Dropping your elbow

Neil

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Ive never been to an instructor... can you tell me why they teach not to drop the elbow.

http://billiards.colostate.edu/threads/stroke.html#elbow

Scroll down to my comments on it.

edit: Here's my comments on it-

What is one of the main keys to playing good? Repeatability. So, what do you think the first thing an instructor is going to teach someone? Yes, repeatability. Now, the instructor can stick around for a few years and watch his student shoot thousands of balls until his mind finally gets trained to do it the same way, no matter what way that is, OR, the inst. can teach a simple way to be repeatable and accurate in the stroke. And, do it in a few hours. Which should he do?? (If you really don't know the answer to that, stop reading now, you are too stupid to play pool, or to do much else.)

The pendulum stroke is easily taught, and is extremely repeatable and reliable. When set up properly, you hit the cb with a level stroke at impact, and right where you want to hit it. You are not hitting the cb while on an upswing as some have stated. If you are, you aren't doing it right, go see an instructor.

It has been mentioned numerous times that you seldom see the top pros not dropping their elbow. This is true. You also seldom see them drop BEFORE contact, although some do. It seems to be the consensus on here that that means that you should drop your elbow. Let's think about that for a minute..... when did the pendulum swing really come into play? Not very long ago. When did the top players start playing? A long time ago. This wasn't even an issue when they were learning! So, how did they learn? By shooting thousands and thousands of shots. You can learn the same way too. (not a very time efficient method, though)

They, the top pros, have learned repeatability the hard way, over time. Doing that, they each have little and some have large idiosyncrasies to their stroke that works FOR THEM. To try and repeat their strokes, can easily be a HUGE waste of time. If we should only copy them, why don't more people try and play like McCready or Bustamante, arguably two of the best players?

Many of the top players also jump up in the air when they break. Does anyone really think that is a good thing to do? It has been proven over and over that it is not, and adds NOTHING to the break. (except a lot of problems if you don't have your timing just perfect.) Remember what your mothers taught you? Just because Timmy is jumping off a bridge doesn't mean you have to do it too! There's a lot of wisdom in that if you bother to think about it.

It has been stated that you can't get proper follow through with a pendulum stoke. Again, if you can't follow through for 1/1000 of a sec, (all the time the tip is on the cb) you better quit now. The ONLY reason for any follow through is to not stop the stroke. You want the tip going smoothly until contact. All the pendulum stroke does is alter where your follow through goes AFTER contact. It does not minimize it in the least.

If you drop your elbow BEFORE contact, you are much more prone to not hitting the cb where you intend to. Hence, the up and down swings in play that many players suffer from. If one muscle is a little tight, it changes where you hit the ball. Dropping your elbow before contact introduces the shoulder muscles into play. Just something else that can go wrong. Why not eliminate as much as possible that can go wrong??

What many of the top players have learned over trial and error is that if you extend your cue along the shot line on the follow through, it really helps you keep the stroke straight on the way to the cb. The mind finds it easier to make everything work properly with a longer line to work with than just the few inches to the cb.

NO ONE is saying that method doesn't work, or is bad. If it works for you, great! However, there is an easier way to achieve the same results, yep, the pendulum stroke. The top players are not going to change what took them many years to ingrain into their subconscious to achieve the same results. That would be rather foolhardy. But, when you are learning, or even if you have been playing a long time and DON'T have a repeatable stroke, the pendulum stroke is an easy way to get one. The fewer moving parts you have, the less can go wrong.

It has been wrongly stated that you can't get enough power with a pendulum stroke. And that you can't get anything put a dog-break with it. Baloney. I have make 8 out of 9 balls on the break with a pendulum stroke. When Scott and I played, right after the first break of mine, he started laughing and said "And people say you can't get a good break with a pendulum stroke!" First off, the break is not so much about power, as it is about accuracy and a good rack. Just ask Donnie Mills, or Corey Duel. And, you can get all the power you need for ANY shot that comes up during a game.

Many times, when you have an experienced player, and he/she tries to shift over to a pendulum stroke, they have problems. ANY time you try and learn something you are used to doing a new way, you have to give it time to erase the old way of doing it, and ingrain into your subconscious the new way. How long that takes, varies with the individual. Even after you have the new way ingrained, sometimes the old way still creeps in. It took me the better part of a year to finally let my subconscious go and trust it enough to stroke correctly when I switched over to a pendulum stroke. And, the old way still creeps in now and then and messes me up.

