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How Good is Your Worst Game?

This seems like a strange question to ask, why would I ask you how good is your worst game?

Why Do I Need To Know?

The reason is everybody talks about how good they can play on that one day a year when they play so good they could probably beat anybody in the world. That is not the way to judge your game unless you want to be flat broke.

What Is Your Average Game?

Ninety-nine times out of a hundred you will be in a position where you will play somewhere in between your best game and you worst game. This means that most of the time you will be playing your average game.
So the question is…can you still win playing your average game?

Why Your “Best Game” is a Problem.

We could all win when we playing our best game but the problem is we tend to judge ourselves based on that rare occasion when we’re playing lights out. This is great for the ego but a very poor way of ranking your pool game.

In order to get a realistic assessment of your game you need to look at the matches you have played over the last few months or years and honestly ask yourself; did I play my best game every night, was I really struggling, was I playing my average game?

The reason I’m talking about this is because most people when assessing their game compare themselves to somebody else, maybe a better player. This maybe not such a good plan.
When these people are watching a match they often say to themselves or their friendly rail birds “How is he in the final, I can play much better than him, I could give him the 8 ball?”

Average Versus Average.

The real way to look at a match up between you and somebody else is to ask yourself: if he plays his average game and I play my average game can I win? If the answer’s yes then you probably have a good game if the answer is no you should probably look elsewhere.

Yes you could play better than average and win, so could your opponent or you could play badly and get beaten by his average game. You will never know exactly how any given match will go until you play.
So why not get the odds in your favor?

The bell curve.

The bell curve is a measure of the statistical probability of an event occurring. Normal distribution of those events gives rise to a bell shaped graphical representation, hence the name.

Standard bell curve

This isn’t a billiards bell curve, if it were then 68% of all players would be average or close to average performers with 16% playing one standard deviation better than average and 16% playing one standard deviation worse.
The extreme tails (0.1%) would contain either exceptionally poor or exceptionally gifted players.

Standard Deviation from the Mean.

Plus or minus one standard deviation from the mean in most bell curves will contain 68% or approximately 2/3 of all data. So in pool 68% of all players will be within one standard deviation from the mean. In other words most players are close to average or average.

What Does this Mean for Me and My Pool Game?

Your pool performance and hence your results will follow your own personal bell curve which will vary from player to player. The shape may vary depending on your consistency etc. But quite simply put your performance next year will be your average or close to your average 68% of the time. You will play better 16% and worse 16% of the time. The more games that you play the closer your play will be to normal distribution.

What is Your Goal in Pool – Can Coaching Help You?

What is a Goal?

In general a goal is something that you are striving to achieve. Goals can be tangible or intangible.
Tangible goals have a real presence…I want to lose 10 lbs.
Intangible goals can be ….I need to improve my attitude.

Goals can be and should be :

  • Long term,
  • Medium term,
  • Short term

What Are Realistic Goals in Pool.

There is some debate that a goal should be reasonable and not outrageous. Reasonable goals for humans are bound by our physical form, you will probably not be the next heavy weight boxing champion if you are 65 years old and get out of breath standing up.
However intangible goals have no such limits placed on them, so shoot for the moon!

Tell Your Coach about Your Pool Goals!

This seems to be redundant and obvious but it is very important. Coaches can have a set lesson or cater to individual needs which can be varied to a players individuals goals.
Many students go to coaches with a… “I just want to be a better player.” attitude with no specifics. You have to make it absolutely clear to the coach what you expect to get from your time together. It is your lesson, your time don’t waste the opportunity.

Without a thorough dialog you could waste time dealing with irrelevant issues.

If you are not sure or get easily flustered write it down.

What Is a Reasonable Time Schedule?

Reasonable time schedule will be down to the individual. You will know if you are the type of person who is driven by deadlines or leaves most things to the last minute.

Goals are flexible so if you have made progress but not complete your task adjustments can be made.

Reasonable Coaching Goal Example.

John is an APA 3 in 9 ball pool and would like to be an APA 4. He plays twice a week in the local APA league.

Amazing Ghost Ball Aiming System Explained.

I’m going to talk about the ghost ball aiming system.

The ghost ball system is so called because you need to imagine a ball in the exact position that your cue ball will be at impact with the object ball on the shot line. Because you have to imagine or visualize its location it is given the name “Ghost Ball”.

Some people have a problem “seeing” something that isn’t actually there and forming a picture of it in their imagination. Like all skills it can be learned and with plenty of practice made to become a part of your pre shot routine and subconscious armory for matches.

If you place a ball in a direct line behind the object ball in line with the pocket you can be said to have placed a ghost ball. In this way the center of the ghost ball, the center of the object ball and the center of the pocket will be in one line.

The principle of ghost ball aiming is that if you imagine the ghost ball which is in line with the pocket and then replace your cue ball into that exact ghost ball location you will make the object ball into the pocket.

To do this requires a very good imagination and the ability to visualize your cue ball in the place of the object ball at varying distances. Obviously the further away the object ball is the smaller it will appear to you in your vision.

When using the ghost ball aiming system all shots less than half ball contact will have the AIM line in a space and not adjacent to the object ball.

The line through the object ball to the ghost ball and the line from the cue ball to the ghost ball will intersect 9/16 an inch from the back of the object ball. This distance is also approximately equal to the width of a standard cube of chalk.

It can be very difficult to perceive this point when looking down the shot line as the 9/16 inch intersection it’s not so easy to see when you have a fuller cue ball contact.

Although contact at this point will be in direct line with the pocket there is the small but important issue with CIT otherwise known as contact induced throw or cut induced throw. CIT will momentarily push the object ball in the direction of the cue ball Kohl’s in what appears to be a thicker contact than previously estimated.

Having said that the ghost Ball theory is sound when taking into account CIT and is very useful when showing new players how to aim initially and he’s really useful in coaching situations.

I have found it awkward to visualize the position of the cue ball prior to striking the shot and despite making allowances for CIT, Ghost ball Aiming is not a method that I would recommend for everyone.

But with all things in pool and snooker try using this method before you dismiss it, it might work very well for you.

The Dreaded Straight-in Shot!

Why We Miss Easy Straight Shots in Pool.

Have you ever wondered why straight in shots cause so many problems for so many good players.

Perhaps you are one of them and are wondering why this happens?

I had this problem myself, but now I’ve learned to deal with this situation. So much so that I don’t miss straight in shots now unless there’s a really good reason.

Such as:

  • Cueing off the rail.
  • Bridging over a ball.
  • Long distance.

Even then I still feel favorite to make the Shot!

Hopefully this will help you also.

How to Aim in Pool.

Over the years most of us have developed our shot making abilities based on constant repetition rather than point to point aiming. It is like a trial and error process which eliminates the shots that don’t work and keeps the ones that do.

This information is safely locked away inside our head for future use.

In other words we just know how to judge a particular angle through constantly practicing until the shots look right. Then once we are proficient we use our muscle memory to successfully execute the shot at will.

This is a natural way to learn and a natural way to play, our subconscious mind is doing the majority of the heavy lifting for us without even thinking.

The Problem with Conscious Aiming.

The biggest downfall with our thinking mind is that it is a dreadful pool player whose suggestions should be ignored most of the time.

