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BD House Pro
Tony Robles
A longtime teaching pro at Amsterdam Billiard Club in New York City, Tony has dozens of regional and national titles to his name, including the 2004 BCA Open Championships.

Instruction Articles:
• January 2017
Systems vs Feel

• December 2016
It Happens to the Best

• November 2016
Maintaining Focus

• October 2016
Riding the L

• September 2016
Tips on Tips

• August 2016
The Art of Deflection

• July 2016
Note To Self

• June 2016
Object of Safety Play

• May 2016
Speed Zone

• April 2016
Frozen Ball Shots

• March 2016
Hide and Go Seek

• February 2016
Two-Rail Kicks

• January 2016
Staying Down

• December 2015
One-Rail Kicks

• November 2015
Breaking Bad

• October 2015
Call Shot, Call Safety

• September 2015
Own the Shot

• August 2015
Patterns - Part II

• July 2015
I Notice A Pattern

• June 2015
Two-Way Prt. 2

• May 2015
Two-Way Shots

• April 2015
The Fine Line

• March 2015
Straight Break

• February 2015
The 'Walkaway'

• January 2015
Pushing Your Luck

• October 2014
Walk This Way

• August 2014
Attitude Adjustments

• May 2014
Adapt to the Equipment

• Mar 2014
Turn The Beat Around

• Feb 2014
Straight Is Great

• Sept 2013
Cover the Basics

• June 2013
Getting It Right

• May 2013
Strength Training

• April 2013
Rust Proof?

• March 2013
Not So Fast

• February 2013
Two-Step Jump

• January 2013
Open Your Eyes

• December 2012
Feeling Good?

• November 2012
Hang In There

• October 2012
Back on Track

• September 2012
Straighten Up

• August 2012
On the Rail

• July 2012
Mental Checklists

• June 2012
Respect & Fear

• May 2012
Chin Music

• April 2012
On the Line

• March 2012
Balancing Act

• February 2012
Creative Drilling

• January 2012
Power Outage

• December 2011
Jumping In Line

• November 2011
Soft on Soft Breaking

• October 2011
Find Your Stroke

• September 2011
The Path Off the Rail

• August 2011
Short Position

• July 2011
Inch Along

• June 2011
Into the Unknown

• May 2011
Sharpened Focus

• April 2011
Never Flatline

• March 2011
Stop For A Review

• February 2011
One To Watch

• January 2011
The Straight Answer

• December 2010
Shoot The Lights Out

• November 2010
Never Overmatched

• October 2010
Drawing Conclusions

• August 2010
Along the Rail

• July 2010
The Small Stuff

• June 2010
Three in One

• May 2010
One Ball At a Time

• April 2010
Going Thin to Win

• March 2010
Know Your Game

• February 2010
14.1 For 8-Ballers

• January 2010
Setting It Straight

• December 2009
Hanging Out, Part II

• November 2009
Hanging Out

• October 2009
Control Your Speed

• September 2009
Busting Out of a Slump

• August 2009
Easy Errors, Part III

• July 2009
Easy Errors, Part II

• June 2009
Easy Errors, Part I

• May 2009
Body Language & Breaking

• April 2009
The Break: Body Language

• March 2009
Must-Reads from Robles

• February 2009
Position: Four Square

• January 2009
Romancing the Stance

• October 2008
Look Out for Boingy Rails

• September 2008
Build a Better Break

• August 2008
Q&A: Ask the Pro

• July 2008
'Buzz' Kill: Stay Down

• June 2008
Stop Shots Safeties III

• May 2008
Stop Shots Part II

• April 2008
STOP-SHOT Safeties

• March 2008
How to Keep Winning

• February 2008
The Dreaded Straight-In Shot

• January 2008
Trying the Soft Break

• December 2007
The Hard Way Makes It Easier

• November 2007
How to Sight the Cue

• October 2007
Win from Your Chair

Through & Through
September 2010
I'D BET that a majority of pool players wish they could get to the table more often. Casual league players who play a few times a month probably wish they could practice an extra Tuesday night here and there; more invested students of the game might want to play two hours a night instead of one. Even I find myself wishing I had more time to work on my game.

Between running my tour, giving lessons, traveling to and from events and the rest of my day-to-day responsibilities, I'm always searching for a little extra time to sharpen - or, at a minimum, maintain - my skills. But despite my best efforts, I noticed one area of my game that was deteriorating. I realized that my draw stroke was not where I wanted it to be. I was struggling to execute as I had come to expect, so I refocused myself to strengthen this part of my game.

One way to find a solution to a problem is by experimenting during practice time. For me, I started fooling around with my approach to draw shots. Instead of lining my cue tip directly even with the point of contact on the cue ball during my practice strokes, I kept it really low, just barely above the cloth. As I stroked my cue, I kept the cue tip just a hair above the table. Then, during the delivery of my final stroke, I would raise the tip right before impact (so I wouldn't miscue by hitting too low on the cue ball).

This approach to draw shots is pretty common among Filipino and Taiwanese players, but I had never tried it before. I'd always been taught to keep the cue directly level with the contact point. But during that initial practice session, I was able to get the results I wanted. It was a surprise at first, but now, after working with it for two weeks, I've found that I'm drawing the ball just as I should.

If you want to work on developing a stronger draw stroke, set up the balls as they are in Diagram 1, with the object ball a diamond from the corner and your cue ball another diamond and a half beyond that. Pocket the shot repeatedly, seeing what stroke or what thought pattern or even what feeling results in the most draw on the cue ball.

The point I'm trying to make is that it's OK to experiment when you've got the time. When you have some time to practice, try different things and see what maximizes results and minimizes effort. One hint for your experiments: Bring a little notepad with you to the table, so you can write notes to yourself. These scribbles will help you remember what worked and what can be ignored.