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Tournament Preparation before match play by Kenny Ash









  • Brush your table before playing.
    Sometimes I'll even go ask for a brush for a table and am happy to do it myseslf. Remeber a lot of people have played previously on the equipment, which in turn means - a good chance that a lot of chalk & dirt, and human stuff has accumulated over time. Ultimately the little things can come into play when you least expect it (ie slow shots), so why not give yourself the best chance and start with a clean slate? =)

  • Check the type of Cloth you are using
    There are a few common variations of cloth - faster cloth typically is Simonis 760 - While 860 offers a nice speed/durability over time. (There's a few new brands out there as well!) The way the cue balls roll speed can dramatically change going from Simonis to what we call "Rug" cloth - or thick cloth that termendously slows down the roll of the cue balll. Understanding the cloth you are using should help you choose what kind of shots are going to be easiset on the given cloth.

  • Check out your pockets (Size, Shelf, Style)
    Pocket SIze - Take two balls and see if they fit into the corner pocket - and how deep they go and if there is any additional space besides the 2 balls (ie maybe a finger of space?) if so - these are what we usually refer to as "Bucket" pockets - pretty easy for the ball to go in

    Pocket Shelf - Examine how deep your corner pocket goes - are the sides of the corner pocket rails also deep or shallow? Also very important to assess the general use - are these pockets slighlty curved now from so much play? These variables - and being aware of them can tremendously help during a match.

  • Check the style of pocket (Ball Return? or Catch Pocket?)
    Catch Pockets
    are usually of concern for me in not wanting to overfill the pocket - sometimes 1 ball in a pocket is just as bad as 4 to 6 balls in a pocket....

    This typically comes into play when doing an aggressive shot that requires force and when you least expect it - the ball you just pocketed kicks right back out....

    So if you are going to shoot hard shots at "Catch Pockets" be aware of how many balls are in the given target pocket to avoid unexpected ball returns to the table.

  • Check the Rails via "The Bounce Test"
    It's always a good idea to know your equipment. I like to do a quick check of the rails by taking a ball and playing basketball with my hand at medium hard speed while walking around the table getting approx 4-5 bounces off each rail distance to get a "general feel".

    You will often notice and audible "THUD" while doing this test. This can help a lot during play if you are aware of a uneven (dead) rail. You can do this in less than 30 seconds fairly easily - well worth the information in my opinion.

  • If permitted, always make time for table practice before a match
    You typically perform your best when you are familiar with the equipment your are playing on. Things like different cloth speeds, Cue Ball Variations, Rails and Pocket Sizes make it worthwhile to spend a little time (when possible) practicing a few racks on the table you are about to play a match on. I also like to do some slow shots down/across table to see if there is any drift as well as Hard stroking shots to make understand the pocket receptiveness to the shot.

  • Check the spacing around the table for things like walls, fixed chairs, counters
    You definitely want to be aware of your surroundings (things that will either get in the way of a stroke - or close tables that will slow down your speed of play). I like to walk around the outer edge of the table with my tip tracing an outside line around the table to see if the butt of my cue is running into anything that I may want to be aware of.... Additionally, when you are aware of things like this - you can use them occasionally as a tactical advantage by putting your opponent in these positions that are more challenging due to environment.