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

How to play 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 the stop 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 verticle center. This will ensure that no side 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 through.
  • The pressure of the grip.
  • Positioning of the tip on the cue ball.

All of the above affect the outcome of the shot.

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

In other words if there is 8 feet between the balls, you will need to lower the tip impact point on the ball,  increase power of the stroke or use a mixture of both to ensure that the cue ball is skidding.

The Skid Zone, Distance and Timing.

A ball is said to be skidding when it is sliding along the cloth and not spinning either forward or back. When a ball is skidding along the cloth it is being slowed down by friction from the cloth. This friction will eventually cause the ball to start turning in the direction of its initial travel.

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 it is still skidding. Its forward momentum is halted by the object ball and because ti has no spin the ball will stop dead on impact.

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.

How To Straighten A Pool Stroke.

Introduction To Straight Stroking Method.

Before you learn how to straighten a pool stroke using this method, please understand that this information is contrary to the advice that is often given by other coaches and most instruction books. If you are having problems with straight in shots try it out you might be surprised.

We use our eyes to find the aim and our body then follows to align physically with the shot line.
So our bodies will instinctively fall into line with our eyes. If the eyes are wrong the body will misalign and we will not be aware of the problem until we miss the shot.

Eliminate the Aiming Component.

Straight shots are needed to use this method. Cut shots do not demonstrate a conflict between percieved and actual alignment.

Set up a long straight in stop shot from corner to corner.
Preferably on a 9 foot table.
See the 1st diagram below.

Place the object ball at 1 diamond from the corner pocket to start with.

straight in shot

Leave enough room to get your hand on the table and cue comfortably.

Shoot a straight stop shot.

Shoot the same shot 10 times.

Watch the results, even if the ball goes into the pocket.

Did the cueball move to the left or right after impact.

If you are successfull 9 out of ten times, move the object ball further from the pocket.

Move to 1 and 1/2 diamonds and then to 2 diamonds as you improve.

straight shot 2 diamonds

When you shoot a straight in shot you obviously will know where to aim because you will be linning up the center of the cue ball to the center of the object ball. You also have the help of the cue ball edge to object ball edge.

Play the shot where your eyes think that it should be correct. Look at the results. If you are not making the ball then you will either be missing it to the left or right side of the pocket with the cueball going to the opposite side of the shot line.

Right now if you are missing a straight shot as described above your eyes are deceiving you.

Why This Works?

The shot looks right but it isn’t.

You think that you are aiming straight but you are not.

The problem is that unlike other shots, your eyes have an objective target. This causes a conflict with your subconscious knowledge and you consciously overide the information in favour of what your can physically see.

Yes you will make the ball once in a while but not with any consistency.

Make sure that your cue is on the shot line from your right foot all along the cue, through both balls and on towards the pocket.

This problem does not occur with cut shot because usually there are no objective targets to distract you from your aim.

So what is the Solution?

If your aim looks straight and your cue looks aligned but you miss the ball, then you must find an aim that looks wrong but makes the ball.

Make a small adjustment to your perceived shot line. It wont look right but shoot anyway.

Did you make the ball?

Did you miss by more or less than before?

Did your cue ball move off line more or less than before?

Find What Looks Wrong But Works.

Eventually after making small adjustments to your aim the ball will start to go into the pocket more often. Practice this routine every day, make it a mission to hit 1000’s of these shots until you cannot miss.

This will be your new alignment for straight in shots and over time your cut shots will also start to be more consistent.

Keep a mark on the floor for the correct foot position so that you can repeat the same stance every time.

Make sure that your eyes are firmly fixed and focused on the object ball prior to cue delivery. You have to learn to trust your stroke completely to prevent steering.

The Pool Stance – How To Stand When Playing Pool.

Ok, so who cares about the pool stance? It’s not exciting, it’s just another one of those boring “fundamentals” that I learned about years ago.
Hopefully, that is not your opinion but even if it is read on, you could find something that will improve your game. I know that I did once I realized how to make small improvements. Going back to the basics and examining your fundamentals should be part of your coaching plan.

What is the Pool Stance?

