Sometimes, when you’re playing pool you will step to the table, look at the layout to study and plan your next move and you come up with… nothing! It happens to everyone who plays the game. Fortunately if you’re playing a league match most formats allow 1 time out per rack for each player. I have some thoughts as to how this resource can be utilized for maximum effectiveness.
First and foremost when you find yourself in this situation don’t hesitate to call the time out for yourself. Your team mates and captain may have their attention focused elsewhere or they don’t realize your quagmire. Once you’ve got a team mate to the table make sure they understand your situation if it isn’t obvious. Being hooked and needing a kick route just to avoid giving ball in hand to your opponent is the most frequent time out request I get. If you’re unclear what your coach is suggesting ask him/her to simplify the suggestion as much as possible. Most of the time your coach will be a higher level player and they sometimes will try to coach on their own level and not the level of the player being coached. Get as many details as you can including what, if any, spin to use on the cue ball, angle of the cut or aim point on the 1st rail if it’s a kick shot and how hard/soft the cue ball should be stroked. Cue ball speed is the trickiest part if you don’t have a system. If your coach just tells you to hit it hard or hit it soft ask for the recommended speed as compared to a perfect lag shot. The hit it hard or hit it soft shot descriptions are much too vague to truly be effective. Keep an open mind and trust what your coach is telling you. If you have ideas of your own for the next play present them to your coach for consideration. It may be that you had the idea prior to calling time out and you just wanted some confirmation on your choice. Don’t be afraid to stick to your original choice if that’s the one you have the most confidence in. Your time out time is limited so keep it short and to the point. This is not a time for a lesson. You just need to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Techniques and concepts can be discussed after the match is over. If at all possible, avoid calling on a team mate who is also playing a match on another table. You may not get their best coaching effort and it may throw them off in their own match as well.
When your opponent takes a time out you may consult with a team mate on what your next move may be based on their play. Just watch, wait and discuss with your coach. It may very well save you from using your own time out to come up with a strong response to their coached play. Realize that not all of your time outs are going to be successful in that you will pocket a ball or even get a good hit in complex situations but following these guidelines means that you’re giving it all you got.
Play on Player!