Your "first five" pointers...

ChrisWoj

Just some one eyed guy.
Silver Member
If you could just give a complete novice five quick tips to set them on their way to making shots competently what would they be?

I think this is the best forum to ask this question... I really only play casually, but I also spend a ton of time practicing on my home table and try to hook my friends by getting them to a solid place very quickly so that they can enjoy the actual competition that goes along with being able to make simple shots, and thus earning me more fun people to play against.

To that end, for a long time, I've felt like the best thing I can do is have a few simple ideas to get across to a novice player, and I'm curious how others might do it:

1. Put your weight onto your bridge, the bridge must be steady as a rock.
2. Let your forearm hang from the elbow like a hinge, so that your swing stays on a consistent path.
3. Put your chin over the stick every time, so that you're seeing your shot the same every time.
4. The distance your bridge is from the cue ball will control your speed, hit with the same stroke speed every time.
5. Control the side, top, or bottom spin more with the length of your follow through than how far from center you hit the ball.

Note - I usually am giving these tips to friends I hope to teach and then play with regularly, and I tend to omit the last two when I talk to total novices at the bar.

Thoughts? Your own ideas?
 

DeadStick

i like turtles
Gold Member
Silver Member
If you could just give a complete novice five quick tips to set them on their way to making shots competently what would they be?

I think this is the best forum to ask this question... I really only play casually, but I also spend a ton of time practicing on my home table and try to hook my friends by getting them to a solid place very quickly so that they can enjoy the actual competition that goes along with being able to make simple shots, and thus earning me more fun people to play against.

To that end, for a long time, I've felt like the best thing I can do is have a few simple ideas to get across to a novice player, and I'm curious how others might do it:

1. Put your weight onto your bridge, the bridge must be steady as a rock.
2. Let your forearm hang from the elbow like a hinge, so that your swing stays on a consistent path.
3. Put your chin over the stick every time, so that you're seeing your shot the same every time.
4. The distance your bridge is from the cue ball will control your speed, hit with the same stroke speed every time.
5. Control the side, top, or bottom spin more with the length of your follow through than how far from center you hit the ball.

Note - I usually am giving these tips to friends I hope to teach and then play with regularly, and I tend to omit the last two when I talk to total novices at the bar.

Thoughts? Your own ideas?
I disagree with 4 and 5.
 

tomatoshooter

Well-known member
5 is broken. In my view, it is very bad advice.
I agree with Dr Dave's assessment that the cue ball only knows our cares about the speed, direction, and location of the tip at contact, but, especially with follow shots, a smooth delivery of the cue through the ball seems to generate much better results. I wouldn't say I control the amount of spin with my follow through, but a good smooth follow through seems to make me do what I'm supposed to do. Kind of right results but not for the reason I think.
 

Patrick Johnson

Fish of the Day
Silver Member
I agree with Dr Dave's assessment that the cue ball only knows our cares about the speed, direction, and location of the tip at contact, but, especially with follow shots, a smooth delivery of the cue through the ball seems to generate much better results. I wouldn't say I control the amount of spin with my follow through, but a good smooth follow through seems to make me do what I'm supposed to do. Kind of right results but not for the reason I think.
Dave also recognizes the value of good follow through - but he knows it only helps ensure your stroke is delivered as planned, not any special action on the CB.

pj
chgo
 

ChrisWoj

Just some one eyed guy.
Silver Member
Interesting. What are the fundamental problems with 4/5?

I only sorta came across those ideas in the last year, and I feel like I've improved dramatically by integrating them. I got to being a high-5 or low-6 (I understand this isn't impressive, just reference for where I am as a level) by about 2020 focusing more on changing up speed by changing up how hard I was trying to hit the ball, and focusing more on changing up English by purely focusing on distance from the center.... and I always had a ton of trouble with slower touch shots and with getting English. I basically got by on shot-making alone.

In the last year I noticed that bringing my bridge hand much closer for slower shots made it a lot easier to establish that speed. I feel like I'm able to play a much wider range of shot speeds with a much narrower range of stroke speeds than I could before.

If using the distance my bridge hand is from the cueball isn't helpful, what is it that is improving my speed control?

Similarly, I had a hell of a time getting any real draw, or doing that funky stuff where the cueball comes off the rail and then dramatically changes direction, or playing with masse. Like, I know the follow through itself isn't doing anything. I assume it is because focusing on the follow through, it forces me to put the tip of the stick through the ball at the right spot in my stroke to get the hit I'm looking for, as noted with the Dr. Dave point that "the cue ball only knows our cares about the speed, direction, and location of the tip at contact" - this focus on follow through seems to be what brings me to the correct spot in my stroke more consistently for all those shots that require high spin.

