One of the things that we always hear as pool players is that we have to have a level stick. When I ask players if their stick is level, they always tell me it is!! But when I look at them play, I see that they are actually hitting down into the cue ball.
Let’s see why this is a bad thing. First the table bed is really hard, and the air is soft. What that means is that when we hit the cue ball down into the table bed, it bounces off the hard object into the air. To compound this problem, most players are hitting the cue ball too hard so our cue ball is bouncing down the table.
The problem here is that our target on the object ball is really small, and we are shooting at it with a cue ball that is bouncing! Our chances of pocketing the ball go down considerably here.
The next problem that we have from hitting down on the cue ball is that if we are in any way off the vertical axis of the cue ball, we add a slight masse effect to our cue ball in addition to the squirt.
So now we have a bouncing, curving, squirting cue ball heading down the table trying to hit a target less than a millimeter in diameter. That doesn’t sound too good.
With a rolling cue ball from a level stick, even if we are slightly off the vertical axis, the cue ball won’t curve! We still have squirt, but we eliminate bounce and curve from our calculations, making our pocketing problem easier.
Watching great players, no matter what their stance or style, you will see that the cue tip goes through the cue ball on a horizontal plane. These great players have learned that to pocket balls consistently, you have to have a level cue stick at the moment of impact with the cue ball and cue tip.
To develop this skill, you may have to bend your back leg in your stance, or bend over from the waist more. I’m not suggesting you drag your chin on the cue, but what you need to fiddle with is how to adapt your stance to get your stick really level.
The feeling will be that you are hitting up at the cue ball. You really can’t hit up at the cue ball except for some positions when you can get the butt of your cue stick under the rail (there are some places that you can do that, think close to the stack break shots!).
One thing to watch for is that the closer the cue ball gets to the rail, the harder it is to make sure you keep your cue stick level. Be alert to this tendency and you will automatically improve your pocketing.