The problem with straight in shots is that this principle gets interrupted because now we have two points point of reference. We can see that a center hit on the cue ball to a center contact on the object ball will result in a straight shot.

Our eyes and conscious mind start to argue with our subconscious stored data with negative results.

Objective points of Aim.

There are only three known points of aim in pool they are:

  • Center to Center…. Straight in shot.
  • Edge-to-edge…. Thin cut shot.
  • Center to Edge…. Half ball shot.

These are the only three shots that we can know objectively. Even then its not easy to recognize the 1/2 ball shot without a lot of practice.

When faced with a straight in shot the pool players’ conscious mind recognizes the center to center shot to the center of the pocket.

“I’ve just got to line everything up and I can’t miss. This is so easy.”

So the subconscious player, which can make thousands of minor adjustments in a split second to overcome stroke errors, is overridden by the thinking mind.

In an attempt to aim perfectly we ignore the wealth of information gathered over the years and consequently miss the “easy shot.”

The Solution to Straight Shots.

The first thing to do is to recognize the problem and be alert to falling into the aiming by thinking trap.

To begin with I identify the shot as straight to alert myself to the possible danger I am about to face.

Then I treat straight shots the same as any other shot. If I find myself  “consciously aiming,”  I stop, stand up and start my pre shot routine all over again.

Make sure that you identify and treat the shot with the same respect in practice and develop a fool proof routine for executing these sometimes tricky shots under match and pressure situations.

 

Center to Edge Aiming System For Pool – CTE Pivot Aiming.

In order for me to discuss the Center to edge or CTE aiming method I would like you to bear the following in mind:

Center to edge aiming is one of the most contentious aiming systems spoken about in chat rooms and forums. On the one hand it seems that people either love or they hate center to edge and go to great lengths to argue their point.

My view is that if any aiming system works for you then use it. If not then use another of the many methods.

So with that being said let’s take a look at CTE.

Center to Edge Aiming and Stan Shuffett.

The renowned coach and player Stan Shuffett developed center to edge aiming  over a number years . Stan originally got the idea from Hal Houle who developed a number of aiming systems over the course of his lifetime.
Hal called it his three angle document.

Stan has worked on the center to edge system over the past 10 years and refined it into a method called “Pro One.” Stan has rigorously tested his method on a the practice table and in competition.

Stan’s Fargo rating is currently around 725, so he is a solid force to be reckoned with on any table.

Table Geometry.

Pro one is based around the geometry of a regulation pool table and its relationship to the angles 15, 30 and 45 degrees. Those three angles are not the same as those used in the quarters system ie. 1/4 ball, 1/2 ball and 3/4 ball. These angles coincide with the angles of a pool table

The Cue Ball  in CTE.

Center to edge aiming Cue ball marked with center and edges

The cue ball has a vertical center line running between 12 and 6 o’clock. The cue ball also has and two extreme edges at 3 and 9 o’clock. Although there are no actual edges on a sphere these edges are a visual perception. Semantics are not relevant to this system.   The Edge used for this system is the edge you will perceive with your eyes.

The Object Ball in Center to Edge Aiming.

Object ball marked at the quarters for CTE aiming

The object ball divides into four quarters and each quarter will measure 9/16″.   You will find the old Centennial Balls are marked at the quarters making practice much easier. The quarters represent 15, 30 and 45 degree perceptions. The quarters are named A,B and C for cuts to the left and C,B and A for cuts to the right.

Use a marker pen if you don’t have a ball with the correct markings.

Perceptions in CTE Aiming.

Center to edge aiming uses two perceptions simultaneously.

  • Center to edge perception
  • Edge to one of the marked quarters on the object ball.

So each shot will use a CTE perception in addition to one edge to A,B or C  perception.

The player may describe the shot as being:

  1. CTE+Edge to A       (15 degree perception)
  2. or CTE+Edge to B  (30 degree perception)
  3. or CTE+Edge to C  (45 degree perception)

CTE Pivots.

Each shot is combined with a left or a right half tip pivot.

This is best explained by Stan in the CTE video below:

With a cut shot to the left….

  • A left or inside pivot will thin the shot.
  • A right or outside pivot will thicken the shot

With a cut shot to the right….

  • A left or outside pivot will thicken the shot.
  • A right or inside pivot will thin the shot.

Center To Edge Aiming So Far.

So each shot will be a center to edge perception, plus an edge to A, edge to B or edge to C  perception, coupled with an inside or outside 1/2 tip pivot.

Center to Edge Aiming is a Visual System.

Stan says that  “The eyes lead and the body follows.”

The eyes will not be looking down the center to edge line or the edge to A line for example.

The eyes will be in the only place where both perceptions can be viewed at the same time. So you will stand in a position where both perceptions are visible simultaneously. At this point in your aiming process the cue ball is said to be a “fixed cue ball” with 2 edges and a center.

If you were to shoot the shot here you would miss!

You are still a 1/2 tip pivot off of the shot line.

The Manual Pivot.

Depending on whether you need to thin or thicken the shot….

….place your bridge and cue half a tip to the side of the center line, of the fixed cue ball, then turn to center.

  • Use the perceptions to give you a fixed cue ball.
  • Then use the center of the fixed cue ball to align the half tip pivot.
  • Then finally turn the tip to center.

You are now on the shot line.

Yes, CTE is a pivoting system, but the pivot is very, very misunderstood.
I can shoot 1,000 shots using CTE in slo-mo and never exhibit even one hint of anything that resembles a pivoting of my cue. Some of the CTE critics are delusional if they think that CTE practitioners can be tagged or not tagged as such by what can be observed about how one uses their cue during alignment. A cue is nothing more than an extension of one’s hand that is used for aligning to what the eyes see.
CTE is a visual task that occurs independently of the cueing instrument.    Stan Shuffett.

Simplify the Perceptions.

When playing pool it is best practice to simplify any instructions given to the brain, instructions are best given in a visual form or by visualization. If you do need to verbalize an instruction, keep it simple!

So when you are looking at the shot before getting into your stance try not to be too verbal.

Don’t say….Ok so this is a 15 degree shot with an inside pivot, there is my center to edge perception, there is my edge to A and there is my fixed cue ball….

Try this:

Instead of saying ….”15 degree, outside pivot, center to edge+edge to A”
Say….“This is a 1”

Instead of saying ….”15 degree, inside pivot, center to edge+edge to A”
Say….“This is a 2”

Instead of saying ….”30 degree, inside pivot, center to edge+edge to B”
Say….“This is a 3”

Instead of saying ….”45 degree, outside pivot, center to edge+edge to C”     (see note 3)
Say….“This is a 4”

Instead of saying ….”45 degree, inside pivot, center to edge+edge to C”       (see note 3)
Say….“This is a 5”
etc.

Conclusions.

This aiming system is a 1000 times harder to explain in words than it is to use.

It takes me a split second to acquire the correct perceptions. I then approach the ball and turn to center. The whole process has now been incorporated into my pre shot routine.

Please check out the links to the Youtube videos which have been included in the relevant sections.

Notes.

(1) Straight in shots use 15 degree perception and an outside pivot.
(2) Inside 15 degree and outside 30 degree perceptions are interchangeable and therefor a personal preference.
(3) A  45 degree shot has no center to edge perception.
(4) 60 degree shots are also used …edge to 1/8.