If 4 and 5 are genuinely bad, how are they bad, and how should I be conceptualizing what has brought me to a lot of new skill development of late?
 

WobblyStroke

Well-known member
Interesting. What are the fundamental problems with 4/5?

I only sorta came across those ideas in the last year, and I feel like I've improved dramatically by integrating them. I got to being a high-5 or low-6 (I understand this isn't impressive, just reference for where I am as a level) by about 2020 focusing more on changing up speed by changing up how hard I was trying to hit the ball, and focusing more on changing up English by purely focusing on distance from the center.... and I always had a ton of trouble with slower touch shots and with getting English. I basically got by on shot-making alone.

In the last year I noticed that bringing my bridge hand much closer for slower shots made it a lot easier to establish that speed. I feel like I'm able to play a much wider range of shot speeds with a much narrower range of stroke speeds than I could before.

If using the distance my bridge hand is from the cueball isn't helpful, what is it that is improving my speed control?

Similarly, I had a hell of a time getting any real draw, or doing that funky stuff where the cueball comes off the rail and then dramatically changes direction, or playing with masse. Like, I know the follow through itself isn't doing anything. I assume it is because focusing on the follow through, it forces me to put the tip of the stick through the ball at the right spot in my stroke to get the hit I'm looking for, as noted with the Dr. Dave point that "the cue ball only knows our cares about the speed, direction, and location of the tip at contact" - this focus on follow through seems to be what brings me to the correct spot in my stroke more consistently for all those shots that require high spin.

If 4 and 5 are genuinely bad, how are they bad, and how should I be conceptualizing what has brought me to a lot of new skill development of late?
4 would be correct if you changed one word.... speed to acceleration. Not everyone approaches speed control this way, but many advocate for controlling speed with the length of the stroke. The stroke itself goes off the same way, at the same rate of acceleration. The result of the same stroke being applied over different stroke lengths is that the longer the stroke, the higher the speed.

This is a common approach to putting as well and many coaches teach players to always move the putter the same way....as Phil Mickelson would advise: send it as fast as you can smoothly. Then control speed at contact with the length of the stroke.

As for 5....it's just a hot mess of counter physics talk. Besides, if dealing with beginners, there is no need at all to get into sidespin concepts. There's so much to address before even thinking of playing with sidespin.
 

FranCrimi

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I'll address your #1: Putting weight on the bridge hand can make a beginner think he has to lean hard on that hand. Be careful how you say it. Leaning hard on the hand can cause tendonitis in the shoulder. I've seen players in severe pain because of it. You're right in that the bridge hand must be steady, but it would be better to say to press the bridge hand slightly into the cloth --- just enough to prevent it from moving as the cue comes through.
 

BilliardsAbout

BondFanEvents.com
Silver Member
If you could just give a complete novice five quick tips to set them on their way to making shots competently what would they be?

I think this is the best forum to ask this question... I really only play casually, but I also spend a ton of time practicing on my home table and try to hook my friends by getting them to a solid place very quickly so that they can enjoy the actual competition that goes along with being able to make simple shots, and thus earning me more fun people to play against.

To that end, for a long time, I've felt like the best thing I can do is have a few simple ideas to get across to a novice player, and I'm curious how others might do it:

1. Put your weight onto your bridge, the bridge must be steady as a rock.
2. Let your forearm hang from the elbow like a hinge, so that your swing stays on a consistent path.
3. Put your chin over the stick every time, so that you're seeing your shot the same every time.
4. The distance your bridge is from the cue ball will control your speed, hit with the same stroke speed every time.
5. Control the side, top, or bottom spin more with the length of your follow through than how far from center you hit the ball.

Note - I usually am giving these tips to friends I hope to teach and then play with regularly, and I tend to omit the last two when I talk to total novices at the bar.

Thoughts? Your own ideas?
I'm sorry, but respectfully, 1 through 5. Happy to give you a lesson to go over the details. My five might be for a beginner (okay full disclosure, this was a beginner's lesson yesterday):

1) Let's vary your stroke, so that you slow as you come toward the end of the backstroke and move slowly as you reverse to begin the forward stroke smoothly--don't worry--it will accelerate over the length of the forward stroke almost on its own
2) Let's see this same speed and flow on your practice strokes, there's no tension or squeezing, but it will feel like potential energy turning to kinetic energy, like drawing a bow and releasing the arrow
3) Let's give you absolute aim reference by having you stand with your navel on the lines of centers to begin
4) Let's simplify your stance so that your feet not only clear your torso from interfering with the cue, but help your stroke arm to be on line for all shots
5) Let's confirm with your vision center over the shot line, the OB's pocket path is so crisp, it's practically telling you where the CB must go to pocket the ball
 

ChrisWoj

Just some one eyed guy.
Silver Member
I'm sorry, but respectfully, 1 through 5.
Why are you apologizing? This is the only confusing part of your post lol.
4) Let's simplify your stance so that your feet not only clear your torso from interfering with the cue, but help your stroke arm to be on line for all shots
I like this one a lot. I tend to avoid discussing footwork because most of the information on footwork online has been tough for me to stick with over the years. Plus I tend to go back and forth depending on comfort between a staggered stance or a straddle stance shot-to-shot. But just the notion of using the feet to clear the torso from interfering with the cue is pleasantly simple and clear. Love it.
 

