Personal Philosophy concerning Basic Fundamentals

January 15, 2015

My approach to teaching Basic Fundamentals is lightly different than the traditional way. I believe that there should be a balance between learning physical skills with mental and emotional skills. At every level, how you think is directly related to how you will perform, according to your skill level.
The 3 most important ingredients needed to improve at any pool game are:
1) Desire – wanting to play well and wanting to learn.
2) Confidence – belief in yourself and in the correctness of what you are learning and doing. Ultimately we are all striving for the highest level of control. The beginner wishes to enjoy the game more. Their enjoyment increases as they are able to pocket more balls and experience periodic planned control of the cue ball. As control increases their main goal shifts from enjoyment to performance. When this metamorphosis happens the player’s confidence increases as well. My goal as a teacher is to “help the student learn” as opposed to “telling them what to do”. Consistent with this philosophy is the idea that every student deserves to know why. Their confidence in what they are learning is dependent on their belief that what they are being told and/or shown is correct. When the teacher explains why the information is right, that gives the student confidence to trust it.
3) Commitment – spending quality time practicing what you’ve learned until it becomes part of who you are (habit).
The importance of good physical fundamentals is paramount. The best professionals can trust their stroke to do the job properly because they have spent their life developing the physical skills that will give them a good stroke. The beginner, however, must spend all of their time building these new physical fundamentals into unconscious good habits. There are only 4 steps to take in order to improve.
1) Learn what these good habits are
2) Trust them
3) Practice them
4) Repeat Steps 1, 2 & 3
Learning too much information at one time can be self-defeating. Have patience and try not to learn more than you can practice in the immediate future. Few skills practiced well are far better than many skills practiced poorly. Focus on just a few specific skills at one time. If that is still too much for you then only focus on 1 or 2 new skills at a time. Patience will be your most valuable skill in learning to play pool well. The most common mistake students make is wanting to become better too quickly. Their burning focus on results hinders their ability to build better habits by decreasing their focus on the new skills recently learned. Concentrate on improving each newly learned skill. Learn from every shot you try and refrain from wanting to judge yourself too early. Enjoy and trust the process as it is the key to your future improvement.
Style is personal and should be dependent on personal desires, body makeup, and physical limitations. This is proven correct by the fact that there are many great champions around the world who have very different, yet seemingly equally effective styles. However after hearing and seeing the logic concerning balance, stance, grip, bridge, set up, and stroke, my students generally choose some variation of the classic Open Stance and Pendulum Stroke. Like any other sport there are basic principles of playing pool that, if followed exactly, can produce the quickest and most effective results. When stroking your cue stick the logical goal is to send the cue ball on a predetermined path to, either pocket a ball, or move an object ball into a safe position. It is easier for the cue ball to do so if it travels in a straight line. You can stroke the cue stick through the cue ball more accurately when the cue stick travels towards the cue ball in a straight and level manner. A pendulum stroke is the most effective way of accomplishing this because there a few moving parts and the pendulum motion creates a consistent, straight, fluid, accurate, and repeatable cueing action.
In some of my future articles I will talk about each of the fundamentals separately and in depth. These fundamentals will include, but are not limited to: Stance, grip, bridge, set up, balance, stroke, etc.
I hope this has been helpful!
By the way, I am still offering a FREE online analysis to anyone who would like to send me a video of yourself playing pool for 5-15 minutes. Just check out my web site and click on the Coaching section to find out how. You could also just contact me at or call me at 1-587-580-7665. I am leaving for China next week to compete in the Chinese 8 Ball World Championships. Wish me luck!!
Enjoy the Process!
Paul Potier