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The Best ‘Teacher’ Is Being A Student For Life By Patrick Sampey

Updated: Oct 26, 2021

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” -- Michael Jordan

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The best “teacher” is being a student for life. That is the title for this little article to whomever may read it and learn that learning is the key, lifelong learning. To better teach, you should always be a student first.

Throughout my life, I have always been a student to others in their areas of specialty -- each of us as individuals in life having our strengths and weaknesses. And sometimes your weaknesses can become your strengths and vice versa. And some say “practice your weaknesses,” but if you don’t also practice your strengths, they could become your weaknesses.

What’s in your shot repertoire? Bank shots? Cut shots? Down-the-rail-length-of-table cut shots? Off-angle banks? Shots you’ve never seen before that come up in the course of some games? Seems to me that while chess has so many possible moves based on the limits of the board, that pool is a game of infinite possibilities predicated by the repeating decimal of Pi, 3.14…

The pool balls have virtually any combination of positions they could end up in after the break, each ball residing upon a single pinpoint on a billiard ball, spheres on the table green.

I believe we must each always strive to improve, no matter how much experience we gain, knowledge we obtain, or based upon our individual skillset. We must each, to truly be great at anything, be a student first. If you want to be a writer, you must first be a reader. To play pool well, you must always be willing to learn first and show out later. This has been a tough lesson for me personally (laughing).

So, sure being a student first doesn’t mean that you can’t also teach, but you can actually learn new things as you teach too, taking the student/teacher role to a whole new level -- it’s all intertwined like so many strands of rope.

So, learning seems to me to be associated closely to observing -- when I watch the pros play I always observe how they address their shots, their pre shot routine, how they pause and take their time on a key shot or tough shot to ensure they either get the right shape, or in some cases, just ensure that they make the shot.

Never presume there’s not something more you can learn.

"when the student is ready, the teacher appears; and when the student is truly ready, the teacher disappears" -- Lao Tzu

The above means to me that once you attain a certain point, you realize that you are your best teacher. But more specifically, the student isn’t a student to any would-be teacher, perhaps not even recognizing a good teacher/candidate. The problem arises for me personally, whenever I have felt like “I know it all,” and/or “I got this,” because, you see, that is when I absolutely don’t “got it.” That’s when I lose sight of humility, and a respect for the game and other players -- when you realize you are “there,” then you slack off, lose sight of the goal.

But why “when the student is truly ready, the teacher disappears”? Perhaps, the student realizes he/she has become his/her own teacher -- that they’ve had all the outside guidance required to now take the rest of the journey alone in training.

Keep on hitting them balls players! Bluetooth-headphones-nine-ball engaged.

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