Length of Back Swing

dougster26

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I think a lot of my problems with my stroke stems from my back swing. There are a lot of times, where I try and hit the ball softer/not so hard, and still go too far on my position. I may have the mind set that I draw back the same distance and depending on how hard or soft I slow down my forward movement. I realize that this is wrong and I would like some thoughts on this issue. Is the length, depending on the hit controlled by your back hand or in looking at how far you bring the tip of your cue back? I have made great strides in my stroke by working on my grip and wrist. Looser grip and am cocking my wrist towards the cue ball. Are there any guidelines in relation to the speed of cue ball as to how far you bring the tip back or is it strictly regulated by the speed of your forward stroke?

Thanks in advance for comments/suggestions.
 

rrick33

Rick
Silver Member
When you say you're cocking your wrist toward the cue ball......is this something you do as you follow through or is your wrist cocked before contact with the cue ball?

If it's something you do before contacting the cue ball, can you tell me why you are doing this?
 

Scott Lee

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
dougster26...I don't believe it is wrong at all! Please watch this clip from randyg and my instructional video, Play Better Pool: Vol. 1; Mastering the Basics. www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqcu9ZOBuxY

In training our biceps to learn how to control the speed of our cuestick, the first step is determining, and measuring the student's personal shooting template (or "ghost"). This takes into account all the variables that make up how we set up to be ready to deliver the cuestick to it's intended target, with accuracy, confidence, and repeatability (stance, body position, bridge length, grip position (and grip pressure), backswing and finish length, and perhaps most critical...timing). One of those variables is the length of the backswing, which for SOP shots should be consistent (generally determined by how far back you pull the tip to your hand...which should be pretty close); and the length of the finish (where your tip goes at the end of your stroke, with your grip hand on or near your pec), which for SOP shots should also be consistent. These things are measureable, and when the student becomes aware of their range of motion (with no involvement of the shoulder), they have a static movement that the conscious brain can train the biceps to accelerate forward at virtually any speed, from a lag (1 speed) to a break (10 speed)...on demand, under pressure, in one try! Without the static range of motion you're always "guessing" how much speed to use. Now, I'm not talking about shots where you use a finesse speed (less than a 1 speed), but normal shots where you use the same stance, same bridge length, with no obstructions hindering your stroke. These SOP shots encompass about 90% of all shots we play in a given game. For finesse speed shots you shorten up your bridge a LOT; move your grip position WAY forward of perpendicular, and have a very short range of motion, with an accompanying very short finish (you might barely touch the edge of the CB...but you still 'finish' your stroke). These are exceptions. Your SOP process is the rule!

Hope this helps. Please understand that not all players accept this explaination, and automatically recommend using different lengths of backswings and followthroughs...which is why you apparently think what you're doing is wrong...IMO it's not! :thumbup:

Scott Lee
http://poolknowledge.com

I think a lot of my problems with my stroke stems from my back swing. There are a lot of times, where I try and hit the ball softer/not so hard, and still go too far on my position. I may have the mind set that I draw back the same distance and depending on how hard or soft I slow down my forward movement. I realize that this is wrong and I would like some thoughts on this issue. Is the length, depending on the hit controlled by your back hand or in looking at how far you bring the tip of your cue back? I have made great strides in my stroke by working on my grip and wrist. Looser grip and am cocking my wrist towards the cue ball. Are there any guidelines in relation to the speed of cue ball as to how far you bring the tip back or is it strictly regulated by the speed of your forward stroke?

Thanks in advance for comments/suggestions.
 

dougster26

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
When you say you're cocking your wrist toward the cue ball......is this something you do as you follow through or is your wrist cocked before contact with the cue ball?

If it's something you do before contacting the cue ball, can you tell me why you are doing this?

I have tried to incorporate some ideas from CJ Wiley. He recommends a hammer type of stroke. I had a habit of twisting my wrist and I found by cocking it forward it tends to lock your wrist and eliminate movement. I have gotten myself into a lot of trouble trying different things and doing too much thinking. However, it appears that some of the things tend to work for me and my ball pocketing skill has increased. I figure if I don't experiment than I'll stay where I'm at.

