Pool is one of the most followed games in the world. If you have been following the game, especially the pros, and wish to become one of the best as well, you need to practice the right way. Becoming good at pool requires a lot of practice. Many players out there fail to have the edge over others because they had skipped the fundamentals. Since pool is more than just a cue and some balls, you need to practice technical shots and train your mind to think strategically. So let’s keep you going by learning the basics first.
Tips for playing better pool
Practice Your Grip
Pool players share a common mistake, which involves holding the cue very tightly. It is generally believed that a tighter grip leads to better shots. However, that is not true. You should practice holding the cue light and loose.
Furthermore, you need to grab a cue that is lightweight as well. A heavy cue will not help with precise shots during the game. If the cue was to be held too tightly, chances are that the cue’s butt will be raised as you shoot.
As a result, the stick’s end rises above horizontal on the backswing, making it even harder to achieve an accurate shot even if it is straight. In addition to that, gripping a cue too tightly also runs the risk of making the cue ball jump from the table.
To avoid this, you grip on the cue should be enough to just lift it from the table. You should be able to rest it on your fingers. Therefore, whenever it is time to practice, make sure that you grip the cue light and nice to allow maximum control.
Swing like a pendulum
If you haven’t heard of the pendulum swing, now is the perfect time to become familiar with it. This comes after you have learned to hold the cue with a light and loose grip. The key to a perfect shot and swinging like a pendulum involves keeping your body in alignment with the aiming line.
However, you need to balance your shooting arm as well. If you are not able to do so, your body will not remain aligned and therefore, the shot will not be precise. This is one of the most common lapses amongst those who skipped the basics. Players while shooting have too much movement in their upper arm.
Professionals suggest that the best way to solve this problem is by assuming your upper and lower shooting arm as a pendulum. You should ensure that your upper arm remains still and even during the entire process.
While your lower arm, which is below your elbow will swing back and forth while shooting. Plus, remember, your backswing should always be both slow and steady. Perfecting the swing will give you an edge over your competitors.
Practice your bridges
Now that you are swinging like a pendulum, you need to practice your bridges. It is one of the most important factors of the game and can make all the difference between losing and winning. You can practice gripping the cue as much as you want or learn to align your body to the aiming line but if your bridges are inconsistent, it won’t help you win any games.
The two most common types of bridge shots are the ‘open bridge’ or ‘closed bridge’. An open bridge is for those who are in the process of learning the game. It is aimed to play softer shots but you can get all the power when needed. The closed bridge on the other hand is intended more for professionals. It allows the players to shoot harder by including more spin on the cue ball.
Work on your stance
Stance is another thing you need to perfect if you wish to learn pool the right way. As a general rule of thumb, your front foot should be positioned in a way that it is shoulder-width apart from the rear foot. You can position the rear foot at an angle of 45 degrees. This will keep your body stable and comfortable.
Meanwhile, the front foot can face a forward position. Furthermore, you should ensure to equally balance your weight on both feet. While leaning to aim and take a shot, your head should be low and kept level over the pool cue. If you feel that the position is stressing you out, you should make yourself comfortable first.
You will need to practice a few different angles to find your comfort stance. Once you do, be consistent with it. Remember, while moving around the table, you should ensure that your feet placement and stance is the same while taking shots from different spots.
Practice your body alignment
The only to shoot accurately is by practicing your body alignment. What it means that your head, eyes, stroking arm and cue line up straight towards the cue ball. Professionals also call it the “Vision center”. Practicing body alignment requires keeping the head low and level to the aiming line.
Plus, your eyes should be level as well. Then, you need to line-up the cue so that the tip is positioned close to the cue ball’s vertical center-line. Once your cue and sight are aligned, you now need to make sure that your forearm is also perpendicular and in line to the cue.
Find the imaginary aiming line
When taking a shot, you should always be aware of your target pocket. However, putting a ball inside that pocket is not that easy due to a less obvious path. We are talking about bank, angle or combo shot but you need to find the center point of your target pocket. Then, you are going to envision an imaginary line running from the pocket’s center point to the object’s ball center.
This is going to be the same ball you are going to put in that pocket. Furthermore, the imaginary line will run from the object ball’s back to the cue ball and make contact.
Master your pre-shot routine
Your pre-shot routine is basically the way you brace and pace yourself for shots during the game. Every player has a different way of mastering their pre-shot routine and it is important that you do as well. It is simply a personal list of what you should do before getting in a stance.
For instance, many players will go round the table inspecting it, chalk the cue tip or use the quiet eyes to target the pocket. This is you giving yourself a bit of time to think about what needs to be done next. At this point, you will be able to establish your alignment, determine your aiming line and develop a vision center behind the cue ball.
Then, the cue needs to be placed behind the cue ball’s center. Position your rear foot, level your head and eyes on the object ball’s center before maintaining your stance. With time as you practice, your pre-shot routine will become a routine and your natural rhythm will kick in automatically.
Becoming better at pool requires patience, practice and hardwork. The tips mentioned above are the fundamentals that you need to learn before you hold the cue. Aiming your body, perfecting your stance and holding the cue lightly, will slowly but gradually help you tremendously in perfecting your overall game down the road.