: Tom Simpson
Ask The Master - “I would love to read your thoughts on how to use your eyes to see the right line for straight in shots, thanks for any help” - Buzz
Good question, Buzz. Everyone assumes straight-in is easy. Not quite so. Straight-in is easy in the sense that you know conceptually how to aim – line up the ball centers, tops, or bottoms. For maximum likelihood of pocketing the ball, use no side spin and roll your cue ball. But just knowing how to line up doesn't mean you've seen it correctly.
There are three phases for these shots:
1.) Determining whether the shot is truly straight, or how close it is to dead straight.
2.) Getting your stick on the right line.
3.) Executing the shot.
Your question is about phase 1 – how to see whether the shot is straight. We'll focus on that phase. Here are three tips:
1. Stand on the line of the shot, a couple of steps back from the table. With more distance, your perspective on straightness will be more clear. You might look at it from the other end of the shot as well (looking from the pocket side of the shot toward the CB).
2. Squat down and visually align the tops of the CB and OB, and see exactly where they line up to. You may have noticed pro player Stevie Moore doing this. It's a way more precise sighting. Get your eyes down exactly to the level of the tops of the balls. Believe what you see from this perspective. This is the truth of the shot, and no, it's not less manly to squat down and take a precise look.
3. Use your stick to judge the straightness of the shot. If the balls are close together, bridge to hover your stick over the centers of the two balls and see where they align to. Some players judge this stick alignment better with one eye closed. If the balls are far apart, place your tip behind the OB and over the center of the CB to see where the stick points.
For phase 2, getting your stick on the right line, line up to the tops, centers, or bottoms of both balls.
For phase 3, the key is going to be to stroke straight. No side spin and a rolling cue ball will give you the best results.
Oftentimes we get shots that are very close to, but not quite straight-in. If you'd like to read my article about these shots, send me an email and ask for "Not Quite Straight."