Vision Center and How To Find Yours.

Finding your vision center is probably the most important fundamentals in pool. Despite this fact we don’t seem to discuss it much at all.

In a nutshell your vision center is the position between or under your eyes where a perfect straight shot looks straight to your eyes. With both eyes open.

The majority of pool players have two good eyes. One eye will be dominant. The other eye will be carrying out a number of other important tasks.

One of the most important tasks for the non-dominant eye is depth perception.

Vision center line

Looking with one eye it’s easy to get everything in line. However, two eyes working in unison will give you the full picture.

The eyes work in harmony to give all of the measurement information required to aim correctly.

This is nothing to do with the “Dominant Eye Theory.” The dominant eye idea has sent a lot of people on the wrong path.  Just to be clear.

Do not  automatically put your pool cue underneath your dominant eye.

Only do so if your vision center happens to be in that position also!

Your vision center is the head and eye alignment, relative to the cue, that allows you to see a center-ball, straight-in shot as straight, with the tip appearing to be at the center of the CB. For some people, this might be with the cue under their dominant eye (e.g., if they have strong eye dominance and/or vision impairment in the other eye). For others, it might be with the cue under their nose, or somewhere else between (or even outside of) their eyes. To be accurate and consistent with both straight-in and cut shots, you should always position your “vision center” over the desired aiming line for the shot.  Dr Dave.

How to Grip the Cue and Stroke the Shot.

I was practicing in the pool hall last week. I don’t go there that often because people always come over and ask me questions while I’m trying to practice.

Just because you’re a good player it doesn’t mean that to you don’t need to practice anymore. The truth is that you need to practice even more than the other players are practicing. It’s the only way to keep ahead of what the other players are doing.

Anyway so this guy is watching me for a while and then he comes walking over. I always try to be nice to people because I want to encourage them to do as well as they can even though it’s a little bit rude to interrupt when someone is practicing.

So he starts to ask me questions. He asked about a particular shot that I was working on.

How was I hitting the ball?

What stroke was I using?

Was my grip loose or firm?

I showed him what I was doing and how I was hitting the ball. Then he asked me to play a different type of shot for him, which I did.

By this point he looked very confused. He didn’t understand why I would hold the cue or strike the ball differently depending on what type of shot I was playing.

This guy had apparently been working on a specific grip for quite some time. He had been trying to make this grip/stroke work for all shots on a pool table.

This does not work and you will waste so much practice time trying to perfect a one grip suits all shots approach.

I use at least three different types of grip and at least three different types of stroke:

  • Soft finesse stroke.
  • Punch stroke.
  • Follow through stroke.

Now I can combine these strokes with the different types of shot:

  • Top Spin
  • Back Spin
  • Stop Shot

Of course I know there are some more shots.

The point is if you combine the three shots with the three Strokes that’s a lot of combinations.

Well nine combinations anyway.

So there is not one particular way to hold the cue and stroke the ball that will work for all shots.

Whilst standing in the pre shot position, decide which stroke to use in order to achieve the desired shape.

Play the Shot through in your head before getting into your final stance.

If you are in the habit of thinking that one grip or stroke fits all, try to spend some time alone on a table and discover the different ways you can make the ball move by changing your grip.

Just as an example of the differences you can make, try playing a punch stroke and gently squeezing with your back fingers as the cue goes through the ball.

The draw shot or screw back is another example of how the stroke and grip can change the end result: follow through with a loose grip or snap through with a tighter punchy grip and the results will be totally different.

You have to set time aside to experiment and test things out in a practice session. Time spent on this exercise will pay greater dividends than running out racks against the ghost.

Playing the ghost will maintain your existing skills, whilst experimentation will expand your range of shots and may  take you to a new level.

How to grip a pool cue – the pool stroke.

The pool cue grip determines the way the cue is delivered when striking the ball.

The grip should be firm enough to pick up the cue from a table, yet relaxed enough so that the cue moves slightly within the hand.

The thumb should Point downwards and the knuckles should be parallel to the cue in the set position.

The shaft of the cue should rest lightly on the pads of your fingers with no pressure being transferred to the butt.

As the cue swings backwards and forwards in a pendulum motion the fingers generally open and close to accommodate and maintain its level movement.

When striking the cue ball the grip pressure is gently transferred from the front to the back of the hand.

In the finish position the knuckles finish pointing upwards with air to the palm of the hand.

It is a mistake to think that this grip as described above is good for all shots.

There are several different strokes in pool.

  • Follow stroke
  • Draw stroke
  • Punch stroke

Each Different Stroke requires a slight adjustment to the grip described above.

However the general basic principles of the grip remain the same throughout.

A Solid Pre Shot Routine is a Must for Great Pool

Introduction to a Pre shot Routine

A good pre shot routine is a way of Bridging between the decision making process and the actual execution of that decision.

Players need to separate the conscious thinking process from the sub-conscious execution phase.

In the diagram above there are two separate zones marked around the pool table shown by the black rectangle:

  1. The decision zone.
  2. Shot zone.

In the decision zone I make all of the necessary tactical , positional and aiming decisions.

I can switch from one thought to another. I can weigh up several alternative courses of action. I can modify an idea. Change my mind completely and start over again. Then finally make a firm decision to take action.

It is at this point that we should visualize the shot and see the positive result – ball goes into the pocket – cue ball finds its position. Chalk the tip of the cue. Do a couple of air strokes to get a feel for the shot (optional).

Then step into the shot zone, this step should be the same every time. It lets your brain know that you are ready.

Once you step into in the shot zone, just get into your stance, feather the ball as many times as usual and shoot….. No words, no thoughts, no internal dialogue or chatter, just execute what was visualized whilst in the decision zone.

With my pre-shot routine I do my thinking standing up away from table. This is very important. Then once I have made up my mind what I’m going to do I then start to perform my pre-shot routine and  then finally step into the table and get down onto the shot.

What is a pre shot routine?

As the name suggests it’s a routine that you perform just prior to executing any shots in pool.

It is a series of short mental and physical preparations.

Such as:

  • Putting down your chalk.
  • Visualizing the shot.
  • Seeing the result of the shot.
  • Physically performing the shot standing upright.

Why do I need a pre shot routine?

Pre shot routine tells your brain when the body is about to make an action and helps the brain remember similar instances.

It allows the subconscious mind the opportunity to recall similar events that have happened in games and situations in the past.

Your routine puts your mind and body into the best state for performance.

How long should my  routine take?

Your individual pre-shot routine should be long enough for you to convey the necessary information to your brain but short enough so as not to slow down your momentum.

Look at your favorite players and try to gauge the length of their preparations.

Here’s a good tip.
You can initially even pretend to be your favorite professional as they perform their routine. This will help you to understand the process. This will help to solidify your habits.

It is important however for you to develop you own ritual that fits with you personality and demeanor. A perfect match for you actions.

How Do I Develop Good Pre-shot Preparation?

One of the simplest ways is to look at other players both in this sport of pool and other sports such as a snooker, golf, tennis.

Watch videos of many players. Especially if you like and can relate to the player. Maybe a professional with a similar stroke.