A solid stance is the foundation for all pool skills. The stance must be solid, balanced and comfortable but to start with it will be none of these.

I have seen in a lot of instruction manuals and videos that the instructor is telling the player to get into a pool stance which is “comfortable, natural and balanced” now let me tell you that if this is the first time you’ve gotten into this position and it feels natural balanced and comfortable you are doing it all wrong.
There is nothing natural about a pool or snooker stance and it certainly is not comfortable in the initial stages.

Differences in the Stance.

Have you ever noticed the way that top players, both professionals and amateurs, stand at the table? Their positions are all different but they all demonstrate the same fundamentals. The way they stand is different because we are all different as human beings in so many ways.
Some differences can be an advantage at the pool table.

  • Height of the player.
  • Length of their legs.
  • Width of their shoulders.
  • Length of their arms.
  • Slim versus stocky frame.
  • Player flexibility.

Key Elements of the Stance.

If you have taken the time to study some great players, you will have discovered the similarities of their stances not with standing the list above.

Your stance must include the following elements:

  • Stability.
  • Consistency.
  • Balance.
  • Alignment.
  • Clearance.

Before you Get Into Your Pool Stance – Pre-shot Routine

Stand behind the shot and go through your pre-shot routine completely before you approach the shot.

  • Observe the situation.
  • Select the shot.
  • Select the position route.
  • Visualize a positive outcome.
  • Finalize all decisions.
  • Step on to the shot line.

Where to Stand When Taking Up Your Pool Stance.

In order to build your stance, we will assume that you know where the line of the shot is and place your right foot on the line facing the direction of the shot. The right foot should be around a pool cues length from the cue ball. The exact position of your foot will evolve as you find your optimum distance and alignment.
Some players have their foot running parallel to the shot line, whilst other players turn their foot up to 90 degrees. The precise positioning of your foot will affect your aim and body clearance.

How to Stand.

Right now your feet will be together with your right foot on the line of the shot. From this position, you can see down the line of the shot through the cue ball to the object ball.

Next place your left foot shoulder width from your right foot he’s up at 90° to the shop line or approximately 60° to the Shot line. The placement of your left foot parallel to the line of the shot will allow your right hip to move out of the way. This will give your right side ample room for your grip hand to move freely backward and forwards.

So at this point you all looking down the line up the shot your right foot he’s on the shot line you left foot it’s a shoulder width apart parallel to the direction of the shot this will give you a solid base from which to build the rest of your stance.

With your cue in your right hand standing upright, turn your body so that your left hand is able to touch the cue in the bridge position.
Your cue is on the shot line with your right hand on the butt and on the left-hand roughly in your bridge position.

Getting Down into Your Full Stance.

Bend forward at the hips placing your hand in the bridge position on the shot line. Your left knee should be slightly bent to accommodate the turn. Bending the left knee also helps to make room between the cue and the hip. Your right leg should stay straight if possible. If this is difficult because you are very tall then bending the knee is acceptable. Eklent Kaci from Albania is over 6 feet 6 inches tall and plays with his knee locked out.

During your downward motion, the cue stays on the shot line and your body moves around the cue. This will help to keep the cue on the shot line. At this point, your hand should be 8-12 inches from the cue ball, the tip of your cue should be a quarter inch from the cue ball and your right hand should be hanging vertically gripping the cue at the rear.

When in your full stance position, your head, shoulder, elbow, hand and cue should all be in the same plane. This simplifies the cue action and keeps everything online. One of the most important goals is to deliver the cue along a straight line.

Practice Getting Into Your Stance.

When you practice getting into your stance you will need to make some adjustments with your feet so as you put your hand on the table you don’t feel like you’re leaning forward or leaning back.

After a while you will automatically start to put your feet in the right place in order for this to happen you must repeat getting into your stance position many many times.

Each time you practice your stance stand on the shot line behind where you are going to take up your stance position and step onto the line and into your stands from further back.

Subconscious Alignment.

When you have practiced this for some time you will begin to notice that most of your amen is done standing up. In other words, the position of your right foot on the shot line will determine whether you were lined up with the shot correctly or not.

