Slight difficulty keeping my tip position perfectly still at the cue ball

BlueRaider

Registered
I don't know if this is a common issue or not, but as I've started paying closer and closer attention to my tip placement on/at the cue ball before shooting, I've found that it wants to "wander" slightly and I have to really focus on not letting it move after my warm-up strokes and before I start my backstroke (basically, at the "set' position). It doesn't move much--often just a few millimeters--but that's enough to cause misses on certain shots.

I don't have a tremor in my hands, but I do feel tension when I'm down on the table. However, I've noticed that the tension/tendency for my tip to wander seems to be at its most noticeable on longer, more difficult shots. If I'm shooting a straight-in side pocket shot, for example, my tip stays in place pretty easily and effortlessly.

Which suggests to make that perhaps it's a psychological issue compounded by a subtle physical issue. Could it be that I'm tightening my grip and not realizing it? Or maybe I'm holding a lot of tension in my elbow and that's causing the slight movement?
 

FranCrimi

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Great observation about yourself. Not many people would notice this type of subtle change. Yes, it could stem from tension but there are also other possibilities. Remember, you have two hands involved, not just one. Here are some things for you to check on the longer shots where it shows up more.

1. Bridge length: Does it change on longer shots? A longer bridge length could make things a little wobbly.

2. Bridge hand grip: Is it secure? Too loose? Too tight? Does it change?

3. Back hand grip: Squeezing the back hand while down in position does turn the cue slightly inward or outward. Remember to shoot with your arm, not your hand. With the exception of a few specialty shots, your hand should mostly just be a claw that keeps the cue from falling. The grip tension should be pretty consistent from beginning to end.

4. Are you standing at address longer on certain shots? Tip wavering slightly in a stopped position isn't abnormal. It's hard to stand perfectly still for any length of time. It doesn't necessarily mean that your cue won't hit it's target when you stroke. It would be great if you could get someone to take a closeup video of the tip at the ball throughout your shooting process, where you can play it back in slow motion and see where the tip hits the ball compared to where you aimed.
 
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Bob Jewett

AZB Osmium Member
Staff member
Gold Member
Silver Member
I think this is the sort of problem that is nearly impossible to fix from a distance. A video might help us to understand what's going on.

I'll go ahead and guess at a possible fix. I'll guess that your arm starts acting up when you get to the edge of your comfort zone. This happens to a lot of players. The goal is to make your comfort zone wider. Find a particular shot that is an issue for you. Let's say it's a long 10-degree cut shot. Begin by playing a much shorter version of the shot. If you can make three in a row at that much easier length, make the shot a little longer. Continue to increase the length of the shot if you can make three in a row, but if you miss, step back to an easier (shorter) shot.

Even if this doesn't fix your wiggling problem, it is almost guaranteed to expand your comfort zone and improve that particular shot for you.
 

boogieman

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that ping.
I'm not an instructor. @gregcantrall posted once about letting the ring finger take the lead (grip hand). When I'm in good position the ring finger feels like it's leading the dance. If I'm not doing that and let the index or middle finger take the lead it's usually causing some tip wandering or steering.

It's a very easy "feel" check so it doesn't get in your head and effect your stroke. Wait for the ring finger to take the lead then shoot. I can't tell you why but it seems like this way is much less apt to mechanical errors. I used to be a tight grip guy, a loose grip guy, a wrist snap guy, you name it I've done it at some point. The ring finger has improved my stroke and consistency on the CB more than anything I've tried.
 

gregcantrall

Center Ball
Silver Member
I'm not an instructor. @gregcantrall posted once about letting the ring finger take the lead (grip hand). When I'm in good position the ring finger feels like it's leading the dance. If I'm not doing that and let the index or middle finger take the lead it's usually causing some tip wandering or steering.

It's a very easy "feel" check so it doesn't get in your head and effect your stroke. Wait for the ring finger to take the lead then shoot. I can't tell you why but it seems like this way is much less apt to mechanical errors. I used to be a tight grip guy, a loose grip guy, a wrist snap guy, you name it I've done it at some point. The ring finger has improved my stroke and consistency on the CB more than anything I've tried.
I got it from Barry Stark. The Grip part 1 doesn't call the ring finger the trigger finger. That's how I thought of it. The feeling of the cue in the fleshy part is important to me also.
The grip part 2 gives a look at the hand action. Sometimes the camera angle is perfect to watch the hand action in the Matchroom and DAZN coverage. I noticed a very similar action in all the top players I watched.
The grip part 3 the secret element is 86 in his series. With part 1 being 07. Two years apart. I knew I was picking up what he was putting down when he used the word trigger.
The grip part 4 indicates how important it is. I have experienced a better ability to deliver the cue tip to the ball with precision, by following his coaching. I monitor the feeling of the web then the unfurrel and then closing of the fingers initiated by the ring finger. To remind myself to "Wait now play the shot", as Barry teaches, I think it takes longer for the message to get to the ring finger than the index finger. The index finger is the old habit. So when I catch myself shooting too quickly I am back to the old habits.
 

