Hello! Today I would like to talk about a few of my favorite methods for sharpening and maintaining a consistent, straight, and accurate stroke. The following drills are demanding, and require solid fundamentals, but they will help you in the long run. Let’s get to it!
Drill 1 shows the first setup. Place the cue ball on the spot, and position a row of object balls two ball widths apart at the opposite end of the table. If you hit the cue ball in the center with a very firm stroke, the cue ball should hit the end rail and come back across the spot without touching any of the object balls on the way in or out. If this seems like an easy task, move the object balls closer together and make it a little tougher on yourself.
Mastered the first one? Okay, let’s move on to something a little more challenging:
Drill 2 shows us a new setup. Once again our cue ball is on the spot, but now the one ball is sitting about twelve inches away from the corner pocket in a straight line with the cue ball. Place a row of balls along either side of the one ball at the same distance apart as in the first drill. Now, hit the ball low to put some extreme backspin on the cue ball and try to pocket the one ball while drawing the cue ball back down the table without disturbing any of the object balls that you lined up. This drill requires that you stay perfectly still and deliver a powerful, yet controlled stroke.
Still hanging in there? This next one is one of my favorites, but it is also one of the toughest to master:
Drill 3 shows the one ball positioned about twelve inches from the corner pocket. This is a progressive drill, so the first location you shoot from is about twelve inches away from the one ball as shown. The goal here is to pocket the one ball and using extreme back spin, draw the cue ball back into the opposite corner pocket. First you shoot from position one, then replace the object ball and shoot from position two, position three, etc. until you are shooting the length of the table.
The real key to executing these drills is to develop consistent proficiency with your stroke. If you follow the stroke check list while you are working through these drills, you will notice improvement in your ability to accurately repeat them:
1. Go through your pre-shot routine (find the line of the shot and get your body in that line as you approach the shot).
2. Take smooth, deliberate practice strokes (these strokes should not be fast and sloppy, they should emulate the stroke you will deliver to the ball once you have decided to shoot).
3. Slow back swing with a smooth transition from back swing to forward swing (the back swing should be slow and smooth, we gain no power from a fast back swing. When we transition smoothly to our forward swing then we can accelerate through the ball).
4. Follow through to finish.
If you follow these steps and practice these drills you will sharpen up that stroke in time.