| by Jim Meador
A teacher is one who shares knowledge, preferably about something he or she loves. A good teacher will admit that knowledge is made of a clay that never hardens. What is assumed true at one moment, may be proven false the next. While the word "assume" has become associated with a weakness in conviction, I have nothing more to offer than assumptions. If that is a weakness, so be it. The only "truths" of which I feel confident, are those based on physics (the laws of nature), and even those convictions could change with new discoveries.
I just love pool, and I have invested thousands of hours over the past 40 years in pursuit of knowledge regarding the game. I want to share my enthusiasm for the game with those who are just beginning their exploration. Maybe that makes me a teacher. If it does not qualify me as a teacher, label my advice the ramblings of an old fool, and seek a teacher in whom you have confidence.
When I "instruct" beginners, I offer the least complicated advice. For example: I do not introduce the effects of throw on aiming, because compensating for throw requires a thinner cut, or the use of outside spin. Since no one can possibly see, with precision, where the cue ball actually contacts the object ball, it is best to encourage the student to use center hits on the cue ball. I allow the student to make "fine tuning" adjustments through practice. Trying to explain how outside english compensates for throw, by causing the cue ball to "roll" off the object ball, also invites an instruction on how side spin changes the angle of rebound from the rail. I want my students to see natural deflection and rebound angles. Compensating with side spin also threatens the shot with squirt and curves that the student may not recognize. If the cue ball curves off the intended path, even slightly, the shot will be missed, and the student may believe his or her aim is off and start trying to correct the wrong thing.
When students are able to make the object ball with confidence, and get a feel for speed, then, and only then should they be introduced to more advanced material. It is not a complicated game, and does not require complex instruction. Overloading students can discourage them. When Mom taught me to walk, she did not explain the dangers, or I'd still be crawling. She gave me the basics, and the courage to face them. I learned the hard way that falling on my face caused a degree of pain relative to the height from which I fell, and the hardness of the surface with which I came into contact.
Many "teachers" like to show students how to use english to achieve all kinds of magical things with the cue ball. These people are usually more interested in showing off than they are in teaching the game. I offer advanced shots in some of the articles, but I also advise against using most of them, especially for novices.
Remember that there are almost always exceptions and conditions that could modify my advice. But falling on your face isn't fatal, even if I cause you to trip. Don't worry about your lack of confidence. Everyone lacks confidence at first, and for some, like me, it never comes easily. Learn the basics from a teacher to shorten the learning curve. But allow your game to be a part of your individual personality by customizing your own techniques. Pool is a science, but it is also an art form. Don't let anyone else paint on your canvas.
Go forth conquer - creatively.
Happy Shooting! Jim