Playing pool is, in my opinion, one of the most relaxing and enjoyable ways to pass the time – whether accompanied by a cold bottle of beer or no. Pool is a game that does not demand speed or haste but rather practice, patience, and skill – a gentleman’s game that is played in every corner of the world and by men and women from all walks of life. Becoming a great pool player, however, requires a beautiful and well co-ordinated stroke.
Improve Your Shot Before You Take It – How to Calculate the Angles, Form a Proper Bridge
One mistake that I see too many novice pool players making quite frequently is their proclivity to remain upright while shooting – failing to bring their sight in line with the length of the pool cue. Make no mistake, the pool cue is a precision tool, and one that can make or break your entire game – so be sure that it is balanced, chalked, and of the preferred weight if possible.
The first thing to do before hunkering down for a shot is to assay the situation and calculate the best shot – the best not always being the easiest to pocket, but perhaps one that provides you with an excellent leave to continue play. Too many pool players will automatically line up the easiest shot without thinking about their potential leaves.
Once the target has been chosen, take the cue and get behind the target ball – I always lean down as if I were about to shoot the ball directly into the corner. This strategy allows you to find the exact point that you will need to strike the ball in order to pocket it correctly.
Forming a proper bridge is also essential. Many players choose an unorthodox bridge position with the cue being positioned on the underside of the index finger and overtop of the middle finger – a weak bridge due to the likelihood of the cue sticking or rubbing against the sweaty, soft skin on the inside of the hand. A proper bridge is formed laying the hand spread flat against the felt, and then “pushing up” the fingertips. The thumb is raised (although the base of the thumb remains on the felt to provide stability)and pressed together against the index finger, creating a bridge to rest the cue opon.
This bridge position provides high stability, low resistance or change of snagging the skin, and can be applied on the rail or overtop of the rail as well.
Stroke it, Don’t Poke It! How to Take Smooth and Precise Pool Shots
If you want to be a great pool player, you have to learn to make smooth shots with a slight follow-through. Many players beginning their pool careers like to try and stab the cue ball as if it were going to explode, striking in and out with lighting quickness.
Abrupt stabs or pokes at the cue ball cause erratic and wild shots. Refusal to follow-through on a shot means that the natural line of the shot is broken; the likelihood of unwanted spin is also magnified.
Take a slow hand to the cue and practice making smooth, direct shots with a slightly upward follow-through on a bare table. Spending a few minutes doing this before and after a game will slowly build up your shot confidence and accuracy – not to mention make you into a true-to-life pool shark!