: Emily Duddy
THE FUNDAMENTALS: Lifetime Tune-Ups Recommended
Every pool player holds a unique story for the way they were introduced to the game and often that is where their mechanics were born. Some of us had early beginnings that we barely remember. Often the players who begin young can have some of strongest fundamentals: however, they also are more prone to develop bad habits that diehard. No matter how long you have done something a certain way that does not make it best.
Another type of player is one who learned later in life. Maybe they felt natural holding a cue or maybe learning was torture, but either way they probably have memories of fumbling and frustration as they tried to align all the pieces of their body. These players may have to regularly keep an eye on everything or be in danger of getting rusty while off the table.
Then there are those people who have held a cue for a small amount of time. Many potential pool players think they suck for the wrong reason. When they play casually a friend may point at the spot to hit the object ball, but without all the physical check points in place, it is IMPOSSIBLE to execute pocketing with regularity. These players must know the truth! If you don’t have solid form you will not be able to perform the movement needed to make the ball. If you have the desire to get better, you should take a lesson from an established player with sound teaching skills and then commit time to practice.
No matter what category you fall into every level of player can benefit from occasionally strengthening, correcting and fine-tuning the all-important physical fundamentals of pool.
1. The stance forms the foundation.
Finding a specific way to step into your shot every time significantly helps maintain a solid stance. I stand square to the shot with feet about hip distance apart and line my cue with my chosen cue ball path. Next I step my left foot together with my right so it’s lined up with my cue (I’m a lefty so opposite for the right handed). Then I step forward with my right foot about a foot to the right of center. I lock my back leg to ensure I don’t jump up and have my weight evenly distributed between each leg. Work on finding a comfortable and solid stance that works for you & try to duplicate it each shot.
2. The elbow and wrist align to lead.
It is important to make sure the elbow is aligned with the line of the cue, that you are not tucking it out or twisting it in. The wrist is the connecting point and it must be straight. Then your elbow stays stable to guide your forearm and wrist, which stay fluid. Try having a friend or coach hold your elbow in place to find the feel of it. Also holding the cue too far back or too far forward will affect your follow through. Try to find a 90-degree angle.
3. The bridge hand is a rock and the stroke hand goes with the flow.
One should work on developing a rock solid bridge hand that does not move during their shot. It can be important to have an open and closed bridge in your arsenal to use on different shots, but make sure you have one that is firm. Decide what bridge you will use before you move into the shot. Feel the cue in your hand using this bridge and then put it straight on the table. Make sure you are applying pressure to the table with your fingers, especially while elevated. Your stroke hand should be loosely gripping the back of your cue so it can go with the flow of the elbow and wrist.
4. The eyes are soft and focused on the task at hand.
Your eyesight connects it all together. It is important that you relax your eyes because tension can cause issues in other places. Make sure you have picked your cue ball position before you get down and try not to look there too much while you’re shooting. Focus on the spot you need to hit on your object ball, not where you will strike the cue ball or what position you need. Moving your eyes too much is a bad habit that will divide your attention and may cause you to miss.
5. A good plan, confident follow through, and practice brings it all together.
First make all your decisions standing up! Have a solid plan and then once you are down focus all your attention on execution. If you start having second thoughts or get distracted stand up and reset! It is very important that your cue is as level to the floor as possible on most shots, especially when the cue ball is close to the rail. ANY amount of elevation can cause you to miss or add the wrong English. Keep the cue level, allow the cue to do the work (don’t try to force the stroke) and keep everything lose. Try to smoothly follow through every shot and keep your body still until the shot is complete. Practice all parts of your fundamentals until they become second nature, but a having a good pre-shot routine will help you when you don’t have the time to hit the tables. Also don’t slam or hit the ball the shot too hard, this decreases accuracy.
GOOD LUCK AND MAY THE STROKE BE WITH YOU!