Basic Stroke Question
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Basic Stroke Question - 11-23-2019, 12:21 PM

I have often thought about the role the wrist plays in the stroke. It seems to be the primary difference in a pendulum stroke and a piston stroke. The wrist seems to be what takes the dip out and drives the stick level to be a piston stroke.

Watching hours of pros play has not really answered the question for me. The grip can disguise the action so much it is hard to tell. Players and instructors alike who have the cue laying in a cradle with all their fingers make it hard to judge how much wrist action is involved. Players who favor two or three fingers clearly seem to have more wrist action.

CJ uses a lot of wrist action for power and he plays a power game. Tor teaches a pendulum stroke with a lighter grip but also teaches a "compact stroke", especially for bar tables. It is more of a punch stroke. He even refers to it as a punch stroke at times. Even the long bridges of the pros can sometimes be a simple punch stroke. They just don't take the stick back very far.

What I am saying is, do players really use their forearms (primarily) or is the feel and action and power coming from the wrist? Even the break seems to get more power from the wrist than the large muscles. It seems to be like putting in golf. Some pros use a locked still arm swing and others are very hands and all about the wrist.

Any commentary on this would be helpful, of course from instructor
s but if you are a good player and have crossed this bridge I respect that tool. I am trying to improve my speed control and struggling between using my arm or wrist as the primary control.
  
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11-23-2019, 04:51 PM

Very good observations. There are two distinct reasons for flicking the wrist during the stroke. One is for added power and the other is to keep the cue level during the stroke. (There are other reasons, like to stroke without moving the cue much due to a close shot, but the other two reasons are the main ones.)

One is a slower, more gradual movement as the cue is moving. That one is to keep the cue level. This isn't done during a pendulum stroke but can be done during a piston stroke. (I'm not happy with either term, but for the sake of everyone understanding the same thing, I'll go with them.) If the player uses a full piston stroke with a total drop, then it isn't really necessary to intentionally flick the wrist to level off the cue, as the drop will do that naturally. However, some players who partially drop, may execute that slow wrist adjustment to level off the cue.

As for doing it for power, it's a fast flick and the timing has to be perfect -- nanoseconds before impact.
  
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11-23-2019, 05:20 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by FranCrimi View Post
There are two distinct reasons for flicking the wrist during the stroke. One is for added power and the other is to keep the cue level during the stroke.
Also to add some fine tuning to speed control, especially for softer shots (although maybe that's not flicking).

pj
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11-23-2019, 08:16 PM

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Originally Posted by skipbales View Post
... do players really use their forearms (primarily) or is the feel and action and power coming from the wrist? Even the break seems to get more power from the wrist than the large muscles. ...
Here's a simple way you can test this. Set up a shot where your wrist moves almost not at all and acts just as a hinge between your forearm and your cue. Maybe use one of those wrist braces that pretty much immobilizes things. See how far you can hit the cue ball up and down the table.

Next, keep your forearm perfectly still, and see how much distance you can get with just your wrist. You may want to build a small fixture or tie your lower forearm to the neighboring table, because most people move their forearms on the shot.

Tell us which one is more effective.


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11-23-2019, 10:33 PM

Skip...In your heart you already know the answer...you simply cannot defeat physics (no matter what some pro player says). The dwell time is so short, between CB and cuetip, that the CB is already gone before you could physically 'flick' your wrist. The wrist is already a universal joint (like the shoulder), meaning it can move in any direction, so it's highly susceptible to changes in grip pressure, which can affect the outcome significantly. So timing becomes everything. It's already difficult enough to coordinate everything that makes up a perfect pendulum stroke, without adding crazy thoughts like "snapping your wrist"...sorry, but the CB is gone in a quarter of an eye blink...long before you could initiate a wrist movement, forward or backwards. That's physics. Stick with what I showed you. Take measure of your shooting template; revisit your entire routine...including the PEP. PRACTICE your Mother Drills (20 minutes, twice a day)! Like randyg says, "there's only a good stroke and a bad stroke". Use what I taught you to make your 'good' stroke, your very best! Trust your stroke!

