How can I “practice” and “stay sharp” with no access to a pool table in situations like the COVID-19 pandemic?

Here are some things you can do without access to a pool table:

  • Practice and improve your grip, bridge, stroke, and pre-shot routine at a dining table or counter at home. You don’t need pool balls for this. Some good ideas are in this stroke drills video (see the drills in the first two sections), in the videos on the pre-shot routine advice page, and on the fundamental resource page.
  • Learn about and work on your mental game. The video and the book recommendations here can help: the mental game of pool.
  • Watch lots of pro matches. Watching the game being played well is helpful. Lot’s of great matches are available here: Great Online Pool Matches.
  • Watch lots of good instructional pool videos. I recommend the “Top 10 Shots and Principles” playlist, the “Everything You Need to Know” playlist, and any of Dr. Dave’s instructional products.
  • Read good instructional pool books per the recommendations here: recommended instruction pool books.
  • Have fun with a pool simulator game (e.g., Virtual Pool) to work on pattern play and aim visualization.
  • Start developing good life habits: Exercise, stretch, eat healthy. Stop smoking/vaping, heavy drinking, and drugs. Nurture healthy relationships with friends and family. All this stuff can help you play better pool also.
  • Take a total break from pool. This might give you a new enthusiasm and excitement when you return to the game, and maybe you will forget some of your bad habits.

But the main thing is: Be safe and smart, and don’t catch that nasty virus! And if you want make-shift masks for when you venture out of house, cut out several segments from a “Got English?” T-shirt to make a collection of pool-themed face coverings. Here are CDC instructions for making face coverings from T-shirts (see page 2).

coronavirus 8 ball
"Got Enlgish?" T-shirt

How can I get motivated to practice if I do have a table at home?

And if you are fortunate enough to have a pool table at home, take advantage of the extra time being stuck at home to practice smartly and challenge yourself. Here are some ideas:

How can I get back in stroke after being away from the game for a while?

Do drills, really focusing on your fundamentals. Sometimes time off can actually help you forget some of your bad habits. Numerous good videos and advice dealing with fundamentals can be found on the Fundamentals Tutorial page. And lots of good drills can be found on the Drill Resources page. The Billiard University (BU) Playing-Ability Exam drills are excellent practice. They cover all important skills and help you assess and monitor your improvement over time.