This means that you are doing most of your aiming while you are standing up. The placement of your feet takes care of the majority of the aiming process. Only micro-adjustments should be made when you are down in your full stance. Some experienced players can get down into full stance with their eyes closed and still make the ball.

Listen to Your Mind, It Is Usually Correct!

I can assure you that every time I have felt uncomfortable down in my full stance, or I’ve had this little niggling store in my head that something is wrong, I would usually go on to miss the shot. If I had stood up and reset my whole routine I would have probably made the ball.

If you don’t feel right, stand up, reset and go through your pre-shot routine again.

The stance becomes a subconscious process. Your mind will tell you if you’re down on the shot and you’re not correctly on the shot line. You will feel uncomfortable you won’t necessarily know what is wrong but you just feel like something is wrong. This is the point where you must get up and start again.

Conclusions

  • Pre Shot routine is key.
  • Aim before you get down into your stance.
  • Get into the same position every time.
  • Trust your instincts.

How To Play The Stun Shot – The Secret To Great Position Play.

What Is The Stun Shot?

The stun shot is a very exciting shot to learn. This shot gives another dimension to your position play. In its simplest form is just the same as a stop shot but on an angle. When a stop shot is played on an angled shot the white ball will follow the tangent line to the rail. Its path is very predictable and helps to play some precision position shots.

How Do I Play The Stun Shot?

Stun shots are played the same way as a stop shot, usually with a crisp punch type stroke. Distance between the balls will have an effect on the tip position on the cue ball. Stun shots are also sensitive to ball speed. The focus of the shot is to have no spin on the cueball at impact with the object ball. The cue ball needs to be skidding along the surface of the table at the collision.

The Skidding Cue Ball.

What is a skidding cue ball and why is this so important. If you strike the ball with backspin the cue ball will travel forward whilst spinning backward. As the backspin wears off due to friction the ball will start to skid along the cloth. After a certain distance the skid wears off and the ball will start to rotate in a forward direction. In order for the stun shot to work, the balls must collide during the skid phase.

What Path Will The White Ball Take?

If the white ball strikes the object ball during the skid phase, the white ball will leave along the tangent line. Which will be 90 degrees to the shot line. The ball stays on this line until it strikes a rail, another ball or its speed wears off. It is important to note that the skid will wear off eventually leading to a rolling cue ball.

Limitations Of This Shot.

The main things to remember when using the stun shot are that contact induced throw tends to thicken the shot angle. Stun shots work best on fuller shot angles. You will find that as the angle increases the effectiveness of the stun decreases. Beyond 25-30 degrees the cue ball has too much forward momentum to follow the tangent line. It is sometimes a balance between the shot angle and the speed of the cue ball.

How To Use The Stun Shot For Position.

It may help some people to know my thought process when assessing the path to my next shot. Can I get there using a rolling white ball either natural or top spin? Does a stun shot down the tangent line take me to the correct location. These are usually the easiest shot to predict so I consider them first. The great advantage of the stun shot is its track line or path.

How To Adjust The Tangent Line?

On all cut shots the cue ball will always follow the 90 degree line after making contact with the object ball. The length of time the white ball spends on the line will depend on angle, speed and spin.
If an angled stun shot follows the tangent line. A draw shot curves back below the tangent line. A follow-through shot curves up above the tangent line. Then how do we make the cue ball follow the angles in between? You can achieve these in-between track lines by varying your speed, tip position and stroke.

How To Practice Stun Shots?

The best way to practice stun shots is to shoot easy angle shots from the same known position over and over. Continue to shoot the balls whilst trying to predict the path of the cue ball. Staying with the same shot, vary your tip position and take note of the changes. Then vary the distance between the balls. Next make changes to your shot speed again notice the result. You can now vary the shot by using tip position, speed and distance.

Once you start to feel comfortable you can introduce small amounts of side spin. You will need to make adjustments to your aim to allow for deflection. You can get some amazing results with spin. There is not short cut to learning these skills, have fun practicing and see what you can do.

Down The Line Shape | Pool Position The Easy Way.

