As I mentioned in in this post, I saw that my elbow wasn’t in line with my wrist/cue by videotaping myself playing.  Last weekend, I talked with another player about stroke and what some of my problems were.  He made a few suggestions and I finally got a chance to really give them a try yesterday.

I spent about 6 hours in the poolhall yesterday working on: 1) New Stance 2) New Bridge Hand 3) New Grip. 4) New Stroke

I don’t have any video, unfortunately, but I think this will work – but I’m also open to further advice from people.  I’ll try to get some still-shots this weekend though.

  1. Stance. 
    • Legs 
      • [Old] I straightened my right leg and lock the knee (or close to it), feet about shoulder-width apart, nearly in-line with the cue. 
      • [New] Bend both knees, turn hips ~45 degrees to cue line, lean a bit further, but still remain comfortable.
    • Shoulder
      • [Old] Let it loose, which let my elbow fall away from my body (hanging over/outside the cue-line)
      • [New] Try to keep it loose, but ensure elbow is above cue-line.  It’s a physical “tucking” feeling – and I’m not sure if I should be actively holding it there.  However, my body is more in line now.
  2. Bridge
    • [Old] I nearly always played with a closed bridge mostly because that’s just how I had always done it.  I used an open bridge once in a while, but even for soft shots, I’d use closed.  It just felt more “sure”.  When I did use an open bridge, I just layed my hand on the table and twisted it a bit to keep the fleshy part of the thumb/index finger away from the cue.
    • [New] After watching so many matches recently and noticing how often people use open bridges, and to to help ensure I was doing what I wanted with the cue, I decided to play all day with an open bridge.  Not just any open bridge though – I wanted to see how I liked the “tuck 2nd and 3rd fingers under palm” open bridge.  Turns out… I like it a lot! It’s more stable, it offers great flexibility and it’s more comfortable. 🙂
  3. Grip (this is going to be hard to explain with visuals)
    • [Old] I had developed a loose grip, and on my backswing, my 3rd and 4th finger would open up completely – essentially I was holding the cue with the inside of my thumb and index finger.  Even my thumb would open up and point down. The cue was actually being held by the bulk of my thumb between the web and the knuckle. 
    • [New] After a number of different trials, I decided on still using my thumb and index finger – but now I don’t angle my wrist so much to open up the fingers on the backswing.  Also, my thumb stays wrapped and is just touching the top of the index finger – just to hold the cue. It’s a very loose grip
  4. Stroke (again, this is going to very hard to explain)
    • [Old] Because of how I held the cue before, both with the closed the bridge and the squeezing of the cue with my grip-hand, I never noticed the subtleties of non-stroke action.  It turns out that even before when I thought I was throwing the cue forward, I was still gripping it at impact, but I never noticed because of the closed bridge.  When you do that with an open bridge, the tip comes up in the air.
    • [New] Now with this new grip, I have to train myself that when I’m ready to hit the ball, I don’t need to squeeze it to pull the cue along it’s path.  It’s going to take some work, but it’s coming along.  I pull back on the final draw, pause and bring my wrist forward, attached to the cue and then let the cue come forward a bit more to be caught by my palm on the follow-through.  Things to note: a) the sound! The sound of a stroked shot is distinct – and no matter what cue, it seems, one can always hear a stroke. b) the action! I’m finally getting that pause on top-english before the cue ball takes off down the line.  See the example below for a visual aid.

Overall, it was a frustrating day because I did miss a lot of balls – but I think it was an excellent day just as well because I really got a chance to work out some serious kinks in my technique.

Here’s an example of what used to happen when I tried to shoot this:

Now here’s what happens with my new stroke:

As you can see – it’s a lot simpler, and more reliable.  Not to mention if I have to deal with traffic, there’s much less to contend with.  I am a happy, happy pool shooter.  Well, I will be if I can get my accuracy back with all of these changes employed.