A regular Skype coaching client in Norway (a concert violinist) wrote to me in one of our weekly support emails to express the frustration he felt in his solo practice sessions.
You asked me to clarify why it gets mentally messy at the END of practice sessions when I am practicing the line up....
When I practice a solo session it usually goes like this:
It is very nice to come to the club, and I start with high blacks, yellow to green to brown, etc.. it all feels great and I am playing with mindfulness :) This can easily go on for two hours.
Then I decide to finish the session with a line up (colours on the spots and the reds in a line from top cushion to blue spot) to see how many points I can get.. and gradually I lose the cue ball position, my cue action, and I end up only getting around twenty breaks. I then get frustrated and try again and again... and the frustration builds up until I want to explode! I feel like I keep practicing far too long, and I end up wishing I had left earlier 😟
What to do?”
I replied (with some hard won experience from my own previous frustrations in practice, which I hope can help a few more players enjoy their practice a bit more!):
“I hear you!
So, don’t finish practice sessions with line ups!
Finish the last fifteen minutes of your session with some middle distance shots that you can pot to confirm your cueing, or hi blacks, or straight pinks in the middle.
Think of this as a ‘warm down’ drill. A bit like attempting the 24 Caprices (*the most difficult violin piece in the world) and finishing off with some scales to make sure you are still doing the basics right.
Also, if you are struggling to get over fifty breaks on the line up, I would budget 50%-75% of your line up time to ‘PUP - Play Until Perfect’.
This means replacing the cue ball each time if your positional shot was not perfect – mark the table very gently with TWO tiny chalk marks for both the cue ball AND the object ball so that you are replaying the same shot every time.
Without doing this, you will learn virtually nothing from the drill as you will not notice the tiny cue ball height & speed differences which can lead to quite large cue ball errors.
Do this until your highest break on the line up is 75, then reduce PUP to maybe 25%-50% until you make a 100 break
The line up and many other break building exercises are not about potting skills as much as they are about positional play skills.
So, any time you play rubbish and feel like snapping your cue (we have all been there!) when going for a break on then line up, then downgrade to PUP. “
My client replied:
“Ha ha.. BRILLIANT FEEDBACK Nic! Thanks, this helps a lot! I actually had a practice session where I finished it FEELING HAPPY!”
Please comment below if you have any questions or feedback…
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