I will add that if I need to snap my wrist, like when breaking, I don't do this.
 

dougster26

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
dougster26...I don't believe it is wrong at all! Please watch this clip from randyg and my instructional video, Play Better Pool: Vol. 1; Mastering the Basics. www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqcu9ZOBuxY

In training our biceps to learn how to control the speed of our cuestick, the first step is determining, and measuring the student's personal shooting template (or "ghost"). This takes into account all the variables that make up how we set up to be ready to deliver the cuestick to it's intended target, with accuracy, confidence, and repeatability (stance, body position, bridge length, grip position (and grip pressure), backswing and finish length, and perhaps most critical...timing). One of those variables is the length of the backswing, which for SOP shots should be consistent (generally determined by how far back you pull the tip to your hand...which should be pretty close); and the length of the finish (where your tip goes at the end of your stroke, with your grip hand on or near your pec), which for SOP shots should also be consistent. These things are measureable, and when the student becomes aware of their range of motion (with no involvement of the shoulder), they have a static movement that the conscious brain can train the biceps to accelerate forward at virtually any speed, from a lag (1 speed) to a break (10 speed)...on demand, under pressure, in one try! Without the static range of motion you're always "guessing" how much speed to use. Now, I'm not talking about shots where you use a finesse speed (less than a 1 speed), but normal shots where you use the same stance, same bridge length, with no obstructions hindering your stroke. These SOP shots encompass about 90% of all shots we play in a given game. For finesse speed shots you shorten up your bridge a LOT; move your grip position WAY forward of perpendicular, and have a very short range of motion, with an accompanying very short finish (you might barely touch the edge of the CB...but you still 'finish' your stroke). These are exceptions. Your SOP process is the rule!

Hope this helps. Please understand that not all players accept this explaination, and automatically recommend using different lengths of backswings and followthroughs...which is why you apparently think what you're doing is wrong...IMO it's not! :thumbup:

Scott Lee
http://poolknowledge.com

Hi Scott,

Thanks for the very lengthy and detailed reply. I can see from the video that your backswing is consistent irregardless of the speed. I thought I would throw the question out there in hopes that someone would clear it up for me. You have done that. Now, I can move on to feet and hips. I have made strides but still struggle. I know the stance, foot position, hips play a big part. I am also right handed left eye dominant. I practice on all of these things but am thinking too much about it when in a match. It's amazing how everything seems to come together when practicing but falls apart when someone is firing back at you.

Your explanation on the bicep controlling the speed is something I never realized. I think I tend to lunge using my shoulder for added speed. This probably is the reason why I am not so accurate on harder hit shots. Gives me something to consider and work on.

Thanks a lot Scott.

Dougster
 

rrick33

Rick
Silver Member
As we attempt to find the most efficient path to success, we often try new things. Some of those things can produce short term benefits but may cause long term disabilities.

Bear in mind that while the cocked wrist may eliminate one bad habit it may be limiting other aspects of your stroke. The wrist cocked forward may be limiting your ability to effectively apply extreme draw to many shots.

I would focus on delivering a pure traditional stroke before I introduce variations like the hammer stroke, the slip stroke or the piston stroke.

Go back to basics and build from there.

I'm willing to bet....CJ learned the traditional stroke long before he learned the hammer stroke.
 

FranCrimi

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I think a lot of my problems with my stroke stems from my back swing. There are a lot of times, where I try and hit the ball softer/not so hard, and still go too far on my position. I may have the mind set that I draw back the same distance and depending on how hard or soft I slow down my forward movement. I realize that this is wrong and I would like some thoughts on this issue. Is the length, depending on the hit controlled by your back hand or in looking at how far you bring the tip of your cue back? I have made great strides in my stroke by working on my grip and wrist. Looser grip and am cocking my wrist towards the cue ball. Are there any guidelines in relation to the speed of cue ball as to how far you bring the tip back or is it strictly regulated by the speed of your forward stroke?

Thanks in advance for comments/suggestions.

That's a good question and while others here are sure of the answer, I'm not sure. I think there are a lot of factors that come into play, for example, how long your bridge length is, why it is that particular length for that particular shot, what is the distance between the cb and ob, and how much you are looking to accomplish with the cb.

I've seen players with long bridge lengths take a tiny backstroke for a particular shot. I've also seen players bring their tip all the way through their bridge hand, past the loop.

So, I'm afraid that my answer has to be: It depends. But it's a great question, and you shouldn't stop trying to find the answer for yourself. I think we're all a little different in how we handle back stroke lengths. I have an idea of what I would do on different shots, but it varies for me. You need to find what combination works for you.
 

dougster26

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
That's a good question and while others here are sure of the answer, I'm not sure. I think there are a lot of factors that come into play, for example, how long your bridge length is, why it is that particular length for that particular shot, what is the distance between the cb and ob, and how much you are looking to accomplish with the cb.

I've seen players with long bridge lengths take a tiny backstroke for a particular shot. I've also seen players bring their tip all the way through their bridge hand, past the loop.

So, I'm afraid that my answer has to be: It depends. But it's a great question, and you shouldn't stop trying to find the answer for yourself. I think we're all a little different in how we handle back stroke lengths. I have an idea of what I would do on different shots, but it varies for me. You need to find what combination works for you.


