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Partner’s Events- Fun or Just Frustrating?

Every so often a league, tour, or pool hall will hold a partner’s event. These events can be really fun and rewarding, but, they can also be quite frustrating. The key to making these events enjoyable it to know what you are getting into and to set reasonable expectations.

People play in partner’s events for different reasons. Some people take them very seriously and play in events with a high skill level limit or no limit. Some people are more interested in a league tournament with a low skill level limit and may see it as more of a social event or learning experience.

Like anything in life you will do better with a positive attitude than with a negative one. You need to let your partner know you believe in him and you think you can win. Even if I didn’t think we realistically had a good chance of winning, I would never say that to a partner. I would still give every shot my best effort and try to be encouraging.

I’ve seen plenty of cases where one of the partners gives up, or even gets angry with his partner. This type of behavior goes beyond just being a poor sport; this shows a basic lack of respect for another human being. Partners should be able to give each other constructive feedback but I don’t know too many people who respond well to constant negativity and abusive behavior.

One thing to keep in mind in any partner’s tournament, is that you have to accept that you are only in control half of the time. No matter how good your partner is or how profound your advice is, you still can’t shoot the shot for your partner.

It can be really frustrating to make a heroic shot and get perfect position on the next ball, only to have your partner butcher the shot. We have to keep in mind that all of us, even professional players, miss shots. Your partner may not be able to handle the pressure of a tournament the same way you can, and will feel even more pressure because he has to come through for you.

If your partner appears to have given up you ask him if this is the case. Many times people get lost in their emotions and may not fully realize what they are doing. Sometimes just vocalizing what is happening is enough to make the person realize they are not behaving poorly and are being unfair to others.

Early in my pool career I gave up in a tournament and someone pointed out that it looked like I was not even trying. I was angry and didn’t care a whole lot about the event anymore; but I didn’t want others to think I had given up so, I decided that I would pretend and make it look like I was really trying. Surprisingly, this actually made me play a lot better and we came back and cashed in the event.

It is useful to know which types of events you will find most enjoyable and what your partner expects. Some people do a lot of planning and will only play with a serious partner. While others might show up at an event without a partner and just play with anyone they can find.

If you are a social player, and a serious player asks you to be his partner, this could end up being a frustrating experience for both of you due to the different expectations of each player. If there is a large difference in skill level between the partners this can be enjoyable for the lower level player who gets mostly easy shots; and frustration for the higher level player who is frequently facing difficult situations.

If the partners have different playing styles it can be difficult. For example, I probably will not do well with an overly-aggressive player; he will get frustrated when I play safe instead of trying to run out, and I will get frustrated when he goes for a shot that is too difficult and sells out the game.

I prefer playing in events where my partner is a higher skill level than I am. I like to learn from my partner, and it’s nice to know that if I leave him with a reasonable position, he can do something with the shot. I typically don’t seek out partners for the lower skill level pool league events, but sometimes people ask me to play in them.

I view these as opportunities to help the lower skill level players and promote pool in general. I try to maintain the attitude that no matter what happens I will still try my best, and even if we don’t win, my partner may learn some valuable skills.

Last year I played in an APA 9-Ball partner’s tournament with a skill level two. Because of her low skill level people asked her all the time to play in partner’s events but she always refused because she didn’t feel confident. She wanted to play with me because mainly because she knew I wouldn’t get angry with her if she made mistakes. We won a few matches but didn’t make it too far into the tournament.

She thanked me for playing with her and said she learned a lot about how to compete. When the next partner’s event came around she was asked to play at the last minute when someone’s partner backed out. Normally, she would have said no but because she had already played in one; with me she felt more confident and agreed.

I watched her play in the event, and I was so proud to see how she much better she looked. Her ball pocketing and positional skills had not really changed, but her attitude had. She was able to bear down and didn’t get discouraged when she missed a shot; she just tried harder on the next shot. They won the tournament and a trip to Las Vegas to play in the finals.

It made me happy to see her do so well and to know I had a small part in it. Now, she can pass on that knowledge to another player. Helping another player improve her game is not only beneficial to the player; it also helps build the sport of pool that we all love.

The next time you are considering playing in a partner’s tournament keep in mind that, by maintaining a positive attitude and setting reasonable expectations, you have the capability to turn a frustrating experience into a fun and rewarding one.


Photo Credit: Katie Fiorilla

Sponsored by POV Pool and Jacoby Custom Cues



Katie started playing pool in September 2000 when her sister begged her to take her spot on her APA 8-Ball team while on maternity leave. Never having played pool before, Katie was arguably the worst skill level 2 player in the history of the league and primarily functioned as a body on the team to keep them from disbanding. Being forced to compete every week when just hitting the cue ball into the object ball was challenging was enormous motivation to learn, practice, and get better. Katie was extremely shy and never went out much and pool became her primary social activity and helped build her confidence when interacting with other people. When she first started practicing people would stop by to offer advice and lessons, but eventually people were stopping by to ask her for advice and lessons.

After thousands of hours of practice Katie eventually became a skill level 7 in APA and was given the nickname ‘The Tiny Titan’. Katie also plays in the VNEA pool league, competes as a B- on the New England 9 Ball Series tour, placed 5th in the 2014 APA Jack and Jill tournament in Las Vegas, was a member of the NH Masters team at the 2015 APA National Championships in Las Vegas, and was runner-up at the 2015 Super Billiards Expo Women’s Amateur Open. Katie is sponsored by Grand China Billiards in Salem, NH and the NH VNEA pool league. Katie has an M.S. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology from UMass Amherst and currently works in the Oncology Department at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research where she plays with robots and does research on cancer cells. [Photo credit for Katie’s bio pic goes to Steve Booth Photography]

Photo: Alison Chang [provided by pictured]

Editor: Shaylyn Arthurs

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