Black Belt Billiards
A Book of Shots, Drills, Patterns, Opinions, Kataís and Koanís To Improve Your Game

Progressive Nine Ball

Steven W. Campana, author of Black Belt Billiards, has copyrighted the guidelines for Progressive Nine Ball, however he has placed no restrictions on their use provided proper acknowledgement is given to the author.

OVERVIEW:

I believe that drills practiced with an objective and with focus are beneficial to improving oneís skills. However, the ability to solve and execute successfully the randomness of the patterns that will present themselves in eight ball and nine-ball cannot be overlooked. If one were to practice drills exclusively they might become great at executing drills successfully but may not experience success in competition. Not unlike the so-called driving range pro who cannot take their game to the course.

Accordingly, random pattern play must be part of oneís practice routine. The following game intends to introduce random pattern play into the practice routine and at the same time provide a means for the player to track their progress.

In addition, as you will see, the game lends itself to a training concept known as threshold training. That is, the player will find that the majority of the number of games played will be just at or one ball beyond their current run-out ability. In my opinion training at the threshold level is an area that needs to receive attention to continue to make those small incremental steps in improvement. In other words, if a personís current run-out ability is five balls they will receive more benefit from practicing their run-outs using five or six balls on the table than they will by throwing nine balls out on the table.

Another benefit is that you must bear down in those early games with only a few balls on the table. This is similar to a match where sometimes there is a tendency to take the first few games of a match lightly. The first game counts the same as the hill/hill game. Another element of the game that I like is that once you hit your threshold the darn GHOST can come roaring back on you. I believe this adds pressure and excitement to your solo practice, as you must bear down and accept the challenge of getting as far as you can before the set is over.

THE GAME:

The game consists of a race to nine games with an imaginary opponent known as THE GHOST.

Start game one with one ball on the table and ball in hand. If you pocket the ball you score 1 game.

The second game starts with two balls on the table and ball in hand. If you pocket both balls in rotation successfully you now have two games. If you fail to pocket both balls the ghost scores one and you start the next game with two balls on the table.

After you successfully pocket two balls the next game starts with three balls on the table and ball in hand.

After you successfully pocket three balls in rotation, the next game starts with four balls on the table and ball in hand, etc.

This continues until either you or the ghost gets to nine games.

Note - At the start of each game the balls should be spread randomly on the table with no two balls tied up. You should review the randomness of the pattern before you begin and should be confident that the table is runable. This will help you start to learn to read the entire table before you start. Many times there is one key sequence in the rack that must be solved in order to successfully run-out. Any time you fail to run out the next game starts with the same number of balls as the last game.

BENEFITS

Progressive nine-ball allows the player to find their current skill level as the majority of the games will be played within the players current run-out range. That is the number of balls on the table for the final games will represent the playerís current threshold in run out capability.

MEASURING IMPROVEMENT

It is my opinion that each ball you can add before the ghost gets to nine represents an approximate 10% improvement in your run out ability.

FOR ADVANCED PLAYERS

If you are able to beat the ghost in a race to nine more than 50% of the time starting with one ball on the table for the first game then start the first game with two balls on the table and progress from there. You want to find the level where you are beating the ghost 50% of the time. Once you do that starting with two balls on the table start the first game with three balls on the table etc.

It is my opinion that each ball you can add to start the first game and consistently beat the ghost in a race to nine represents an approximate 15% improvement in your run out ability.

If you have any suggestions or comments on these guidelines, please email me at steve@blackbeltbilliards.net


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