Once you get to the point of NOT thinking about your stroke, but letting your subconscious stroke it, the pendulum stroke is a VERY effective tool! Many players reach a plateau, and can't seem to get any better. I feel there are two main reasons for this- they do not have a repeatable stroke, and/or they really don't pay attention to just what is happening when they shoot a shot. The don't know just where they hit the cb, where the cb hit the ob, and where the cb went after contact with the ob, and what speed was used. Not KNOWING those things, you can't possibly duplicate and expand on them.

Another thing you will see a number of top pros do, is to do their warmup strokes with the tip on the cloth well before the cb. They have the natural talent, and years of experience to bring the tip up precisely to where they want it on the final stroke. If you don't have their natural talent, or years of experience, good luck with that. So, is that also something we should all do just because they do it? Are there better ways to accomplish the same end result? Busty looks like he is using an old water pump when he strokes. Should we copy that move too? Why not? The pros do it. Mainly, because we aren't them.

We don't have the natural talent, or the time to invest as they have done. We have to use whatever methods we can to shorten the time it takes, and to make things as easy as possible. The pendulum stroke really helps the fundamentals and repeatability. Aiming methods can really help in their area. Kicking systems in theirs, etc.

But for some to get on here, and make statements that they have about the pendulum stroke, only shows how little they do know about it, and about the general concepts of pool, what works and why it works.

Nobody is saying that dropping your elbow is bad, or that you can't play good that way. If it works reliably for you, keep doing it your way. But, if you find that you are not reliable, try the pendulum stroke. It is a much easier way to get repeatability. And, that is what this game is all about. There's not much point in learning how to get the cb to do what you want it to do if you can't hit it where you want to. Thinking you hit the cb in one spot, and actually hitting it in another only puts into your subconscious something that is wrong. Then, when you DO hit the cb where you want to, you get a different reaction out of it, and get all confused and lose confidence in yourself.
 
Last edited:

dr_dave

Instructional Author
Gold Member
Silver Member
There are both advantages and disadvantages to elbow dropping during the stroke for different people.

For those interested, this topic is covered in great detail on the stroke elbow-drop resource page.
For those interested, here are the list of advantages and disadvantages of dropping the elbow, from the stroke elbow-drop resource page:

Elbow drop advantages:

An advantage of dropping the elbow during the stroke is it can allow more power by involving the shoulder muscles. Having a slightly "choked up" grip, where the forearm is forward of vertical at CB impact, and using a more upright stance can also help add power. Related discussion and demonstrations on how to add power to a break shot can be found here: power break technique advice.

Other possible advantages of dropping the elbow during typical (non power) shots include:

- If the elbow is dropped before tip contact, it might make it easier to get more cue speed with less overall effort, and more smoothly.
- If the timing and coordination of the elbow and shoulder are good, the cue tip can be made to move in a straight line over the entire stroke. This could help some people maintain truer aim and sighting and hit the desired point on the CB more consistently.
- Since the elbow doesn't approach maximum elbow flex (as it can with a pendulum stroke), elbow drop might result in less strain and discomfort for some people.
- It helps encourage a more complete, more level (piston-like), and unobstructed follow-through, especially with shots requiring more cue speed.
- It doesn't result in the grip hand or forearm hitting a firm stop (e.g., on the chest).
- It looks smoother, and many people think it looks better.
- Many of the pros do it, and people like emulating the pros.
- Many people find the elbow-drop stroke more natural.

Here's a video by Max Elberle that demonstrates a well-executed elbow-drop stroke. As Max points out, the key is to not drop the elbow and hand before contact with the CB; otherwise, the cue tip will hit the CB higher than you might think it will.

Elbow drop disadvantages:

Here are some possible disadvantages of dropping the elbow:

- It can be difficult to control the coordinated motion of the shoulder and elbow required to achieve the desired tip contact point.
- If the elbow is dropped before tip contact by accident (or by too much), the tip will hit the CB higher than intended (and the cue might bang into the rail).
- With elbow motion, it can be more difficult for some people to keep the cue moving along the desired line (e.g., if the elbow also tends to "chicken-wing" out sideways as it is moving down).
- It can take a much longer time to master and be consistent with an elbow-drop stroke.

