Jump in to this new Q&A session. This reader has a shot making problem shared with most of the readers of this site…
Hi, "Quick Draw":
I've read some of your online materials at About.com and I have your book and DVD and have been following it as best as I can. My goal is to be able to consistently hit where I'm aiming and I'm still struggling. I'm wondering if there's anything you can say to help me make progress.
One measure is that I shoot a long straight in shot--preferably down the long rail into a corner pocket; this shot has a smaller margin for error. While I make this shot frequently, I don't make it even close to 100% (many misses are significantly off). And I don't know why.
For 15 years, I've been measuring/practicing/testing against a long diagonal straight in shot and I'm about the same now as when I started: about 10 out of 15; I've done 15 out of 15 only about half a dozen times and once did 29 out of 30).
Straight-in shots some people find fun to practice, but they can be very sensitive to spin-induced throw. They aren't just tough psychologically but because of the physics. So try THESE straight shots instead to sharpen your aim, stance and stroke:
I don't know if I'm lining up wrong with my eyes or with my shoulder or with my elbow or a wrist or grip issue or being too tight or twisting on the follow through or muscle tension or…or maybe one or the other and it varies from shot to shot.
Whatever the cause(s), it's clear that I'm not consistent enough to play great pool. But I don't know how to make progress. Certainly on any given day, I might think I'm there and have a theory of something new I've tried; but it doesn't last.
I've tried your alignment ideas and stance and grip and looseness. Sometimes it feels good and works and other times, not.
Is there some process you can suggest that progressively rules out or fixes various elements so that I can identify and then concentrate on the biggest problem area and repeat that process until I'm pretty consistent overall?
We've been working on a lot of different issues via e-mail, so I'll try to simplify:
The CueTrack Stroke Trainer will really help you mechanically and is the next best thing to my coming from Florida for a personal lesson. Please tell Tony and Randy that Matt Sherman sent you for specific help!
Also, we're probably dealing with sighting issues. I can teach a 10-year-old to stroke perfectly straight. It's eyesight in many cases for errant shots. However, let's review your aiming system. What system do you currently use to aim a cut shot?
While I can have good practice tests of my stroke, they haven't helped me figure out what to do to be consistent at them, try as I might. I focus on the shot or some aspect of my mechanics and lose all awareness of all the other aspects of my mechanics.
When the shot is over, I don't really know what happened that I missed and I have much difficulty figuring it out afterwards, doubly so since I tend to jump up to reset the balls without really staying in position and diagnosing enough (I stay down some and try, but only rarely do I really know why I missed).
Well, this is a common issue. Many players line up incorrectly and then when they stroke, they adjust their final, last thrust at the ball. Why not fix your stance instead of your stroke?
With bad stance/mechanics, the best I could do was learn how to coordinate many different muscle movements to counter each other and end up sort of straight. And I had trouble making that work at different speeds. The tool didn't seem to help me figure out how to change my stance/mechanics to have an inherently straight stroke.
I was doing some mirror work and think that my shoulder/elbow alignment is a big inconsistency and source of systematic misalignment. I decided to try to get more consistency by paying attention to how my chest is aimed during a shot and try for a position that helps 1) be consistent and 2) positions the shoulder higher and either in-line with the stick or even closer in to the body, versus my tendency to have the shoulder outside the shot line. I did some pool table work with that today and it seems promising.
Be careful. What many players and even many teachers forget is that your stroke is accomplished with your stroking hand, not your elbow or the plane of your upper arm. Most pros have a hand that is on the shot line but their elbow is off to one side a bit.
Here's how to have a robotic, straight stroke instead: