I've had several requests for more details regarding BHE so I thought I'd begin this thread to provide a useful resource. I'll add to this and edit over time, so you might want to come back from time to time.
For more technical information on BHE and some other thoughts an opinions, check out Dr.Dave's BHE resource page: http://billiards.colostate.edu/threads/English.html#BHE
This thread is more about my personal methods with a focus on helping others get started on learning how they can incorporate BHE type knowledge and methods into their game.
BHE is a squirt and swerve compensation method, that allows the user to align their bridges the same way they would if intending to play a naturally rolling pot.
Part of applying BHE successfully is understanding Spin and Contact Induced Throw (SIT and CIT), which effects the travel direction of the object ball (OB) for a given point of contact as a result of friction with the cue ball (CB).
BHE, which can also be referred to as Aim & Pivot, determines an appropriate bridge length for various types of shots, from which the cue tip is pivoted, by moving the back grip hand only, to where one intends to strike the CB, after aligning their aim through CCB.
Each cue, with a corresponding CB, has what can be called a Pure Pivot Point. Change the weight of the CB and that Pure Pivot Point would be farther / longer from the tip with a heavier CB, and closer / shorter if lighter. The pure pivot point of a cue is essentially a measure of its squirt, which is a measure of its tip end mass.
On 90% of back hand english shots I play, I pivot from, or set my bridge length at, or within 1 inch behind, my cue's Pure Pivot Point.
When the distance between CB and OB increase, or the Speed of Shot decreases, or a combination of those two factors occur, a CB swerves when english is applied. So when using aim and pivot, in order to connect the CB to the same point on the OB, we need to increase the pivoting length to account for the swerve. This we can call the Effective or Squerve Pivot Point, as coined by Patrick Johnson. This is always longer than the Pure Pivot Point when we are compensating for swerve.
While this swerve aspect concerns people, about the practicality of BHE, keep in mind that whatever method we use to adapt our aiming for swerve, our error rate will increase for longer shots, slower shots and with varying table conditions, which effect the rate swerve takes on the cloth.
In my opinion, with practice in estimating required bridge length adjustments for swerve, I believe one's accuracy on these shots can be higher than using traditional methods.
That said, some BHE users may prefer to use traditional methods on shots where swerve is significant.
The main power of BHE, in my opinion, is for shots where swerve is not highly significant, where we can forget about having to adjust our aim for squirt (CB deflection). Shots with significant english, that had previously troubled us, become as easy as making the same shot with straight follow.
That said, there are a few shot types where throw becomes an issue. This is not just a feature of BHE, these same shots are problematic for any aiming method, requiring significant feel and/or experience to adjust to.
A brief summary of these problem shots include:
1. Slowish sliding (not spinning) CB shots.
2. Slow shots generally.
3. Shots with more than gearing outside english.
4. Fairly straight shots, say 7/8th to full ball with inside or outside english.
If these shots need to be played, you need to adjust the initial aim to compensate, and this requires some knowledge of, or experience with the throw on these shots. Some may choose to apply this aim adjustment by imagining the initial line of aim away from center pocket (my preferred method), or they can change the bridge length such that it directs the CB to the appropriate contact point on the OB.
As an example of say a 3/4 ball draw shot with heavy outside english, shooting from about 2 feet away, with OB 2 feet from the pocket, I can aim to undercut the pot by 3 inches or I can increase my bridge length by 2 inches. If the distance between CB and OB is less, that bridge length needs to increase and vise versa as the distance increases. This is why I don't like to use the second method, though it's useful to know on some shots that come up often, where we can memorize the adjustment.
It can be handy to practice this second method, which requires what we could call a SquerveThrow Pivot Point for the times when we can't bridge at the length we want to, so we are familiar with how doing so affects the CB direction.
Why Players Often Struggle When They Attempt to Use BHE
This may be the most useful section for those who already have a pretty good grasp of the topic!
1. They may be playing the problem shots listed above without making the proper aim adjustments.
2. It's a common tendency for the bridge to shift during the pivot. This takes some practice and perhaps getting a few bridge hand cramps until one learns to keep a relaxed still bridge throughout the pivot and stroke.
3. After years of subconscious adjustments or not having developed accurate pre-alignment, their pre-pivot alignment (bridge V positioning) can be inaccurate.
