What Do We Look At? – A Pool Odyssey with Mark Finkelstein

One of the things that is not mentioned too much when talking about the fundamentals of playing good pool is where to look. We have the cue ball, the pocket, the object ball and the location we want the cue ball to end up at to focus on. How do we organize our vision to make the most of what we are seeing?

Topics Addressed:

  1. What ball do you look at when shooting pool? –AzBilliards Thread
  2. Do you look at the cue ball or object ball when shooting?
  3. Do you look at the ball when you shoot?

Vision: What to Look When You’re Playing Pool

Aiming on the Pool Table

What ball do you look at when you’re shooting pool? (CC)

1. Honing Your Concentration

The first aspect of vision is for concentration. When we are playing pool seriously, keeping your eyes on the table at all times is the path to better concentration. It is so easy to have wandering eyes, looking at the television, the waiter, the menu, etc, that we get distracted from our serious pool game. I certainly wouldn’t want a brain surgeon working inside my head looking at football game!

When it is our turn to play, we decide what we are going to do, and get our center of vision on the line of the shot. As we approach the shot, we want our eyes to focus on where we want the cue ball to hit the object ball.

[READ: Developing Your Pre-Shot Routine – Pool Table Basics]

2. Focus on the Cue Ball

Once we get down on the shot, the best use of our vision is to focus on the cue ball to make sure that we are aiming exactly where we want. For most cases this will be some place on the vertical axis of the cue ball.

3. The Final Stroke

Once we are feeling comfortable with our aim on the cue ball, we stop moving our arm and make sure everything looks correct. At this point, we pull our stick back slowly, pause and gently accelerate through the cue ball.

There are three basic ways to make this shift from the cue ball to the object ball. There really is no one right way. However, which ever way you chose, the real secret is that your head is not moving when you start your forward swing! Any movement when you start your arm forward will cause an inaccurate hit on the cue ball and a possible miss.

3 Drills to Improve Your Aim

Here are the three ways to shift your eyes to the target object ball.

1. Shifting Your Eyes

First, after we stop at the cue ball, you can slowly shift your eyes down the path of the cue ball to where you want the cue ball to go. Once your eyes have focused on this spot, pull your stick back slowly, pause and swing.

2. Pull Back While Shifting Your Eyes

The next method is to slowly pull your stick back and shift your eyes at the same time. This approach requires you to pause a little longer at the back of your swing to give your eyes time to focus. Then you start your swing.

3. Keep Your Eyes on the Cue Ball

The final approach is to keep your eyes on the cue ball until your swing is all the way to the back, then at the pause shift your eyes to the cue ball, focus and then swing.

Bonus Tip

There is a fourth way that sometimes works and that is to keep your eyes on the cue ball and not shift to the object ball at all.

I don’t know which will work best for you and you will have to experiment a little. What is key to all this though is to make sure that your head is not moving when you start your swing. That is the key.

More Pool Tips from A Pool Odyssey” with Mark Finkelstein

  1. Getting Better at Pool – A Pool Odyssey I
  2. The Basics – Hitting Softly I A Pool Odyssey II
  3. Keeping It Simple – Stay on the Vertical Axis I A Pool Odyssey III
  4. 3 Drills to Keep Your Cue Stick Level I A Pool Odyssey IV
  5. How to Stand at the Table: 5 Steps to the Perfect Pool Stance V
  6. What Do We Look At? – A Pool Odyssey with Mark Finkelstein VI
  7. Controlling Our Cue Stick I BCA Instructor Mark Finkelstein VII

About the AuthorMark Finkelstein BCA Instructor
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.”