When I used to play tennis I imagined that I was John McEnroe. (Who is that?)

It was a while back 🙂

It might seem a little foolish but after a while I started to take on his mannerisms and attitude as well. Even if I didn’t play as good as John I remember feeling strong and unbeatable.

The most important aspect of a pre shot routine is that it makes you feel ready to take action.

What Should I Do in Practice.

Your pre shot routine should become part of your game both in practice and in the heat of battle. It is no use trying to use it in a pressure situation if you don’t use it in practice.

I often see players who play really fast in practice but in a real game are slow and methodical. Practice is for every aspect of your game including your preshot routine.

Secret tip to improve your pool shots.

Secret Pool Tip to Improve Your Shots – Introduction.

I was going to say that this Secret Pool Tip isn’t really a secret but it is and the reason that it is a secret and can vastly improve your game it’s that nobody actually talks about it.

When it comes to aiming most people are talking about the cue ball to object ball relationship.

The secret tip has nothing to do with aiming systems such as the ghost ball, parallel lines, Center to Edge, fractional aiming, or any of the other that you may have heard about.

Those aiming systems or guides have their place but I will come back to them in another article.

I have first-hand knowledge of a situation where learning this technique alone improved the play of one of my students.

The best thing about it is you don’t need to change your Technique.

How big are those Pool Table Pockets Anyway?

My secret is concerned with the pocket its shape and size and most importantly the portion of pocket that you can see from the object ball location.

Width of pool table Pockets varies from 4″ up to sometimes five and a half inches but the thing to realize is that we can change the angle of most pool shots by aiming into a different portion of the pocket.

This means that we can almost manufacture a better angle on a shot that looks completely straight by aiming to either to the left side or the right side of the pocket opening.

Most players know this and are able to take full advantage by changing the angle of the shots so long as they are reasonably close to the pocket.

Pool Aiming and the Pool Players Brain.

The human brain works best when it aims towards a particular point rather than a range of points in a given opening.

Aiming at the pocket is just not precise when it comes to shooting pool.

football posts

This is easily demonstrated by looking at the kicker in an American football game or an English rugby game. His goal is to pass the ball anywhere between the posts to score extra points.

The kicker will pick a precise spot that they want to aim at rather than just anywhere between the two uprights.

This gives the brain a definite spot to focus on rather than a range of vague angles.

The View of the Pocket Changes Depending on the Position of the Object Ball.

When you are facing a pocket for instance from the spot to the corner pocket you have a good view of the entire pocket opening. In this instance it is logical to aim towards leather or plastic at the center back of the pocket.

Now let’s take a similar distance shot down the side rail say from the right center pocket to the right corner pocket. Only a small section of the pocket drop is visible.

As you look down the line of the shot into the pocket opening you cannot really see the open section and I will certainly not be in line anymore with the spot on the back leather.

In fact if you aim at the same place you will miss the pocket and hit the side rail about 6 inches or so above the pocket.

Which Part of the Pocket Should I Aim Towards?

So when you aim these shots you should be aiming at the left hand corner pocket facing that is the entrance to the pocket on the left side.

On sharp angle shots to the right you need to aim at the right corner facing

This is now our aim point, which in fact may be a completely different angle from the leather at the back of the pocket.

In conclusion the human brain works more efficiently when aiming towards a definite point.

So pick one spot and then aim at the spot.

It’s important for you to visualize this exact spot when you are imagining your shots Prior to execution.

How to Play The Stun Shot in Pool

 

how to play the stun shot in poolWhat is a Stop Shot in Pool?

When the cue ball strikes the object ball during a straight in shot without further movement of the cue ball in any direction.

This Shot is also called:

The stun shot

The Stop Shot

The Kill Shot

It really doesn’t matter what you call the shot so long as we are on the same page. In snooker it is known as the stun shot but in USA pool halls I hear the stop shot being used more often.

I have included a video below…

 

Why Do We Need the stun Shot ?

The stun shot is the main building block for great position play. It is the starting point for game improvement once you have mastered the basics.

If you want to know where your cue ball is going you need to learn the stun shot.

Once you can stop the cue ball without further movement on a straight shot, you can progress onto shots with an angle.

 

Tip Position For the Stop Shot

stun shot tip position

Now Comes the Magic of the stun shot.

By playing angled shots with the same stroke as a stop shot you will ensure that the cue ball travels down the tangent line. In other words, hit the cue ball with the same tip placement and power as you would for a straight shot but this time on an angle shot.

Why is this so Important for Position Play?

The tangent line is a predictable repeatable 90 degree angle. So if you know how to send your white down the tangent line every time you have a solid baseline shot on which to build all of your other positional shots.

 

What is the Tangent Line?

Yes the same tangent line that your geometry teacher at school was talking about years ago.

However your teacher probably failed to give you a practical use for this line.

So lets look at the tangent line and its practical applications in billiards.

Pay close attention: this could be the one piece of information that takes your game to the next level.

I had heard of this line years before I actually realized what an important guide to position it could be.

Simple Tangent Line Definition in Pool.

The tangent line is the imaginary line which touches but does not cross a circle or curve at right angles or 90 degrees to its radius.

In pool or billiards this line will be assumed to run from the impact point of the balls to a rail on each side of the contact point, as in the illustration below.

line of aim

The Tangent Line and Pool Balls that Collide.

If you look through the center of an object ball towards the pocket then draw a straight line towards the pocket as in the diagram, you will construct the line of aim.

In other words the point on the ball at the end of the line nearest to you will be the impact point for the cue ball.

The Ghost Ball Aiming System.

It is necessary to just give a quick note about the ghost ball aiming system:

 I am using the “ghost ball” as a convenient method of demonstration both in this article and when actually coaching the tangent line.

It is not the only method of aiming nor do I recommend it above any other method, it is just being used for easy illustration purposes.

So all things being equal, if your cue ball hits that exact point then the object ball will follow the aim line towards the pocket.

Are you still with me this far?

Great, I will get to the “all things being equal” comment later on, just bear with me for now and I will explain in detail later.

The contact point on the object ball will be the same from any location.

The position of the  cue ball on the table makes no difference to this contact point.

Please read that Last sentence again….

If the impact point for numerous shot position on the same object ball is the same then the corresponding tangent lines will also be the same.

Now For the Good Stuff!

The white ball will always leave object ball on the tangent line which is great news for you because now you have a point of reference to work from.

In other words the cue ball will always leave the contact point at 90 degrees to the shot line.

In pool we are always looking for easily repeatable patterns.

How Does the Tangent Line Help us with Shape?

When the cue ball always leaves the object ball at the same angle we can use that information to calculate or visualize the cue ball’s path with a fair degree of accuracy.

This will help you to know where the ball is going and to predict a likely path to the next shot.

This line is called the “Natural angle.”

You need to know the natural angle of each shot before you learn the effects of spin on the same shot. After all if you don’t know where the cue ball is going naturally then how do you know when you need spin?

It is a base line and foundation skill. When learning to play position, play shape and stay in line.

How To Make Sure The Ball Follows The Tangent Line.

On all cut shots the cue ball will travel down the tangent line and continue on towards the rail, so long as there is no spin applied to the ball.

