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.