Scott Lee
Director, SPF National Pool School Tour

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipbales View Post
I have often thought about the role the wrist plays in the stroke. It seems to be the primary difference in a pendulum stroke and a piston stroke. The wrist seems to be what takes the dip out and drives the stick level to be a piston stroke.

Watching hours of pros play has not really answered the question for me. The grip can disguise the action so much it is hard to tell. Players and instructors alike who have the cue laying in a cradle with all their fingers make it hard to judge how much wrist action is involved. Players who favor two or three fingers clearly seem to have more wrist action.

CJ uses a lot of wrist action for power and he plays a power game. Tor teaches a pendulum stroke with a lighter grip but also teaches a "compact stroke", especially for bar tables. It is more of a punch stroke. He even refers to it as a punch stroke at times. Even the long bridges of the pros can sometimes be a simple punch stroke. They just don't take the stick back very far.

What I am saying is, do players really use their forearms (primarily) or is the feel and action and power coming from the wrist? Even the break seems to get more power from the wrist than the large muscles. It seems to be like putting in golf. Some pros use a locked still arm swing and others are very hands and all about the wrist.

Any commentary on this would be helpful, of course from instructor
s but if you are a good player and have crossed this bridge I respect that tool. I am trying to improve my speed control and struggling between using my arm or wrist as the primary control.


PBIA Master Instructor

Last edited by Scott Lee; 11-23-2019 at 10:39 PM.
  
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11-24-2019, 08:02 AM

I should have been more clear. I never mentioned anything about flicking my wrist and power is not my focus either. I know wrist action develops more power than a long arm swing. as a golf analogy, I am not thinking of "driving" I am thinking of "putting".

If I want to hit a ball, go to a rail and bounce off 9 inches. Should I try to control the speed with 1. length of the stroke and large arm muscles 2. the length of the stroke and the muscles in my wrist as they unhinge. 3. The wrist unhinge only and always take the same length backstroke?

On soft to mid length shots it is possible to make them without even involving the arm. You can easily draw the cue back several inches and propel it forward with the hand/wrist only. It is also possible to use no wrist at all and use a push stroke directed completely by the forearm or even the bicep. I think most shots are a blend of them all working together.

So the question specifically is what is the most reliable muscle set to use to control the speed/distance. Should the hand and wrist be the focus of my attention or should I try to keep them less involved and focus on the forearm or even the bicep? Which is easier to master and most accurate long term? In golf, most pros teach a very rigid locked wrist and rotate the entire upper body to determine the speed but there have been many great players who rotate the wrist as they come through and control the distance by the wrist.

I am looking for the easiest to master way to control distance.
  
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11-24-2019, 08:08 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Lee View Post
Skip...In your heart you already know the answer...you simply cannot defeat physics (no matter what some pro player says). The dwell time is so short, between CB and cuetip, that the CB is already gone before you could physically 'flick' your wrist. The wrist is already a universal joint (like the shoulder), meaning it can move in any direction, so it's highly susceptible to changes in grip pressure, which can affect the outcome significantly. So timing becomes everything. It's already difficult enough to coordinate everything that makes up a perfect pendulum stroke, without adding crazy thoughts like "snapping your wrist"...sorry, but the CB is gone in a quarter of an eye blink...long before you could initiate a wrist movement, forward or backwards. That's physics. Stick with what I showed you. Take measure of your shooting template; revisit your entire routine...including the PEP. PRACTICE your Mother Drills (20 minutes, twice a day)! Like randyg says, "there's only a good stroke and a bad stroke". Use what I taught you to make your 'good' stroke, your very best! Trust your stroke!

Scott Lee
Director, SPF National Pool School Tour
Where did the concept of a wrist flick come from? All swings involve the wrist hinging and unhinging. It is the only part of the stroke present in all shots, long and short. A shot without it would be a stiff arm push and I don't think that is used in almost any situation. The reason you and most other instructors teach a loose grip is to allow the natural hinging of the wrist. The wrist muscles are always involved in the unhinging. The quest is how much?
  