Some people use what is called a "J" stroke, where the grip hand follows the pendulum motion on the back swing and forward swing into the ball, and then the grip moves in a straight line (with elbow drop) after CB contact and during follow through. If you trace out the path of the grip hand, it looks like a "J" turned sideways. This is a combination of a "pendulum stroke" and a "piston stroke." If done well, this gives the benefits of the pendulum stroke tip contact point accuracy, and the follow through of a piston-stroke, but some people might have trouble with dropping the elbow at the right time and right amount consistently.

For more information, see follow through.



Videos, and additional information and resources can be found on the stroke elbow-drop resource page.

Enjoy,
Dave
 
Last edited:

ENGLISH!

Banned
Silver Member
The elbow dropping is not a conscious thing that has to be nor is consciously timed. No, not at all.

When one says it in the manner of 'dropping the elbow' that seems to imply that it is a conscious thing that one actually does...as in making the elbow drop. It is not a conscious effort that is consciously timed nor even thought of. It is a side effect of doing something else.

Don't consciously inhibit the elbow & instead simply allow it to behave as it should for the operation being executed which is moving the cue & the tip in a straight line.

It just happens as a 'good consequence' of moving the cue & the tip on the end of the cue in a 'straight line'.

If the elbow is kept still & fixed at a point in space then the hand must come up & when the hand comes up the tip must go down. Actually it would want to go up if not for the cue being held down by the bridge or by a disconnect at the connection area of the moving hand.

There is only one point in the arc of a pendulum swing that the bottom is not moving either down or up so hence the setup must be perfect for that point to be consciously determined at the exact bottom of the pendulum arc.

IMHO: Keeping the elbow fixed requires much to happen with the wrist & connection to the cue that is in an unnatural biomechanical sequence in order to try to flatten out the bottom of the arching swing of the hand where it connects to the cue.

Is a pendulum easy to explain? Yes. But the human hand is not a weight on the end of a stiff rod. If one will look at the blade at the end of a pendulum rod, one should note that the blade is not straight but instead it is curved. There is a reason for that. A pool cue is not curved.

So...as has been eluded, would it be more difficult to teach the type of stroke that so many of the past greats used? Perhaps. Would it take more than one teaching session? Perhaps.

Is the pendulum stroke easy to teach in one session? Seemingly so.

Is one better than the other? That is for each individual to determine just as it is to determine which is better for each individual.

Again, the above are just my opinions.

Best to All,
Rick
 
Last edited:

Neil

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
The elbow dropping is not a conscious thing that has to be nor is consciously timed. No, not at all.

When one says it in the manner of 'dropping the elbow' that seems to imply that it is a conscious thing that one actually does...dropping it . It is not a conscious effort that is consciously timed. It is a side effect of doing something else.

Don't consciously inhibit the elbow & instead simply allow it to behave as it should for the operation being executed which is moving the cue & the tip in a straight line.

It just happens as a 'good consequence' of moving the cue & the tip on the end of the cue in a 'straight line'.

If the elbow is kept still & fixed at a point in space then the hand must come up & when the hand comes up the tip must go down.

There is only one point in the arc of a pendulum swing that it is not moving either down or up so hence the set up must be perfect for that point to be consciously determined at the exact bottom of the pendulum arc.

IMHO: Keeping the elbow fixed requires much to happen with the wrist & connection to the cue that is in an unnatural biomechanical sequence in order to try to flatten out the bottom of the arching swing of the hand where it connects to the cue.

Is a pendulum easy to explain? Yes. But the human hand is not a weight on the end of a stiff rod. If one will look at the blade at the end of a pendulum rod, one should note that the blade is not straight but instead it is curved. There is a reason for that. A pool cue is not curved.

Again, the above are just my opinions.

Best to All,
Rick


Jeezy Pete, Rick. I can't believe you are still bringing up the same old nonsense after that LONG thread where several posters proved unequivocally that you are wrong in your statements. Even had one poster that was on your side initially build a little testing device that changed his mind and proved you wrong.
 

ENGLISH!

Banned
Silver Member
Jeezy Pete, Rick. I can't believe you are still bringing up the same old nonsense after that LONG thread where several posters proved unequivocally that you are wrong in your statements. Even had one poster that was on your side initially build a little testing device that changed his mind and proved you wrong.

