Interview with Earl Strickland

Earl Strickland

Last year, a young man by the name of Earl Strickland popped on the scene.

He won the Dayton and Akron tournaments back-to-back, and finished 2nd in the Mike Massey event which followed. A nice start for a young Lion. The rest of the year and most of this year he has been around the top 10, but not number One. Then came the Caesars Tahoe event and Earl beat Steve Mizerak in the finals for his first major title. We talked to Earl during the NPCA Classic III. Earl was entered but withdrew after a few matches. Here’s what Earl had to say:

NBN: Caesars Tahoe was your first really big win on the tournament circuit, how did it feel?

EARL: Good! All the players made it a tough field to come through, but I guess I could do it again.

NBN: A couple of years ago didn’t you win three in a row back-to-back, then hit a dry spell, what caused that Earl? 

EARL: No, I won two back-to-back ; one in Dayton and one in Akron. I took 2nd in Chatanooga.

NBN: How do you get yourself in stroke for tournaments? 

EARL: I practice on breaks and safeties and long shots.

NBN: At the tender age of 22, you are one of the youngest consistent winners, what advice would you give young aspiring players? 

EARL: Don’t think about who you are playing — just play. Fear will beat you.

NBN: How old were you when you first started playing? And when did you enter your first tournament?

EARL: 1 started playing when I was 11 years old. I didn’t enter my first major tournament until I was about 20. Dad took me to the pool rooms and I would hit the balls around and really enjoyed it. So I just kept on playing.

NBN: How should young players prepare themselves mentally for a tournament?

EARL: Condition yourself…no smoking, no drinking, etc. Keep your mind and body in good shape.

NBN: How much of the game of 9-ball is mental, at the pro level?

EARL: 30-40% is mental, the rest is the safeties and moves.

NBN: What would you like to see as far as the TV future of the sport goes?

EARL: I would like to see more match play between ten top players in the country. I think that would be really helpful for the game.

NBN: What does pool need to become a top sport on TV?

EARL: I think it needs more prestigious tournaments like Tahoe — New York, and more money.

NBN: What about Earl, what are your future plans as far as pool goes?

EARL: I’d like to keep playing and try to win more titles than anyone else in pool. And then I’m on my way!

NBN: Right you are, Earl!

This article originally appeared in the January 1984 issue of the National Billiard News and is reprinted with permission.