As usual Fran, you are correct. In my attempt to solve my many problems, I tend to forget some of the connecting parts. I do have too long a bridge. A number of people have commented on this and I have at times tried to shorten it. However, in trying to solve some of my other problems I tend to forget about other aspects of the basics. At my age, +70, forgetting is a way of life. I started out a little late in life and am trying to learn as much as I can with the time that I have left. Somehow, I need to try and zero in on one thing at a time before trying advanced stuff. I will say, in my defense, that my aggressive nature has improved my game considerably. I just need to figure out how to go about differently so that I am not biting off more than I can chew.

Thanks for your advice Fran. You've answered some of my questions before and I am very much appreciative.
 

dougster26

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
As we attempt to find the most efficient path to success, we often try new things. Some of those things can produce short term benefits but may cause long term disabilities.

Bear in mind that while the cocked wrist may eliminate one bad habit it may be limiting other aspects of your stroke. The wrist cocked forward may be limiting your ability to effectively apply extreme draw to many shots.

I would focus on delivering a pure traditional stroke before I introduce variations like the hammer stroke, the slip stroke or the piston stroke.

Go back to basics and build from there.

I'm willing to bet....CJ learned the traditional stroke long before he learned the hammer stroke.


In trying to improve on my game, I have tried a lot of what is considered advanced stuff. I agree with your assessment that you need to learn to walk before you can run. I do believe that by trying different things like TOI, ProOne, and See System, even though you aren't proficient in them, it gets you thinking about what you need to do to improve upon your game.

I agree with you that the basic fundamentals are what someone should concentrate on. All this other stuff is for naught if you don't have a straight stroke. I definitely am guilty of trying to cram too much stuff into my game but that's the way I am. I know my weaknesses and am trying to correct. By the way, I do have a weak draw shot. I tend to really loosen up on my grip and not cock the wrist. I'm working on trying to go through the cue ball further. I have seen some improvement but not ready to challenge Mike Massey yet.

Thanks for the advice.
 

ronscuba

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Scott, if 1 speed is a full 9 foot table length lag, what do you do for shots less than 1 speed ? I run into a lot of shots less than 1 speed.
 

randyg

www.randygpool.com
Silver Member
Scott, if 1 speed is a full 9 foot table length lag, what do you do for shots less than 1 speed ? I run into a lot of shots less than 1 speed.

In this system, Speeds 1-5 are called "Standard Game Speeds".
We also teach the addition to this system called "Finesse Speeds". That would cover all the speeds less than a 1-speed aka "safeties".

Speed control is a tool that has to be developed. It is an agreement between your EYES and BICEP.

Hope I helped
randyg
 

Scott Lee

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
I addressed that in the other post. We call those shots "finesse speed" shots. Shorten up your bridge (in some cases it may only be 1-2" bridge), change your grip position to way ahead of perpendicular (you may only have 1-2" of movement, to where your grip hand finishes against your chest), and maintain the same process...slow backswing, smooth transition, and finish your stroke. This way you're maintaining the integrity of your stroke process, and not poking the CB.

Scott Lee
http://poolknowledge.com

Scott, if 1 speed is a full 9 foot table length lag, what do you do for shots less than 1 speed ? I run into a lot of shots less than 1 speed.
 

ronscuba

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
As we attempt to find the most efficient path to success, we often try new things. Some of those things can produce short term benefits but may cause long term disabilities........


That's a good observation.

Also is a change in technique/mechanics necessary ? Is there some major flaw that needs to be fixed ? Is the new technique/system just different and not necessarily better ?

I like to experiment. Sometimes I think I should focus more on decision making, patterns, CB routes, etc., and not so much on perfecting my stroke.

My mechanics are far from perfect, but I think there are probably other areas of my game that are bigger weaknesses.
 
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Scott Lee

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
ronscuba...IMO, all areas of weakness, including the ones you mentioned, still are tied into an accurate and repeatable stroke. You can know everything about what 'should' happen, but if you have an inaccurate or nonrepeatable stroke, how are you going to make it happen...especially on demand, under pressure, in one try? Answer: You're not. You get to where you can do what you want in 3-4 tries...but we only get one in the real world. Perfect your stroke first, and other factors start falling into line. Is there only one way to do something? Never! However, in many cases, simpler is better!

Scott Lee
http://poolknowledge.com

That's a good observation.

Also is a change in technique/mechanics necessary ? Is there some major flaw that needs to be fixed ? Is the new technique/system just different and not necessarily better ?

I like to experiment. Sometimes I think I should focus more on decision making, patterns, CB routes, etc., and not so much on perfecting my stroke.

