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A long comment on "aiming systems" ... - 02-02-2012, 02:00 AM

Been a lot of talk about aiming systems lately, thought I'd add my $0.02 and felt it would be a better idea to put it in its own thread rather than derail an existing one on aiming. It's more polite this way. Especially since I'm going to shatter some people's delusions below....


First, let me state that I don't really buy into any of these "aiming systems" as being critical parts of playing better pool. I think that ultimately aiming is a process you must learn that encompasses your vision and concentration to determine where to "aim". I don't think there's any easy way to take this process and describe it on paper as a procedure. It's the same as saying you can create a catching system for baseball so you learn how to aim your glove hand where the incoming ball will be. Or how about an aiming system for NFL quarterbacks? Let's face it, it really comes down to "feel" and that is developed through lots and lots of practice. Lots of trial and error. A lot of vision, mental and physical conditioning. As well as vision, mental and physical MEMORY.


But aiming systems in pool aren't all that bad. Let me discuss for a while the good side of aiming systems. What they seem to really do is at least get the player CLOSE to the correct line of the shot. What I mean by that, is to get the player and their cue in-line where it needs to be to have a chance to make the shot. However, the system doesn't aim at all. You have to aim with your understanding developed over time.


Why do I say getting in line? Well, first we have to understand that as the shooter, you're seeing everything in perspective, with a horizon and vanishing point. Your "camera" which is your eyes and head, but even more so than that - is your view which is your perception of the space in front of you is placed somewhere near the middle of the cue, and looking down table toward the shot. Because of this, what looks like being perfectly in line doesn't always equate to being perfectly in line.


The best example of this is watching pro pool on TV when they have a camera above the table filming straight down. But with a wide enough view to capture the player's whole body. Even pros at time miss, and when they miss, assuming it isn't a cueing error - you can see from above that the line that the cue is on doesn't look exactly on track for making the ball. Just a little off. Hard to tell, but you have to look closely.

Your reference while you're down on the shot is the shaft, ferrule and tip. When the tip is nearest the cueball, you have the best reference point. As you pull back the cue during warm up strokes, your reference is smaller, and not only that - your angle or perspective of view in your peripheral vision has a harder time of seeing the miniscule error. Where the tip meets the ball is sort of a fulcrum if you will. It all looks fine there. But what's going on with the rest of the cue which is outside your view?


I think it is for that reason that some shots are missed. However, I don't think aiming systems are THE answer. It's just a tool to help out when you are down on a shot you have a hard time "seeing". It will get you close on the correct line so you don't totally botch the shot. Think of it how there are systems of measuring up bank shots. These actually have some real geometric basis, unlike aiming systems. But my point is that when you can't see the shot, these work as guidelines to get you on the right path at least. But you still have to do the aiming, and you still have to cue the ball correctly.



I don't believe that any pro utilizes an aiming system on every shot. I also don't believe that they have mastered whatever aiming system it is to such a high level that it is automatic for them. I think they are just going by feel based on their vision, mental and muscle memory. Too often, amateurs demand that pros explain a part of the game that not even the pro can explain. Somethings you just do or experience. Somethings don't have a diagram. Or they cannot be spelled out and spoon fed to you.



Overall, I think that aiming systems are wildly overrated. In fact, I believe they serve as yet another crutch and excuse for most players. By putting such fanatical attention and devotion toward aiming systems, it is as if saying that this is what playing good pool is all about and diminishes the more important factors. It's a way by which many players avoid the cold hard truths of why they aren't prevailing or improving. If they can just learn the super-secret system, they too will improve. It's almost like the "if I buy a custom cue, I'll shoot better" type thinking.


What so much over-emphasis on these aiming systems does is ignore what is without question far more important factors. And that is - accurate CUING among other things. In other words, having a smooth, straight and CONSISTENT stroke. Being able to hit the cueball exactly where you want with the tip of your cue.


