Ask the Master -
“I was hoping that you could help me to improve my break shot.  I have been working on it but I can’t seem to improve my power.  It seems like the harder I try the worse my breaks get.  Even when I feel like I make real solid contact with the cue ball, the rack doesn’t blow up like I see from other player who I know are not as strong as I am. I’m in my 50’s and can’t move like I used to so it is difficult for me to throw my body into it like I see some of the younger guys doing.  Can you help me out at all with some pointers for the athletically impaired? I’ll give anything a try at this point!”

The power break is a different shot from all the other pool shots. It emphasizes features and requirements that may not be as important in other shots.

Consider some of the difficulties. When you hit hard, your fundamentals break down. It's much harder to strike the CB exactly where you intend. Your stick may go crooked. Your elbow may drop, so your tip may rise. Your grip may tighten. The CB may go airborne, since your cue is probably a little elevated.

When we want to hit something with power, we tend to try to get that power through muscle. But what happens is we clench up muscles and actually restrict our ability to move fluidly and quickly and accurately. To the extent we hang muscle on our cue, we are reducing our effectiveness. Instead, we have to get our stuff out of the way and get the stick accelerating nicely, without stiffness or heavy gripping. This is the opposite of what our testosterone wants us to do. Counter-intuitively, a lighter grip and a slower backswing help most players on the break shot. My advice is don't work on "throwing your body into it." The pros have spent countless hours practicing and training to be able to consistently get all those body parts moving together perfectly. As amateurs, there are many things more worthy of our practice time.

Consider some factors that can help you get better breaking results. Hit squarely on the head ball to get the energy out of the CB and into the rack. Watch the CB, and try to get it to stop in the center area of the table. Get your stick as close to flat as possible. Don't waste energy on sidespin. Break at 2/3rds of your maximum power, since accuracy of hit is more important than another couple of miles per hour of speed. Go for a feeling of getting your tip far through the CB, as this will ensure that you are accelerating at impact. If you're playing on a barbox with an oversize or overweight CB, hit a little lower on the ball so it doesn't plow forward through the rack. Check the rack. Gaps in the rack absorb power while frozen balls transfer power.

For a copy of my article on "Breaking Smarter" send me an email at [email protected].