So how do we make sure that no spin is applied and that the cue ball takes the predicted path?

You need to practice your “straight in” stop shot.

The stop shot is where the cue ball stops dead. It does not move in any direction following impact with the object ball. No spin at all. No movement forward, backward or sideways.

There is no set way to practice this shot;

  • Try different tip positions.
  • Adjust your ball speed.
  • Vary the distance between balls.
  • Experiment with your stroke.
  • Lengthen or shorten your follow through.

Every player’s stroke is different. You must find out what works for you in order to suceed with the tangent line.

What is Contact Induced Throw – CIT.

Earlier in the article I stated:

So all things being equal, if your cue ball hits that exact point then the object ball will follow the aim line towards the pocket.

On cut shots, at the point of impact, the cue ball and the object ball tend to momentarily cling together. This causes the object ball to take a slightly different course from the one predicted.

It will be as if the contact was “thicker” than intended.

Hence the name contact induced throw.

Slow speed and or an elevated cue will make the throw worse.

How To Adjust For Contact Induced Throw.

The main ways to adjust for CIT are to aim a little thinner than calculated. This will counteract the throw effect and send the cue ball along the desired path.

Some better players will add a small amount of outside english to the shot. In this case the contact induced throw will be countered by the throw caused by the outside english.

Most players as they improve their game do not aim shots in a mechanical way. These pool players have played these shots so many times in the past that they “just know” where to aim.

Subconsciously they choose the right line and do not need to make adjustments.

 

The Stop Shot – Most Important Shot for Pool Players to Master.

How to perfect the stop shot. If you were hoping for this to be some kind of fantastic trick shot you’re going to be disappointed it’s probably the simplest shot to perform on a pool table period.

However to play this shot well every time requires a great deal of effort and repetitive practice. Simple is not always easy

I am of course talking about the stop shot or the stun shot as it’s known in some places. This is the shot where the white ball stops on contact with the object ball.

What is the Stop Shot?

This is a straight shot with a full ball contact. The pocket, object ball and white ball need to be on the same straight line.

There should be no movement after impact in any direction. No forward roll or backspin and no drifting to the left or right.

So it is important to strike the cue ball in the exact center. This will ensure that no spin is imparted.

Of course if only it were  that simple.

How to Find Your Stop Shot.

Every player can achieve the stop or stun shot but each player will use a slightly different technique. Results are the same but the method is different.

Here is a list of factors that can change the end result of the stop shot:

  • The distance between the balls.
  • Vary the power of the stroke.
  • Longer or shorter follow though.
  • The pressure of the grip.
  • Positioning of the tip on the cue ball.

All effect the outcome of the shot.

It is not enough to pick out a spot on the cue ball, for instance “just below center.”

The Skid Zone, Distance and Timing.

With regard to distance the white ball when hit with zero spin will initially skid on the cloth and then pick up forward spin due to friction. The white will only stop on impact if it reaches its target whilst still skidding.

Conversely when the ball is struck below center it will spin backwards. After a while it will stop spinning and skid along the cloth. Further distance will result on forward spin as friction comes into play

Greater distance between the balls will call for a lower hit on the cue ball or more speed to achieve the same effect.

Why is the Stop Shot So Important?

You need to master the stop shot at varying distances between the balls and pockets.

It is the secret to consistent position play.

Once you can stop the ball perfectly you can apply stop shots when there is a cut angle involved. The ball will then follow the tangent line in a predictable fashion by following the tangent line.

9 Ball Pool

 What is 9 ball pool?

9 ball pool or just 9 ball as it is known in the USA,  is a variation of pool or billiards.

Nine ball has apparently been around  since the 1920’s and appears to have originated in the USA. 9 ball pool was primarily a gambling game played between 2 players.

Played on a table with six pockets,  a traditionally green cloth or baize and rubberized rails. The dimensions of the tables vary from the 3′ 6″ inch x 7′ bar tables (bar boxes) found in pubs and restaurants to the popular 4′ 6” x 9′ tables used in competition and seen on television at professional events.

There are a total of 10 balls, one white ball or cue ball and 9 numbered object balls. Each player strikes the white ball with a stick or cue in order to send the numbered balls into a pocket in sequence.  The person who legally pockets the nine ball first is considered the winner.

9  ball is the second most popular pool game next to 8 ball. However 9 ball is the number one game played by professionals world wide. Many people think that eight ball is the preferred game played in the US and World pool championships but this is not the case. Both 8 ball and 9 ball pool are now more popular than traditional straight pool even though many purist find both games less skill-full.

How to Play?

How to Play 9 ball What are the rules. what competitions use this format.
9 ball pool is a version of pool or Billiards as it is also known, where the number Balls are dealt with in strict numerical rotation. As the name suggests there are nine different colored and numbered ball from one to nine.

The object of the game is to make the nine ball in any pocket. So long as contact is made first with the lowest numbered ball at any time including on the break (on the snap.) When the game starts the player breaking must make contact with the one ball first. During the break shot if any ball goes into a pocket the same player will continue to shoot. Players must always hit the remaining balls lowest number first.

There are times when a player will make the first 8 balls in rotation but then miss the 9 ball leaving a shot for the opponent who subsequently makes the 9 and wins the game despite only making one ball. Usually the winner breaks which can lead to a player stringing together numerous racks of nine ball without the opponent having a chance to shoot. Breaking and running 6 consecutive racks of 9 ball would be referred to as a “six pack.”

As you can imagine some games of 9-ball all over very quickly where as some last up to 30 minutes when the situation becomes very tactical and neither player will give ground.

One of the biggest differences between games is the scratch or foul. In 9 ball any scratch or foul shot results in ball in hand for your opponent. This means that you immediately give up the table and your opponent may place the white anywhere.

Where is this Pool Game Played?

apa palyersNine ball is played locally, nationally and internationally. The game is enjoyed in bars and pubs all over the world. Friendly local competitions exist in most Cities and the game is one of the components played in the APA  American Poolplayers Association which boasts thousands of members all over the country.

Competitive organisations are also running tournaments at the regional and state level with most states recognizing their own state champion and holding an annual event. The USA  also runs a US Amateur championship annually with many winners turning professional as a result.

Most professional pool players and tournaments all over the world choose 9 ball. Nine ball pool is the game of choice for 80 plus countries. Nine ball is the game of choice for the US championships and the world championships.

How do Nine Ball players Compare their Skill Levels?

Nine ball is also a more popular game for those wishing to compete on even terms as the game is so easily handicapped to make the game competitive even between two players of unequal skills.

For instance a better player could offer his opponent an extra winning ball or even a number of balls such as the 8 ball, the 7 and the 8, the last 2 balls or the last 3 balls. This means that if a player is “giving up the 8” his opponent win if he makes either the 8 or the 9 ball first.

When grading a group of players they are usually compared to each other in relation to how many balls would be necessary to compete on even terms. The best player in a discussion would be classified as “scratch” and all other players would be compared to each other in relation to the best player.

This makes small amateur events more even but very competitive and hard to win, although in my experience scratch players do still tend to have an advantage.
However the handicap system does even out the abilities of the players and encourages more people to take part in tournaments which they could not normally expect to compete.