All this mind-numbing talk of aiming systems is utterly pointless for the vast majority of players, because these players (myself included) still have a long, long way to go in learning to hit the cue ball accurately. Aim perfectly all you want, use whatever system you want. The vast, vast majority of balls are being missed because of improper cuing. Period. Position is also messed up because of improper cuing (also speed control). Not saying there isn't any aiming error, but no aiming system is going to help when a player hasn't mastered their cuing skills. Speaking of speed control, why not a system for getting the right speed control!!! See what I mean? Some things are just feel and must be learned through experience and interaction with the game.


Shane doesn't make those balls because he has some special aiming system. He makes them because he has an excellent stroke. A world class stroke. Incredible focus and concentration. Rock solid fundamentals. Shane can teach you what he uses to help him see a tough shot here and there, but it doesn't matter - because you don't stroke the ball like Shane does. To prove this point, use lasers as a training tool. I'm serious. Use lasers (such as those used in construction) to literally paint lines down the table and illuminate exact contact points. Have several players shoot. They still won't make the ball every time. WHY WHY WHY? Cuing error. Bad fundamentals. Or inconsistency. Even with the entire visual part of the equation removed, with the aiming done for them, the shots are still not made with perfection and consistency.

There are several drills that can be done too. Take two object balls, Put them on the foot string. Separate them evenly apart from each other 1.25 ball width apart. Take the cueball, put it on the head string. Now shoot it between those balls without contacting either one. Better yet, get it to rebound of the foot rail and come back through without contacting either one. Get my point? The aiming is already done. There's no mystery as to where the ball needs to go, or where to sight. Use middle ball. Put a tiny object on the cushion itself as point of aim if need be.


What is it with pool players? They might be worse than golfers! Everyone wants the easy way out. You cannot, repeat, cannot BUY skill. There is no cheap, fast or easy way to master the game. Like it or not, you must put your time in. Even greats like SVB and Deuel who have tons of natural ability and talent, put in HUGE amounts of time and effort developing their ability. They didn't plop out of their mother ready to grab a cue and run racks.


There are so many excuses, crutches and devices of mental avoidance in pool. The worst of which is aiming systems, followed closely by cue selection. Sorry people, there's no getting around it. There's no secret. All it is, is mastery of the fundamentals.


Do you realize that the short instructional section they used to print in the BCA rule book, if followed to perfection and executed consistently - would result in high level play? It's all there. How to hold the cue, how to line up. Bridges to use. What top, bottom and english does.


Mastery of the fundamentals, and the application of them. That's it. I recently watched Corey Deuel play. There is nothing secret, special or different about what he does. What he is doing, is executing the fundamentals flawlessly. Same with Shane.


Good grief people, the game basically amounts to hitting one ball, to strike another to send it to a pocket! How complex can the interaction between two spheres be? It's not as complex as some make it to be. And people here are creating charts, graphs, schematics, using trigonometry. Ridiculous. Again, fundamentals applied. For everyone of you aiming system junkies, there's at least 10,000 players out there with a low IQ who will beat you silly in a race to 10. Do you think they are applying any of this nonsense that is discussed in these aiming system threads on every shot? If you think so, you're foolish. Perhaps you should get out more and interact with some of these players sometime.



I think it is pointless for a person interested in developing their game to invest so much time and energy in "aiming systems" because no aiming system means a damn thing if you can't cue the ball correctly. And I will repeat myself, most of you cannot do it consistently or correctly. If you could, YOU'D be a PRO. Honestly, I have not seen a person who has pro-level cuing, that is mastery of cuing the cue ball, who for some reason isn't a pro level player. Example, because they are ignorant of some super-secret "aiming system" which is the key to victory. That I have never seen.


It's just more secret weapon syndrome. If you have the right tools or knowledge, you will prevail. Wrong. These are excuses and crutches for the horrific and sad truths:


Truth #1: Most people will never possess the physical ability to play at the pro level. Reminds me of all the clowns that say the game is 90% mental. BS!!!! The physical component (hand eye coordination etcetera) is very underrated in pool. Hey, I'm not saying you ought to just give up and accept whatever level you're at. Always believe and push forward. But there will be a limit for you, and for most of us, that limit is not pro-level play. Sorry. If we could, we would. We'd all be giving Efren a run for his money.