Your misstatements are going to make me go back & pull up the CAD printout that supported Bob Jewetts graph.

Not that anyone with any common sense needs such.

You seem to have a very wavering definition of what the word proof means just as you do with other words.
 

Ralph Kramden

BOOM!.. ZOOM!.. MOON!
Silver Member
There are both advantages and disadvantages to elbow dropping during the stroke for different people.

For those interested, this topic is covered in great detail on the stroke elbow-drop resource page.

Enjoy,
Dave

dr dave.... The reason I started this thread is because I was watching a player with
severe elbow drop. It looked to me that he was trying to push the cue, as his entire
arm moved forward. He was pocketing balls but he had no CB control.

On certain shots I have some elbow drop, but try to hit the CB before that happens.

I think by keeping the shoulder high promotes a pendulum swing and 1 hinge point.
Speed control involves fewer muscles. Shoulder movements can promote chicken
wing styles of play.

Do you have any personal thoughts on shoulder up forearm only vs an elbow drop?

.
 

ENGLISH!

Banned
Silver Member


Note the drastic tip travel downward during what would be the tip contact with the cueball.

This supports Bob Jewett's graph that the tip travel for a 'pendulum stroke' goes on a series of arcs with near immediate transitions from one to the other.

Mr. Cantrell's pencil on the end of a piece of wood was a good attempt to show the tip path but was no where near as precise as is necessary.
 
Last edited:

Patrick Johnson

Fish of the Day
Silver Member
Note the drastic tip travel downward during what would be the tip contact with the cueball.
The tip is in contact with the CB for about 1/16-1/8" (less with a hard tip). Nowhere near enough distance for tip drop to matter at all. See the many slomo vids of tip/ball contact at Dr. Dave's site.

Besides that, the graph shows a cue with its butt elevated more than necessary - with a more level cue the tip's after-contact path would be more level. But since there's no time for tip drop to matter anyway, this is purely academic.

pj
chgo
 

ENGLISH!

Banned
Silver Member
Jeezy Pete, Rick. I can't believe you are still bringing up the same old nonsense after that LONG thread where several posters proved unequivocally that you are wrong in your statements. Even had one poster that was on your side initially build a little testing device that changed his mind and proved you wrong.

Yes, Neil. Your misstatements.

Your refusal to see the truth & continual incorrect opinion does not change the facts.

One can discuss or argue much but it is rather beyond any logical or rational argument as to the path that the tip travels for a full pendulum stroke. It curves down as the hand swings up. It curves back up as the hand swings back down & then curves back down rather drastically as the hand swings up to the finish.

I think it is rather obvious to many why some do not want this to be so but that desire does not change the fact that it is so.

Edit: There are things that can be done to minimize the curving but to me those are the things that I said earlier are in my opinion in an unnatural biomechanical sequence relative to the directional motion of the cue.
 
Last edited:

DAVE_M

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
If your elbow drops your shoulder moves...
Keep the shoulder up and hinge the elbow.

Hit with your forearm. Don't push with the shoulder.
One hinge point... One straight stroke. Again IMO

.



I'm gonna keep dropping my elbow and you're gonna keep cringing at the thought that I do so... while I pocket the nine in the side
 

SmoothStroke

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
If you don't want to drop your elbow learn how to lock your shoulder.
Learn how to lock your chin for other reasons, dont forget the hips.
It's very very simple, it's pool 101 for beginners.

Many players drop the elbow and they also have a shoulder lunge.
Shoulder lunge is different than a body lunge.

I will keep my opinion and theory in the vault on the subject.

Sincerely:SS
 

dr_dave

Instructional Author
Gold Member
Silver Member
dr dave.... The reason I started this thread is because I was watching a player with
severe elbow drop. It looked to me that he was trying to push the cue, as his entire
arm moved forward. He was pocketing balls but he had no CB control.

On certain shots I have some elbow drop, but try to hit the CB before that happens.

I think by keeping the shoulder high promotes a pendulum swing and 1 hinge point.
Speed control involves fewer muscles. Shoulder movements can promote chicken
wing styles of play.

