Like Music to my Ears

By Samm Diep © March 2010

Samm Diep

As you read these words, think your favorite song. Now, close your eyes for a moment and relish that melody you love so much. Is it a love song or a rock or classical piece? It doesn’t matter. Just feel it and really listen to it in your mind. As it gets to your favorite part, think about all the individual pieces coming together to make this song so perfect.

Can you hear the steady drumbeat building up to a thrilling crescendo? Don’t forget the hot guitar lick that jumps in just at the right moment. Now, listen for the ominous strings creeping in for that haunting touch. Oh, and what about the vocals? Could you imagine a better person belting out such tender lyrics? All of these elements combined are what make your favorite song so brilliant. All those little touches together are what made you take the needle back over and over again until your parents eventually hid the record from you.

Now, let’s dissect all these individual moving parts and relate them to our pool mechanics. The anatomy of a song consists of these main parts: verses, the refrain, and the chorus.

The verses tell the story. They set the tone for the whole song and precede the refrain and chorus. Think of the verses as our bridge, stance, and warm-up strokes. Determine where you are aiming and check your tip position for the spin you’ll be applying. Each verse may vary slightly based on the situation. The verse is building up for the chorus to come by establishing our alignment and preparing to pull the trigger.

Next is the refrain which is just a couple repeated lines at the end of each verse which lead up to the chorus. The refrain would be that final breath you take as you complete your warm-up strokes and refocus your eyes back to that spot on the object ball again. If you study the pros, their refrain is very distinct. You can always tell when they’re about to pull the trigger. They complete their warm-up strokes, everything comes together, they cue right up to the cue ball, and fire.

When you’re ready to pull the trigger, this is the chorus we’ve been waiting for. The chorus is where the main theme and often the title are expressed in a song. It’s the melody that we’re humming for days after we hear a song that we like. Typically, it completes the song. Your verses and refrain lead you to this moment. Make your chorus count. Bring that stroke back smoothly and with control. Sing a chorus that you will want to remember and repeat.

Though your verses may vary based on what the shot requires, your refrain and chorus come together to make the shot. Of course, there are extra parts to the anatomy of a song and to our pool game. However, just like a beautiful piece of music, your pool game can’t come together without each of these integral parts. Develop and strengthen all of them and play your favorite song at the table.

Visit “random smatterings of pool thoughts, articles, & news”. Take polls, view article archives, and read tournament and training updates.

Samm Diep, “Cherry Bomb”

House Pro at Rack ‘Em Billiards (Aurora, CO)

Author of “You Might Be A D Player If… (101 Classic Moves That All Pool Players Can Appreciate)”

Player Representative for CB Custom Cues, Tiger Products,  PoolDawg, IB Cue Cases, Predator (fun & unique products for pool players)

You Get What You Give

By Samm Diep © November 2009

Samm Diep

Samm Diep

How do you prepare for a big event? Are you the “Cram-Practicer”? You know the player that rarely practices and thinks that if they play 10 hours a day for the week leading up to the tournament that it will actually make a difference. Are you the “League Player”? That’s the player that only plays three nights a week, their three league matches, and believes somehow that will count towards a balanced practice. Or, are you the “Steady Practicer”? This is the student that spends hours a day in the poolroom shooting drills and learning new things. They work hard and are realistic about their expectations.

Ever heard the song lyric, “We only get what we give?” (“You Get What You Give” by the New Radicals, circa 1999) How true, and what a novel concept. What we get from pool and from our performance depends on how much effort we give to it. If we don’t practice, we can’t expect to play consistently. If we keep working hard and competing regularly, we will ultimately win more matches. We eventually get what we give.

World Champions Ralf Souquet, Mika Immonen and Thorsten Hohmann are perpetual students of the game. At their level, it would be so easy to relax and lighten their practice load. Besides, they’ve earned it, right? They have won numerous titles and prizes. They can shoot any shot and they fear no one. They should be allowed to take a break from their practice, right?

On the contrary, they are three prefect examples of getting from the game what they give. Regardless of the countless notches on their belts, they continue to practice between tournaments and in between matches. They understand the importance of tournament preparation, even at their level. To them, “giving” not only includes their time on the table but it also includes maintaining good active health. They are athletes and their training encompasses mental, strategic, as well as physical conditioning.

At tournaments of all sizes, whenever there is an open practice table, one of the first players to jump on it is former US Open Champion, Shane Van Boening. He is always hitting balls. Whenever he’s not in competing and he has a free moment before his next match, he’s at the table. A lesser player may wonder, “Why would someone like Shane need to practice so much? He’s already a champion.” Obviously, this is not a new concept for him. That is how he became the great player that we see today. He understands the value of practice and what he gets out of it.

In the words of the great Malcom Gladwell (author of Outliers), “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.” The greatest players didn’t get where they are by chance. They gave and gave to the game and in turn, they reap the benefits.

Please be sure to visit “random smatterings of pool thoughts, articles, & news”. You can take polls, view article archives, and read tournament and training updates.

Samm Diep, “Cherry Bomb”

House Pro at Mile Nine & Rack ‘Em Billiards (Aurora, CO)

Author of “You Might Be A D Player If… (101 Classic Moves That All Pool Players Can Appreciate)”


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“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good,” Malcom Gladwell (Outliers)