Billiard Stances- A Comparison Of Two Styles

This document intends a comparison between two different styles of stance in the game of billiards, the snooker, and the side-on stance. Using a step-by-step drill structure, differences will be discussed between these two broad categories of stance style.

NOTE: If left-handed, switch right with left.

SNOOKER STANCE

A snooker stance is all about being flat on the table and square on and off-centered behind the shot. It is an off-centered stance. The bridge and feet together form the triangle that supports the stance. Going down square on and off-centered forms a triangle that is quite close to the shape of a right-angled triangle.

The vertical line of a shot runs through the bridge and somewhere close to the right foot. The horizontal line between the feet facing the shot is not quite horizontal because the left foot is slightly forward and to the side of the leading right foot. The right foot is said to lead because it is closest to the line of shot.

POOL STANCE

A side-on stance is the opposite of the snooker stance in the way the body is positioned side-on and centered to the line of shot, instead of square on and off-centered. It can be as flat on the table as a snooker stance, or it can be more elevated, with the head positioned off the cue. The bridge and feet together form the triangle that supports the stance. Going down side-on and as centered as possible forms a triangle that is quite asymmetrical.

The vertical line of a shot runs through the bridge and somewhere between the feet, but unlike the snooker stance, there is not a great deal of width difference between the feet and there is far more length difference. The line between the feet facing the shot is much closer to vertical than horizontal, because the left foot is quite forward and only somewhat to the side of the leading right foot.

STEP 1: OBSERVING THE {LINE OF SHOT} STAND [HEAD, EYES] WITH [RIGHT ELBOW, EYE-OF-GRIP, BRIDGE, CUE, CHEST/BELLY] OVER [PELVIS, LEGS, AND FEET] BEHIND THE {LINE} THROUGH THE {CUE BALL}

The Eye-of-Grip is the ‘V’ formed between your forefinger and thumb.

Observe the Line of Shot by first looking at the pocket, and then at the cue ball and object ball together, forming an imaginary line between cue ball and object ball that aims the object ball into the pocket.

Begin by positioning the head behind the shot, and then shaping the rest of the body and the cue to the shot. Through practice you learn what the correct distance from the shot is for you. Try having the grip holding the cue quite low to the table so that when you bow down, the grip and cue can come up into the stance to meet the body. This encourages a smooth motion into line.

Point the cue in the general direction of the shot, already quite horizontal behind the shot, with the left arm and bridging hand extended gently forwards. Try having the cue somewhat flat in relation to your body and the table and the shot as you stand, not straight out away nor held against the torso.

This helps with your sense of distance and gives you room to move the bridge out and forward as you stretch out down into a stance. While standing, I personally find that positioning the bridge hand just below the half way point of the cue works best, as it gives me the cue weight to guide the positioning down of the bridge hand.

Snooker stance: stand the right leg and foot straight, somewhere just outside the line of shot and slightly turned out to the right. How much you position the right foot outside the line of shot determines how centered you remain behind the shot. Because the stance is square on to the shot you can?t be too centered or you won?t be able to bring the head and elbow into line with the cue. If the stance is too off-centered it becomes uncomfortable with a twist to the right and too much weight pulled over onto the right leg. Differences in body shape, size, and flexibility determine how comfortably centered you can be while still able to bring the head and elbow and cue into line. Something to be aware of is that the more the shoulders turn the more the body can remain centered.

Traditionally the line of shot passes through the right heel, but I think it’s better to try to be slightly more centered if you can. When standing I position my right hip and foot just outside the line of shot. When I bend down the line, my hips move slightly left bringing my right hip just inside the line of shot. Turning the right foot slightly out will help create the angle of body needed to fit the right upper arm/elbow in line behind the head. Stand the left leg and foot slightly bent and slightly cocked inwards, forward of the right by about a half-length of your foot. Cocking the left knee inwards helps to stabilise the base and helps keep the left side of the body from being too clear of the shot. Once in the stance the width between both feet will vary depending on your body shape and size, but as a rule of thumb, shoulder width is about right, hip width is too narrow.

Going down square on and off-centered behind the shot means the chest, and belly need to bend over the pelvis square on and off-centered as well. Getting the belly center around the belly button well positioned and comfortably bent flat over the pelvis is very important, this is where the body centers itself, breathes the chest, and powers the limbs. Not being too centered or off-centered behind the line of the shot is the solution to staying comfortable here. Almost all of the turn required should occur in the shoulders and arms, not in the torso and pelvis. Because of the squareness of the stance, some shoulder turn is necessary to tuck the right upper arm/elbow in line behind the head, but it must be gentle.

Side-on stance: Stand both legs and feet comfortably lengthwise behind the shot with whatever bend combination you find the most comfortable. Position the right foot somewhere outside the line of shot, angled out to the right. Stand the left foot straight ahead establishing good length difference between the feet. The width between the feet is considerably less than the width in a snooker stance, my left foot is only about 2 heels width outside the line of shot. The flatness of the torso in relation to the table is a matter of preference, you can choose to be as flat on the table as a snooker stance, or you can remain more elevated over the cue. Because the body is presented side-on, almost no shoulder turn is needed to tuck the right upper arm/elbow in line behind the head.

Once in a stance, the head, eyes, elbow, eye-of-grip, bridge, and cue, all need to be lined up together to deliver a smooth, relaxed stroke with the right forearm. The upper edge of the forearm should be presented facing the line of the shot over the cue, neither turned outward or inward. The right upper arm/elbow is significant, if it is not aligned, the upper edge of the forearm cannot be presented facing the line of shot, the eye-of-grip underneath cannot swing straight through, the head will want to move, and the stability of bridge and feet is compromised. The pendulum effect relies on a correctly aligned upper arm/elbow.

If it is out of line gravity becomes your enemy rather than your friend and the muscles of the forearm tense to hold the cue in place as you stroke. Traditionally, the forefinger and thumb are the parts of the hand that grip the cue, but there are many variations that can work, it all depends on what feels right for your hand. Try the traditional single forefinger and thumb grip, two fingers and thumb grip, three fingers and thumb grip, middle fingers and thumb grip, and even a whole hand grip where all the fingers hold the cue.

I recommend experimentation to find what suits you best. I use the traditional forefinger and thumb grip, and I find it works best by making sure that the forefinger is fully curled around the cue. That creates necessary stability and makes it easier to release the other fingers, allowing them to touch but not grip. Where to grip the cue is different for everyone. Body height, arm length, and how flat you like to go down into the stance are all variables that affect where the grip should be positioned.

Also, the grip position should change depending on the type of shot being played, so no particular grip position can be said to be correct for all situations. A simple technique for getting the grip position approximately correct for most shots is to position the grip two hand widths down from the balance point of the cue. The most common mistake people make is to not grip enough of the cue which tends to correspond with a stance too close to the shot and hunched up and crouched and leaned forward too much.