Down the Line Shape – Increase Your 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, 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 overrun 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 riskier, 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, sends the cue ball across the positional target area which is quite small in comparison. The small margin of error is a low percentage positional choice.

It is harder to judge the power needed 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 to be but you are still in line.

When playing 9 ball pool I prefer to leave myself further away from the object ball but on the correct line for the next ball. The right angle makes the shot easier and reduces the need to force the cue ball along unnatural routes.

Choose your routes wisely to make the game easier.

Why Do I Miss Easy Pool Shots – Is Your Stroke Getting in The Way?

I am talking about the reason for missing easy pool shots even when you thought that everything was lined up perfectly prior to the execution. I am not talking about missing in general terms or the efforts of inexperienced beginners banging balls around the table.
Pool is a difficult game and some shots are more difficult than others.

Only Two Reasons Why We Miss Easy Pool Shots.

When you are playing pool and you miss a shot that you have made a hundred times it can be very unsettling. what is going on, why did I miss that? Although there appear to be a 1000 different reasons for missing a shot, the situation is far simpler.
Given that you know how to play and are going through the same routine as usual, there are only two basic reasons for missing shots…. either:

  • You failed to line the shot up correctly.
  • Your stroke broke down on delivery.

That’s it, just two reasons why you miss easy pool shots.
Any other issues can be traced back to one of these two failures.

Aiming consists of:

  • Shot recognition.
  • Shot alignment.
  • Vision center.
  • Approach.

Stroke consists of:

  • Stance.
  • Head placement.
  • Shoulder and elbow alignment.
  • Wrist position and grip.
  • Accurate address position.
  • Cue delivery.
  • Staying still.

It Can’t Be My Aiming Because I Use A System.

It goes without saying but I’m going to say it anyway …. no aiming system in the world will make you successful at potting balls if you do not have a consistent way to deliver the cue through on a straight line. Straight cue delivery is so important that you need to isolate it from the other functions to make a reliable assessment of your stroke.

So let’s Remove Aiming From the Equation.

So the problem here is that we have two variables either one of which could fail or both of them could fail at the same time. In order to find out what is going wrong, we need to eliminate one of the problems in other words isolate the stroke or isolate the aiming.
It is easier to isolate the aiming.


To do this line up a shot which is the type of shot that you would miss 25% of the time but you know where to aim. If possible you can play a shot that is well known to you, for instance, a 1/2 ball shot or a 3/4 ball shot that you know is lined up correctly. Mark the table with hole reinforcers to ensure correct placement.

Your Stroke Must Have errors.

You have now eliminated the aiming part of the shot.
Having isolated the aiming from the problem, if you miss now you know it has to be your stroke. Once you know that it is your stroke then it is easier to work on that particular area of your game until you can successfully make the ball every time.

What’s The 1st Step to Fixing Stroke Errors?

In order to look at your stroke and find out what is causing the misses, you will need to see what you are doing during the shot. This can be achieved on your own with a video recorder that most smartphones have these days. Doing this on your own can work if you know what to look for but most likely you will need help from a third-party preferably a coach.

Play the same shot over and over at least 5 times from each position. Video yourself from the front, the back and the right side, if you are right-handed. Take some extra footage of yourself playing several shots at random. Don’t try too hard to be perfect on the video clips.

Don’t forget that you are trying to capture errors!

If you have never watched a video of yourself playing before this could be a real eye opener. As pool players, we often have the idea that we look great when playing! However, things are probably not going to look perfect at all. But that’s ok you will now have something definite to work with.

What To Look Out For First On The Video.

As mentioned earlier the stroke consists of:

  • Stance.
  • Head placement.
  • Shoulder and elbow alignment.
  • Wrist position and grip.
  • Accurate address position.
  • Cue delivery.
  • Staying still.

But first of all take a 1000 ft view at the footage to get a general idea of the issues at hand.

  • Do you see anything obviously wrong?
  • Does everything look fairly standard?
  • Do you see any unnecessary movement?
  • Do your movements look smooth and controlled or jerky?
  • Is there a definite rhythm to your motions?

Now Take A Detailed Look At Your Stroke?

How to Make Major Stroke Changes?