A similar system exists in golf but the players are compared to each other by their ability to take more or less shots on a particular 18 hole course. Generally speaking a scratch (even) player would take 72 shots to complete a full round of golf whereas a 4 handicapper (plus 4) player would take 76.

Is Playing 9 Ball Pool More Difficult than Other Games of Pool?

9 ball poolThere have been many debates over the years about the relative difficulty of 8 ball pool versus 9-ball pool. Each discipline requires an extremely different approach. In 9 ball pool games for instance the balls are made or potted in strict numerical rotation. This makes the players position on the next ball not only more difficult but imperative.

With eight ball you can make any of your chosen balls en route to the 8-ball. This aspect of the game makes shape easier. The increased number of balls on the table makes it harder to succeed. Fifteen balls on the table inhibits makes it harder to get good position on the next ball.

My experience has been that both games equally demanding both physically and mentally. When playing against skilled knowledgeable opponents it becomes harder it to predict the outcome. The player can experience additional pressure just knowing how quickly nine ball can be over.  One miss or slight mistake can be the difference between winning and losing. Players often play eight ball like a game of chess. Neither player wanting to make a ball unless they can run out and make the 8.

Other topics:

Read about 9 ball pool how to rack
Learn 9 ball pool how to break
9 ball pool how to play
Get 9 ball pool lessons
What 9 ball pool leagues
how to play 9 ball pool
how do you play 9 ball pool

8 Ball Pool – How to Play.

What is 8 ball Pool?

8 ball pool ball8 ball pool has been played since the early  1900’s and probably originated in the USA. It is played on a felt covered table with six pockets and rubber cushions.

Eight ball is played with 15 object balls and one white cue ball. There are 7 plain balls and 7 stripped balls plus the black eight ball. Sometimes there are 7 red balls and 7 yellow balls depending on your location. The numbers on the balls are not relevant for 8 ball play.

Each player attempts to pocket all of their chosen balls whether plain or stripped. When your set of object balls has been cleared you may pocket the eight ball to win the game.

 

How do we Play 8 Ball?

If the player breaking makes a striped ball then he continues to make stripes until they are gone and vice versa. Alternatively, if you make a ball on the break you get to choose solids or stripes.

The eight ball is neutral and can only be directly contacted after all of your other balls are gone. Making the eight ball by accident before all of your balls have been made will cost you the game.

Potting the 8 ball after all of your balls have been made wins the game. Generally you must call or mark your pocket when shooting the 8 ball and slops (lucky shots in other pockets) do not count.

Some places count the eight ball as a win if made on the break. Other venues re-spot the 8 ball and that player continues to shoot.

Scratches or fouls do not generally cost you the game but you lose your turn. Cue ball off the table or in the pocket is either ball in hand or shoot behind the baulk line (In the kitchen). Rules vary, professionals usually play ball in hand.

What are the Tactics in 8 Ball Pool?

The tactics in 8 ball pool differ according to the ability of the players.

In professional games players often break and run out. However, at this level, if they miss a ball the advantage usually goes to the incoming player.

It is not always a good idea to make your balls without a solid plan to run out the whole rack.

One of the most important moments is spent deciding which set of balls to take after a successful break off shot:

  • Do the balls all have a pocket?
  • If not can I break up the cluster?
  • Is there a logical path to the 8 ball?
  • Stripes or solids?

Players in recreational pool and beginner leagues face the same set of questions although the consequences of a miss are not usually as severe. Players often get many visits to the table and several shots at the 8 ball during an average game.

8 Ball on Small Bar Tables and Diamond Tables.

I often hear players talking about which is the hardest game to play. Is it 10 ball on a 10 foot table or 8 Ball on a bar box (7′ x 3.5′)

I don’t know the answer to that question, accept to say that each game has it’s own set of problems be they long shots on a ten footer or the congestion and exquisite position play required on a bar box. I have respect for both games and especially those players who can play both well.

Remember that on a small table every time that you make a ball and do not run out you leave the table less congested than before you shot. This can make things easier for you opponent.

 

 

 

 

Easy Inside English Three Rails Pool Practice Drill – Cue Shaft Deflection

In this video you will learn how to play inside English, left and side, off 3 rails to get position in the middle of the table.

The middle table area is just a target that I use for judging my progress and consistency.

Feel free to choose another spot or vary the target position during practice. So long as you can finish near the target area it is not that important.

Inside English practice drill video.

The shot needs to be played with topspin and left (inside) english which will cause the white ball to deflect to the right and hit the object ball thinner than you are aiming. On its way to the object ball the white ball will return towards the line of the shot but usually not all of the way.

Make the necessary allowances when aiming.

Well that sounds a lot easier than it actually is doesn’t it?

If you apply side spin to the cue ball it will cause the ball to move off line consequently making a different contact with the object ball.

So you need to aim fuller or thinner to allow for this movement.

The distance between the balls also affects the shot because after the white ball squirts off line it will tend to return to the intended path.

The amount of power or force used in the shot will also affect the amount of squirt, usually the more power the more shaft deflection and the more squirt.

Tip Position For Topspin Inside English

nside english tip position

So with all of these variables this may seem like a difficult task but practice will help you to get a feel for these shots.

Your practice needs to be easy and repeatable in order to get the best results.

Next, I have included a video below of a simple inside English drill.

Inside English off 3 Rails Pool Practice Drill Video


The best way to learn how to do this is to just do it,”  get the shot wrong 20-30 times without being judgmental and eventually you will get one right.  You are learning all of the possible ways that it does not work.

Now it is time to reproduce the good result over and over again until you cannot get it wrong and the shot becomes a natural part of your game.

Playing with Low Deflection Cues

If you play with a low deflection cue or shaft you will probably have to make a small adjustment nonetheless. Just a quick note, because this isn’t really the place, every cue and every shaft is unique even if they look the same. Always play with the same cue so that it becomes a part of you and not a separate tool.

Generally speaking the harder that you strike the cue ball the greater will be the deflection.

Play the shot smoothly and follow through all the way.

The cue ball should finish in the center of the table for this exercise although from this position it is possible to extend the track line further to the balk end of the table.

Personal Note on Cue Stick Choice

Although I do not use a low deflection cue shaft myself I would strongly advise all new players to buy one early on and put in the time needed in practice and drills to get accustomed to the way that your shaft  reacts during the shot.

These cues definitely will reduce the learning curve for shots off the center line.

Having said that, I do not advise players with years of experience to switch, I  tried this myself and personally found it very time consuming and ultimately unsuccessful.

I guess I am just too used to the shaft deflection after many years of practice.

 

Check out the other videos more tips and advice for all levels of pool players.

Nine Ball Pool Practice Runout When Things Go Wrong

Random Run out at Nine Ball

Short video of a 9 ball practice run where many of the shots did not go as planned.

 

Nine Ball Pool Practice Runout When Things Go Wrong

I still made all of the balls and got out but not as planned, nearly all of the positional plays were off line which makes the connection to the next shot more difficult. In isolation some pool shots are more difficult than other and require added skills. So when you add all of these challenging shots together it interrupts the normal flow.

Plan Your Route to The Next Shot to Reduce Risk.