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11-24-2019, 08:16 AM

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Originally Posted by Bob Jewett View Post
Here's a simple way you can test this. Set up a shot where your wrist moves almost not at all and acts just as a hinge between your forearm and your cue. Maybe use one of those wrist braces that pretty much immobilizes things. See how far you can hit the cue ball up and down the table.

Next, keep your forearm perfectly still, and see how much distance you can get with just your wrist. You may want to build a small fixture or tie your lower forearm to the neighboring table, because most people move their forearms on the shot.

Tell us which one is more effective.
Thanks Bob. This is along the lines I am looking but it isn't the total speed or distance I am looking for it is control or accuracy of that. Do you feel that control is "felt" or controlled mostly by the wrist or the forearm or bicep. I can adjust the speed with any of these muscle groups but can't figure out which one should be the "boss".

On a long stroke, like the break, the bicep is involved but not so much on a short shot. I tend to over hit short shots. I can't slow roll anything (according to my playing partner). I always seem to hit it too hard. I am talking about a shot where I roll 2 feet and tap a ball in and want to rebound 3 inches. I ruin it with a 12" rebound. I just don't have the feel and don't know the best muscle set to focus on the develop it. I can see how I could do it with any of them. I am looking for the best and easiest.
  
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11-24-2019, 08:22 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by FranCrimi View Post
Very good observations. There are two distinct reasons for flicking the wrist during the stroke. One is for added power and the other is to keep the cue level during the stroke. (There are other reasons, like to stroke without moving the cue much due to a close shot, but the other two reasons are the main ones.)

One is a slower, more gradual movement as the cue is moving. That one is to keep the cue level. This isn't done during a pendulum stroke but can be done during a piston stroke. (I'm not happy with either term, but for the sake of everyone understanding the same thing, I'll go with them.) If the player uses a full piston stroke with a total drop, then it isn't really necessary to intentionally flick the wrist to level off the cue, as the drop will do that naturally. However, some players who partially drop, may execute that slow wrist adjustment to level off the cue.

As for doing it for power, it's a fast flick and the timing has to be perfect -- nanoseconds before impact.
Thanks Fran. If you have a chance, please see the comments I made to Bob Jewett. I must have given the impression I was looking for power but didn't mean to. I am looking for control of speed and distance. What muscle group should I focus on to develop "feel". It seems like it would be the wrist unhinge but perhaps I should keep that very still and consistent and use the forearm or even bicep muscles as the control.

I know I am not the only one to struggle with this. Even the pros have trouble with it. If not, every lag for break would be a tie and they would all end up back against the rail. It is crazy to see the best players in the world lag and end up a foot from the rail. Speed control is HARD.
  
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Additional thoughts - 11-24-2019, 09:34 AM

I was considering all the discussion and had these additional thoughts.

Probably speed control is a concert of all the muscle groups working together and there should be no focus. The main teaching seems to focus around how far you take the stick back. As soon as I thought about this two things came to mind for me.

1. Everyone has seen a player decelerate. Subconsciously they "feel" they have taken the cue (or club or racquet) back too far and will be hitting too hard so they hold back.
2. I, at least, if no one else, have also done the opposite. I don't take it back very far but "feel" like I am not going to hit it hard enough. My muscles constrict (all of them) and I accelerate faster than normal.

Neither of these end up well for anyone. Developing a better feel may just be "don't worry about it and practice more". But it helps me to understand it a little more on the mental side. Developing a smooth even paced stroke for all shots and simply varying the take back is a myth. There are way too many over a ball, near a rail, or close to an object ball that require different length or angle stokes and different speeds with no ability to vary the take back. You have to have a feel for speed and that is based on muscle memory. That is why I am trying to understand which muscle group has the most influence and which one is the easiest for me to learn to control.

If every shot was from a place on the table where I could have a great bridge and equal distance to the object ball I think I could play better.
  
