By NYC Grind Contributor, Mark Finkelstein
The pool world got some bad news last night that Grady Mathews, one of the legends of our game, has died. *I am truly saddened by our loss. *We have lost a great player, a man with the heart of a lion, nerves of steel, and just a damn nice guy to know. *I am glad our paths had crossed over the years, and I am a better person for knowing him. *I hear you are giving God the 8 and you’re the favorite!
I wanted to share with our readers a kicking system that I learned from Grady, probably 40 years ago, that I still use and teach today.* I think you will all like this system and use it.* Please think of Grady and say ‘thank you’ when you do. *Rest in Peace Grady, I miss you.
Grady Mathews in the 2009 World 14.1 Tournament (Photo by Alison M. Fischer)
This kicking system works when the cue ball and the object ball are both on the long rail. I will demonstrate the system from the side pocket to the corner pocket, but this system works between any points.
One note here on English, we are using tips as a measurement, and moving out on the equator of the cue ball. So one tip right spin is one tip from the center of the cue ball on the equator.
Take a look at the first diagram. The problem is to kick in the 8 ball.
Grady Mathews Tribute: Diagram 1
To make this shot, we find the half way point, in this case 2 diamonds, and use a medium speed, no English hit, just a little above the center of the cue ball. Make sure that you are aiming at the diamond and not opposite the diamond. Once you find the “medium speed” for your table that gets the ball to go in, you will be dialed in.
Now if this diamond is blocked, we can go to what I call the plus one system. We find the half way point and move plus one diamond towards the cue ball. We use two tips of right spin, and again, aim through the diamond. Here is what it looks like on the table.
Grady Mathews Tribute: Diagram 2
Notice how we are one diamond up from the half way point! This works even when the balls are only a diamond or so apart! Find the half way point and add one diamond to that position. Use 2 tips of right English with your tables medium speed.
Now what do we do if this path is blocked? Look at the diagram again.
Grady Mathews Tribute: Diagram 3
We find the half way point of the two balls, move one half diamond towards the cue ball and use one tip of right English, medium speed to get to the corner! Wait, there is more for you! What if this path is blocked?
Grady Mathews Tribute: Diagram 4
Here we find the half way point and move one half diamond away from the cue ball. We us center ball, left English and a firmer hit. You may have to adjust the firmness of the hit to find the right speed on this shot, but once you have the speed down, these are easy as well.
Okay, now what if that spot is blocked?
Look at this diagram.
Grady Mathews Tribute: Diagram 5
What we do here is find the half way point, and then add one diamond away from the cue ball. We use 2 or so tips of left spin with a firm stroke. This will choke the cue balls angle off the rail and bring you right to the corner pocket again! Pure magic, Grady!
So now what do we do if that is blocked? Well here is the answer.
Grady Mathews Tribute: Diagram 6
MENTAL TRAINING TIP
This week I want to use something from Jason Selk, the author of the book, “Executive Toughness” and mental training coach for the St. Louis Cardinals. Remember back a few months ago when I asked you to write down all the things you say to yourself during the course of a pool match? Well, my guess is that a lot of your self chatter is negative and problem focused. “I can’t play… I can’t beat this guy, I…” you fill in the blank.
What I want you to do this week is add a tool to your mental arsenal. That tool is Relentless Solution Focus, and it is taken from Jason Selk’s book. (A real good read for you serious pool players out there).
Basically what this does is take your mind away from problems, and start relentlessly looking for solutions. So instead of saying, “I can’t beat this girl,” which is problem focused, let’s switch to a solution focus; “let me try playing tighter safeties to see how see can handle it”. If that doesn’t work, look for another solution.
The key point here is that you are not wallowing in your own self pity and negativity, but actively looking for ways to solve your problems. Over time, you will develop this RSF approach to your pool game, and become a feared competitor. One that doesn’t lay down and quit because of a bad roll, but one that always has a solution to what ever problem they face. As Tony Robles says, “That’s Strong!”
See you on the road.
Mark Finkelstein is the House Pro at Slate Billiards on 21st Street in Manhattan.
If you have questions, or would like to see a particular topic addressed, you can email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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