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.
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.
Cueing off the rail.
Bridging over a ball.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
CTE+Edge to A (15 degree perception)
or CTE+Edge to B (30 degree perception)
or CTE+Edge to C (45 degree perception)
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….
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”
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
Follow through stroke.
Now I can combine these strokes with the different types of 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 aim at pool in order to make the cue ball strike the object ball at the precise angle that sends the ball into the desired pocket?
If you can play a bit then this will not seem that difficult to do. However, making 2 spheres collide at the exact angle is no mean feat. Professionals and top amateur players make it look easy but they have hit their share of balls on the practice table.
If you ask a professional pool player how they aim you will usually get one of two replies:
I don’t know.
I don’t aim.
This is actually not a lie. It is not these players trying to hide their secrets, most of them genuinely don’t know.
Even worse if you are ever in a position to get some help from a pro player you will soon find out that most of them are terrible at explaining the process.
So what is a New Player to Do?
Pool and billiard aiming systems which is the best for a new player?
What is an Aiming system?
An aiming system is a practical method to assist alignment with the object ball. It is an aid to help with cue ball object ball alignment.
Do I Need an Aiming system?
The short answer is no, many people including professional players have never used an aiming system but play at a world-class level.
These players learned the angles from hitting millions of balls and using trial and error.
Do Aiming Systems help?
Yes aiming systems can help.
Some systems are used to help illustrate the aiming line in coaching situations.
In particular the ghost ball system is very useful when coaching students.
Aiming systems can help to shortcut the learning process, not everyone has the time to practice 8 hours a day.
Some popular aiming systems.
Split the difference
Cue shaft systems
The see system
Center to Edge
I am only going to discuss the systems that I know something about.