10 Lesser-Known Benefits of Playing Billiards
By Phill Williams
09th Mar, 2023, 7 min read
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Billiards is a pub classic, beloved by millions across the globe. More than just a simple tabletop game, billiards tables can be found in a wide variety of places, including bars, youth halls, senior centers, and holiday resorts. Not only is the game widely appreciated, but there is also a lack of discrimination when it comes to those playing the game. Players of all ages and skill levels can participate and enjoy the game.
The object of the game is simple. Using the cue ball (the white ball), pocket the colored billiard balls (numbered) in a certain order before your opponent into any of the six pockets. If a player misses a shot, then they forfeit their next turn to the opponent until someone wins the match.
Though the rules themselves are fairly simple, the application of skill, coordination, and mildly physical element of the game adds to its competitive nature.
As any pool player would know, the game is both mentally and physically demanding. From the spectator's perspective, the game may not seem like a physically taxing game, but that's far from true. Bending your body in different positions, keeping your hands dead stable while generating powerful strokes are unique to Billiards.
This fun game offers a host of mental and physical benefits, which we've highlighted below.
1. Social Interaction
It is easy to get alienated in today's society. With communication occurring more often over text message then in face to face and high demands on our time taking us away from the smaller luxuries of social interaction, many adults suffer from loneliness (mind.org, 2019).
But loneliness doesn't just affect the working class but also people in care homes and residential housing. Often unable to move around as their youth, more and more seniors are becoming stagnant in their daily lives.
Loneliness is a condition that festers on itself and breeds other mental health issues such as depression. A vicious spiral, it is best-combated head-on and billiards is a great way of doing that.
As the activity encourages natural social interaction with your competitors and even the crowd gathered watching, it is a great confidence and emotional boost, something which everyone can try their hand in. Even when viewed as a spectator sport for those less able, the infectious joy of rooting for one's friend or teammate to win is a gratifying pastime, sure to beat away the blues.
2. The Pubs Version of Yoga
We've all seen the footage of the professional snooker player bent chest to the table, reaching along its length with the cue stick. Whilst some might question the wisdom of a certain shot, there is no denying that billiards, pool, and snooker all have one encourageable trait in common – the need for stretching.
Whether you are conscious of it or not, due to the very nature of the game and how to strike the ball, you will often find yourself in a variety of almost yoga-like poses as you stretch arms and back in order to reach your goal.
We all know the benefits of exercise and the need for more of it, and what better way of accomplishing that daily niggle for activity. And the great thing is, it won't even feel like exercise – just fun!
3. Intense Brain Workout
Billiards is one of those games that seems to have it all. Hand to eye coordination, math skills, and decision making...the list goes on. Adults and children alike need to constantly work their brain developing strategies to out beat the competitor.
The game requires a great deal of planning and awareness of the rest of the balls on the table. You don't need just to pocket the target ball but also place the cue ball in such a way that it makes it easy for you to pocket the next ball or makes it difficult for the competitor to do so.
As it is a game that is ever-changing and cannot be won on repetitive action or base strategy, it encourages people to think outside of the proverbial box and take charge of their actions.
4. Teaches you real-life Geometry
The pool is a game of angle and spin. You need to hit the ball target balls at the precise angle with just the right speed to land it in the right pocket. Similarly, hitting the cue ball at different sections results in different reactions. Hitting at the center of the cue ball sends the ball straight while hitting at the center-right results in the left-side spin.
For each shot, you need to make calculations taking into account the distance and position of other balls and hit the cue ball in such a way that it hits the target ball at the required angle.
Additionally, you can also use the side/foot rails to pocket the target ball. It's a simple physics - ball hitting the rails at a certain angle will rebound off at a similar angle provided there is no spin. Taking into account this simple calculation gives you additional mobility to hit hard to reach balls.
5. Good Exercise
The pool is not a game where you're going to burn a lot of calories. You burn roughly 110 calories/hour playing billiards. In contrast, walking for an hour, you burn anywhere from 200 to 250 calories per hour while playing Ping Pong you burn up to 250 calories/hour. For this reason, a lot of players you see are not in the best shape, but that's a good thing, right? Any player, whether thin or fat, can participate in the game.
But this doesn't mean billiards isn't physically beneficial. You build excellent muscle agility, power, and it's good for your joints. Also, the game is great for anyone who suffers from backache. The stance you take while playing is both soothing and therapeutic, giving you pain relief.
6. Low Risk
Have you seen anyone getting hurt while playing billiards? I bet none and the chances of that happening are like one in a million. Being a table sport as well as a gentleman's game, there is no risk of injury, unlike other contact sports.
Occasionally someone may get hurt from the cue stick of the player or some oddball bouncing off the table and hitting someone, but that's rare.
So, if you're looking for a risk-free game to enroll your kids into, billiards is definitely worth considering.
7. Life Skills
Billiards is always known as gentlemen's game. Etiquette and discipline are the two most essential values in billiards; something, especially the kids can surely benefit from. You learn to give due respect to the opponent, accept the result, and to be decisive at critical points. The game promotes honesty, appreciating the opponent, patience, and critical thinking.
All these values are quintessential life skills, which will surely help you lead a better life.
8. Gets You Away From the Computer
A lot of us are guilty of spending too much time in front of our phones and screens. With communication instantaneous via our digital devices, it can often be hard to switch off and focus on the things that really matter – such as family time and friends.
Unfortunately, this is something we are passing on to our children, which is affecting their focus. With conditions such as ADHD on the rise and impacting up to 11% of American Children (ADDitude, 2019), it's more important than ever to find activities that can engage children's minds without the use of the play-station controller.
Enter Billiards! Not only is the game something whimsical, but due to its most frequent setting being in a pub or club, it is often quick to catch the interest of younger children as the grown-ups' game. By treating your little ones to a bag of scampi fries and a nice pint of coke, you can capture their attention immediately with the facade of adulthood as you teach them the game.
With the rules of color and numbered balls taking their focus and concentration for trying to maneuver the cue, a child will often be so engrossed in beating the grown-ups that time will simply fly before they know it.
9. Builds Confidence
Whether a child is simply seeking to land the ball in the pocket or adult wins their first competitive match – billiards is a great way of building confidence as it always offers the opportunity to learn and grow.
As previously stated, billiards is a social sport despite only requiring two players. The competitive edge and how the game can turn tables towards any one player can offer the encouragement required to build confidence. Even down to the simplest of actions, such as landing your first jump shot or making a good break, it is hard to be discouraged when you're having true, old fashioned fun.
And as enjoyment itself breeds confidence, what have you got to lose – go pick up a cue today!
10. Stress Relief
It's not often nowadays to be able to find an enjoyable activity outside of the home that doesn't involve having to splash the cash a bit. And whilst billiard and pool tables do often have a coin charge for their use, it usually only a standard small amount. With games lasting as long as you let them, you can, in theory, get quite a bit of enjoyment for your money.
Taking away the stresses of modern life, the game allows for time spent purely focused on one activity. The competitive nature of scoring and competing allows for gentle ribbing of your fellows, big or small, and take the mind off of other everyday things that could otherwise be plaguing your mind.
Add to that a lot of adult players will tend to enjoy a pint of beer or other alcoholic beverage with the game, and you're all set for an evening of laughter and frivolity – the perfect way to blow off steam.
Young or old, male or female, billiards is a game for all. This classic game has all the elements to keep you engrossed and entertained for hours and hours while being competitive enough to keep you on your toes. The game requires immaculate precision, dead accuracy, and a lot of perseverance.
With so many benefits, it's no brainer not to pick and learn Billiards.