How To Develop A Pre Shot Routine In Pool – Pool Shot Preparation.

Pre shot routine for pool players

What is a Pre-Shot Routine?

The Pre-shot routine or pre-shot ritual is quite simply a set of actions that all great players make in preparation for every shot. If the great players are doing it then we probably should also take a good look at the pre-shot routine (PSR).

The PSR is unique to each player but each routine will contain certain important actions and triggers which I will be going through.

It is a good exercise to watch the pre-shot routines players in any sport.

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 their conscious thinking process from the sub-conscious execution phase.

shot zones for pre-shot routine


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 – the 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 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 the 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 Included In A Pre-Shot Ritual?

It is a What is a Pre-Shot Routine? The PSR 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 Ritual 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.

The length of time would be linked to your personal rhythm and speed of play.

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 your own ritual that fits with your personality and demeanor. A perfect match for your 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 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?) He was, in my opinion, the greatest professional tennis player of his time. At the time he was aggressive, natural and intuitive with a volatile temperament which made him a great player to watch. His pre-shot service ritual was a little different from normal but obviously very effective and distinctive.

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 pre-shot routine.

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