In addition to the physical aspects complicated runs like this take up too way much mental energy which needs to be conserved throughout the long competition. It is exciting playing hard shots and overcoming the obstacles one by one but the big swings in mental excitement can be drain on resources.

Good shot makers can still win like this but its not the best long term plan for consistent winning pool.

In order to play pool like a professional try to move the white ball as little as possible. Plan out the routes to the next shot to allow for mistakes and inaccuracies.

Down the Line Shape to Increase Percentages.

down the line position

For instance if your position play takes the white ball “down the line” of the shot just like the diagram above even if you over run your shot  by a couple of feet you will still be in line.  This can usually be achieved by using a two rail route like, usually this will send the cue ball down the line .

This route has a fairly large target area and a big margin of error because if you over run or under run the target area you will still be on line. In practice start to look for alternative routes for position in particular try to avoid playing for pin point position unless it cannot be avoided.

Sending the cue ball off two rails might seem to be more risky but you have to weigh the benefits of better shape against a slightly tougher shot.

Across the line Shape Reduces the Target Area For Shape.

across the line shape

Across the line shape on the other hand send the cue ball across the positional target area which is quite small in comparison. Small margin of error low percentage positional play.

It is harder to judge the position with this route and the ball is crossing the shape target area.

In contrast with down the line shape the ball enters the target zone and where ever it stops you will be in line. You may be closer to the ball than you wanted but you are still in line.

Choose your routes wisely to make the game easier.

That is how the pros make it look so easy and you can too!

How to Handle the Pressure – The Mental Side of Pool

This is a basic introduction into the mental side of pool.

How the way we think affects the way we play pool. The emphasis on the role of our mind becomes greater as we improve our game and move up the rankings.

It has been said that at the professional level pool is 5% physical and 95% mental, but, more often than not, the occasional bar room player probably has these figures reversed.

So what do we mean when we refer to the mental side of the game? It’s not so much a separate function as it is a need for our physical and mental components to work together.

The mental side of poolThe mind is like a gateway to peak sports performance.

When learning about billiards the all novice players are concerned with the mechanics of the stroke and the movement of the balls around the table.

How we learn skills affects our perception of the game and is a key element in performance related issues which can affect your game to some extent as you progress in your sport.
When we learn a skill, we move from position 1. to position 4. on the chart to the left.

This transition can take several days to a lifetime to complete and involves hours of dedicated practice and repetition to the point where we no longer need to think about what we are doing.

If you drive a car you will be familiar with this process as you moved from learning the highway code in step 1. through to driving talking and listening to the radio at the same time in step 4.

In other words the car just drives itself with no conscious thought or intervention coming from the driver.

Playing any sport at a high level requires confidence. We also need to feel comfortable at an optimal level of arousal and be excited about the game & challenge ahead of us in order to exhibit our peak performance. It is important that we not be anxious anxious or fear failure.

So What Is Mental Pressure?

Mental pressure is a reaction to a situation or expectation, either yours or someone else’s. Pressure can be real or imagined.

Possible pressure situations:

  • In a match where you are easily supposed to win but are struggling.
  • Where you have a big lead but start to lose games.
  • You are on the live stream table and feel self conscious.
  • The match is outside of your usual comfort zone.

What is the Mental Side of Pool/Brain side of Billiards?

Is it thought?
Determination?
Is it intense concentration?
The will to win?

These are all important elements, yet not the whole picture, although one might think so after observing the style of play and body language at a local competition.

It is being “in stroke”. Being “in the zone” or “unconscious”.
in the zoneThese are the terms used by pool players to describe the desired state of mind.

It is an effortless effort. Like the game is playing itself. Everything feels good and you are completely relaxed. The shots seem to play themselves and every choice is the right one. The pockets look like huge buckets and even tough run outs are a piece of cake.

If you have been there you know what I mean. Perhaps you have experienced this state once or twice but are not able to turn it on at will. This bring us to our next question. “Can we learn to achieve the zone or will it remain a mystery only to be obtained by a few lucky players?”.

It is a skill and skills can be learned by anyone with the right knowledge and appropriate practice.

 

What is actually happening when a player breaks down mentally?

A number of things happening and the exact process will vary between individual players, their personalities and specific situations. There are however some common threads that will help us to understand what takes place and how to rectify the situation and regain control.

There is usually a trigger:

Pre match-nerves and anxiety building up in the mind before an event.

  • Television appearance
  • Large audience
  • Highly skilled opponent
  • Moving up in competition class
  • First final match appearance

During a match-loss of control during actual competition.

  • Verbal criticism
  • Overwhelming scoreline
  • Jeering or laughing
  • Being totally out played
  • Fear of losing

The symptoms of a mental breakdown are subtle in the beginning but will rapidly disrupt your pool performance.

All of the scenarios above are different but they are all based in FEAR.  

Fear and apprehension increase the anxiety level to a point where performance declines causing more fear and anxiety. In our attempt to control our feelings we slow down and try to think more about the game and our tactics. However we have already learned that peak performance comes from the unconscious mind and so the cycle of decline continues.

Confusion often sets in and starts to build up as we desperately try to remain in control and look unrattled to our opponent and spectators but it’s already too late. We are way past the point of no return now which will manifest itself as humiliation and embarrassment possibly leading to anger and eventually to complete capitulation and surrender.

Giving up completely in these situations sometimes appears to be the only way to salvage some pride,

after all ……“I wasn’t even trying so this loss means nothing.”

I have heard of players giving up playing pool or their chosen sport completely after one of these experiences because they never want to feel that way again.

 

How do players prevent this from happening?

goals in sportThe first thing to do is to realize and acknowledge that you have a problem!

(Privately of course, no need to tell the world about it.)

This may seem like a cliche but it’s true.

The sooner you come to terms with this the quicker you will accept the solutions and be able to move on to new levels.

  • Learn to recognize the signs of anxiety developing
  • Have a mental recovery plan in place for emergencies
  • Learn how to anchor
  • Set reasonable performance and personal goals
  • Visualize your match situations, practice winning
  • Develop a solid pre-shot routine

 

Developing a solid reliable pre-shot routine is Essential

pre shot routineFirst thing to do is develop a pre shot routine.

This is the routine that you will go through prior to every shot. Watch some professional pool players before the shot, tennis players before the serve, or basketball players at the free throw line.

 

What do they all have in common? Their pre-shot routine. No deviation whatsoever.

It’s a routine, done the same way every time. If they get even the slightest bit distracted the players start all over again, this is most obvious when we look at the tennis serve. The pre-shot routine gets the player ready for action. Repeating the same motion over and over coordinates the mind and the body.
This tells the brain what you are about to do, gets it ready to execute the skill that is stored away in your muscle memory from years of practice.

Beautiful, effortless.

As pool players and golfers we have a great advantage over tennis players and soccer players because we only strike the ball when when it is stationary or not moving. This gives us the opportunity to use our preshot routine on every shot that we take. That gives us time to prepare mentally and physically for every stroke.

Form a pre-shot routine that fits in with your style, rhythm of play and personality.

If you are not sure about it borrow a routine from another successful player to start with and make your own adjustments if necessary, but just make sure that you get one!

Your routine should include definite start and finish trigger points that communicate “I am ready to shoot now” to your mind and body. Then once you step into the shot and take up your stance there must be no other verbal communication or “chatter” going on inside your head.

