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Port Arms Position In Pool - And The Correct Billiards Stance

This Is One Good Way To Get Set (Perfectly!) For The Next Shot


port arms position billiards

Get your stance correct and pool becomes quite a bit simpler--check out the specifics given here to get your head and arm both in better position

Photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Let me give you some hints on adapting the stance, like I'm giving you a very costly lesson in person but for free here at About.com. Here's a recent conversation...

Hi Matt:

Thank you for pool lesson this weekend by phone.

Focusing on the "grip hole on the line" where the cue stick passes through my right hand led to a very awkward stance where I can't backstroke more than a few inches without hitting my body--so I ignored that and now setup more normally. Trust me: I abandoned all preconceived notions and training about how to position my body for the shot. I did what you said of putting the "hole" on the shot line.

Well, consider how many ways one can stand and still do that (including standing backwards to the shot or square to the shot); most of those are not reasonable pool stances. So, I modified the "silly way" in that I first took your teaching and did a more normal method of also using my stick to measure and orienting my leg positions and stepping in a way for good balance, angled to the shot, etc. similar to what you teach in your book and video and online.

I really don't see how you can complain about that. But I will say that you didn't really explain how to integrate the "hole" on the line with the rest of the body setup, including using the stick to measure (or I didn't write it down). So, I'm finding a way to do it. I'll be happy to try to do your way, if you explain it more completely.

This is a big change for me. Warmup strokes include aiming, cue ball strike point and body/arm/hand position stuff. But often, I'm trying to learn something and even during tournaments/matches, I'll have some distracting focus like finger movement with my grip hand or length of backstroke or containing my shoulder or not moving after the shot or something else. I certainly usually have a peripheral view of my stick movements and will notice if it's unusually swervy. During practice, it can be anything.

Hi there,

Dear student, you already have 8 things to focus on from our phone lesson this weekend, so I want to be cautious. But here goes as far as a fuller understanding of the stance you need to work on now. This stance is not correct for all players and the pros blend a lot of these moves together into one. Some tuck their arm from the elbow and many do not, etc. But here goes:

1. Assess the shot from the erect position

2. Step both feet to the side so the hand hole is on the line

3. Take a normal walking step forward with the foot opposite the stroke hand (in this case, being a right-handed player, your left foot)

4. Bring the bridge hand down from its port arms position to touch the table--when it touches the table, stop moving down

5. Assess the section of the cue you can see without turning your head to assess that it is (approximately) on the aim line; and assess the tip gap and bridge length are both brief--if not--stand up erect and get closer to the ball with the feet from step 1 above

6. If #5 looks good, complete bending down to the shot without changing the plane of your head--if you move mostly your left arm and bend your knees and from the hips and waist your hand hole is on line and your cue stick

Don't swing down into the shot form port arms but put your bridge hand on the table without practice strokes in the air or on the cloth, like the pros. Bam! How many ways are there to put the hand on the line, step forward and then lean down to the shot, not being conscious of moving your hand or shuffling your feet into their final position? Very few and then the stance should mostly be correct.

As for measuring to the shot with your stick, if your feet are close enough to the ball in step 1, the bridge will be compact and the tip gap small when you bend down and into the stance... here's the big hint:

If you don't move your stroke hand much between the erect position and the full stance, and simply let it hang down with gravity and the weight of the cue, the cue will be where it was when you began and so, I like to my left hand down from port arms position to behind the cue ball with heels together and etc. in the erect position.

And then, believe it or not, when I step forward with my left foot for real, having verified I'm quite close to the ball, it feels as if the cue gets very snug and tight onto the line and I must bend sharply from the waist to get into the modern pro position to shoot the ball.

We'll work on your aim methodology soon also.

Go Deeper With The 8 Basic Billiards Strokes In This Article
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