4. Focusing on getting the bridge V to the required pivot distance can distract one's focus on finding the correct aim line.
5. Players often begin using the wrong pivot length. They might find success with outside english, a common favorite shot of many, and make that shot pretty well using a bridge length actually near their longer SquerveThrow pivot point, detailed above. When they then try using the method on inside english cuts, they will overcut the shots.
6. If a player has had a tendency to aim thick and swipe a little to thin their cuts, they may struggle with implementing good pre-pivot bridge positioning.
7. Some players have tended to avoid use of side, other than gearing, as often as they could and when they have used it, it has tended to be on simpler shots and applied at slowish speeds. BHE shines on firmer shots, often creating 2 and 3 rail routes for position. It may take some time to become familiar with these routes and start using them more in matches. Using BHE just for cinching soft shots and checking the CB up, won't give the user much satisfaction. Get creative with it, and you'll begin to discover its potential.
8. Awkward post-pivot Stroking: It can take a while to get used to shifting the body and sometimes the stance to enable a comfortable stroke after pivoting. When the back hand comes toward the body, one can feel cramped, and the stroke can also feel wide and loose when the hand moves away from the body. All I can say is it takes a while to get used to it. I don't even think about it anymore, my body just seamlessly moves into a position that is the same as for my non-pivoted strokes.
A tip is spend at least 30 minutes prior to practicing BHE, potting a bunch of shots using only medium to firm follow shots, concentrating on cueing as straight as possible. As one progresses, they can incorporate some medium to firm draw shots and some very firm stun shots, all of which have approximately the same throw characteristics, and hence the same aim line. This will get the eye in for pre-alignment, which will aid in implementing BHE without some of the aiming related problems mentioned above.
If during any stage of practicing BHE, the shots start going a bit wonky, it can help to go back to the straight shooting drill and let the brain re-calibrate. In the early days of using BHE, the brain tends to get overloaded with the strange thoughts and perceptions and overall weirdness of shooting away from the OB contact point so much.
Another tip is to practice not looking at the OB during the stroke. This will reduce tendencies to steer the shot, and hence provide better feedback on whether your are pre-aligning well or using the appropriate pivot length.
How to Find Your Cue's Pure Pivot Point
A rough guide to predict your cue's pivot point, for US 2 & 1/4" Cue Ball, try this:
13mm = 8 inches
12.5mm = 10 inches
12mm = 12 inches
11.5mm = 14 inches
For Snooker Balls 2 & 1/16th inch:
10mm = 11 inches
9mm = 13 inches
For UK Pool 1&7/8th inch CB
10mm = 7 inches
9mm = 8.5 inches
8mm = 10 inches
Different materials and construction method may vary these an inch or so either way, but it provides a good starting point to begin the following test to more accurately determine your cue's pure pivot point.
The best and quickest test I've thought of, is as follows.....
Place OB about 1 foot from a corner pocket. Place the CB in a straight line with the pot about 5 feet away.
Align to dead center and pivot for about 1 full tip (approx 70% max offset), and hit the shot very hard so the CB stops and spins on impact, or comes close to that. If you hit it perfect, the throw on impact will actually push the CB a little in the direction of the spin. Alternate the side you pivot to, to reduce any effects of poor aiming tendencies, and repeat and adjust the bridge length until you're getting pretty regular results for left and right. If hitting left english is sending the CB to the right of your aim, you need to shorten the bridge, and vice versa.
Be sure to hit the shot hard enough to reduce any degree of swerve to a minimum. If you can't hit it hard enough due to a weak stroke or a very sticky table which will take swerve earlier, try the test with 3 foot of CB-OB separation. Ideally try this on a very slick table, so you don't have to bash it so hard, but the results on any table will be pretty accurate.
I mark my cue's pure pivot point with a sharpie / texta. It pretty much wears off every few weeks. You might prefer to find a feature on your shaft near to the pivot point and reference that. After a while, you can pretty much feel when your bridge length is close enough, without having to focus on it. When you've got some tougher shots, e.g. when CB to OB separation is over 3 feet, it's a good idea to be more precise with bridge placement, and a good idea to hit those shots pretty firm if shape allows, to reduce adjustments for swerve.
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