Play Your Best Pool:What Is the Fastest Way to Improve Your Game?

Johnny Henson, Professor Pool

Players are always looking for ways to improve their games. How many players try to improve their game is by asking other players for tips, buying books, a new cue, a new tip, or watching videos on the internet. None of these really help most players improve their skills over time. The reason that most players’ games never reach their full potential is not always due to lack of effort, desire, or equipment. It is usually a lack of proper instruction by a qualified professional billiard instructor. If a person wanted to become a better player at baseball, tennis, or golf, that person would hire or work with a coach or instructor in those sports. Fewer than 3% of all players who play pool or billiards ever have a lesson with a true professional billiard instructor in their lifetime.

I am sharing my story to encourage readers to not make the same mistake I made years ago. In 1988 when I was 28 years old, Bill Meachum, the 5th ranked player in the world, told me that he would rank me as one of the top 75 players in the world at that time. He said if I would call and work with his professional instructor, that I could become one of the top players in the world within a short period of time. My pride and ego never allowed me to call Bill Mitchum’s instructor. Even though I have won over 500 amateur tournaments, many of my flaws were never truly corrected until I went to a billiard school in 2006 at age 47. I was taught by a professional instructor in order to become a professional instructor myself. My stroke on film after winning hundreds of tournaments, was only 51% out of a possible 100% on that first day of that billiard school. This is the reason why all professional pool players on tour work with a professional instructor their entire career, with no exceptions.

Most players’ games and skill level can improve in a short period of time with proper instruction from a qualified professional. Your skill can improve more in 90 days, with proper instruction, than it will in 5 or 10 years, being self taught. There are two main mistakes that most players make when trying to improve their game. The first mistake is not hiring a professional instructor to help them improve their game. The second mistake is not thinking the first mistake was a mistake. Most players going to a three-day seminar say that their expectations for the entire course were exceeded on the first day. Students come into day one with an average stroke graded on video of less than 25% correct and leave three days later with a stroke of 90% or greater out of a possible 100%. Keep in mind that a bad stroke is responsible for 75% or more of all missed shots. A player will never have a quality stroke without instruction. This is because most players really don’t know what they are doing wrong, or how to correct it.

If you could truly teach yourself how to play better, you would have already done it. It’s been said: “He who teaches himself deceives himself.” When you work with a PBIA or ACS certified professional instructor, you may realize how much time you have wasted by trying to learn from a book, video, or tips from other players. When you hire a professional instructor to help you, you can eliminate many flaws and take your game to a higher level in a short period of time. As you play better, the game will become more fun and enjoyable. Helping students improve their games is the joy I get out of being a professional billiard instructor. If you have a desire to play better, consider working with a true professional instructor and going to a billard school.

Let me know if this helped you.

Johnny Henson, Professor Pool, and Steve Farmer are both PBIA and ACS certified instructors. If you have questions, email me at [email protected] or call 623-377-0042. Visit our website at