Let’s face it… Learning to use those „dots on the rails“ can be daunting at times, and other times down right frightening.
In this short article, I’ll give the beginner to amateur level player a few tips to follow in their quest to become proficient in the pool and billiards diamond system.
Tip #1: Master the fundamentals of the game first
Like in any other skills it’s always easier to learn the correct way at the beginning than try to unlearn bad habits after they have been acquired. You may have heard the saying, „Bend the tree while it is still young“.
The point here is that if you develop bad techniques and mechanics when first learning pool this could adversely affect your effectiveness later in using diamond systems. Also there is little use in tackling ‘Pool 202’ when you haven’t mastered ‘Pool 101’.
Tip #2: Using diamond systems can enhance natural instinct
There are many pool players who will argue that all you need is a ‘feel’ for the ball and you can forget any math or physics as applied to the game. These players can apparently make their shots without reverting to any ‘diamond systems’ and calculation and so experience is more important than learning some ‘trick’.
The only problem with this approach is that when such players are having a bad day then they have nothing to resort to.
This is not to say that feel and intuition have no part in the game, but pool follows physical laws that the systems try to simplify for the pool player. Terms such as ‘hard’ and ‘soft’, ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ are of course imprecise and would mean different actual speeds (meters per second) for different players.
Tip #3: Take 5 minutes and learn the table in front of you
As mentioned before, because diamond systems by their very nature are more involved, you want to have a perfect and predictable table as possible. Unfortunately, each table will have their own particularities that you must compensate for in your shots.
This takes us back to the argument of intuition versus systems because if you’ve practiced all your game on one table you may have problems with your shots just being a little off on another table. Your ‘feel’ may be on spot but the table is not being kind to you.
You must then carry out some simple exercises to test the rubber, cushion, level of table, bad spots and whether the table is playing long or short. Simple things such as if the cue ball is dirty or new can significantly affect your game.
If there is any inconsistency in the table then small mistakes will become magnified and your shots will be off.
Tip #4: Learn the proper english to use with diamond systems
English is often defined in tips, such as in ‘one tip of running english’. The only problem here is that different cues have different sizes and curvature of tips; so one tip to the left of center for a 13mm cue tip will be very different for a 12mm tip.
The point here is that ‘tip’ is not a fair measurement against the cue ball because different cue sticks have different size tips.
Tip #5: Learn the right speed to use with diamond systems.
In simple optics, the angle that light strikes a plane (flat) mirror at is the same angle that it will reflect at. In pool a rebounding ball approaches this same principle (assuming no spin) except that whereas the light doesn’t physically affect the mirror the ball compresses the cushion adding another factor to take into consideration.
As a rule of thumb the faster the ball hits the cushion the [smaller] the angle that it leaves the cushion. To get a feel for how this changes with speed of the ball will require constant practice.
This behavior of the ball is a little counter-intuitive so it takes some ‘getting use to’ which is the whole purpose of trying different speeds of the ball off the cushion and experiencing for yourself the difference in the rebound track line.
Now that was some food for thought.
In my next article I’ll share with you an additional series of tips, that if studied further will guide you to a greater understanding of using diamond systems in pool and billiards.