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Staying Still

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It is amazing how little things can improve our game a lot. One of the things I hear from a lot of players is that they really have trouble with long, straight shots. I always ask them to show me what they mean, and here is what I usually see. Take a look at this diagram.




 

They set this shot up, and proceed to hit it a hundred miles an hour, jumping up and throwing their stick high in the air. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but with all that movement, a player really doesn’t have much of a chance to make the shot.

The first key to unlocking the puzzle of these long shots is making sure to keep your head still. The best way to make sure your head is still is to shift your eyes to the target spot you want the cue ball to go to (notice I didn’t say the object ball!), and focus on this spot for a second or so before you move the stick on your final stroke.

There are three ways to make this shift. One is to stop your eyes at the cue ball to make sure you have the right spot and everything looks right, then shift your eyes before you pull your stick back. Next is to shift our eyes as we slowly bring the cue stick back, and finally, we can shift our eyes after we get our stick all the way to the back and pause. You might try each one of these ways to see what works best for you.

No matter which way you choose to move your eyes, it is important that your head keeps still and down on the shot. That is why I personally like the first method.

The reason we look at the cue ball target spot is because that is what we are really aiming at. If you look at the object ball you will hit it, but on thinner cut shots that hit will be too thick.

Next key is to make sure our stand is balanced with about the same amount of weight in each foot, and a little weight on our bridge hand. Everyone is different here, but excessive leaning will throw you off balance and not allow you to have a smooth stroke.

After we stop our cue stick at the cue ball to make sure everything looks right and shift our eyes to our target cue ball position, we bring our stick all the way back to our fingers slowly. This is another area that players cause errors. If you only pull your stick back an inch, you don’t have enough power to make the shot. What your body does then is snatch at the cue stick and jump up to generate power. You sure can hit the cue ball hard that way, but not very accurately.

Pulling back smoothly and all the way to your fingers keeps your stick on the line of the shot and generates smooth power for accuracy.

We also want to make sure to keep our bridge solid and not moving. Opening fingers, twisting your hand, or picking up your bridge before the shot is over all add to your chance for a miss.

Now go shoot a hundred straight shots a day for a week and I guarantee you that your game will improve.