The basis of a good pool stroke is a stable stance. Weight must be distributed between your front foot (40%) and back foot (55%) and bridge hand (5%).
Only two things move during a pool stroke - your eyes and the forearm (below the elbow) of your stick arm. Everything else requires a state of stillness.
Given below are the details on what a normal shot setup requires. Other types of shots, such as off the rail, stretching across the table, or shooting over a pocket require slight adjustments for the conditions.
Here are aspects of a stroke that are important:
- With the cue tip almost touching the cue ball, your bridge hand should be about 6-9 inches from the ball. At this point, the stick hand's forearm drops straight down from the elbow.
- The stick movement should be truly and perfectly back and forth – no wavering side to side.
- The stick hand should be a gentle cradle for the stick, using the thumb and the two forefingers. This grip does not require strength, only gentleness.
- The upper arm should be directly lined above the stick. It should not move during the practice strokes or the execution stroke (except AFTER the cue tip hits the cue ball).
- Movement of the forearm is a pendulum. The elbow does not drop during the pool stroke movements.
- The wrist is relaxed and is not used as part of the forward movement.
- The grip is loose and relaxed throughout the complete stroke. At no time is the fist furiously clenched like a sword.
- The speed forward and backward on a practice stroke should be deliberate and controlled.
- On committing to the stroke, the speed forward is a smooth acceleration (no jerks allowed).
- Every execution stroke is consistent and identical to the practice stroke, differing only by stick speed.
The learning process can be improved by working closely with an instructor who videotapes your action. The majority of your improvement will come from thinking your way through your pool stroke. Keep in mind that your old stroke mechanics are the result of thousands of strokes. Remember that any change in your shot setup habits will take weeks of careful attention to groove into your regular pool shooting style - so patience is needed as you make needed adjustments.