You have already decided on the shot and visualized the successful end result. The only action that is left is to execute the skill. If you are disturbed by anything including your own mind, stand up immediately and go through your pre-shot preparations again.

That is what it takes to master the mental side of pool.

 

Does Your Bridge Length Matter When Playing Pool?

Pool Player Bridge Length.

The length of your bridge is the distance between your bridge hand and the cue ball when you take a shot. This distance has an effect on many aspects of your cue action and can in fact affect the accuracy and the smoothness of your stroke.

Here are some examples of professional pool players with really long bridges if you watch the video you can see how the stroke is long and smooth however as previously mentioned this will come at the cost of loss of accuracy if there any are  faults whatsoever while delivering the cue.

The short Pool bridge – the good and the bad.

short bridge mike Segal world championIf you bridge is too short you will tend to have a very limited back swing and a very jerky short style which will limit your acceleration through the ball making it very difficult for you to perform some of the shots such as follow through draw shot and the topspin follow through.
The next example is of Mike Segal a player whose bridge length is fairly short. He was a very successful player and did win the World Championship.
So even though his stroke was short and stabby I have got to say that when it is done right it is a successful way to hold your cue.

Having a short bridge also means that you will be closer to the ball and lose some perspective on the aim.

Does Your Bridge Length Matter When Playing Pool?

On the plus side with a short Bridge your accuracy level will be increased and any anomalies in your stroke will be greatly reduced, in other words if you tend to drop your elbows slightly to the right it will have little effect on the exact location that the tip of your cue strikes the ball.

If you look at the picture to the right the length between Mike’s bridge hand and the cue ball at the address position is about 5-6 inches.

His back grip hand is about 9 inches from the end of the cue butt end probably fairly close to the balance point. He has plenty of room between his back hand and his chest which allows for a good follow through and finish of the stroke.

The long bridge – Good and bad points.

With a long bridge players tend to exhibit a much smoother stroke which accelerates through the ball making it easier to can extreme spin on the cue ball for follow through shots and draw shots. It is easier to sight the shot from a little further back increasing the players perspective and accuracy.

One player in particular has what I consider to be the longest stroke his name is Santos Sambajon jr.

The downside to this is a loss of accuracy caused by greater amplification of stroke mistakes. In other words the more cue shaft in front of your hand the more any imperfections will show up in your stroke.

In the above image of Santos the players front hand is around 11-13 inches from the white ball at the address position this gives a very good view of the potting angle but demands absolutely straight cueing for accuracy.

His rear hand is about 8 inches from the end of the cue butt. His shoulders are turned in line with the shot. So he probably naturally fell into this position due to his fairly short height.

Some Basic Physics for Those in Doubt.

In order for this to make sense for the comparison I will assume:

  • That the distance between any pool players back hand grip and the “v” or loop in the forward bridge hand will remain the same, 4 feet.
  • Neither player will make a subconscious adjustment in their alignment.

Player #1  has a perfectly straight alignment and cue action.

The length of his bridge has no effect on the accuracy of his shots.

Player #2  has a 1″ elbow movement to the right as he strokes the cue stick.

If the length of his bridge is 6 inches he will have a 0.125” (1/8″) error at the cue ball.

48 / 1 = 6 / 0.125

However, if the length of his bridge is 12 inches this will translate into a 0.25”  (1/4″) error at the cue ball.

48 / 1 = 12 / 0.25

It doesn’t seem to be that great of a difference but the error could easily result in applying side spin by accident.

Personal Experiments in Bridge Length

During my coaching sessions one of the things pointed out by my coach was my tendency to play with an overly long bridge.  He said that could be reducing my accuracy. I didn’t realize what I was doing as no one had ever pointed it out before. I had always played that way and it seemed fine to me.

Then over the next few weeks experimented with reducing the distance between my bridge and the white ball. I found that on certain shots it helped to shorten up but on other shots staying fairly long was ideal.

Billiard Bridge length and Pivot Points.

Pool cues have a pivot close to the bridge point.

This point varies according to the taper of the shaft which could be standard, European or pro taper. The size of the tip / ferrule. The type of material used mostly wood, carbon fiber or a combination of both.

Most shaft manufacturers will state the pivot point length on low deflection shafts. That way you can select a shaft with a pivot point that suits your natural bridge length.

  • Cuetec
  • OB1 and OB2
  • Predator
  • Meucci

With your bridge “V” at the pivot point the deflection of the shaft will cancel out the cue ball squirt when playing shots with side spin inside and outside English.
Note: Not exactly but with practice and the right ball speed the amount of cue ball lateral movement can be almost eliminated.

This is especially true when using “back hand English.”

So, does your bridge length matter when playing pool? Most definitely!

 

 

Three Quarter Ball Position Practice Drill.

This Video is a Practice Drill

This is a pool practice drill that my snooker coach demonstrated to me during an hour session in Nottingham.

The idea is to play all of the shots from the same cue ball and object ball  location and achieve different track lines by changing your stroke.

Changing the Stroke Changes the Track Line

The position of the hit on the cue ball combined with changes in your stroke will result in the white ball travelling down a different line. By learning how and when to adjust your grip and stroke you will develop a “feel” for the shot and the ability to direct the cue ball in many different directions.

The pace of the shot will also affect the track line, generally speaking the white will follow the tangent less on softer shots.

Control the white so that the white ball just touches the target ball softly if it doesn’t then make adjustments.

The Tangent line and Cue ball Speed.

This is important enough that it needs to be the subject of its own article but I will sum up the issue for this practice drill.

The cue ball will follow the tangent on all cut shots prior to leaving the line and moving in the intended direction due to the applied spin.

The harder the white ball is struck, the longer distance it will stay on the tangent line.

The softer the shot the quicker the spin will take effect.

Observing the Results of Your Actions.

When you are practicing set specific goals, observe the results, make  necessary adjustments to achieve the goal. Then observe/adjust, observe/adjust.

 

Draw to Center of the Table – Pool Practice Drill

In this practice drill you will be finding the hit on the cue ball in order to draw the ball back to the center of the table. Set up the shot around three quarter ball.

Mark the ball positions on the table for consistency. Use ring binder reinforcers or something that will not mark the cloth permanently.

There is no one technique that will work for all players because everyone’s stroke is a little different.

You have to spend some time at the table in order to find your own way:

  • Adjust the tightness of your grip
  • Experiment with tip contact position
  • Try the shot at different cue speeds

Video Drill-Draw to Center of the Table

Always  start out a practice session with a definite goal in mind. Check your progress towards that goal, look at your results and make adjustments.

Do not be judgemental, there are no bad shots. If you miss the pocket or the intended position you have just learned what doesn’t work and that is a positive achievement.

 

Center Table Three Quarter Ball Pool Practice Drill Video.

Here is another warm up practice drill for you to practice….


After playing each shot look at the finish position of the white ball and note the route or the track line taken. Try to remember the shape in picture form and combine the picture with the feeling of speed and tip position.

There are probably hundreds of different ways to play each shot in the sequence. Numerous changes to the cue balls track can be made by adjusting the power, the grip and the follow through length.

Try to get comfortable with a number of different stroke combinations and outcomes.