How to make major stroke changes? Most pool players are always looking for a way to improve their game and move to the next level.

It doesn’t matter how many years you have been playing it is a (delightful) lifetime struggle to get minor improvements in our game.

Its a Big Job.

Sometimes changes can be made which are easy but sometimes you will need to make a major change. This change may set your game back 4 months or so. Whether or not you decide to embark on these changes will be down to how determined you are to make the necessary improvements.

In order to explain this properly I am going to let you know what I personally had to do to improve. This was after playing pool and snooker for over 30 years.

Why I am Making Changes Now.

So why did I decide to make changes after all of this time. You have to understand that my stroke, my stance, my alignment and everything about my game has been ground into my muscle memory over the last 20 years. We as pool players do not respond well to making changes. In fact as human beings we avoid change like the plague. This is because we feel comfortable with our present actions and emotions. Ive always done it this way. Change is awkward without a tough, positive attitude and real determination.

To put it simply I had stopped playing pool for probably 13 years. When I came back to the game I was 62. after major practice and playing on the local circuit for 1 year, I was not getting the results that I thought I should have been getting.

Is The Change Worth the Effort?

It would have been easy for me at that point to give up and blame my sub par play on my age but because I don’t believe that age is really that big of an issue with the game of Pool, I decided to make some changes in order to make my game more consistent.

So there you have it, I think my game is inconsistent and I don’t trust my stroke under pressure. Those are two major reasons for rebuilding my game.

Last Years Results.

Over the last year while I was playing in competition I have found it extremely difficult to bring my A game to the table. I feel that I have been beaten on occasion by people who have absolutely no business standing at the same table. This is not said in a disrespectful way to other players but I have my own high expectations and I need to fulfill them.

During this time I have noticed that when I play subconsciously, in the zone, my game completely comes together. I don’t have to think about anything that I’m doing and everything works well and I usually win. However when playing under pressure I’ve noticed that my play can be really terrible. It’s almost like I have no conscious game to fall back up on!

So Whats The Problem?

This leads me to the conclusion that when I’m in the zone my subconscious can make minor adjustments to my stroke. These adjustments enable me to successfully make the balls. However these corrective adjustments are not made automatically when I am consciously thinking under pressure. That means that when I “try” to aim mechanically I do not make the same stroke. This leads to misses, frustration and that leads to trying even harder with similar results.

What I need, and what every player needs is a repeatable, reliable stroke. This stroke must hold up under pressure and not rely on subconscious adjustments. I also need to be able to look at the object ball without the need for me to constantly check cue alignment. It should be interesting to see what is going on. I wonder how different my cue action is in real life compared to my imagination.

What My Next Move Will Be.

So in order for me to learn how to make major stroke changes I’m going to need some video analysis or a coach. I seem to spend a lot of time home right now, I have a smart phone camera and I have my own table. So for me video will be the best way to go….

When We Miss A Shot – What Would A Pro Do Next?

You will notice from the title “When We Miss A Shot” that I used the word “when” and not “if”. That was for a very good reason as you will find out below.

Amateur Versus Professional Attitude.

One of the biggest differences between the amateur and professional player is the way in which they react to any kind of adversity. This includes missing a shot or missing position on the next ball.

The amateur player tends to beat themselves up and criticize themselves for missing the shot. I have heard this and I have done it myself.

Attitude is Key.

The professional player knows that everybody misses! Even the best players in the world miss balls. It’s part of the game, you cannot avoid missing shots or position sometimes.


Eventually we all miss. Not in this video but Shane Van Boening missed an easy 9 ball to win a championship in 2019. He must have been devastated. Looking at his face and his demeanor, as he took the long walk back to his chair, you would never have known! That is professional discipline.

If missing is inevitable and it is, then why do we give the missed shot so much power over us as players. It’s like a volcano waiting to erupt every few minutes

This brings up two important points.

  1. How do you react when you miss?
  2. Why do you miss?

Today I will discuss point number one.

How do you react when you miss.

A History of Missed Shots.