ChrisWoj

Just some one eyed guy.
Silver Member
I'll address your #1: Putting weight on the bridge hand can make a beginner think he has to lean hard on that hand. Be careful how you say it. Leaning hard on the hand can cause tendonitis in the shoulder. I've seen players in severe pain because of it. You're right in that the bridge hand must be steady, but it would be better to say to press the bridge hand slightly into the cloth --- just enough to prevent it from moving as the cue comes through.
This is wonderful and helpful. I've never thought of playing with people with shoulder weakness, but as I'm entering my 40s and the age of the people around me changes - this is going to be very helpful to remember in the decades to come (I know younger people can also have weak shoulders, but just in general this is definitely the sort of thing that will become outright normal as I get older).
 

sparkle84

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Why are you apologizing? This is the only confusing part of your post lol.

I like this one a lot. I tend to avoid discussing footwork because most of the information on footwork online has been tough for me to stick with over the years. Plus I tend to go back and forth depending on comfort between a staggered stance or a straddle stance shot-to-shot. But just the notion of using the feet to clear the torso from interfering with the cue is pleasantly simple and clear. Love it.
Yes , it's very important to have clearance. However, just moving the feet to accomplish that is very simplistic. Other aspects are involved and can easily get out of whack.
Might be best to get with a qualified instructor. Or maybe do a zoom meeting with BA. I'm sure he'll straighten you right out. You might even qualify for a "free" lesson.
 

FranCrimi

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
This is wonderful and helpful. I've never thought of playing with people with shoulder weakness, but as I'm entering my 40s and the age of the people around me changes - this is going to be very helpful to remember in the decades to come (I know younger people can also have weak shoulders, but just in general this is definitely the sort of thing that will become outright normal as I get older).
Glad you like my suggestion. But trust me on this, it's not an aging issue. I've seen perfectly healthy young people with shoulder pain from leaning too hard on their bridge hand. It's one of those repetition-type injuries that creep up on them over time. And by the way, if they're leaning hard on that side of their body, their stances are probably off as well, and will likely need a stance adjustment.

Some players prefer to put their entire arm down on the table, up to their elbow. If you're playing on a snooker table with lots of room to do that, I guess it's okay. But in pool, we don't have the luxury of space to do that. It's not something I would teach a pool player to do because it also requires a stance change, and it also puts the player's head closer to the cue ball. I don't like it.

See how something as basic as hand pressure can turn into something much bigger? LOL
 
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snookered_again

Well-known member
sorry about the numbers ;-) I can;t stop myself at 5 but some randon thoughts..

I think some depends upon what you interpret as a new or inexperienced player..

there are several ways to use your left hand ( or right) as a bridge, I'd go over some of them and let them experiment especially in awkward positions..

Since this is for a newer player I'd leave spins out of the picture, let them focus upon making each shot and trying to predict where their cue ball will stop, later they can get on to spins and control that better. If they dont know where the cue ball will stop on a centerball shot, then learning that first will help them better realize the differences spin will make.

Drawing the cue ball after impact takes practice, maybe have them practice just that with only two balls on the table to get the knack of draw and direction without the issue being confused with game play, that way they will repeat the actions and maybe get better control of it.

get them to shoot a bit more slowly and carefully and deliberately than they first want to, this is because without the skills a bunch of random hard shots that are out of control are of no advantage.

before they shoot ask which is your next ball? an inexperienced player wont even know or think that far ahead but try to get them in the habit of having a plan when they shoot to arrive at a defined CB position that makes sense.. It may take time to control it and often during game even for an experienced payer the choice of the next ball depends upon the outcome of the previous shot. Teach them how to predict the outcome as best they can.

