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For Great Practice, Try 14.1 ~ by Roger Long

Something very special happened on May 27, 2019 at Easy Street Billiards in Monterey, CA. That date and place was when and where one of pool’s most coveted records fell.  The record broken was the 65-year-old feat of running 526 balls without a miss by the great Willie Mosconi during a 1954 exhibition in Springfield, IL.

The man setting the new record has been one of pool’s straightest shooters as well as one of its finest ambassadors for many years. His name is John Schmidt, and although he plays every game at a championship level, it appears that the game of 14.1 has become his favorite. He successfully ran 626 balls to break the record.

But now the question is: what lasting impact, if any, will Mr. Sch

midt’s accomplishment have on the rest of the pool-playing world? Will it spur more participation in the few 14.1 championship tournaments that remain? Will it encourage more people to take up 14.1? And if so, will that in turn create new 14.1 tournaments for amateurs?

How can Practicing 14.1 be beneficial to my game?

All those things remain to be seen. But one thing is for certain: practicing the game of 14.1 can lead to benefits not found in any other pool game. For instance, one game to 125 points will contain practically every type of pool shot imaginable. There will be power-follow and power-draw shots, as well as many follow, draw, and stop shots that require a soft touch. There will also be cut shots, straight-ins, combinations, and bank shots – each with the intention of gaining position for the next shot, and all for the purpose of attaining the highest runs possible – for high runs are what keep you at the table and your opponents in their chairs.

But let’s also consider some of the other benefits. Imagine the level and duration of John Schmidt’s concentration in running 626 balls. Imagine how he had to bear down and make every shot and then play excellent position for each subsequent shot for 4-1/2 hours. That was a feat that required superb physical and mental stamina. That ability didn’t come to him overnight. It was developed through hours of practice for months and days on end. And only 14.1, with its inherent need for that kind of prolonged concentration, will help to develop that type of consistency.

And then we’ve got the benefit of learning great run-out patterns. Virtually every pool game requires a run-out plan. Even if you have only three balls remaining on the table, there will usually be one sequential order that is better than the other two. So, picking out the most logical order with which to run out any number of balls becomes a key element of success in any pool game. But just think of how much more you get with 14.1 in that respect. You’re not working with just 3 or 4 balls, or even with 8 or 9, you’re working with 14 in every rack—and then working to get that ultra-precise position on the break ball, to boot!

And there are a couple of other benefits to practicing 14.1 that do not readily come to mind. Those are the benefits of being able to gauge your own progress, while also offering a comparison of yourself to other players. In other words, 14.1 can act as your own personal rating system.

Here’s what I mean by that last statement. John Schmidt considers any player who can run 100 balls or more to be a pro caliber player. So, if you use 100 balls as your benchmark goal, you can start setting up break shots and seeing how many balls you can run before missing. Once you reach that century mark, you’ll know you have arrived as a serious player no matter what company you keep. That’s what John Schmidt did; and just look what it led to!

However, some people may consider John’s method to be very frustrating since it can take a long time before you ever start reaching any satisfying numbers. So, another way of approaching the task is by focusing on lowering your stroke average rather than focusing on higher runs – although in the end it all results in the same thing.

A Simple Practice Method to Improve Your Game-

One way to practice this approach is by counting how many strokes it takes you to run out the first rack of 14 balls from a set-up break shot. You then write that number down on a sheet of paper. Subsequent racks are played in the “continuous” manner of a regular game of 14.1, but you record the number of strokes for each of those racks just as you did for the first rack. Once you end your practice session, you total all your strokes, and then you divide that number by the number of racks played. That will give you your stroke average for that day.

Naturally, the goal in this method of practice is to develop your lowest possible stroke average. In the beginning, you may not experience huge differences from one day to the next, but if you stay with this method long enough, you will eventually be able to see significant improvement. And if you ever find yourself averaging 14 strokes per rack on a consistent basis, let me know. I’ll find you a sponsor for the pro tour.

Next month, I’ll tell you about an interesting 14.1 challenge that will soon be starting at Bull Shooters.

Author: Roger Long Editor- Chris Freeman

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