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Learn How To Play Pool Like A Pro - Pool And Billiards Fundamentals and Mechanics
This should have been the first hub.
The world of billiards today is filled with leagues, handicaps, and bad technique. The current system used in billiards games in America does not encourage a lot of growth. If you really want to play well, you will have to take the time to learn the basics. They are relatively simple to understand. The difficulty is in remembering to use them. Fundamentals and mechanics are the true basis for any player's ability, so I have started the series on this topic. Make sure to check out the other hubs in the series and the video at the bottom of the page. Billiards and pool are games of skill that requires precision and finesse. Developing those qualities is very difficult if you do not understand the basics of the stance, the bridge, and the swing. These three are easy to do, however, they are not easy to do well. Learning to approach the table with form, balance, and stability will propel you toward success. We'll start with the stance.
The stance I refer to is the position that you put your body into when you take your shot. It is the platform for your balance when playing pool, which will be the first make or break point of any shot. The idea here will be to get you body into a position that will allow you free movement of your swinging arm while allowing your head and chin to get as close to the pool stick as possible.
The first part of creating a good stable stance is done by approaching your practice area and spreading your feet shoulder width apart, hips facing the table. Move the foot that matches your bridge arm and point the toes in the direction of the intended object ball, bending at the knee. Take the foot that corresponds to your swing arm and turn it roughly 40-45 degrees outward, forming an 7 like shape with your feet. Try to keep the rear leg mostly straight, while doing your best from hyper extending it. Doing so reduces blood flow and increases the tension on your body. Big no-no when it comes to pool. The fewer places you hyper extend your body, the better you will play.
Now that your feet are balanced and in position, square your shoulders toward the ball and bend forward from the hips. Extend your bridge hand forward and place it on the table. Place the cue in your bridge while keeping the bridge arm slightly bent. Now lean the rest of the way forward and get your chin as close to the cue as possible. Elevate the elbow of your swing arm above the shoulder behind your rib cage until the cue rest in the finger tips directly below the elbow.
Ideally, the swing arm will hang directly below the elbow at impact position. Here are a few pictures to help you visualize the correct form.
The Swing is what separates the men from the boys and girls from the women. The swing arm is supposed to be the only moving part of the body during a cue sport shot, and it's only supposed to be moving from the elbow down.
As we discussed in the form section, good technique is to raise the elbow high and keep it very still to create a pendulum for the hand to swing from. The fingers grip the cue gently, allowing the wrist and hand room to move gracefully back and forth while holding the stick. Once you have learned this part, you are now prepared to address a shot.
Begin by finding your impact position. This is the exact position your entire body is in at the moment of impact, and more specifically where the tip of your cue is. If you place your body into good position and set up at the right point of impact, your work is half way done.
Next is the actual swinging of the cue. The goal here is to create a stroke that never fails. One that can be repeated every time you swing the cue. Obviously, we are human and will make an error occasionally, but with good form mistakes are rare.
Try to find the natural path that allows your swing to meet the same impact position on each return of the cue to the ball, and limit the motion in the hand at the same time.A swing that brings the cue straight back away from the ball, and straight back towards it.
A simple opening and closing of the palm and finger pressure on the cue will create all the room to take the cue away from the ball that is required when done properly. Take each practice stroke carefully, until you have found a path through the ball that you know is correct. Repeat this motion a few times to get a feel the shot you are attempting, then, on the final stroke allow your cue stick to continue through the ball without changing anything. This is where most people mess up. The practice strokes are to get a feel for the motion you are going to use, and changing that when you go to hit the ball is a good way to mess up. A smooth, solid continuation of the motion that you just spent all that time setting up to be in position for, and nothing more.
The Bridge is the term used to describe the hand that is placed on the table to guide your pool cue. There are many ways to bridge your hand that can support a pool stick, but only a few of them are reliable and effective. The two most common bridges styles are called an open bridge and a closed bridge. The attributes that are required in both are to plant the hand firmly on the table and extend your arm without locking the elbow.
First, let's talk about the hand. There needs to be a stable base created so that your guide does not move during the shot. This is done by spreading at least three of your fingers widely on the table with the palm side down, so as to create a reliable foundation. In the open bridge, the fourth finger will be on the cloth as well. Give the wrist some angle to accommodate the fingers by bending your elbow slightly.
On the open bridge, you will now bring the thumb up to the base joint on the pointer finger to create a v shape. This will be the place where the cue will rest during the swing.
For the closed bridge, the cue stick will slide over the middle finger, and pointer finger and thumb will wrap gently around the shaft of the cue. Each have their advantages, mostly relating to the amount of room you have to shoot a shot or how firmly you need to hit the ball. There are images in the side bar to help you get an understanding of the positions that you are trying to attain.
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