My mechanics are far from perfect, but I think there are probably other areas of my game that are bigger weaknesses.
 

BilliardsAbout

BondFanEvents.com
Silver Member
Have you tried this yet?

Bring your backswing to an end/full stop by bringing the stroke up a bit after it has come back as far as you need/want/feel/like to hit the shot. This will subtly gather the weight/mass of the stick in your hand and slow down your eventual release into and through the cue ball. Give it a go, why don'cha?
 

ronscuba

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
ronscuba...IMO, all areas of weakness, including the ones you mentioned, still are tied into an accurate and repeatable stroke. You can know everything about what 'should' happen, but if you have an inaccurate or nonrepeatable stroke, how are you going to make it happen...especially on demand, under pressure, in one try? Answer: You're not. You get to where you can do what you want in 3-4 tries...but we only get one in the real world. Perfect your stroke first, and other factors start falling into line. Is there only one way to do something? Never! However, in many cases, simpler is better!

Scott Lee
http://poolknowledge.com

Thanks Scott. I have a natural urge to focus on mechanics and perfecting my stroke. That's the engineer in me.

What I meant in my post was in my opinion, I sometimes spend too much time practicing my mechanics. Last night in my match, I made the OB, but my CB got out of position several times off the rail. Seeing the result, in hindsight I said to myself I should have used a little english.

I'm the kind of person that needs to see something with my eyes and do it with my hands before it becomes instinct. My next visit to the pool hall, I should practice the specific shots where my CB got out of position off the rail. No english, 1/4 tip of english, 1/2 tip, etc.. IMHO, this is not stroke related.
 
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Scott Lee

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Good idea...as long as you're really hitting the CB where you think you are. One thing to remember...a tip of english is a spot about 1/8" or 3mm across (think the size of the white inside a red circle CB)...not the size of the tip on your cue. Most of us have about 3 tips up, down, or offside, before we reach miscue territory. When you see a bigger chalk mark on the CB (such as after a break), that is a result of chalk blowback. The size of the contact area, between tip and CB remains pretty constant. This was proven through super high speed photography in the Jacksonville Experiment...so tryingto apply 1/4 or 1/4 tip isn't realistically practical, while 1, 2, or 3 tips is. Good luck with your practice! :thumbup:

Scott Lee
http://poolknowledge.com

. My next visit to the pool hall, I should practice the specific shots where my CB got out of position off the rail. No english, 1/4 tip of english, 1/2 tip, etc.. IMHO, this is not stroke related.
 

ronscuba

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Good idea...as long as you're really hitting the CB where you think you are. One thing to remember...a tip of english is a spot about 1/8" or 3mm across (think the size of the white inside a red circle CB)...not the size of the tip on your cue. Most of us have about 3 tips up, down, or offside, before we reach miscue territory. ....

I am using the size of the tip on my cue as a reference. 1-1/2 tips is the most I use. Sorry if this is not the normal definition. It's just what I think when deciding how much english to use.
 
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BasementDweller

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Back again....not an instructor but the Main Forum is really getting boring. This is the stuff that I find interesting.

The length of the backstroke is an interesting subject.

My thought is you should only use as much back swing as necessary for the shot in front of you. However, I wouldn't think you would want this to be a part of your conscious pre-shot routine, but instead just something that you work on in your practice sessions. Maybe you have just a few different length back swings that you consciously work on and then you allow your subconscious to fill in the minute changes based on the shot at hand.

I do know that when I'm struggling this is one of the things that I will change. I'll shorten up my back swing until I'm cueing straight again. I think a lot of pool players have much longer back swings than is necessary simply because we tend to emulate the great players that we see on the streams. Someone like Chris Melling has such a long back swing, but he also has a laser straight stroke. If you don't yet have a stroke like Chris Melling going with the Darren Appleton approach is properly better. He tends to only use a much back swing as needed for the shot.

Here's what Steve Davis said about the back swing in "Successful Snooker" page 40:
Another fault that will impair the effectiveness of the final thrust is if you over-lengthen the back swing. This will tend to slow down the final forward movement of the cue. Without feeling you are jerking at the shot, keep the back swing to the minimum required to create the power you need for the shot. In a way, it's like a bowler in cricket. The extent of the run -up will be dictated by the intended speed of the delivery.
 

ronscuba

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
At the suggestion of a local instructor, for standard shots, I use 3 different length back swings depending on the CB speed needed. I make minor adjustments by moving the cue vertically on the CB. For example, a little more follow = a little more CB roll.

I am only a "C" level player so this simple approach is working well for me as I have a way to gauge the CB speed and adjust as needed.
 
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