Merriam-Webster defines “alignment” as: the act of aligning or state of being aligned; especially: the proper positioning or state of adjustment of parts (as of a mechanical or electronic device) in relation to each other.
No, you are not a machine, but it certainly is interesting that the term “mechanical” is referenced when describing alignment. Especially since your alignment in pool is such an important part of your mechanics.
What is Alignment in Pool?
In pool, alignment refers to the direction of all the parts involved in pocketing the ball. This refers to everything from your cue, your stroke arm, your head, your stance, to your body. Most importantly, is your cue stick coming straight back and moving straight forward in the direction that you’re aiming for each shot? Don’t confuse alignment with aiming. A shot can still be missed with proper alignment if you’re aiming at the wrong contact point.
Why is Alignment in Pool Important?
Like a fine tuned machine, if one or two of the parts are not working properly, it will be apparent in the results. Your car will not drive in a straight line if your tires are not properly aligned. Along with the three main components of your basic mechanics (the bridge, grip, and stance), the alignment is another factor that has a direct effect on whether or not you pocket the ball. Without proper alignment, it is impossible to be consistent.
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How Do I Know if I'm Properly Aligned?
Here is a simple way to check your alignment:
1. Set up an easy, straight in shot to the side pocket.
2. Address the shot and bend over the table to shoot it.
3. When you feel completely ready to pull the trigger, freeze everything.
4. Now, without adjusting your legs or feet, stand straight up.
5. Notice which direction your body is aimed.
Are you aligned in the direction of the shot? If you had a ball in your hand, could you successfully throw it with full speed on the same line that you were aiming? If you can’t confidently answer yes to these questions, then you may want to consider adjusting your alignment. How do I correct my alignment?
Correcting your Alignment while Reinforcing Proper Aiming Habits
1. Always try to step into the shot from behind versus from either side. This keeps everything moving in the proper direction.
2. Make sure you allow yourself plenty of warm up strokes to loosen your arm and get it going back and forth in the right direction.
3. When adjusting your stance or other mechanics, try to let your stroke arm dictate the position of the rest of your body. Let it hang and flow in its natural direction and build the rest of your machine around it.
4. Stay down and follow through completely for each and every shot. Notice which direction your cue is pointing after each shot.
5. Do some practice strokes on the rail of the table where brown meets green. Stand up a little higher than your regular stance and glance down to see if you are stroking in a straight line.
Give yourself the best chance for success by ensuring that all your mechanics are properly aligned each time you address a shot. Accurate alignment, along with a proper bridge, grip, and stance, are all variables that help you consistently pocket the ball. The next time you flop down over the table and wonder why you may have missed, it could be your alignment, my dear.