The time has come again to drill, drill, drill. Structured practice is the only way to go if you want to reach the upper echelon ranks in this great sport. Every top player has put in his time on the table and paid his dues with hard work and dedication.
Today I thought we would look at a few practice drills designed to develop consistency in our Stroke. Remember, you don’t have to complete the drill to achieve your goals. The mere fact that you keep trying to execute the drills in this article with conviction and discipline will help you improve through sheer repetition. Keep in mind while you are working on your stroke that you must always be aware of what your elbow is doing. Diagram A , a proper stroke & an improper one. In the proper stroke photo you can see the elbow does not collapse and the tip will eventually finish with a good follow through pointed towards (if not touching) the table. In the improper stroke photo you can see the elbow has collapsed as I went through the ball, causing the tip to dive upward during the entire stroke. This is important because we must move the cue in as straight a line as possible in order to strike the cue ball in the desired place.
In Diagram B, you will see our first drill. This drill is a simple layout designed to improve your follow through. First place a ball on the foot spot. The idea of the drill is shoot the ball into one of the two upper corner pockets with center ball. The reason we start on the spot is so we have a designation point. If you look at the inset picture you will see that if we leave our cue on the table after the shot, we can see exactly how much we followed through. We know the object ball was resting on the spot so if our cue tip has come to a stop past that point, we can visually see how much we follow through. Try and repeat this drill until you can follow through consistently a good six to eight inches past the spot.
The next drill as illustrated in diagram C, is a great drill for working on your stroke. We must always strive to keep our stroke smooth and straight. After all if we cannot move the cue straight we cannot execute the shots we must make to win the game. This drill is an oldie but a goody. Start by placing the cue ball on the foot spot. For beginners, shoot the cue ball across the width of the table with center ball. The cue ball should rebound off the side rail and back into the tip of your cue stick. If you can do this with relative ease try moving on to the more advanced version of this drill where you will try and execute the same thing, only shooting the cue ball the length of the table. If you find this too easy then take it a step further and add a few obstacles such as a row of balls that are only two ball widths wide, you can move them closer together making the target area much smaller as you improve. (Note: Steve Davis, six time world snooker champion; performs this drill for hours at a time to keep his stroke straight and smooth. If it’s good enough for him, do not think it is beneath you).
What makes a good stroke?
1. Keep a nice loose grip on the butt of the cue.
2. A slow back swing and smooth transition from back swing to forward swing.
3. Follow through!!
4. No Elbow Collapse!!
So remember, keep practicing that stroke. You can always improve on it and make it more consistent.