A Systematic Approach to Aiming and Stroking

Psychologists tend to break down behavior into elements and then reinforce (reward) progress for incremental improvements. This analysis was written in an attempt to improve my own game and any assistance would be appreciated. I have tried to list the elements that need to be mastered. Listed below is a suggested step-by step sequential technique that is intended to develop a consistent game. I have tried to outline all elements, obviously on some shots all steps are not needed such as step one.

  1. Stand behind the object ball and see where it goes into the center of the pocket. Place the cue stick on the table to see the tip reflection in the object ball if needed. This procedure allows one to move the stick back and forth until the cue tip reflection is centered on the object ball and lined up with the center of the pocket. In many situations one can determine the aim point relative to the numbering or strips on the object ball. This initial assessment can be adjusted to the side of the pocket as needed for English, throw etc.
  2. Check the aim point on the object ball from the cue ball position.
  3. Determine the need for cue ball control. The estimate of draw, follow and the result of English can be evaluated.
  4. Determine the distance the cue ball should travel after contact has been made. The resulting position is based on the next two object balls.
  5. Begin the aiming sequence by finding dead center on the cue ball and imagining the line the cue ball will travel to the aiming point on the object ball. The aiming point on the object ball should be a line from the aiming point through the object ball and continuing for at least six inches towards the pocket; longer lines are better but not always practical.

My personal observations made during local tournament play as an amateur is that it is difficult to focus on one?s own technique during a match. There is a tendency to react to the other player and their needs. I note that many good tournament players ignore or nearly ignore the other player during a match and this is probably what is needed for the best competitive play. There is a time for socializing before or after a game. During the game all attention should be on the table (Earl Strickland, among others to the contrary).

*In a review of Nick Varner’s book I noted that in his illustrations he always has the cue stick in contact woth three points on the bridge hand. This professional technique was tried and found to be highly useful.

Byrne, R. (1998). Byrne’s New Standard Book of Pool and Billiards. Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace & Co.
Martin, R and Reeves, R. (1993). The 99 Critical Shots in Pool. NY, NY: Random House.
Varner, N. (1981). The World Champion on Winning Pool and Trick Shots. Published by the author, P.O. Box 2677, Owensboro, Kentucky 42302

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