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11-24-2019, 12:36 PM

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Originally Posted by skipbales View Post
Thanks Bob. This is along the lines I am looking but it isn't the total speed or distance I am looking for it is control or accuracy of that. Do you feel that control is "felt" or controlled ...
If you want authoritative answers to this kind of question you should ask a sports kinesiologist. But I think this question is like asking which muscles you use to go downstairs. If you think about it hard enough you will have to call 911 from the bottom of the stairs.


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11-24-2019, 12:59 PM

The concept of your own custom swing is that the finish is always the same (cue weight & timing), regardless of how long or short the backswing is...and regardless of how much (or little) acceleration there is. This is for all normal swings, including the break. When your body stops the cue's forward momentum, the brain can train the biceps and the and the hand/wrist muscles to be able to relax. Without a consistent finish speed control is a lot more difficult.

Scott Lee
Director, SPF National Pool School Tour

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipbales View Post
I was considering all the discussion and had these additional thoughts.

Probably speed control is a concert of all the muscle groups working together and there should be no focus. The main teaching seems to focus around how far you take the stick back. As soon as I thought about this two things came to mind for me.

1. Everyone has seen a player decelerate. Subconsciously they "feel" they have taken the cue (or club or racquet) back too far and will be hitting too hard so they hold back.
2. I, at least, if no one else, have also done the opposite. I don't take it back very far but "feel" like I am not going to hit it hard enough. My muscles constrict (all of them) and I accelerate faster than normal.

Neither of these end up well for anyone. Developing a better feel may just be "don't worry about it and practice more". But it helps me to understand it a little more on the mental side. Developing a smooth even paced stroke for all shots and simply varying the take back is a myth. There are way too many over a ball, near a rail, or close to an object ball that require different length or angle stokes and different speeds with no ability to vary the take back. You have to have a feel for speed and that is based on muscle memory. That is why I am trying to understand which muscle group has the most influence and which one is the easiest for me to learn to control.

If every shot was from a place on the table where I could have a great bridge and equal distance to the object ball I think I could play better.


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11-24-2019, 02:31 PM

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Originally Posted by Scott Lee View Post
The concept of your own custom swing is that the finish is always the same (cue weight & timing), regardless of how long or short the backswing is...and regardless of how much (or little) acceleration there is. This is for all normal swings, including the break. When your body stops the cue's forward momentum, the brain can train the biceps and the and the hand/wrist muscles to be able to relax. Without a consistent finish speed control is a lot more difficult.

Scott Lee
Director, SPF National Pool School Tour
So the swing thought is about the finish (follow through?). If I want to hit a really soft shot and come off the rail 3" I should visualize how far through the cue ball I am going to go? Like picturing the stick coming back an inch and going through an inch and not worry about which muscles I use to make that happen?

I love the idea of a consistent swing such that each shot is just all or part of that total arc. I just don't see that working in play. Short shots, long shots, jacked up shots, close to the object ball shots seem like totally different strokes to me.
  
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11-24-2019, 02:38 PM

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Originally Posted by Bob Jewett View Post
If you want authoritative answers to this kind of question you should ask a sports kinesiologist. But I think this question is like asking which muscles you use to go downstairs. If you think about it hard enough you will have to call 911 from the bottom of the stairs.
Sometimes I feel like I am falling off the stairs.

I am just looking for a way to focus my efforts on speed control. Mostly for soft shots. It seems to me I hit a shot the same two times and one time I roll way too far. The next time I set it up and try to modify it just a little and roll way short. I was wondering what part of my hand, arm, is the thing I should focus on to fine tune them.

Maybe it is not muscle memory at all. Maybe it is visualization. I try to picture the outcome I want. Scott (if I understood him) is suggesting my focus should be on the finish. I assume that means the follow through. On really soft shots there isn't much follow through.
  
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11-24-2019, 02:41 PM

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Originally Posted by Patrick Johnson View Post
Also to add some fine tuning to speed control, especially for softer shots (although maybe that's not flicking).

pj
chgo
The term flick is probably a little off setting to some. But it does seem to me like the final adjustments are done by the hand, fingers and wrist. Even a slight tightening of the grip changes things.
  
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