Use this short guide to learn how to choose and organize your drills and create an effective practice routine. Use the fillable PDF’s provided at the bottom of the page to plan and track your practice sessions. Pre-made routines are available at the bottom of the page, but ideally, you should create multiple routines that target specific parts of the game you need to work on and cycle through them.
How to create a practice routine
Pick appropriate drills
In order to plan a practice session, you need a realistic idea your current skill level and choose drills that match it. All the drills on this site have variations rated for beginner, intermediate, and advanced players. Here is a rough idea of what I mean by those levels.
In pool, a beginner is someone who has never had a break and run in any game, or if they have, is very unlikely to do it in any given night. In snooker, a beginner will very rarely make a break of 20 or more.
An intermediate in pool regularly runs out but has trouble stringing racks together. If last time you played for a night you did not have a break and run, you are probably not an intermediate player yet. In snooker, an intermediate likely has a high break of around 50 and regularly makes 30’s.
If you always run out multiple times in a set and frequently run multiple racks at a time, you are an advanced pool player. The equivalent in snooker likely has run a century in competition and routinely puts together frame-winning breaks in the 40’s and 50’s.
These are obviously pretty general categories and most players will find themselves somewhere in between. But they offer some guidance in terms of what drills to pick. If you’re not sure what version of a drill to use, start with the beginner drill and work your way up. The point of drills is consistency and this is how you develop it.
Another aspect of drill selection is specificity. Some drills are more applicable to certain games. If you are primarily a 9 ball player than some of the open table drills may be less effective for you than drills that force you into a certain shot order. For a more in-depth explanation of what drills are right for you, read How to Practice Effectively.
Organize the drills
You want your session to follow a logical sequence that gets your in stroke so you perform at your best while running drills. This involves starting with simple, focusing on stroke, and moving on to more complex patterns and shots. Follow these general guidelines when creating your routine.
Start with stroke drills
This is critical, every single practice session must begin with stroke drills. Start them easy every session to build confidence that you are stroking straight that day. Don’t try firing in power draw shots as soon as you get to the table! Simple up the spots stroking gets your back arm grooved and will improve every aspect of your practice. Spend 5 to 10 minutes on 2 stroke drills to begin practice. I like up the spots for 5 minutes, and stop shots for another 5.
Isolate at the beginning
After making sure you are stroking straight and refining your technique to do so move on to drills that isolate either shot making or positional play. This can mean setting up a specific shot that has been giving you trouble or using a target such as a ball or piece of paper to master a positional route. At this point in your routine, focus on one or the other. Spend 5 minutes mastering a pot (setting it up exactly the same every single time) and then move on to a position drill such as Carom off the Black.
Move on to more complex drills
At this point you should be 10-20 minutes into your routine and, if you have followed the steps so far, your stroke should be dialled in and your cue ball on a string. Now start doing more complex drills that involve more balls. Start with open table drills that give you freedom in positional play (like The Line or Pot Quiz) before moving on to drills that limit your shot choices (like The Zipper or No Rail). Slowly increasing the challenge this way is the best way to keep your focus and make sure you’re shooting better at the end of the session than you did at the beginning. Give each drill 10-20 minutes and work through 3 or 4 to round out an hour-long session. At this point, at the end of your routine, is where just playing some games against yourself and unstructured shooting should go.
A routine should not be static. If you practice diligently you will improve, and your practice must change to reflect that. Set goals for drills and move on to different ones, or more difficult variations of the same drill, once you achieve them. For instance, with The Stop Shot stroke drill, you could have a goal to make 10 in a row from the starting position, and once you have achieved that increase the distance. Planned progression like this keeps you motivated to improve, shows you where you have improved, and keeps you challenged and improving. Use the 50-80% rule outlined in How to Practice Effectively to determine when you should move on from a drill.
Create multiple routines
If you only have time to put in one practice session a week, then a single routine that you slowly make more difficult as described above might be all that you need to keep improving. If, however, you have more time to dedicate to the game, then using multiple routines can keep things fresh and be more effective at improving all aspects of your game.
This can be done any number of ways. If you are a pool player, you might have one routine made up of drills focused on 8 ball, and another focused on 9 ball. A snooker player might have one routine focused on mid-game break building when there are many reds on the table, and another more focused on the end game and clearing the colours. It’s up to you to decide what parts of the game are most important for you to improve, and design a routine that effectively addresses them.
Another type of routine that you can incorporate into your practice, is a challenge routine that you return to every month or so. To do this, pick a set number of drills that you have been working on and give yourself 5 minutes on each of them. If you complete the drill, immediately move on the next one and see how many drills, or cycles of drills, you can complete in an hour. Anything that gives you variety, while still following smart sequencing, will keep you interested and keep you improving.
The final and most important step in creating a routine is to track. Write down your results, every single time you practice. Do it any way you like, a spreadsheet, a chart, paper and pencil, just make sure you do it. I like to mark down a check or an X for each successful or failed attempt at a drill, giving a completion percentage. You can also just mark down how many successful attempts you make in a 20 minute drill. Either way, It holds you accountable, makes you focus, and gives you objective feedback about your level and rate of improvement. Make a habit of recording your results and you will make a habit of getting better. For easy tracking, I’ve made a fillable PDF that links back to all the drills found on the site and lets you enter drill name, time, success rate, and notes.
Click to download
Below are sample beginner routines for pool and snooker, use them and the information provided here as a guide to planning your own sessions. More are being added all the time. Check out the Routines page for a full list of available routines and a point form breakdown of this guide.