gregcantrall

Center Ball
Silver Member
Remember to shoot with your arm, not your hand. With the exception of a few specialty shots, your hand should mostly just be a claw that keeps the cue from falling. The grip tension should be pretty consistent from beginning to end.
Oh Hell no. I guess that's why it's called Hand e capped.
Trying to be polite now but...
Watching so much snooker has me gravity to the British quoint expression. Rubbish coming to mind.
Seriously, I am not an instructor. Prefer lead man. I would advise investment of time to views of all 150 contribution of knowledge to YouTube.
I currently occupied a sandbox in the main. Would recommend Barry Stark first .. .. if you still have time you could find my Rambling in the Practice practice practice thread.
 

gregcantrall

Center Ball
Silver Member
The arm is the first part of the moving mech. The connection to the shooting platform.
So the part that Jan uh Fran emphasized is fundamental. Once you solid the foundation and trouble shoot the mechanics. (Coaching expedition of time HUGE) then The Claw finish them off. Just like a Bird of Prey. I prefer Falcon simply for the Air Knock.

If the lack of access to coaching you have confidence in..... the knowledge is available. So Study study study. I am not sure if I have possible missed or skimmed one of the 150...... So off I go.
 

phreaticus

Well-known member
I’ll second the Barry Stark video recommendations.

Moving on, not sure if this is connected to your question or not as its not directly related to final ball address or stroking mechanics, but it may help. I think a lot of the problem comes down to initial visualization, alignment and stance during the analytical left-brain phase of PSR, which minimize the errors/variations that we have to deal with when down on the ball & stroking when we should be in right-brain subconscious/feel mode. One of the more useful tools that I've incorporated in the following. You'll find that all pool shots (including banks & kicks) can been seen as minor deviations from one of two primary visual alignments of the CB/OB; thick cuts and thin cuts. Thick cuts can be referenced to center-to-center (CTC, 0° angle) alignment, ie the straight-in shot and thin cuts can be referenced to center-to-edge alignment (CTE, 30°) shots. When using these two primary visualizations, if you add another imaginary visual line which I'll call the "inside edge reference line" (IERL), it can be enormously helpful to find and align to center ball. For the CTC visual, the IERL connects the inside edges of both the CB and OB. For the CTE visual, the IERL runs from the inside edge of the CB to the center of the OB. The edges and centers of balls can be said to the most objective things that our visual cognitive system can physically "see" (all other aiming points far more difficult and involve much heavier estimation/feel). These sets of lines create parallel "pipes" that IMO create rock solid primary visual references that aid in the visual and physical stance aspects of finding and aligning to center CB to the shotline. From there you will find that the actual shotline is always a very minor deviation from these reference lines that can be more easily approached & consistently settled into - many methods & strong opinions about how to best achieve the final alignment/aiming, as we all know. This is sort of a mashup of some of CJ's TOI principles and some of the CTE stuff, but I believe it can be very helpful to build consistency into your stance + approach, no matter how one aims; (ball fractions, tip fractions, contact points, HAMB/feel, etc). Anytime we can build a consistent foundation around known stable references (visual & physical) = a very good thing.

Cheers ✌️
 
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BlueRaider

Registered
Fran and Bob, I think it was a combination of issues you mentioned. I was subtly tightening my grip on shots that are out of my comfort zone. And because my tip wasn't completely still, I was missing them more often, which ensured they stayed out of my comfort zone, which led to further grip tightening. I also tended to have bad stroke "timing" on them which also went back to the fear/out of my comfort zone thing.

Today was the first time I got a chance to practice since I made this thread, and I focused on being as relaxed as possible with a nice relaxed "cradle" of a grip, a smooth backstroke, and a nice follow-through. Just focusing on those things instead of making the ball made it much easier to keep my tip still at the cue ball. And low and behold, I wasn't just making the shots (long stop and stun shots), I was hitting them dead perfect with no spin on the cue ball.

The challenge from here is going to be maintaining that level of relaxation, especially in competition. Because it seems that the tendency to start tightening my grip and having a hurried stroke is somewhat ingrained in me on shots I'm not comfortable with.
 

