Have you ever felt like no matter how many games you play you just don’t seem to get any better at billiards? What if I told you that if you joined a league you would see big improvements in your game within the first year.
The truth is joining a pool league can be great for meeting new people who have similar interests, learning from stronger players, and challenging yourself in tournament play on a regular basis. These three things will greatly help you to improve your skills on the pool table. Its something about being on a team that gives you the accountability to always push yourself to improve. The league gives you a platform to not only play stronger players to challenge yourself every week but also by meeting new friends who also have a love for billiards will keep the passion alive to stay focused and keep improving. It is harder to give up when it seems like you are seeing no improvement when there is a team behind you to push you every week.
I have played in several pool leagues throughout my years playing and I have learned so much and met so many great people. Let me break down these three things and explain to you how they will improve your skills.
Learn From Better Players
For starters you can only ever really improve by playing stronger players than yourself. If you are always the best in your group of friends, you have no reason to try and improve and are more likely to downplay your games to make your friends feel better. By doing this you are limiting yourself.
I know sometimes it can seem tough to find players who are as interested in the game as much as yourself. That is why there are leagues, they get together people who have similar interests so they can meet and share their experiences with each other. A pool league is no difference, they get together pool players that love the game and want to challenge themselves to improve.
There are all kinds of pool leagues, you will need to simply do a search on google to find them in your local area, for example there may be a BCA League, APA League, or UPA League in a local bar or pool hall near you. When you join a pool league, you get put on a team with other players of different skill levels, and the different teams will play each other each week.
By meeting up with your team every week for your weekly match you are going to get to know not only your team members but the others as well. You will get to learn from them by watching them practice, watching them play, and even by playing them. By watching the matches you can observe how they react to different situations, why they shot that ball instead of the other, why did they play a defense shot instead of offense, and learn tips and techniques by simply asking.
When you just shoot against random people at your local bar or pool hall your competition varies widely. More times than not you will be playing against someone who isn’t very good. Like it or not you learn by watching and playing. If you are always watching and playing players that don’t know what they are doing, you will begin picking up bad habits.
By playing in a pool league every week you are accomplishing everything needed to improve. For one, you are playing consistently every week, second you are playing other players who know how to play some may be at your skill level and some may be better than you. Those are the players you need to watch and play against as they will challenge you the most.
By playing stronger players, you are for one more interested in the game because they are playing against you so you are going to watch what they are doing and trying to figure out why they are doing what they are. These questions are great to be asking as they get you thinking of different possibilities and different ways of reading the table.
When you play stronger player or players you have never played before you may get nervous. Your nerves can ruin your ability to think clearly and shoot at your best. By doing this routinely though you will learn how to deal with your nerves in competitive play. As you get more comfortable playing stronger players and your skills improve you will gain the confidence needed to start entering tournaments.
Tournaments are nothing but glorified league play, if you get a grip on your nerves and are use to playing players that you do not know how good they are going to be, it’s a walk in the park. You are doing this exact same thing every week for pool league.
Think of your weekly league match as a small practice tournament, take it seriously, and play your best. Mistakes will happen but how you react to those can really affect your game. Getting mad over a missed shot and not letting it go can ruin the rest of the game. You cannot think clearly and shoot your next shot if you are still thinking about the last shot that you missed. You need to stay calm and collected, if you miss just be like that sucks but I will not miss next time. That will keep you level-headed throughout each match.
Meet and Create Friends That Also Love Billiards
The only way to ever improve on something is to consistently practice it over and over. If you are the only one in your group of friends that wants to improve at pool you are likely to give up after a couple weeks or months. By joining a pool league, you are able to meet and create friends that also want to improve their skills and will be there beside you holding each other accountable and challenging each other along the way.
This is by far the most undervalued reasons that joining a league will help you to improve. By building a network of friends that all have the same interests in billiards, and all want to improve and can by getting together weekly and sharing their experiences and knowledge to help and challenge each other.
Every year more and more players are joining leagues which means new competition to challenge you and new friends to be made. This keeps league interesting and is one of the biggest reasons why I will continue to play in one. It gives me something to do to get out of the house and have fun and meet new people.
If you are interested or thinking about joining a league, I recommend you give it a try as there are so many benefits, from improving your skills, to making new friends. These are the links to some pool leagues so you can sign-up if you want too.
- APA (American Poolplayers Association)
- TAP (Pool’s Amateur Tour)
- BCA (Billiard Congress of America) & CSI (Cue Sports International)
- BCAPL (Billiard Congress of America Pool League)
- USAPL (United States of America Pool League)
- VNEA (Valley National 8-Ball League Association)
- UPA (United States Professional Poolplayers Association)