: PoolDawg Staff
Bob Jewett: Technically Speaking
1. The half-ball follow angle is one of the most important tools for position play. Any time you have close to a half-ball cut shot and the cue ball is rolling smoothly on the cloth when it hits the object ball, the angle at which the cue ball is deflected is very nearly constant. Knowing that single angle takes a lot of the guesswork out of such shots. Learn this angle through practice.
2. Poor chalking keeps most players from learning how to spin the ball. Are you in the majority? If you are, each time you miscue while trying to spin the ball, you "relearn" that you can't hit the ball off-center. The truth is that you can, but you need to be more careful. Look at the tip!
3. There is no convincing demonstration that wrist-snap gets more spin; keep it simple. A major problem with snapping the wrist is that the timing of the snap must be precisely coordinated with the moment the tip hits the ball; if the snap is a little early or late, it is entirely ineffective. More importantly, if the timing is not quite perfect, your speed will be off by a lot.
4. When adjusting to new conditions, don't forget humidity. As the pool table gets damper, the friction of the ball on the cloth greatly increases. One result is that draw rubs off the cue ball much faster than for dry cloth. Another is that the maximum effect of English on the rail is increased; side spin really grabs.
5. All spin shots require even the tiniest bit of masse. Many players think they are shooting with a level stick when in fact they have several degrees of stick elevation. This cannot be avoided, unless you have really tough knuckles. Learn to play with a consistent elevation.
6. Try different sticks for different games. No stick is suitable for all games. Note what the top pros use, and do your own experiments. A hint: 58 inches is not necessarily the best length for you.
7. Playing games other than your favorite will force you to quickly learn new things. Try snooker and carom, for example, to concentrate on precise pocketing and cue ball control. For a real course in speed control, learn straight-rail billiards.
8. Learn to read with an open but critical mind. Some pool books are riddled with errors, but most have some useful points. If there is no way to test what an author is saying, the point is probably of little value.
9. Physics and systems may be useful for understanding and planning shots, but when it's time to pull the trigger, trust your instinct. During practice, a careful, analytical approach will help you sort out what does and doesn't work for you, but once you're in a match, the intense analysis must be put aside. Feel the shot and then make it happen.
10. The goals of stance are stability, consistent sighting, and a simple swing. If you fulfill those goals, don't worry about the details. Some people spend far too much time pointing their toes in exactly the right direction, or keeping their pinky off the wrap, or adopting some other little quirk that their uncle Fred assured them was the golden secret for pocketing balls. Are you solid? Can you see the shot? Can your arm swing freely?