(FAQ) How to check your stroke for flaws

(About the Author)

This is the basic setup for this self-evaluation process:

  • Five (5) striped balls
  • Line up balls about 1 diamond from short rail.
  • All shots are done on the vertical center line:
    12:00 contact is one tip above center
    6:00 is one tip below center
  • All balls are shot into one of the far corner pockets

First set of observations (medium slow speed)

Look for a ball roll that is off to one side of vertical. If so, your pool stroke is not hitting true vertical.

Set up a normal 6-8 inch bridge.

  • On a 12:00 pool stroke, observe the roll of the ball (true vertical or not).
  • On a 6:00 pool stroke, observe the roll (true vertical spin backwards or not. Observe ball roll before and after friction takes over.
    Note: reverse spin quickly wears off because of table cloth friction.

Set up a longer bridge, about 12-15 inches. Repeat the ball rolling observations.

  • On a 12:00 pool stroke, observe the roll of the ball (true vertical or not).
  • On a 6:00 pool stroke, observe the roll (true vertical spin backwards or not. Observe ball roll before and after friction takes over.

If you notice a slight angle on each roll, shift your head over to one side and reshoot the balls. Generally, this will straighten out the roll and it will tell you that you need to groove in the new head position as part of your pre-shot routine.

Second set of observations (medium speed)

Look where the cue tip stops at the end of the pool stroke. Check for consistency in the final stopping position. Does the tip stop in the air or close to the table? If in the air, then you are dropping your elbow before you hit the cue ball. If on or close to the table, then you are holding your elbow in place after you hit the cue ball.

  • Set up for a normal 6-8″ bridge. After the pool stroke, stop and observe where the cue tip stops at the end of the pool stroke. Is it straight ahead or slightly off-line?
  • Set up a longer bridge, about 12-15 inches. Observe the cue tip location after stroke. Is it straight ahead or slightly off-line?

Is the stick pointing in line from the start of the pool stroke, or at an angle from the line? If in line, then your forward momentum matches the start of your stroke. If off line, you are either turning your wrist on the forward stroke, or crossing the line from one side to the other with your lower arm.

Are you consistently stopping each stroke with the same length of cue shaft? If not, start overshooting your stroke to reach the limit of your reach. After a week of intentional over stroke, cut back to a natural stroke. The distance will have evened out.

Final exercise: This will force you to develop a true back and forth stroke.

  1. Place a row of balls about 8-9 inches from the short rail cushion. Set up for the shot with the cue stick riding on the rail.
  2. Use only your bridge index finger to guide the cue shaft. With a medium slow speed, shoot the balls into the far corners with no side roll. (Make sure you are ending the pool stroke with the cue tip riding the cloth.)
  3. Shoot the next sets without using a finger guide. Repeat until the pool stroke is routine.
  4. Shoot the next several sets at a higher speed with no finger guiding. If you see the balls tilting to one side, return to slower speeds.
  5. Place an object ball down the table and use the same pool stroke (no finger guide) to shoot the object ball into the far corner pocket.
  6. Repeat this exercise once a week for six months.
  7. Repeat the above two sets of observations once a month to verify good pool stroke fundamentals.

By following these exercises, you can verify your stroke fundamentals. Any variations are easily identified and corrections immediately applied to make you a better shooter.

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