A pre-shot routine refers to the steps you take prior to your actual shot. In pool, the pre-shot routine is very important because this routine (which some might even call a ritual) is what puts you in position to execute precision shots.
Pre-Shot Routines Increase Consistency
One of the hardest things to do is not just to make good shots, but make them on a consistent basis. This doesn’t mean just one miracle shot. It means being able to place the OB right where you want at any given moment, over and over again. They say practice makes perfect right? Your pre-shot routine is just practicing before it’s time to execute.
“Having and following a pre-shot routine is vital for improvement of your game. I approach my shot, make a solid decision, picture the entire shot (direction, speed control), find my smallest possible target, and then I bend down and shoot the shot with all the confidence in the world, even when I don’t have it. I truly believe that almost all errors in a pool game are made when one of these steps in the routine are not followed. It’s a basic checklist that allows your mind to focus better when it comes time to make the ball. Body alignment is so important, so that’s the first step.
I never change my stance while I’m down on a shot. I will get up and reposition myself. I make my decision while standing and commit to that decision. When I picture the shot, I picture the cue ball traveling, contacting with the object ball, the object ball going in the pocket, the path of the cue ball after contact and the speed and direction that the cue ball takes. This is super-important for developing your feel for speed control and position play. Once all these steps are completed, I find my target. I focus so tightly on my target that nothing else can enter my mind. Just trust yourself and let the shot go with a pure stroke, staying down to see the final contact of cue ball to object ball. The more you practice this routine, the more consistent you will become.”
-Jeanette “The Black Widow” Lee excerpt via Billiards Digest
What You Need to Remember During Your Pre-Shot Remember
When you start developing your pre-shot routine, there are a few elements that you will need to integrate. By taking things step by step, you’ll be able to execute the shot without feeling like your trying to think about a million things all at the same time. Slow things down and create a pattern that your body can get used to.
Don’t forget to check out our Q & A with Poison Pro Steve Markle! You can see how he develops new trick shots and his own practice routine.
1. Develop a strategy and plan out your next shot
What do you notice when golfers make a putt? They always take their time. They’re very particular about the movement they make. They walk around the hole (in this case the table) and look for any tufts of grass (burns) that could alter the trajectory of a shot. They look at the shot from several different angles to get an accurate understanding of what the right shot will take. Take all of these things into account and then determine how you want to execute the next shot. Remember, you always want to get closer to your next shot to set yourself up for success.
2. Mom always said to have good posture
We all know that the alignment of your body plays a large role in how effective your shot is. The angle at which you lean over the table, the angle of your arms, and the bend in your knees all effect your shot. Being off by just a little bit could send your shot spiraling out of control. Hitting the CB 1/8 inch off the mark can affect the trajectory of your shot by inches. Every little bit counts so don’t cut corners here. Learn more about posture and backswing.
3. Stance, check. Grip, check. Bridge, check!
Position your body at a 45 degree angle with the cue stick. Place your feet just a hair outside of your shoulder. You want to be able to get a good bend without feeling unnatural. Keep a relaxed grip on your pool stick and get a feel of the shot, sliding the cue stick back and forth along the aim line so that your body begins to remember the motions that it will need to take in the coming moments. Doing this will increase accuracy and improve consistency over time as you practice your pre-shot routine on a regular basis.
4. Follow through with your stroke
Now it’s time for the real deal. Focus, and follow through with your cue stick. Remained focus until the end of the shot. This will keep you from getting antsy, fidgeting and hitting the CB off the mark. Visual seeing the OB falling into the pocket. This gets you in the right mental state. Although it might sound silly, it can help you a lot more than you might actually think.
Conclusion: Making Your Pre-Shot Routine Feel Natural
These 4 steps may seem like a lot to think about but it’s not. The more you practice your pre-shot routine, the better you’ll get and the less you’ll have to think about it consciously. Although you’re trying to remember the details of your pre-shot routine, you always need to keep a clear mind when you’re playing pool. A clouded mind leads to wild shots, frustration, and a lack of confidence. Stay calm, maintain your breathing, and don’t forget to have fun!
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