When we first started to play pool every shot we played failed. Later as time progressed we failed less and less as we discovered which particular actions worked and which ones didn’t. This is called trial and error. Most people use this method to learn how to pot pool balls. Hit a million balls or HAMBs as it’s referred to works particularly off this principle.

Eventually we develop a different way of looking at the game than when learning. Initially it was okay to miss because we were learning from those mistakes. Now we have become competitive our mindset has shifted to one of not accepting any kind of failure.
Missing now equals defeat. Missing equals failure.

Moving Forward You Must Change.

It has been said by many motivational speakers…. “The only people that don’t make mistakes don’t get out of bed in the morning”. Also it has been said that there’s no success without failure. Thomas Edison invented the light bulb on his 99th try etc. etc.

Get back to the point you were at last time you missed. Missing was an opportunity to learn a better way to play. This is what professional pool players do. They analyze their mistakes and play the shot over and over again until it is indelibly burnt into their muscle memory. This way the professional player is using his mistakes as a way to learn and improve for the future. This different mindset sets professional players apart from most amateur players.

Perceptions Can Hurt Our Play.

It can also be said that that there are no good or bad shots that is only our perception of the result. Sometimes the shots go in, sometimes they don’t. There is no real difference only our expectations and our win lose mentality.

So how can we deal with this and change our attitude. The best way is to take care of this in practice. Make the decision right now that the next time that you practice and you miss you are going to react in a different way.

We Need to Practice Missing.

We all miss balls when practicing , When We Miss A Shot, stop look at the shot again, run it back through your mind with no judgment attached to it.
Now set up the shot again, visualize a positive result and continue to play it until you can’t get it wrong. This has to become part of your game, your ritual, just like your pre shot routine. This will become your routine for missing.

How Good is Your Average Game – Are You That Good?

This seems like a strange question to ask, why would I ask you how good is your average 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.

Average pool game

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.

Performance Goals and Expectations – Can Coaching Help You?

What is a Performance Goal?

Performance goals and expectations, generally 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 Performance Goals in Pool.

There is some debate about whether 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 Time Schedule For Performance Goals?

The reasonable time schedule will be down to the individual. Sometimes you have to realize that if it took you 5 years to learn a bad habit, you will not get instant results. You will also know if you are the type of person who is driven by deadlines or leaves most things to the last minute. Know these facts about yourself can also help to set time limits on your goals

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 down at the pool hall. His shot making is not bad but he is always shooting difficult shots because of poor position.

Goal To move up to an APA 4.
How Learning about shape and position play.
Method Watching video training, practicing appropriate drills.
Time 90 Days

Helpful Tips For Success.

You must take action.
Nothing will happen unless you take positive, consistent daily action!

  • Break the 90 days into daily, weekly and monthly goals.
  • Keep a journal of your progress towards your goal.
  • Note shots that are a problem, practice them more.
  • Check your progress, are you making headway.

Amazing Ghost Ball Aiming System Explained-Should You Use it?

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

What is 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 the cue balls impact 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.

So How Does It Work In Theory?

Image courtesy of Dr Dave

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. Where the center of the ghost ball crosses the line to the pocket will be the aim line from your position. This point will be the same from any position on the table.
This simplifies matters.

You Need A Good Imagination.

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.

Some Of The Downfalls Of Ghost Ball

All shots thinner than 1/2 ball contact will have the AIM point 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.

Cut Induced Throw (CIT) Thickens The 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 cut induced throw. CIT will momentarily push the object ball in the direction of the cue ball travel in what appears to be a thicker contact than previously estimated. This needs to be allowed for when aiming either by:

  • Aiming for a thinner contact
  • .Using outside spin

CIT varies with speed, spin and cut angle and is worse at slow speeds.
The amount of outside English that needs to be applied to counter the effects of CIT on cut angle also varies.

Should You Use Ghost Ball Aiming?

The ghost Ball aiming method in theory is sound when taking into account CIT. It is also very useful as a tool when show new players the basics of aiming. I use it occasionally when trying out new shots and it’s really useful in coaching situations. Personally found it awkward to visualize the position of the cue ball prior to striking the shot.
Ghost ball Aiming is not a method that I would recommend for everyone.
But please try it out you might one of the players who loves it.