Posts Tagged ‘Stroke’

A Solid Bridge Is Indispensable In Pool

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

A Solid Bridge Is Indispensable In Pool

By Ernie Reynolds

I’m always looking for ways to consistently shoot pool well. As I play, I take note of any shots I miss and analyze if I am doing something wrong. I noticed something recently.

I missed a couple easy shots that I would normally make without much effort. The thing was, my shots were way off – I missed the pocket completely with the object ball.

On my next shot after one of these misses, I began my usual practice of going over the basics when I am missing – checking my stance, stroke, how I was hitting the cue ball, if I was bending over enough, etc. It was then that noticed that my bridge was kind of loose and sloppy.

For more info, visit my websites…
Pool For Beginners
Pool and Pocket Billiards Resource

I mostly use the closed bridge when possible, as I feel that it provides the most secure grasp of the pool shaft. The index finger and thumb wrap around the shaft to hold it in place firmly but still allow it to slide for the stroke.

The problem was I wasn’t closing the index finger around the shaft tight enough, and the shaft had some sideways play during the stroke. As a result, when I took the shot, the cue tip was contacting the cue ball somewhere other than the center of the ball, causing the shot to veer off course.

Subsequently, on my next shots I paid attention to this little detail and grasped the shaft more firmly. Problem solved. I sometimes slide my middle finger up against the shaft while using this bridge to help firm up the grasp on the pool shaft.

The fingers of the bridge hand need to have a solid hold on the pool shaft to avoid this problem of the shaft floating around. The bridge MUST remain absolutely still so that the end of the shaft doesn’t move around and affect the tip hit on the cue ball.

I use hand chalk so I can get a firm grip, while still allowing the shaft to slide easily for the pool stroke. Some people prefer using a pool glove for the same reason.

Another aspect of the bridge I might mention is the support for the bridge. The three fingers that support the bridge should be splayed as far apart as possible to provide a rock-solid base. If your cue tip is wavering around because of a weak bridge it is almost impossible to hit the cue ball correctly and consistently, resulting in a lot of missed shots.

I observe many beginner pool players forming a shaky bridge. Their fingers are often not spread out enough to provide a solid base for the bridge, and they don’t grip the cue shaft firmly enough to prevent the tip from moving around.

This is a major stumbling block to their successful shot making. I try, whenever possible, to take the thirty seconds necessary to show them how to form a solid, strong bridge.

If you are not sure of what a solid bridge looks like, take a look at this page on my Pool For Beginners.com site. The pictures there can show much more easily than can be explained the proper way to form a good bridge.

Mirror Banking

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Mirror Banking

By Ernie Reynolds

Pool is a great game – especially when you are winning. It’s still awesome even when you are not, but it is all that much sweeter when you win. I played the other night and it seemed like the pool gods were shining down on me.

I was making great cut shots and my position play was better than normal. What I was particularly happy with was the bank shots that were going in. I was dropping some banks that had my opponents shaking their heads.

For more info, visit my websites…
Pool For Beginners
Pool and Pocket Billiards Resource

In one game, I made three table-length bank shots in a row – that really got them muttering. LOL. I wasn’t doing anything special, it seemed like I just had “the eye” working well and the stroke was coming through for me.

I was using my usual mirror banking method to make the bank shots. This is where you basically shoot the same angle going into the bank as the one leaving it. As I mention in the article that is linked to above, there are several methods to play a bank shot, but mirror banking works the best for me.

You really don’t need to use the diamonds on the pool table to use this method, although they can help to visualize the angles sometimes. The diagrams below illustrate a basic bank shot using the mirror method.

bank shot       bank shot

As seen in the Bank 2 diagram, we want to bank the purple ball cross-corner into pocket X. The Bank 3 diagram graphically shows the concept of mirror banking this shot. Using your cue stick to sight in the necessary ball path, move the stick around until you come up with the “bank point” where the object ball needs to bounce off the rail to send it to the pocket.

Once you come up with the correct bank point, your object is to make a cut shot on the object ball to make it contact the rail at the bank point so it will rebound into the pocket. Sometimes the bank angle will be right on the money and all you have to do is hit the object ball straight on, but in this case some angle was needed to correct the trajectory of the object ball.

This method can be used pretty much wherever the object ball is located on the table; however it is probably easiest to visualize the angles when the object ball is fairly close to a rail.

Visualizing the correct mirror angles to make the bank shot is one aspect of this form of banking. Another tricky item is to hit the object ball at exactly the right spot. I call this right spot the “aim spot”.

bank shot

In the diagram Bank 5 above, the aim spot to make the shot shown is pointed out. This aim spot is determined in the same way for a bank as it is for a cut shot – draw an imaginary line through the object ball in the direction you want the ball to take and the point where the line enters the ball is the aim point. If you can make the cue ball contact the object ball at exactly this spot, the shot will go in.

So that’s a quick and dirty explanation of the mirror banking method. To see more, go to my Pool For Beginners site. Of course we are only dealing with one-bank shots here. Multiple-bank shots are a whole different thing and are much more difficult.

As with any other pool shot, practice makes perfect always applies. Spend some quality time visualizing and practicing bank shots and your pool playing will take a step up, as will your number of games won. Good luck!

Concentrate On Cue Ball Positioning

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Concentrate On Cue Ball Positioning

By Ernie Reynolds

After you’ve played pool a while, you advance beyond the beginner stage. You get your stroke pretty well established and working smoothly. You know how to hit the balls and aim. In other words, you know your way around the pool table a little better.

This is the time when you should start to work on your cue ball positioning. No matter what game you play, you always want to leave the cue ball in a good position for your next shot. If you get stuck behind a ball or down on the wrong side of the table, there’s a good chance that you will miss your next shot and have to give up your turn.

For more info, visit my websites…
Pool For Beginners
Pool and Pocket Billiards Resource

If you want to win pool games, this is one of the worst thing that can happen. If you don’t maintain control of the table and keep shooting, your opponent will, and he will do his best to run out his balls and win the game.

By taking control of your cue ball positioning, you can greatly increase the likelihood of having good position for your next shot, and therefore have a much better chance of running the table for the win. If you want to improve your pool-shooting skills and win more games you simply have to play better position pool.

Besides making a conscious effort to control the cue ball during games, you should practice with this goal in mind. I like to recreate tough shots I had from previous games, and try to figure out what I should have done differently, to get myself out of trouble. This is a great way to raise your skill level.

Next time you practice, setup a shot on the table and try to make the cue ball travel to a certain spot after taking the shot. Keep trying the same shot, but pick different spots or sections of the table to leave the cue ball. When you can leave the cue ball in the approximate area you picked before the shot fairly consistently, you are making real progress.

This is where your follow, draw, and english skills will really get polished. You will have to use all of them in different shots to get the cue ball position you desire. Don’t forget that how hard you hit the cue ball will also have a major affect on where it ends up on the table.

After you get this working fairly well, try putting some extra balls on the table like you would have during a real game. This forces you to not only attempt to get the cue ball to a certain part of the table, but also to avoid any of the balls that are in the way.

I don’t remember where I first heard the term, but this could certainly be called “scientific practicing”. Anyone can just knock the balls around and call it practicing. If you make the effort to make things a little harder for yourself and work at the game with certain goals in mind, I believe you will get much more out of your practice time, and will get to be a high-level shooter a lot faster.