: Liz Ford
You latch on to each new idea you encounter as "the secret to pool!": A fresh and innovative perspective that lights up your mind and game and energize you to play better than you ever have before. And then it stops working. Until you find the next new thing. We pool-players call these experiences "Band-Aids," because they successfully cover-up something raw with a clean, tidy and ultimately disposable veneer. The analogy is imperfect, though, because there are some Band-Aids you'll save and reuse - which in the real world would be very, very gross. The longer you play, the more helpful Band-Aids you'll accumulate, eventually totally a hundred or more. When one stops working you can hit shuffle and shift your perspective to one that you know will work for a while. Case in point? Here are my top-ten all-time favorite Band-Aids, many of which approach the same ideas in different ways.
1. Aim for the back of the ball.
When running a race, you imagine your stopping point as 5 yards past the finish line so that you won't decelerate before you're done. The same holds true for pocketing balls. Instead of aiming for the contact point at the front of the ball, imagine you are trying to hit the back of the ball to ensure a complete follow-through.
2. Let's Go Bowling!
To throw a bowling ball, your arm needs to swing freely while your body stays out of the way. Sound familiar? Aid your walk-up by imagining that you are going to bowl the cue-ball at the shot.
3. Grip in equals grip out.
There are many ways to imagine keeping a loose grip tso that you don't give the old death-clench or wrist-wringer. One way is to secure the grip you wish to use before even approaching the ball. Your sole focus then becomes maintaining this same pressure for the duration of the shot.
4. Aim for the rail.
Incorporate as much information as possible to secure your line of aim. Take note of where your cue-ball needs to hit the rail after the shot in order to sink the ball and to add dimension and security to your shot.
5. Imagine things in real time.
If you're having trouble imagining the leave or speed off your shot, allow time for the cue-ball in your mind to stop rolling and end up exactly where you want it.
6. Burn a hole in the contact point.
After you've completed your practice strokes, give your brain and eyesight over completely to the contact point on the object ball and let your arm go on auto-pilot to combat a wishy-washy attempt.
7. Put an imaginary follow-through on each practice stroke.
As you physically come to a stop with each practice stroke, let your brain imagine that your arm is completing your final follow-through. You'll stay down, be alerted if you don't have enough clearance from hitting your body and be totally prepped for the real moment.
8. The infinite line.
While sizing up your shot, take your line of aim and extend it infinitely in both directions. I paint mine bright yellow. This will help you walk in in-line and follow-through off into the sunset.
9. Driving Miss Cue-Ball.
Aiming a spherical object to hit another spherical object is difficult. Imagine your cue-ball as a little toy car that you're driving all the way to the object ball. You'll focus through the center of the cue-ball and allow for the cue-ball's width in your aim.
10. Focus on your breath.
Personally, this is by far my most helpful Band-Aid. Coordinate your shooting routine with your breath to ensure relaxation, something to focus on and a trigger for completing the correct steps while shooting. My pattern is IN while getting down over the ball, OUT during practice strokes, and IN while I pause and pull back for the shot. Find the pattern that works best for you and stick with it.