Truth #2: Most people will not have the life situation, the time, the desire, nor the dedication to do a little something called WORK. To put in the hard work to improve. To play with fire inside them, with desire to get better, to win and win. To always be hungry and want to learn and improve. To condition their mind, vision and muscle memory to be able to repeatedly execute the fundamentals correctly and apply them to the game.



Like it or not, what makes for a good player is a person who can work hard at improving their game. There's no easy way out. No cue will make you play better. No knowledge of a system will get you there alone. So why be so obsessed with aiming systems? It would be like being obsessed with the rules of the game thinking that will make you better.


Look, if knowledge could do it - you'd be able to read a book, then go to the table and run out a rack the first time you pick up a cue. Most people are capable of obtaining more than enough knowledge of the game, how it is played, what makes for a good stroke and good fundamentals. But do they practice what they preach? Do these players do what they know? They don't! If they did, they'd be great. But they are not.


You have to train your mind & body to execute the knowledge that you already possess. That comes with years of practice and working on the game.


The hardest thing to learn to do in pool, is to do something exactly the same way every time. Our brains and bodies are not equipped with an instinctual, evolutionary derived ability to do fine things precisely and with extreme consistency. Such as hitting a cue ball exactly the same way or in the correct spot. As bio machines, we never had any adaptive or survival need to do such fine and complex things in such a consistent way. If a cave man threw a rock and it was 2mm off it's mark, it didn't matter for knocking out the squirrel. But for us, being off like that causes missed shots. For that reason, we have to TRAIN to be good at something like pool.



PS, for all you aiming system fanatics....you ought to see how Snooker is. In Snooker, there is much, much more emphasis on body, arm, and stroke mechanics (fundamentals), than "aiming systems" or cue technology.


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02-02-2012, 03:12 AM

fantastic posting, hats off sir!

lg from overseas,

Ingo


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02-02-2012, 04:21 AM

Nice post. I totally agree.
  
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02-02-2012, 06:33 AM

Couldn't have said it better. (Shorter maybe, but not better :-)

I have said for years that people invest themselves in some of these aiming systems because -- whether they can admit it to themselves or not -- they do not want to put in the time, they do not want to do the roadwork, they do not want to do the reps. They want the shortcut, the secret, immediate gratification.

And so what do you end up with, lol? Mind numbing graphs and charts that attempt to detail a system that is impossible to deploy under game conditions.

A little while ago in one of the many, many threads on this nonsense someone remarked that one of these aiming systems was only of value to certain kinds of people. But two categories they left off their list were people who want to sell you the aiming system and their friends who want to help them out by endorsing them.

I agree that most misses are due to improper cueing. However misses also come from errors in judgement concerning speed and spin and how the balls will interact on any given shot. And here's one more thought: making the ball is only part of the deal. Most times you have to gain position for a sequence of shots and need to take into account how the line changes depending on spin, speed, throw, squirt, and swerve -- all elements any decent player knows to compensate for either consciously or unconsciously. And sound judgement in that regard will never come from an aiming system -- it will only come to you through hard work on the table, steady concentration, and developing a great memory.

Diet pill, get rich quick, CTE -- take your pick, lol.

Lou Figueroa

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02-02-2012, 07:28 AM

............

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02-02-2012, 07:38 AM

Excellent post!

There is a simple reason why pros and advanced players see more opportunities and strategies on the pool table than does the less advanced players. They have moved the basics of pool playing, such as aiming and stroke, into the automatic mode from countless hours of practicing. Automatic meaning unconscious thought! This allows their conscious thought to explore more opportunities and stategies!

