|Playing pool has been one of my favorite pastimes. I had never even seen a pool table until college. That is the main thing I learned in my short time in college. My skills were limited, but that didn’t matter much. On a “good day,” I would only be poor to mediocre in high-level competition. On a “bad day,” I shouldn’t do more than rack the balls for the “real” players. I was able to learn the physics of the game and developed what I call “Position Theory.” Pocketing a ball is really easy, but placing the cue ball in position so that the next shot is easy much is harder. To place it so that the next several shots will be possible is the real game.
I applied my interest in physics to pool and that allowed me to develop what I call “Position Theory.” Pocketing a ball is really easy, but placing the cue ball in position so that the next shot is easy, is harder. To place it so that the next several shots will be possible is the real game. Not a single book on the subject of pool dealt with playing “position.” How can that be?
While I was a decent player, I was even better at teaching the game. Pool halls often would allow me to teach students. My first high-level student was at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, while working as project manager for Craig Vetter. Later, I lived in Colorado Springs to manage the first Vetter Rally.
I finished my business with the Colorado Springs BMW dealer, and Burt’s Pool Hall was next door. I stopped in to just knock a few balls around. I had a few hours to kill before a dinner date with my girlfriend. The place had nearly two dozen tables and was totally empty. I got the balls and went to the back to make sure that I would be alone for the next couple of hours of my practice.
A group of young women came in to play and walked back to where I was playing. They asked me how long I would be using the table. All of the tables were empty, so I asked, “Why do you want this one?” It was explained that they were the pool hall sponsored team and they were supposed to play on the table that I was using. They took the table next to me for practice and I continued, but I was watching them carefully out of the corner of my eye. After watching each player on the table, I interrupted and asked if I could show them something. They were kind enough to tolerate me butting in on their practice session.
I demonstrated some corrections that were mostly basic. A few had incorrect posture for pool and we worked on that. Then I started showing them advanced pool play. I learned that they had won the US Championship in 1980, but they weren’t the best team, but only second best. They felt that they had won by luck.
I called my girlfriend and canceled our dinner date just so I could keep working with this team.
They asked me to be their team coach for the 1981 season. I agreed and would do my best to return home as often as possible to work with this team. If I came into town on an unscheduled day, I would call and those that were able to attend would show up. I was amazed at how easy it was to teach them advanced techniques. They were totally open to my advice.
They won the city, state, and then the USA championship in Las Vegas, Nevada. I was very proud of them.
One newspaper article about the National Championship.
The team captain and very good player, Barbara Campbell.
The team just after winning the National title. See the “younger” me in the center.
My own odd specialty is one that is totally useless, but fun. I like to play one-handed. Nothing supporting the cue stick, but one hand. Back then I could sometimes run a table one-handed. So far I have never been beaten in a one-handed game. If you specialize enough, you can be the best at it. It helps if you are the only one:-)