Head and Eye Billiards Secrets
This article may be the most important you ever read as a pool shooter. As an accomplished pool teacher, I know a lot of the pitfalls both students and teachers find themselves engrossed in. It's tempting to correct a student's stroke before checking on head placement.
What kind of head placement does the pro use to align a shot? Think about your answer for a moment before proceeding. Most players will respond, "They shove their chins atop the cue stick to center their eyes over the stick." Not so!
The pros use 1) level eyes (see below) 2) unstrained necks (see more below) 3) heads that are aligned to the target (and more...).
1) Many players have tilted heads above the table. Level your chin now (that's accomplished by moving your chin, not your "head") and feel your eyesight shift to level as your head finds it way in space.
2) Back or neck issues can make a low stance painful. The vertical ideal for your chin is not scraping the cue stick, and you may go a foot or more above the stick instead.
3) Forget horizontal position with chin atop stick, requiring pure binocular vision or thousands of practice hours to be anywhere near successful. Even total "chin on stick" pros rotate their heads to see certain angles.
Chin lock on the target, with chin above the stick only if needed. When you feel anxious over a shot, try this-leave your hands and stick in place but move your head to see the hit angle better. Shoot!
Study the previous two paragraphs very carefully, as they may rank among the best pool information you've ever digested.
"Chin always above stick" is a pool myth and so is "dominant eye always above stick". About 29% of people are left eye dominant. If also right handed, they'd need a chiropractor to recover after using their left eye over the stick to shoot. Left-eyed-right-handers use their right eye to shoot pool or shoot a rifle and vice versa.
People with imperfect vision or ambiocular vision (no dominant eye) should choose a stance suited to their personal vision vagaries. For me (somewhat ambiocular) my almost dominant right eye goes an inch or two left of the stick for simple shots where I don't move my head to see a unique angle.
Since few have perfect vision, pros compensate for their eyesight with their stroke. It's true(!), although pros lock on the target well and compensate far less than poor players do.
Here are more pro vision secrets.
1) Sports physicians confirm top athletes take an extra second or two to eye their target and deepen concentration. Gaze last at the object ball with relaxed "quiet eyes". Count slowly to two and let your body take a good stroke almost subconsciously.
2) Sight the whole circle of the cue ball to build a "quiet eyes" line of aim, confirm tip aim to center ball or wherever, and ensure the tip is very near the ball at address.
3) Sight on occasion without looking at the cue ball at all, to build stance and stroke.
4) Sight tough banks using the cushion bottoms; the tops offer parallax views.
5) Sight faraway balls or over interfering balls with the head higher above the shot.
6) Never sight along the space between the cue ball and object ball. Blank cloth blurs aim.
7) The head stays where God placed it above your trunk. Therefore, if your torso is 45 degrees to the shot line, your level eyes are still angled about 45 degrees to the line because of your relaxed, balanced neck, or 35 body and 35 eyes, etc.
In sum, a long pool session without a stiff neck means never forcing or twisting my head in the stance. A relaxed, level head is placed rather to best see the edge of the target ball to hit with the cue ball. Then the stroking hand shoots straight ahead.
You can move your hand straight back and forth without your neck stretched over one arm, right? After all, you do it thousands of times daily when walking! Great pool can be almost as easy.
Soon I'll have more instruction for you here at About.com. "Pro aim systems?"-Yes, they do exist! It's true!