Whe you played your best pool EVER, what were you thinking about? How to aim? The angle of your wrist break? The motion of your arm? Your stance? The velocity of the cue? When we play our best pool, we rarely ever have to think (conciously) about the basics...you just effortlessly (unconciously) put the balls into the pockets! That's what practice, practice, practice will do for you!

It doesn't matter HOW you aim! It only matters that you practice, practice, practice your method of aiming so that it becomes unconscious! Ghostball is the easiest method to learn and the easiest to tweek. It is also the method used by most pros when they have to answer the question...how do you aim? I recommend it because it has worked for me for the last 56 years. Just as importantly as learning to aim, you need to practice a preshot routine. Here is a video from Dr Dave that will help you: The Preshot Routine.


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02-02-2012, 07:41 AM

........................................

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02-02-2012, 07:56 AM

I would like to take this moment to thank those which have replied to this thread for not quoting the OP's post. That sure makes for a lot of scrolling on an OP of that length!!!

Maniac


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02-02-2012, 07:56 AM

I have been toying with the ideas of some of the aiming systems for about two weeks now. I can say that they have helped my address of the cue ball greatly, and have given me more consistency on longer, tougher shots. But, I have noticed over the last few weeks, that 90% of my misses come from a poor stroke. Without a doubt. I tend to steer the cue ball at times.

I think aiming systems can definitely offer certain players a better chance at making balls. But, I have to say, that I agree with the OP completely that it is the fundamentals that are the key to better pool. I have spent about three months working on my fundamentals, and it has payed off greatly.

I will still play around with the aiming systems to see if there is any advantage I can pick up, because every thing I can learn about this game will ultimately make me a better player. Knowledge is power.

I am quite sure aiming systems have validity, since most seem to work on geometric principles. Thus, there is information to be gained. But, even with any said system, practice is still the key. I think even the strongest system supporters would agree with this. I do not believe that anyone using a system is of the frame of mind that it is a magic pill. It offers people an objective and repeatable way to aim, and this in and of itself can add consistency to a person's game.

I see this situation as a classic case of "different strokes for different folks." But, good fundamentals and substantial practice are definitely the foundation to better pool. I would think everyone would agree on this.

Thanks for sharing your views on the issue.



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02-02-2012, 08:02 AM

^ @ champ are you capable of stating your opinion w/0 mentioning Lou's name ? seriously get a grip ...


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02-02-2012, 08:07 AM

........................................


........................................

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02-02-2012, 08:07 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil View Post
Absolutely amazing how some can supposedly "read" so many aiming threads, and still don't have a clue about them. Your post is so full of flat out wrong statements that it is almost laughable.
Neil,

If you will notice that the OP clearly states that this is his "$.02" worth and he also starts a lot of his paragraphs with the words "I think". He is stating his opinion and regardless of what anyone says, opinions cannot be wrong, they can only be opinions. Let him have his say and let it go at that. Most of us here realize that any discussion concerning "aiming systems" is going to bring forth differences/disagreements. Your opinions are just as valuable as the next person's, but let's not venture into the act of calling people "wrong". This only starts a more volatile argument that leads to worthless reading. There are obviously (whether anyone likes it or not) many people who will totally agree with the OP, in fact already have. I am not an anti-aiming system guy as I believe if something works for someone then there is SOMETHING to it. I do agree however that there are probably many more shots missed due to a bad stroke than there are missed by aiming wrong. At least this is so in MY game.

Let's just all try to get along here.

Maniac (just MY opinion, thank you )


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02-02-2012, 08:14 AM

........................................

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02-02-2012, 08:15 AM

Let's face it, it really comes down to "feel" and that is developed through lots and lots of practice. Lots of trial and error. A lot of vision, mental and physical conditioning. As well as vision, mental and physical MEMORY.
I agree.
Do you aim english the same was on Simonis or slow cloth?
Do you aim the same way on big cueball barbox table and regular cueball?

How does one go down and not feel right ? Exactly.
Here come the bullies.


  
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02-02-2012, 08:22 AM

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