Sometimes when I see players having distance problems I notice they are lifting their hand as they follow through. Go get your cue and try this; as you lift your hand the head of the cue slows down, the higher you lift it the slower it goes until it stops and then actually comes back toward you. This whole movement is called deceleration and that’s one of the factors that cause speed problems. Remember, keep you hand down and your speed will be much more consistent.
If you put up a St Pete and your opponent puts up a Tampa, the hole between them is called a gauntlet. Now if you can shoot for your normal hide from the outside position go ahead and do it, but if you have to move toward the center and are shooting into the hole you are dead meat. All the opponent has to do is hit you and roll a little either way and he’s hidden, often he’ll put you in the kitchen just for good measure. Don’t shoot into the gauntlet, I don’t know how many times I’ve told people that but they still try it and they still get burned!
Did you ever play organized sports? If you did you probably had a coach somewhere along the line that was very harsh, you learn a lot from those guys, they don’t want to hear what you think or why you tried to do something. I had the good fortune to have one of my early shuffleboard coaches like that, Dick Jenkins. He’d tell me he didn’t want to hear what I thought or what I was trying to do. “This is what you do, now do it”! I learned a lot and really got off to a good start! Dave Stott was a lot the same way; he’d watch you and he’d tell you what you should have done and he’d didn’t always do it in a nice way but if you could stand the chewing out you learned a lot, I learned a lot from Dave. I’ve been tempted to take the same approach with some of my students and some of them will probably tell you I did, but I’m not doing it now, probably because I’m not as passionate about seeing anyone succeed as much right now or maybe my reputation has preceded me and not many players argue with me.
Ever sit down next to an opponent and all he did was carp about his partner. It happens all too often. Sometime when that happens, try this: the next time his partner misses a shot say “your partner really is having a bad day isn’t he” and the next time say “it just isn’t his day” by this time your opponent will be so mad at his partner he won’t be able to hit the broad side of a barn, but he’ll be convinced it’s his partners fault. Just remember, at the end of the match get out of there fast, before the fireworks! I remember Dick Whitmer, he isn’t around any more, he’d get so mad and I’d mentioned this situation to a buddy. By the time he got done with Dick, he’d folded up his cue and went home before the match was over. A couple of years ago I was playing against Joe Messier and my partner was playing against Bobby Z, he doesn’t play anymore either. It was in Lake Worth and Joe was talking to me and Bobby was getting madder by the minute, he kept yelling at Joe not to talk to me because he felt it was unsetting Joe’s game, I kept quiet because I was afraid he was going to get physical with Joe; the more Bobby yelled the worse his game got. At the end of the match he stormed off and left, forgetting to go back to the Motel and get his clothes, he never did get them back!
Earl Ball 2006 08 15.