I started playing pool in my teens. I studied, I practiced, I competed, and then I took 10 years off to raise my family. I picked my cues back up about 7 months ago and some weird stuff was happening. First, I was getting a TON of feedback from my community: “Your fundamentals are perfect. Your stroke is beautiful! Once your mental game catches up, you’ll be unstoppable.” Okay. I just need a new brain. Super easy. Now where to find...
While I know my community is behind me, it’s difficult to work with feedback like this because it’s nebulous and there’s no concrete advice for corrective action. To me, missing makeable shots regularly, not running runnable tables, and going home feeling defeated every time I head out to compete is certainly not doing my “mental game” any favors—it’s likely just making me feel worse about my abilities, which just makes me miss more shots and lose more matches that I should have won. But here is where the story gets SO much better…
I met Samm many years ago before my hiatus when I was an active pool player in Denver. I took a lesson with her once and even attended a local clinic during which she was a guest teacher. When I started playing pool at Felt in Englewood in 2022 and was wallowing in my own self-pity, I saw her face up on the wall and I thought, “Before you give your cues away to the guy on the corner, call Samm. You may be beyond help, but at least she will give you some solid and candid advice.”
I met with her four days ago on Tuesday. The good news? I don’t, in fact, need a new brain. What I DID need was to fix my grip on my cue, the length of my bridge, and my elbow from resembling what she gently called a “chicken wing.” Samm gave me concrete exercises to retrain my brain to make these three minor adjustments in the way I handle my cue, all neatly packaged in bite sized bits that were easy to digest, and even easier to put into practice (plus there’s a rhyme to help me remember—a lovely touch). I walked away with videos of what it should look and feel like, with a study plan, with concrete goals and exercises to do at home on my table to achieve those goals.
Four days later, I can report something that is nothing short of miraculous. After following her guidance, my shot percentage is up by nearly 50%. Read that again. I am making almost TWICE as many shots as I did five days ago on Monday. After just two hours with Samm.
It may sound funny, but you can think of Samm like a personal miracle worker. She is methodical, deliberate, focused, and committed to seeing me reach my potential as a billiards player. She has faith in me when I don’t have it in myself and best of all, she has a lovely sense of humor, and makes it so much fun to do the work. I’m so incredibly thankful for the gifts that Samm shares with students like me. It’s for the first time in decades that I feel inspired and capable. While I still have a long way to go, I honestly can’t stop marveling at my shot making ability that happened literally overnight.
Samm is what we are all missing when we rely only on our own personal methods and nebulous, but well-meaning advice. It is without reservation that I recommend her as a teacher of this inspiring, heart-breaking, passionate, maddening game we love called pool. I'm already looking forward to my next lesson.