How Can I Shoot Straighter?

Posted by : Tom Simpson

Ask The Master - My name is Tim, I am trying to improve my game to get to the next level. It seems like sometimes I can't shoot a straight shot to save my life. How can I work on that to be a more consistent player and win more games. I love the game and I seriously need to get better.

First off, Tim, let me say that straight-in shots are harder than most players expect. How often do you hear "How did I miss that? It was straight in."

A couple of physics facts:

1.) Straight in is the cut angle at which sidespin has the greatest throw effect on the object ball. This means any sidespin the cueball has when it arrives at the hit will produce visible throw.

2.) Straight-in shots become more difficult as the object ball gets closer to halfway between cueball and pocket. The toughest, least forgiving version of a straight-in shot is when the OB is halfway to the pocket. Good to know.

So my hypothesis is you are noticing your problem on straight-in shots because the results are so clear & revealing. You know the OB was supposed to go straight. On missed cut shots, we typically assume we misjudged the cut angle. Maybe not. Maybe you have the same error all the time

About 75% of the players that show up at my 3-Day Intensives have a problem I call Vertical Axis Perception Error. These serious players believe they are hitting the vertical center line of the CB, but the truth is they are always off to the side. Always the same side, always the same amount. The trouble is, it looks like center to the player, and as a player you have to trust your vision.

That tip offset causes unintended squirt and spin, both of which can make a dramatic difference on straight-in shots. The farther apart the CB & OB, the bigger the problem. Right handers with this issue typically are hitting left of the vertical axis, and seeing it as center.

It comes down to your eyes not being in the correct physical location relative to the shot line. At pool school, I help everyone find and understand their personal optimal head/eyes position for pool. While everyone would like it to be true that putting your dominant eye over the shaft gives you perfect sighting, for lots and lots of players it just ain't so. Your personal "vision center" is in your imagination, and it's the combination of how you use both eyes. How you see what you see. This is a difficult, but very common problem, which I've had to correct on myself.

To read a bit more about this, send me an email requesting my article "The Straight Truth." To fix your head, come to my 3-Day Intensive.

(Note from the Moderator: Tom Simpson invented the Elephant Practice Balls which are a great help for identifying and correcting Vertical Axis Perception Error.)