The Power of Air Pool
The great minds in comedy have been playing some sweet air guitar for years, from Bill and Ted to Wayne and Garth. If you've watched competitive pool, you may have seen that the best players produce some righteous pantomimes of their own: air pool. What am I talking about?
Most good players can be seen standing up at the table before getting down over there shot, swinging in the air at phantom shots like your cat chases imaginary bugs. You might wonder what the heck they're doing up there with all that noodling around. Well, it turns out that air pool has quite a few benefits beyond letting you look like you know what you're doing.
Check out these positive effects of a little air jamming before you play:
1. It loosens you up and gets you coordinated.
If you're coming to the table cold or your muscles are tightening up due to nerves, it pays to swing your arm a few times so that your movements become fluid instead of jerky. Moving your body also sends a cue to your brain to trigger the processes necessary for the coordination of fine motor control – a must for performing successfully.
2. It helps you make a plan.
Air pool allows you to take a mental and physical test-drive of various options for the shot at hand in order to decide on the option that feels the best. You get practice feeling what the shot will be like and whether what you have planned in your mind will be a winner.
3. It gives you a chance to check the alignment of your body and cue before setting them down over the shot.
If you stand up and let your arm swing freely first, you can see where your swing is pointing naturally. From there you can use your feet to maneuver that swing into the correct line of the shot before walking in to set everything down.
4. It lets you rehearse and program your shot.
The process of shooting happens best when it happens automatically, without thoughts intruding while you're trying to execute your play. Getting a feel of the shot from beginning to end will help you commit to what you're going to do. This kind of preview is especially important as you learn to control the speed of the cueball.
5. It does one thing your practice strokes can't – allows you to practice your follow-through.
Your goal is to have the stick follow at least 4-6 inches through the cueball. The practice strokes that you take while down over the shot force you to stop at the cueball, making it difficult to anticipate what the full shot will feel like. Air pool enables you to take a more complete version of your practice swings - with follow-through included.
Air pool can also help you learn to accelerate through the cueball. By taking complete swings beforehand, you can find the power zone in your stroke. You'll then have a better idea where to position your body to ensure that this power zone coincides with hitting the cueball.