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Practicing Without A Pool Table -- The Stroke Is The Game -- Patrick Sampey

Updated: Jun 3, 2021

To the Gods of pool, legends of billiards, Mosconi, Reyes, Strickland, O’Sullivan, Greenleaf, so many greats -- the best of the best, Shane van Boening -- but to the Gods of pool, I salute you that set the standard, Allison Fisher and so forth and so on...slight reverb.

Setting goals in your billiards game is great, but at the same time there was only one Michael Jordan, sometimes there can only be one, people need to know their limitations, and so often reality sets in amidst all the delusions of grandeur. Only top players in any sport, game, art, musical gambit, etcetera -- only the elite few ever make it to the professional level.

So many pool players I think have this delusion that they can play like professional pool players and snooker players around the globe, and this is just absurd.

It is possible to become a pro pool player, but the odds are against you, just as they are against you going pro in Golf, becoming a movie star, or pop music singer, or bestselling-published writer. It’s great to reach for your dreams, but if you don’t attain the apex, there is no harm or foul in that.

For me, when I began to play pool out of the US Army in about 1998, having served 5 years from 1992-97 -- I was a skill level 4 from the APA (American Poolplayers Association), and my main goal was making it to a winning skill level 7 player, having maxed out the 8 ball handicap; I hated 9 ball back then, just 8 was all…

By 2000 I was a 7 in eight ball and 9 ball APA, coming up fast amidst the ranks, may have been late 1999 (gonna party like it’s 1999…). Yeah, in the game of pool I have surpassed any and all goals I had -- never did want to be a pro personally, living life on the road, out of hotels, sleeping in cars, grinding out in two day and longer tournaments, wearing you down with the gears of the machine? Not for me. Many may love the life on the road, but I’d rather chill at the beach, toes in the sand; it’s all personal preference, ability and skillset. Some are just natural-born pool players...wait! That’s a lie. Any and all great champions I’ve interviewed started practicing pool at a very young age in most cases; the human body can be programmed like a computer.

But to get to the main point of this article, is the fact that players that truly love the game of pocket billiards, snooker, 3-1 cushion, one pocket, bank pool -- whatever game on a table with felt on a slate that would enter the arena, the game eternal -- but those players, some of which can practice the game without hitting a single ball, and having no table at all to play upon.

The game of pool comes down to one simple principle, CONSISTENCY -- and that comes to muscle memory in ones billiards stroke. One can practice their pool stroke on a dining room table, bar stool, anywhere like that that they can form a bridge hand and take practice strokes, lining up on an imaginary cue ball that doesn’t exist…

Any living human can naturally see the angles; it really doesn’t come down to knowledge of Geometry so much or any kind of mathematical training like some billiards enthusiasts maintain. It is really very simple: THE STROKE IS THE GAME.

Once players realize the stroke is the game, then they will learn to practice anywhere, even without a table.


Additionally, for me personally, just watching pro players play the game has helped me improve without hitting a single ball -- no table required.

( Note: any copyrighted photos used here under the copyright "fair use" clause. )

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