Do you have any personal thoughts on shoulder up forearm only vs an elbow drop?
I personally believe that most people would be more accurate and consistent if they didn't drop their elbow (although, dropping a small amount or after the hit is fine, especially if the drop is not exaggerated and doesn't involve "chicken wing" motion). In other words, I think the potential disadvantages associated with dropping the elbow out weigh the potential advantages, for most people. However, obviously, if one has always been an "elbow dropper" and one has countless hours of practice and successful experience under their belt, and one is a top player, it probably wouldn't help one to attempt to change. Anybody can master any technique if it is practiced and reinforced enough. However, I agree with most top instructors, that people first learning the game should consider limiting or eliminating elbow drop.

For me, elbow drop always came naturally, especially on follow shots, where I tending to exaggerate it. I had to learn to force myself to keep my elbow still, especially on follow shots. (In fact, I still remind myself before shooting a follow shot, because some of the natural tendency is still there, and I know from experience that the elbow drop has negative consequences for me, even though it comes naturally). After learning to eliminate my elbow drop, my accuracy and consistency improved dramatically. Soon after than, I also found that my vision center was not properly aligned. When I fixed that, my accuracy improved even more.

Regards,
Dave
 
Last edited:

ENGLISH!

Banned
Silver Member
If you don't want to drop your elbow learn how to lock your shoulder.
Learn how to lock your chin for other reasons, dont forget the hips.
It's very very simple, it's pool 101 for beginners.

Many players drop the elbow and they also have a shoulder lunge.
Shoulder lunge is different than a body lunge.

I will keep my opinion and theory in the vault on the subject.

Sincerely:SS

I was going to make a post with a list of rhetorical questions for the consideration of all, but I think I will go the route you're taking.

It's a shame that discussions can't be had for reasons Mikjary Mike stated in another thread.

Beat 2 You & All,
Rick

PS I wonder how many can 'feel' a pool stroke in their hand & arm as they sit at their computer?
 
Last edited:

FranCrimi

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I like the ones who preach: As long as it's after contact, it's okay.

It's when you drop your elbow before contact that the really interesting stuff happens. It can be a really good thing on some shots as long as it's done well and with intent.
 

ENGLISH!

Banned
Silver Member
The tip is in contact with the CB for about 1/16-1/8" (less with a hard tip). Nowhere near enough distance for tip drop to matter at all. See the many slomo vids of tip/ball contact at Dr. Dave's site.

Besides that, the graph shows a cue with its butt elevated more than necessary - with a more level cue the tip's after-contact path would be more level. But since there's no time for tip drop to matter anyway, this is purely academic.

pj
chgo

Not just for a center ball target but for all targets around the clock on the cue ball...

& especially since the distance to the ball increases as the tip is moved away from center...

is it the same, results wise, if the tip moves on a straight line while in contact with the ball vs moving on an arc while in contact with the ball?

Also, what about leading up to making contact with the cue ball, is it easier to be precise with a straight moving cue & tip or one where the cue stick is changing orientation & the tip curving down?

I'm not really looking for actual answers from you. They are meant more as rhetorical questions just for your consideration.

RJ
NO,La.
 

ENGLISH!

Banned
Silver Member
I like the ones who preach: As long as it's after contact, it's okay.

It's when you drop your elbow before contact that the really interesting stuff happens. It can be a really good thing on some shots as long as it's done well and with intent.

Unfortunately there is that word.

"preach"

Best 2 You & All,
Rick
 

Neil

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Not just for a center ball target but for all targets around the clock on the cue ball...

& especially since the distance to the ball increases as the tip is moved away from center...

is it the same, results wise, if the tip moves on a straight line while in contact with the ball vs moving on an arc while in contact with the ball?

Also, what about leading up to making contact with the cue ball, is it easier to be precise with a straight moving cue & tip or one where the cue stick is changing orientation & the tip curving down?

I'm not really looking for actual answers from you. They are meant more as rhetorical questions just for your consideration.

RJ
NO,La.

It's rather obvious you aren't actually looking for answers, since this topic has been discussed to death on here. And everyone of your claims have been shown to be just that, claims. With no basis in fact. Yet, here you are again saying the same old stuff. One has to wonder what you are doing here asking the same questions when you don't want answers to them.

For those that do want the answers, they are here- http://forums.azbilliards.com/showthread.php?t=331440
 

Neil

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I like the ones who preach: As long as it's after contact, it's okay.

It's when you drop your elbow before contact that the really interesting stuff happens. It can be a really good thing on some shots as long as it's done well and with intent.

Such as what??
 
Top