: Liz Ford
Form and Function: A Guide to Pool Fundamentals
There's a lot of talk in pool about proper form, also known as “fundamentals” or “mechanics.” These terms refer to body placement, practice strokes, grip tension, follow-through and other physical things associated with the stroke – pretty much everything that happens from the time you set yourself down over the cue-ball until you get back up again. You might have heard us pool players blather on about “pendulum strokes” and “elbow drops” and stood there scratching your head thinking, “I thought I was just supposed to put the ball in the hole!” I'm here to transcend all that chatter and let you know the straight poop about why form matters: accuracy, power and consistency. If you prefer to stand on your head whilst juggling chainsaws with your feet, but you can deliver the cue stick exactly where you want every time, more power to you! For the rest of us mere mortals here are some guidelines about what constitutes good fundamentals and allows us the greatest opportunity for success:
Don't be a push over
By forming your stance like a tripod, with your weight evenly distributed between your two feet and your bridge hand, you'll be balanced, comfortable and impervious to accidental movement.
Keep your head still
Moving your head, once you are down over the ball, will change your perspective on the shot and start playing tricks with your eyes and more importantly, your aim.
Stay on the level
You've probably heard it a gazillion times, but it's worth saying again: keep your cue as level as possible to reduce missing due to an unintentional masse.
Timing is everything
Pendulum or a loopy double-hinge, your stroke has a power zone where the cue stick is moving the fastest. Set yourself up so that you hit the ball during this sweet spot to get the most power from the least effort.
Stay out of your own way
It may feel safe to have the cue stick close to your body when you're playing but this closeness can often get in the way of a proper follow-through. Make sure your hips are rotated 45 degrees away from your grip hand and that your stance allows you room to let your arm swing freely (as though you were rolling a bowling ball.)
Don't kill the bird
The old analogy is that your grip on the cue should be like holding a bird: enough tension to keep the bird from flying away but not so much that you kill the poor birdie.
Make your practice strokes like the real thing
Dial in exactly how you want the shot to feel by using practice strokes that match the size and power of your final stroke. Don't take huge practice swings for a little tiny shot or vice versa.
Slow back-swing and smooth delivery
Take your final back-swing they same way a golfer or archer does: slowly. By coming back in a straight line you'll be grooving a path for the cue to come straight forward. When you let go and shoot, allow to cue to come forward smoothly, without forcing it through – don't worry if you're in your sweet spot, you'll have more than enough natural power.
Develop a post-shot routine
You can learn a lot and correct your own form by paying attention to the quality of your follow-through. Your cue-tip should travel 4-6 inches straight through the cue-ball and to come to rest on the bed of the table.