I think the best way to gain control of the CB is to try to predict the destination on every shot and then when the ball stops pay attention to how far you were off. If you do that as a habit , on every shot, then you get better at that prediction and this is key. maybe discuss it out loud and then occasionally interject once in a while, what is your next shot? see if they are still thinking about it.


using the cushions to create a controlled rebound is often less problematic and more predictable than using a draw shot to accomplish the same thing, try to help them gain control of the CB end position without using draw, they can go on to that later. Harder shots will come naturally too.

for the spins, Id take all the balls off the table and have them shoot from the head to the center of the bottom of the table hitting the middle, and try to return the CB to the starting position as nearly as they can , this helps get the weight of the shot under control and learn the speed of the table. this is a good time to focus upon form and their stroke as it will show .

once they have enough of that ask the to do the same shot, hitting the center of the bottom rail and apply left or right spin, try to get them to return the CB to specific locations..

Place a ball on the table and ask them to hit the center of the rail and then touch the ball but try not to drive it far..

That alone is useful in a hook, later they can try to spin off other balls and take advantage of the spin of the CB to control it's destination. Its easier to understand the effect of spin on a cushion with just one ball on the table. when they involve other balls it will make better sense.

spinning balls produces other aspects like CB direction and squirt and such, this is more advanced.

encouragement is key, no one plays well when they feel they are not doing well, congratulate them on the progress! don't scold them on the mistakes , forget them and move forward and bury your mistakes like you will in a real game.

If a musician makes a bad move and hits the wrong string he then carries on like nothing happened, he doesn't stop to apologize to his audience.. as a newbie it is really easy to get caught up in all that and loose faith in themselves , loose focus or be distracted.. you know , those awkward moments!

if others are distracting say "good, you need to learn to focus with the distractions" so play on and try to tune that out, this is a learned skill too. policing the world is another skill..

stance takes practice and you covered that, I'd get them in the habit of seeing the shot line then putting their right foot in an appropriate spot ..

Maybe just watch them and have them adjust their body mechanics a little as you see fit. try not to overwhelm them with new info.. let them practice each drill you come up with for a while, and then move on. have a real game and keep it light.. smiles help.

we play doubles a lot it helps to pair up good and newer players, then the better player on their team can assist verbally in constructive ways and you can have a fair game. nothing wrong with trying to learn to play safeties. a newbie will want to make every ball Learning when to employ a safety is a big part of snooker, it has merit in 8 ball and other pool games too.
 
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BRKNRUN

Showin some A$$
Silver Member
Personally....I would throw them all out for a complete novice....I would start them off with the foundation of success.

  1. Grip
  2. Stance
  3. Posture
  4. Alignment
Literally everything else they do in the game of pool will be based on those 4 things.
 

BilliardsAbout

BondFanEvents.com
Silver Member
Yes , it's very important to have clearance. However, just moving the feet to accomplish that is very simplistic. Other aspects are involved and can easily get out of whack.
Might be best to get with a qualified instructor. Or maybe do a zoom meeting with BA. I'm sure he'll straighten you right out. You might even qualify for a "free" lesson.
Everyone at AZ gets at least one free lesson, you get two.
 

BilliardsAbout

BondFanEvents.com
Silver Member
This is wonderful and helpful. I've never thought of playing with people with shoulder weakness, but as I'm entering my 40s and the age of the people around me changes - this is going to be very helpful to remember in the decades to come (I know younger people can also have weak shoulders, but just in general this is definitely the sort of thing that will become outright normal as I get older).
Downward pressure from the bridge hand helps on rail shots. But that pressure comes from the rest of the body through the hand, to avoid stressing the shoulder, of course.
 

WobblyStroke

Well-known member
Downward pressure from the bridge hand helps on rail shots. But that pressure comes from the rest of the body through the hand, to avoid stressing the shoulder, of course.
Weight on the hand puts stress on the shoulder over time. More weight, more stress. That pressure coming from the lean of the body makes no difference and there is no way to avoid stressing the shoulder if you are going to include it for stability and carry weight on the bridge hand.

Met a young lady in her mid 20s last week complaining to my friend about her shoulder pain from all the extra hours of play she'd been putting in recently. Sure enough, her weight was quite forward and her shoulder was eating all that. It's a small thing, but after 1000s of shots, it adds up and gets sore even with what feels like you could do all day when you first try it.
 

BilliardsAbout

BondFanEvents.com
Silver Member
Weight on the hand puts stress on the shoulder over time. More weight, more stress. That pressure coming from the lean of the body makes no difference and there is no way to avoid stressing the shoulder if you are going to include it for stability and carry weight on the bridge hand.

Met a young lady in her mid 20s last week complaining to my friend about her shoulder pain from all the extra hours of play she'd been putting in recently. Sure enough, her weight was quite forward and her shoulder was eating all that. It's a small thing, but after 1000s of shots, it adds up and gets sore even with what feels like you could do all day when you first try it.
Yes, we relieve the pressure (as you know) using other body weight through the arm, and by not adding any conscious pressure on most shots (hand on cloth, not rail).
 
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