Carl Kramer’s View
Well, kids here’s the long-awaited much-anticipated Review of IPAT level 2.
First, let me say that John (our host) and fellow Pool Student and friend Canadian Dave did such a good job of reviewing “Start” and “Level 1”, I needed to bring you some real world experience.
In order to do this, I need to let you know a little about me and most importantly give my warmest thanks to one hell of a guy, Tony Crosby. Thank you for taking the time to do this Tony. In case you don’t know, Tony is a True Professional and runs his own Tour, the K.F. Cue Tour and if you get the chance to play in one of these events take it.
He is known as the “Sniper” which is where the famous Break/Jump cue got its name. Now he’s coming out with an incredible line of playing cues called Concept Cues. I’ve played with his cue and it’s a great cue. Cory Duel is also part of the design team so keep your eyes out for Concept Cues or go to Concept Cues.
Now I’m a lot like you all, I’m an APA SL6. I have been playing pool for around 20 yrs and spend countless hours watching film and studying and practice, practice, practice…and I am still trying to improve. Let me say that I, like you, have scoured the net to find a vast amount of knowledge, but for me “Pool Student’s Blog” is one of the Best.
When I first came across IPAT online I asked what the heck is this? All I saw was names and scores and that it was some kind of ranking system over in Europe. When John got these books I was excited to get started. This training system is really good. It gets you focused on the 2 most critical points of pool, pocketing the object ball and cue ball control!!!
Dave and I started with “Start” and we did really well, scored in the 1000 range, so we were happy but we could see what was in store for us. We then went to “Level 1” but our score dropped quite a bit; still passing, but we knew that this is where we were to stay until we could master it.
Let me say this about IPAT, yes it’s true that it can be slightly confusing due to the translation (but I hear they are going to work on that, thank you) but let’s face it, drills, in general, are quite boring. I mean, did you set it up the same way every time? And you keep doing that same drill over and over and over till when? How do you know you got it right?
IPAT does all this for you, Not only that, but you can train with a friend, and have a Winner and a Winner!!! I like this feature about IPAT. You’re both learning, but someone just gets a higher score.
So I decided to call my buddy Tony Crosby and asked him to take some time out of his busy schedule so I could show him IPAT, which he had only heard about, so I could show you guys on paper that this gets difficult!
I met him at Capone’s Billiards in Spring Hill, FL and I had John act as the examiner, set the shots up for us, and keep score. Dave came too and cheered us on, thinking it would be interesting and informative.
IPAT is set up to work on both “Strong” side and “Weak” side so early on it was clear that I was out gunned, which was no shocker, but I at least wanted to put up a fight. The scores make it clear (Tony 952, Carl 408) that although I may feel I play a great game of pool, IPAT shows you your true level. I mean, the difference in scores for me between Level 1 and 2 cut my score in half!!! Yeah, half!!! Tony just laid it to me, and he’d never even tried this before.
IPAT is a fantastic series of shots and drills that I feel are practical, developmental, and can be fun played with friends. I don’t know of any other program that can make that claim. IPAT can be a big wake up call; it’s tough but it’s all worth it.
Just remember, you may think you’re good and you may clear “Level 1” but you really should master it before you move to “Level 2”. The book says to score 1000 3 times in a row before you move on. I say 5 times.
Anyway keep up the hard work and have fun.
John Biddle’s View
As I hope you gathered from our Review of IPAT “Start” and Level 1, the International Playing Ability Test is a series of exercises and tests designed to work the fundamental parts of your game in a systematic way. Each higher level gets progressively harder and more demanding while continuing to focus on the most important skills in pool.
These skills are controlling the cue ball speed, hitting the ball perfectly straight, pocketing with follow and draw, small area position control, large area position control, shot making using pocketing standard (but far from easy) shots, and in Level 3, banking.
Each increasing level gets progressively harder, so it’s important to use & practice with the appropriate one. IPAT “Start” is for beginners & advanced beginners, IPAT 1 for the advanced club players, IPAT 2 for intermediate to advanced players and IPAT 3 for the professional player.
Each of the books and videos for a given level has a test with 10 exercises, some with sub parts. There is a standard scoring so you not only get to see how you’re doing against others, you can measure your own progress as you work to improve. By covering the full range of skills at every level you’re always testing your ability on all the most important skills.
Level 2 is quite challenging and is appropriate for APA 7s (or equivalent) and above. Level 3 is for people competing at a national or International level. It’s a waste of your time and money to work on a level that’s above your current ability. It will sap your confidence rather than encourage you to excel.
Let me illustrate with a couple of examples. The stroke straightness drill requires you to hit the cue ball straight up and down the 9-foot table passing between two object balls placed 2 balls apart. In L1 you have to send the ball 2 table lengths, going through the gap twice without touching either ball. You need to add another table length and another pass through the gap for L2 and for L3 you have to go 4 full table lengths and pass through the gap 4 times, again w/o hitting the object balls.
The large area position drills have basically the same setup for the different levels. As the level goes up though there are additional balls to make, and a correspondingly smaller area of the table to operate in. The scoring requirements are also substantially higher.
In Carl’s experience with Tony Crosby using Level 2, Carl was one level too high and Tony one too low. Tony’s score would have been much higher if he’d had a chance to see the drills before taking the test. It’s something everyone else gets to do, so thanks Tony for being such a good sport.
On these exercises, Carl had a hard time getting shape for more than a couple balls. Tony was so comfortable he toyed with the drills, completing it twice with totally different patterns. First, he used draw and english for every shot to keep the cue ball in the middle of the table. Then he used follow and multiple rails on every shot to do do it again. He scored perfectly both times.
Each of the videos is well produced, with excellent production values and clear explanations. The exercises are all performed by Thorsten Hohmann and many are also done by European coach Ralph G. Eckert or Germany’s national coach Andreas Huber, the hosts of the video.
My only quibble with these videos other than those mentioned in the previous review, and is a small one. The excellent explanations and demonstrations of draw, english and banking, etc, are on levels higher than they should be. While banking isn’t introduced until Level 3, the explanations of how the various forces of english and speed affect banking angles will already be well understood by the pros for whom the video is intended.
I recommend you buy the book and video appropriate to your skills and get the video for the next level. That way, you’ll be actually working on the most appropriate exercises. You’ll get all the advantages of the explanatory materials and benefit from seeing Thorsten run your drills and the harder versions. Watch and appreciate the great execution and get psyched up to perform your best.
I strongly recommend these books and videos. I believe they’ll help you strengthen your game at a rapid pace if you stick to the program.
Two Views of IPAT ‘Start’ & ‘Level 1’
How to Practice II – Expanding Your Perspective
Interview with Tony Crosby on How to Get Better at Pool
Two Views of Joe Tucker’s 3rd Eye Stroke Trainer
Honesty is the Best Policy
Driving to Excellence at Pool
How to Practice II – Expanding Your Perspective
How to Practice Pool