalk. Anything to get you connected to the game. When
you fill your awareness with appropriate pool sensations, there is no room for anything
else. It’s gotta be just you and the balls. Use the lap to get yourself focused
and connected to what you’re doing. If the lap wasn’t enough, focus on chalking
your tip and then take another lap.
- The Layout Lap – In games where you are
free to choose from many possible shots (for example, 8-Ball and Straight
Pool), you’ll be amazed at what you will discover as you take a lap. When you
study an 8-Ball layout from one spot, you don’t get nearly the perspective you
do when you take a lap. As you walk around the table, see the paths of each
ball to each possible pocket. Notice the details of a cluster, how close that
ball actually is to the rail, what patterns are possible. Often, you’ll have a
different, better, simpler plan by the time you finish your lap than you would
if you had stood in one spot. You’ll shoot with better confidence and win more
- The Nitwit Lap – This one is for your
practice sessions. When you make a terrible shot, don’t just keep shooting.
Like in the Victory Lap, you need to give yourself a chance to get over what
just happened. Those really bad, really stupid shots will haunt you, at least
for a moment. Take a lap and pull yourself together. No sense shooting if
you’re in the wrong frame of mind.
- The Serious Lap – Sometimes it’s helpful to
give your opponent the impression that you are completely focused and serious
(and of course, you are). Taking a lap, carefully studying the layout, checking
out shots you’ll shoot much later in the rack, shows your opponent you have
confidence, and you have a plan. It could intimidate ’em a little. Don’t try
this tactic against strong players though; it might make them serious, and that could be costly.