: Samm Diep
How often do you get your car serviced? When do you get your oil changed? Is it every 3,000 miles, 5,000, or even 10,000 miles? Regardless of the frequency, you do get the oil changed, right? You would never drive your car for years and years without getting it serviced or tuned up. So, why would you ever do that with your pool game? Most people rarely give their game a tuneup.
Here’s a quick and dirty five-point inspection list that you can use to tune up your own pool game. Take a moment to review these five areas of your mechanics to ensure your machine is well-oiled and running properly:
1. Bridge Examination – Do you have your three stable contact points on the table to create a tripod? Index, pinky, and base of the palm for the open bridge. Middle, pinky, and base of the palm for the closed bridge. Is the loop closed on your closed bridge? The index finger and thumb should be touching to securely hold the cue stick in place. Are you using your bridge hand to adjust the contact point on the cue ball? Your cue should always be as level as possible no matter where you’re aiming on the cue ball. Aiming higher or lower on the cue ball should be done with your bridge hand, not your cue hand.
2. Stroke Evaluation – Is your grip hand hanging directly at perpendicular at the point of contact? Ideally, at the moment you strike the ball, your forearm should be perfectly straight up/down from behind and from the side. How smooth is your stroke? Your backstroke should be controlled and deliberate. Many professional players have a slight pause in their backstroke before pulling the trigger. This separates the bicep and tricep muscles to help keep the stroke on that perfectly straight line. Did you drop your elbow? When you drop your elbow, your shoulder comes into play. This rotary joint can add unwanted deviation from the straight line of our stroke.
3. Stance Check – Is your body aimed in the line of the shot? Your body should be lined up the same way as if you were going to throw a ball in the direction of the shot. Are your legs relaxed and comfortable? There should not be any tension in neither leg. Are you stable and balanced? Your weight should be evenly distributed between both legs. You should not be bearing more weight in one leg over the other. Are you putting weight on your bridge hand? You should be able to freely get up and down from your stance without bearing any weight on your bridge hand.
4. Front End Inspection – How do you address the shot and the object ball? Be sure to step into each shot from behind the cue ball, not from the side. This helps reinforce the line of the shot while keeping everything moving in a positive, forward direction. Where are your eyes looking? Always make your stance with your eyes on the object ball. If you have a pre-shot routine, now is the time to use it. Are you giving your eyes a chance to focus before you shoot? Remember to come to a halt at the end of your warm up strokes to refocus your eyes on the contact point of the object ball to ensure accuracy.
5. Rear End Inspection – When is the shot complete? A shot is not over until all the balls stop rolling. Therefore, it’s important to stay down and follow through completely. Keep your entire body nice and steady. Are you staying down? Try not to lift so much as an eyebrow before the shot is over. Are you following through? Do not hold back on your follow through or poke at the cue ball by pulling your cue back to you. Keep your arm and cue in the forward position.
Now that you’ve given your mechanics and inspection, how did you do? I’ve written individual articles on each of these five points in the past. By frequently inspecting these areas of your mechanics, you can stay on top of your game by keeping it tuned up. Just like with your car, the sooner you can identify the problems, the sooner you can repair them to avoid any potential bigger issues in the future.