Why Has American Pool Not Gained Traction in the UK?
Firstly I want to say a big thank you to everyone that responded to last weeks email requesting some further information from you guys and girls. There are now some filtered sections of our email list that will be used to try and give you more relevant information. [If you are not a member then you can sign up >>> HERE]
In addition it was great to see a good chunk of you respond to our potential meet-up and coaching session. Apologies if I haven't yet responded to your emails this week but we have been moving software system and that has been grabbing my time.
Why has American Pool not gained Traction in the UK?
This weeks email is quite self-explanatory and again will not suit every reader but I hope you get some value out of it.
I want to take a look at why American Pool hasn't really gained traction in the UK. These insights are my own personal take on why the game hasn't quite moved forward. These insights look at the amateur side of the game that is where the future is developed.
Of course we have had major success since the mid-2000s at professional level. Darren Appleton, Daryl Peach, Jayson Shaw, Karl Boyes and Chris Melling have all won major International titles and Mark Gray has dominated on the European Tour.
This unprecedented success at European and World level saw 3 British players compete as part of the 5-man Team Europe in the most recent Mosconi Cup, thrashing the US team once again at their own game.
Why we have this success at world level needs another article but I want to take a look at a few things below as to why I believe the game has stagnated in the UK.
1. Access to Tables
A lot of snooker halls across the UK, since the smoking ban, have seemed to fade away so a lack of tables is not just restricted to the American Tables. There are less Snooker tables and UK Pool Tables. As a direct affect of this once thriving pool leagues are now seemingly struggling to hold on.
My first reason for a lack of development of American Pool is simply down to the access of the pool tables. American Tables, in the traditional sense, are 9ft x 4.5ft so are quite large and bulky items. Only select venues have the space to have the tables on site and lets not forget that snooker still dominates in this Country. Rileys clubs used to have the vast majority of American tables in the UK, where venues have gone from over 120 at the high point to around 50 now that is a lot of opportunity gone at grassroots level.
In order for any sport to develop, be it pool, badminton or basketball, there first has to be access to the correct equipment.
Of course there are 'barbox' tables that are popular in the USA but I will explain why they haven't taken off in the UK.
2. UK Pool Table Manufacturers would want to suppress the development
We have our own version of pool in the UK and the tables are invariably made here by manufacturers that are British and have a long history. These manufacturers would not take too kindly to US style 'barbox' tables becoming popular in bars across the UK.
I am not suggesting that there is a conscious effort to suppress the game but it makes financial sense for these table makers to try and keep their monopoly within pubs and clubs where they can. There is of course nothing stopping you playing 9 Ball on a UK pool table but it just isn't quite the same.
A whole industry is built around UK pool and an influx of different tables could cause problems for UK jobs, so in one way it could be seen as important to suppress the development of the game at grassroots level.
When you walk into a large pool or snooker club with American tables you will probably notice that most of those tables are in use.
This is of course a good thing.
However, when you delve a little deeper you realise that most of the people playing on them are just playing a version of UK 8 Ball on a larger American table. Although there is a version of 8 Ball played on American tables it is different, what should be happening is education. Clubs and more regular players should try and take an active approach to teach 9 Ball, 10 Ball and even some of the more obscure disciplines like One Pocket or Straight Pool. At the same time equipment can be discussed to give a more focussed approach to the needs of an American Pool player.
Without an understanding of why the tables are different and the different games that can be played on them then the game will continue to stagnate. Educate new and young players and maybe there would be a shift.
4. Cost can be prohibitive
When you look at buying equipment whether it be a table or a cue then you will find that there is a huge swing in price from snooker and UK pool eqipment an then American Pool equipment.
This of course can put potential players off as some of the prices are very very high indeed. But coupled with this a lot of the time the prices are high simply due to the research and development that has gone into the technology to produce solid hitting and low deflection shafts for example. Or the cost of importing tables from the USA or Europe.
Whilst American Pool hasn't quite gained the traction at grassroots level that our International success would suggest it probably isn't a bad thing. Maybe the number of players accessing the game now is the right number for the UK. Maybe I would be wrong in suggesting that players should move from what are our essentially traditional games of UK pool and snooker.
American Pool does not really have the prize money at professional level as that of snooker and that could also be another factor. Any aspiring cueist may see snooker as the way to riches.
There is also a very good chance that a number of players dabble across all games and that once they get to a certain level they will try and access tournaments and look to develop their game.
That's my thoughts anyway. I look forward to reading your thoughts via email, maybe there is something I have glaringly missed or something you do or do not agree with. Please let me know.
Until next week.
Pete Williams - Billiards Boutique
Please note that these articles are originally sent to our email members list on a Wednesday.