Now that we have agreed that pool is a sport, and that its participants are athletes, how do we go about preparing for competition?
As stated previously, there are three primary categories of training for athletic competition.
The first category is skill work and drills, which add arrows to the quiver by developing shot making skills, speed control, and position play.
The second would be game situation play. In other sports, this is sometimes called scrimmage practice. This would be any game practice you do either with an opponent, or just running balls and racks like playing “The Ghost”. This form of practice develops our game sense and pattern play and helps with situational awareness.
There are many people more qualified to help you with these first two types of practice, and countless articles and videos and books are available to help you develop your practice routines. If you are looking for recommendations on good resource material for this kind of learning and training, please feel free to contact me.
Here we will be looking at the third category, which is physical training.
Before we start designing an exercise routine to help us during competition, it is important to determine the physical demands that competition puts on us. Pool is a game of eye hand coordination requiring great mental focus, delicate accuracy, and sometimes a bit of endurance. The stance and shooting positions are mostly bent at the waste, and the movements required during the stroke are very asymmetrical, which is to say we use the left and right sides of our body very differently. Having said all this, it is probably also important to note that playing pool does not require a great deal of strength or incredible speed. Flexibility however, can be an important component.
Starting to design your fitness routine, you should take all these things into consideration. So, like most other sports, we should design an exercise routine that addresses stretching for flexibility and to keep us loose, general strength to overcome the asymmetrical nature of our game and overcome repetitive motion issues over the long term, core strength to deal with some of the odd positions our shooting stance puts us through repetitively, and cardio vascular exercise which gives us added endurance and regularly oxygenates the brain which helps us by increasing our ability to focus and reduces the mental fatigue of long sessions and keeps us from running out of gas late in tournaments.
So, in designing our exercise routine, we will build our program with our primary focus on cardio vascular endurance, strengthen our core, legs, and back, and include a general strength regiment and basic stretching routine.
As always, before starting a new exercise program, you should consult with your physician to be sure that it doesn’t conflict with any prior existing issues, but having gotten that out of the way, here is a very basic routine designed for pool players. Please keep in mind that this is very general, and based on you present condition, you may need to make alterations to suit your specific needs.
Stretching should be done before any exercise routine whether it be strength focused or cardio vascular or aerobic training. For a basic stretching routine, please see the link
Cardio: Three to six times per week as schedule allows. We want an elevated heart rate of 70% to 80% of your max heart rate as calculated on based on the charts established by the American Heart Association, for twenty to thirty minutes, followed by a cool down period of very light walking or similar movement to allow our heart rate to come down gradually.
Cardio vascular exercise can include, but is not limited to the following:
Running, either outdoors or on a treadmill.
Biking, either outdoors or on an exercise bike or recumbent exercise bike or a spin class.
Stair climbing either on actual stairs or a Stair climbing machine.
Basic strength and core training: Three times per week on non consecutive days, i.e. Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.
Kettle bell swings: 2 sets of 25 repetitions using a 24lb or 26lb kettle bell.
Back hyper-extensions: 2 sets of 15 to 25.
Sit ups: 2 sets of 25. Slight decline if this is too easy, but no more than 30 degrees.
Leg press machine: 3 sets of 10. The last few reps of the last set should be difficult.
Chest press machine or flat bench press: 3 sets of 10
Vertical shoulder press machine: 3 sets of 10.
Lat pull downs: 3 sets of 10.
Triceps press down: 3 sets of 10.
Biceps curl machine or barbell curl: 3 sets of 10.
This is a very basic exercise routine to help get you started. As you progress, you will be able to access your progress and make adjustments as necessary. If you are not familiar with any of these exercises, go to youtube and type the name of the exercise and you will have several fine videos of each of them to choose from.
Please feel free to leave comments below if this was helpful. I sincerely hope that as more players start to realize how big of an impact fitness can have on their pool game, more trainers and coaches will push the importance of regular training and exercise.