AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Positioning a cue ball after it strikes an object ball requires finesse. The use of words and numbers do not work well .Most of us cannot tell the difference between a 28 degree angle and a 30 degree angle. Learning to control the cue ball is part of the definition of “feel” in the pool playing world. If we can not put what we do in words in any formulaic way, who is learning how to execute this extremely fine motor control?

Idea such as the “sub-conscious,” “muscle memory,” and “auto-pilot” are often used to describe this process of calculating and executing how we strike the cue ball to produce the desired effect. There is at least a three stage process at work. We must know what we want to do. We must know how to do it. And, we must then execute it as required. I have a suggestion for the last part, the execution phase.

To produce the desired result the mind must, once again, test the weight of the cue, the swing of the arm, and the type of follow through for the shot. For these reasons it is a better practice to have multiple smooth swings of the cue stick before the actual shot is executed. The term most often used is “practice swings” and I suspect that it is often undervalued by some players, who do not take practice swings or perceive them as only mildly useful at best.

The term multi-stroking” is coined as a way to emphasize the idea that the player should be aware of the process (weight of cue assessment, amount of speed required and type of stroke to be used) that is occurring during the practice swings. These are important determinations for where the cue ball will land after the ball is pocketed.

I have found that when I am aware of the function of multi-stroking during the shot making it improves my cue ball control. However, awareness does not imply verbal thought or any attempt to control the process. I am simply aware of the idea that my brain is figuring out all the right moves to produce the desire outcome and I do not shoot until the stroke “feels” right. That is, until I am sure that my arm (etc) can produce what is desired. This non-verbal awareness sure does help with positional play.

Multi-stroking requires various numbes of swings depending on the shot. Sometimes two swing are sufficient, sometimes we need four or five. It all depends on when the brain says, "OK, I got it." Ever notice that sometimes the brain says, "can't get there from here." and that is when we either jam it (and miss) or stand up and refigure the shot.

PS I like placing my thoughts here on AZB because of all the intense criticism they recieve. If there is something wrong with an idea posters here will find it. So thanks for your thoughts on the matter.
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Craig Fales

Registered bubinga user
Silver Member
By "multi-stroking" you mean warm up strokes? If so, I take at least 4 and no more than 7~8. I just read recently that the brain can perceive no more than a 3* angle difference.


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I think it depends on the individual. I think the more methodical player will want to take the extra strokes to get things in order. The feel player will take as many strokes as necessary to get the 'feel' that he's looking for on a particular shot, so some shots will only require one or two strokes and others may require more. Once a feel player starts to overstroke, they may as well get up and start over because their process has been distracted.


AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I think most people should try to develop a preshot routine that includes the same number of practice strokes and physical and eye movements, must like a golfer takes the same number of seconds before a putt or a tennis player bounces the ball the same way before every serve.

I think the caveat is when you are done, your brain needs to feel that "OK" signal you mentioned. If you don't feel it, I think you should take a few extra strokes, and if you still don't feel it then get up and do it all over again. I only wish I did that more before I miss instead of wishing I did after...

The type of practice strokes can be very individual in nature, but I've seen players always use the same length and speed regardless of the type of shot or vary the strokes based on the type of shot needed. In the first case, I'm guessing the brain has a constant reference point and can calculate the necessary length and speed needed from that reference, in the latter case you are mimicking the required stroke and then can just try to repeat that on the actual stroke. And as Fran said, feel players may vary their approach and take less strokes as they get more comfortable or in stroke at the table and take more only when necessary.

Phil Capelle I believe did some detailed analysis of a match between Archer and Reyes years ago with an accompanying book and DVD. I believe both of them had very consistent preshot routines and number of practice strokes before shooting. It's been quite a while since I saw it, but I think there was one or two shots with only 1 or 2 strokes, a few more with 3 or 4, the majority were 5 (or 6, or whatever the "normal" number was for that player), and a few more were over, probably representing the very tough shots.