One of the things that intermediate players do is move their stick too fast. When we play pool we are trying to hit the cue ball in an area a millimeter wide. This is a really difficult task, and we make the job much harder when we wave our stick at the cue ball.
You actually don’t pocket balls! What a pool player does is accurately strike the cue ball, and the results of how accurately the cue ball was struck is shown to us by what the object balls do.
This is a little bit of a different way of looking at a shot. One of the hard things about pool is that it doesn’t reward us for trying to make a ball. We get the best results when we focus our attention on stoking the cue ball purely and letting the cue ball do the work for us.
So what does a good stroke look like? Well first is is slow and deliberate. We get down on our shot coming down the line we want our cue ball to travel on slowly, and get settled in our stance.
From here we really look at the cue ball and aim to hit the spot we want. Then we pull our stick back in a straight line slowly, slightly pause, and then smoothly start our forward stoke. Notice that at all times we could feel our cue stick and had it under control.
Many players get down on a shot and wave their stick at the cue ball. They have little control of their stick and it is much more difficult to be precise when you are waving the cue stick.
Slowing your stick down will help you to shoot more accurately, but there is more. Once you have learned to slow your stick down, the next piece is making sure to pull your cue stick back far enough to generate the power you need smoothly. Many players pull their stick back a short way and then muscle the cue stick forward, causing all sorts of inaccuracies.
So instead of a frantic, jumpy swing, we can start to develop this slow, deliberate aiming process, with a methodical, deliberate stick movement, focusing on hitting the cue ball exactly
where we want.
As you can see from this cue ball, I hit the exact middle of the cue ball on the vertical axis. To test yourself, and help you improve your game, hit 10 shots up the table and see how accurately you hit the middle of the cue ball. Make sure you put chalk on your tip. You will very quickly see how difficult it is to accurately hit the cue ball precisely where you want.
Work on this and your ability to pocket balls will increase. Remember, the game is about how well you hit the cue ball, and not about trying to pocket balls.
More Professional Pool Tips
- Getting Better at Pool – A Pool Odyssey I
- The Basics – Hitting Softly I A Pool Odyssey II
- Keeping It Simple – Stay on the Vertical Axis I A Pool Odyssey III
- 3 Drills to Keep Your Cue Stick Level I A Pool Odyssey IV
- How to Stand at the Table: 5 Steps to the Perfect Pool Stance V
- What Do We Look At? – A Pool Odyssey with Mark Finkelstein VI
- Controlling Our Cue Stick I BCA Instructor Mark Finkelstein VII
About the Author
Mark Finkelstein is a professional pool player, a BCA Master instructor, anAmerican Cue Sports (ACS) Level 4 instructor, and House Pro at Slate Billiards in New York. He is also a former UPA Touring Pro and has played on the Joss 9-Ball Tour. Mark is leading instructor and can be found at other sites like NYC Grind, Easy Pool Tutor, and Inside Pool Magazine. Mark has also authored a book with McNally Jackson aptly titled, “Pool Ramblings.”