Walk the Line
Walk the Line – Extended Aiming for Better Results
Aiming is hard work. Sometimes, we pool players get so consumed with trying to make the ball that intense focus turns into tunnel vision and deliberate execution becomes a tense and controlling fear of letting go. Fixating solely on the contact point of the object ball (your target) can shrink your world view and cause you to lose touch with the complete image of the shot – including the natural flow of where the cue ball is going! By transforming that point of aim into a more comprehensive and sweeping line of aim, you can liberate yourself to swing, and maybe breathe, a little more freely.
What is the line of aim?
The line of aim is an imaginary line that runs from the center of the cue ball through the center of the ghost ball (where the cue ball needs to end up to pocket the shot.) For our purposes, we're going to paint it bright blue and extend it forwards and backwards!
How do I extend it?
1. Paint a blue line on the floor.
Standing behind the table you can use the line of aim as a guide for how to walk into the shot. You want your head, your bridge hand, your shooting arm and your cue to line up along the line. If you're a righty, you'll want your feet to be to the left of the line so that your hips and upper body won't get in the way of your swing. Playing a little air pool while standing up can help ensure that you match up your stroke with the line of aim.
2. Paint it from the rail to the cue ball.
This segment of the line will help you place your bridge hand and cue on the table in the correct line for the shot. If you notice that your cue is placed crookedly, diagonal to the line of aim instead of on top of it, it's time to get up and walk into the shot again.
3. Out the back of the object ball.
A good running coach will instruct you to aim not for the finish line, but ten feet past the finish line, so you won't start decelerating before the race is over. By fixating on the contact point, you can give yourself faulty instructions about where the cue ball's journey ends, leading to a shortened follow through, or poke. Extending your aim to the backside of the object ball can give you insurance that you're powering through.
4. To the far rail.
Extending the line farther - out the back of the ball and to the rail - is an especially great tool for difficult cut shots. Judging the contact point of back cuts is challenging when you're over the ball, because you can't see the pocket in your periphery. By tying the line of aim to a point on the rail, you'll be giving yourself more to aim at when the pocket isn't in sight.
5. A bright blue line to infinity and beyond!
If you extend the line to a wall or other far-off point that is five, ten, twenty feet from the table you'll provide your body and mind with pool's ultimate guiding light. The point should reside more in your imagination than on a concrete object and will keep you correctly oriented towards your goal when your eyes and nerves start to play games on you. Concentrating on following through along this very long line is your best bet for a long smooth swing free from worry.