Patrick Johnson

Fish of the Day
Silver Member
The challenge from here is going to be maintaining that level of relaxation
Have you considered starting with a tighter grip to see if that might help avoid/reduce "clenching"? It works for me, especially for harder hit shots. I don't get as much of the wrist-snap feeling as before, but I don't seem to need it.

pj
chgo
 

straightline

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Have you considered starting with a tighter grip to see if that might help avoid/reduce "clenching"? It works for me, especially for harder hit shots. I don't get as much of the wrist-snap feeling as before, but I don't seem to need it.

pj
chgo
One thing that worked with a previous incarnation of my grips was cocking my arm in 'delivered' position and horizontally placing my stick, tip first into a wall or post. Holding a death grip, I would then lean into it, maintaining the linearity. This seemed to set the strike position and vector and forceful stroking became a non issue. I don't need it so much now but it still works as an emergency stroke tune. lol...
 

BlueRaider

Registered
Have you considered starting with a tighter grip to see if that might help avoid/reduce "clenching"? It works for me, especially for harder hit shots. I don't get as much of the wrist-snap feeling as before, but I don't seem to need it.

pj
chgo
I focused on grip pressure a lot yesterday. It does seem that in a perfect world, I would just use a very relaxed and consistent grip pressure all the time, but when nerves and adrenaline kick in, I definitely want to grip a little tighter and often do so subtly without realizing it. I'm working on finding a happy medium that above all else is consistent throughout my PSR and stroke.
 

boogieman

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that ping.
I focused on grip pressure a lot yesterday. It does seem that in a perfect world, I would just use a very relaxed and consistent grip pressure all the time, but when nerves and adrenaline kick in, I definitely want to grip a little tighter and often do so subtly without realizing it. I'm working on finding a happy medium that above all else is consistent throughout my PSR and stroke.
Wait for your ring finger to take charge in your grip hand and the "white knuckle death grip" ;) will vanish from your game.
 

BilliardsAbout

BondFanEvents.com
Silver Member
I don't want to sound like a pedant, but for pool as opposed to snooker, the hand does not need to butterfly open then closed again, as many others have remarked.

And--please take this in the kind spirit in which it's given--there are at least two reasons for focusing on, say, the index finger, one is mechanics and consistency as clearly explained above by many, but the other is to create a checkoff point or feel point to ease nerves. I don't teach a finger point because I teach a relaxed body and mind, if you follow (or draw upon, haha, I said "draw" and "follow") what I'm writing here.

Put differently, the culprit for players who are having a tough time is usually tip gap or stroke motion or aim system and I've not ever told a player, "love it but get more action with the index and less with the pinky". I'm OPEN to what a great snooker coach has to share, but just sayin'. And that includes all levels I've coached from rank beginner on up.
 

straightline

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I think pivoting at the index and thumb wastes the leverage you get pivoting on the last two fingers. Further, using the whole hand to squeeze out the snap puts active control in four unequal length drivers; more errant torque to unlearn and equalize.
 

FranCrimi

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
One thing that worked with a previous incarnation of my grips was cocking my arm in 'delivered' position and horizontally placing my stick, tip first into a wall or post. Holding a death grip, I would then lean into it, maintaining the linearity. This seemed to set the strike position and vector and forceful stroking became a non issue. I don't need it so much now but it still works as an emergency stroke tune. lol...
I think that this isn't a bad idea but I also think it can be modified a bit. In a way, it reminds me of CJ' Wiley's starting position with his arm angled slightly forward of vertical, but his is not as drastic as starting at the finishing position. When you start in your finishing position, it will restrict your follow-through.

Another fix that has a somewhat similar effect, but not nearly as drastic is to relax the thumb and index finger, letting the hand rest mainly on the last three. This is my favorite grip, actually, and how I play, and pro player Guy Young Kim (official name: Kim Ga-Young) does this to perfection.
 
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straightline

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I think that this isn't a bad idea but I also think it can be modified a bit. In a way, it reminds me of CJ' Wiley's starting position with his arm angled slightly forward of vertical, but his is not as drastic as starting at the finishing position. When you start in your finishing position, it will restrict your follow-through.

Another fix that has a somewhat similar effect, but not nearly as drastic is to relax the thumb and index finger, letting the hand rest mainly on the last three. This is my favorite grip, actually, and how I play, and pro player Guy Young Kim does this to perfection.
Noted. I used to play with a very light stick that required considerable cue speed to lay into shots - another trait I had fallen into. As stated it isolated the strike zone and "taught" it to my bicep. I've since evolved into a heavier - 19, 20 ish oz cue and shoot more along accepted technical lines. When actually shooting though I will cue up to the ball on the aim vector and set/pause there. If no red lights go off, I pull back and then simply return the stick to the original position plus speed and follow through. I saw Vilmos Foldes do this on every shot he takes and I kind of adopted it albeit not nearly as fanatically.
 
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