The Pre-Shot Routine

The pre-shot routine refers to a series of steps that a pool player must undertake prior to executing each and every shot. These steps are necessary to develop correct habits that will improve and promote consistency in your game.

In pocket billiards, there are so many different variables that can adversely affect the outcome of a shot. The pool player’s objective is to minimize the variables to increase the chances of successfully executing a particular shot.


The following are some of the basic steps of a pre-shot routine. Each element will be discussed in more detail in another article.


Before you even approach the shot and go into your alignment, stance, practice strokes, etc. you need to have a plan. You need to decide how to want to execute a particular shot. Will you go for the offensive shot or is a defensive shot more appropriate? Where do you want the cue ball to go after executing the shot? These are the types of questions that you will be asking yourself in the planning phase. Walk around the table and look at all the possibilities to help you decide and determine the best course of action.


After you have decided on a plan of action, the next step is to approach the table and positioning your body and cue in alignment with the shot and the line of aim. Determine your line of aim and set your feet to align your body correctly.

This is discussed in more detail in the “The Pool Stance” article. Don’t worry if you do not know how to determine the ‘line of aim’ yet – for now, just align your body and cue to where you ‘think’ your line of aim is. You will learn to aim in another article. For now, you just need to incorporate this alignment process in your pre-shot routine.

The illustrations below show you a two-step process. First, stand behind the shot and in line with the line of aim. Second, turn your body and foot position approximately 45 degrees prior to performing your stance.


After aligning your body and cue relative to the line of aim, the next step is to get down on your stance. While you are down on your stance you need to be aware of the proper grip and bridging techniques as well. See The Pool Grip and The Bridge lessons for more details.


The last step is to execute your stroke. Ideally, your cue stick should be along a path of your aim line while stroking. This will ensure that. the cue ball is sent along a straight path to the object ball allowing you to pocket the ball successfully. Stroke is discussed in more detail in The Stroke lesson.

Starting now, pay close attention and try to incorporate what you have learned about the pre-shot routine into your shooting routine. For every shot you take, make sure you do the following pre-shot routine first:

  1. Have a plan.
  2. Approach your shot and align your body and cue to your aim line
  3. Pay attention to your stance, grip, and bridge
  4. Stroke your cue along the aim line

Spend a few hours to try and figure out a consistent pre-shot routine that suits you. Experiment with different foot positions, stance, and stroke until you figure out what you are comfortable at and stick with it. The ultimate lesson here is to get a ‘consistent’ pre-shot routine. Consistency is key and it will help you even more in pressure situations.

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