Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th!

Happy Fourth of July everyone! For the folks outside of the USA, the 4th of July is the day we celebrate our independence... the birth of our country. Sadly, it seems like we're losing a lot of that celebrated freedom these days - but this is a pool blog, not a political blog, so I'll stick to the subject at hand.

I haven't posted in a few days, and for good reason. I've been busy with a few personal things, but also received a package in the mail on Friday that also managed to eat up several hours of my time (in a good way!) The Video Encyclopedia of Pool Shots (VEPS) landed in my mailbox Friday afternoon! I got the full set of five DVDs and plan to write about individual DVDs in more detail in future posts, but the first step for me was to power my way through the whole set to get an overview of the content, and here are my initial impressions:

- Seeing the shots on video really adds a lot of value. Being an avid reader, I have to say I've already run across most of the information presented on these videos in excellent books like Byrne's Complete Book of Pool Shots: 350 Moves Every Player Should Know, The 99 Critical Shots in Pool: Everything You Need to Know to Learn and Master the Game (Other), and of course Dr. Dave's own The Illustrated Principles of Pool and Billiards - but seeing the shots actually play out on video adds a new dimension to learning that books simply can't provide.

- There is a TON of information packed into these DVDs. Not only does it add up to nearly 8 hours of video in itself, it's intentionally produced in a high density format designed to be paused, rewound, and replayed (over and over and over again!). It's like having your own personal pool instructor on call 24/7.

- I've seen and/or heard comments from others that they were skipping ahead over Disc I and/or Disc II to purchase Disc III+ presumably because they felt they had a handle on everything covered by Disc I (Basic Shot Making and Position). I'm guessing a good percentage of those folks are underestimating Disc I. The last few sections of that volume cover more advanced topics like combinations, caroms, and billiard shots... and I'll have to say I haven't run across many players particularly skilled in the carom and billiard departments, so those sections alone would probably be worth the price of admission for most people.

- The info can be put to immediate use. I was in an 8-ball tournament at an Independence Day party at a local bar and successfully executed a Ticky Shot (Disc 4, shot 553). I believe I was first introduced to Ticky shots in the Byrne book mentioned above and I've tried them with varying degrees of success in the past... but after recently seeing it on video, I feel I recognized the shot quicker and approached it with more confidence than in the past. I shot it as if it was no big deal, and nailed it. Later in another game, I managed to hook myself behind the opponent's ball along the long rail while trying to get position on the 8-ball. I was left with almost the EXACT situation covered by "The Plus System" (Disc 4, shot 507). The 8-ball was two diamonds from the corner pocket so I really didn't expect to sink it... but I decided to give the Plus System a go even though I had never practiced it and had only seen it twice on video (once while watching the DVD itself and once while watching the preview here). I lined up without hesitation, took the shot, and felt like a friggin' Efren genius getting a good hit on the ball from two rails - knowing that probably 99% of the folks in that room would have opted for a single rail kick with much less chance of sinking the 8-ball (we'll overlook the minor detail that 90% of the folks in the room wouldn't have gotten themselves hooked in the first place!). I didn't win the game... but it was a nice shot for sure and recognized as such by several of the seasoned spectators in attendance.

Now I need to squeeze some time into my schedule to go through these DVDs in more detail!

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