(FAQ) Learn to shoot your cue stick opposite handed

(About the Author)

Have you ever thought about shooting with the other hand?  Well, give some serious thought to the benefits of shooting opposite handed.

If you’ve felt envy when watching a shooter easily switch hands, make that an incentive to fix the situation. Stop procrastinating and actually put some effort into learning this cool skill.

Cast back your memory to the days when you first picked up a cue stick. Recall how awkward it felt and how awful the results were. You probably even missed the cue ball on a stroke, to the hilarious entertainment of your friends.

Although the process was often painful, eventually shooting the cue ball got easier. At that point, you developed enough muscle memory for the actual stroking to become automated. There will always be refinements to be worked on and fine-tuned; but the gross movements do not require conscious effort.

Here is how to get started. To play opposite handed requires going through some of the original awkwardness you worked so hard to overcome. Some of that frustration will be re-experienced. To begin, you don't need a pool table to practice on – you can work through the initial cue stick practice time on the kitchen table.

If you own a cool shooting cue stick, don’t use it for the initial learning process. The initial awkwardness might dent the shaft. Instead, get the cheapest cue at any sporting goods store. At the kitchen table, get down into your regular shooting stance. Look closely at your feet and body positions plus hand locations. Then switch over and try to make a mirror image of everything. (An open bridge is recommended.)

When everything is reasonably positioned, the next step is to slowly move the stick back and forth. Concentrate on only moving the cue stick (back) arm below the elbow. Maintain a consistent back and forth stroke of six to eight inches from back to front.

Continue moving the cue stick for three minutes and then take a break of about five minutes. During the break, in your mind, see yourself in the stance and doing the cue stick strokes. Repeat this process - three minutes of stroking followed by five minutes of remembering. Continue five times every day for two weeks. The more times you stroke the cue stick in your mind and in hand, the easier it gets.

Now place a small can of food (6 to 10 ounces) on the table - standing, not on the side. Use it as the target for the cue stick to hit and slowly push it a couple of inches. Concentrate on contacting the exact center so that the can does not slide off to the side of the cue tip. Keep doing this in slow motion. As you get better, extend the length of the stroke to four inches and then six inches of follow through. This tells you that when cue stick stroke is straight.

Place a light blanket across the table and some barriers at the other end (boxes and cans). With a tennis ball, you can aim it at a precise target at the other side of the table. When you get good at that, use a second tennis ball as an object ball. Keep your strokes slow and smooth.

Many players only want to be good enough to shoot simple shots with their other hand. And if that’s all you want, stop at whatever level you are comfortable. But, if you want to become equally good on both hands, more practicing is necessary. At the practice table, whatever shot you are mastering must be practiced with your right and left hands. Don’t forget to work on your break – you want to produce effective ball spreads with either hand.

The opposite handed learning curve will be much shorter than the first time around. You already have an extensive knowledge base of past shooting experiences. Your ability to play will also improve. Learning stroke speed control and shooting concentration with the opposite hand will also benefit your strong side. (And don’t forget the intimidating effect on your opponent.)

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