An interested yet pained reader writes:
I read your posts repeatedly. My stance is bothering me as I am not comfortable and my head is not perfectly positioned for shots. After many attempts to play pool and follow your stand-to-the-side stance, I find that my shoulders are not relaxed. In fact my left upper shoulder gets pinched after one hour of play. It gets pinched in its upper area, next to my neck.
This happened, however, even when I took a straight-on approach to play pool. My right handed play does not affect my right shoulder , only my left. What am I doing wrong? Is it possible that I am not staying down on shots and that I am jerking upward, thus causing a pinch in this upper shoulder area?
When the balls lay right I can run 40 to 60 balls. However, shoulder ache always comes the day after I play pool. I wonder if I am not aligning my head right, either over the shot or to the side or tilting it on an angle. This tilting of the head, does it need correcting?
A sabbatical from the game is shortly in order since my progress has come to a grinding halt. Yes, my back always aches after a long session but I am trying your method of dropping directly down balanced on legs with no forward lean.
It might be that my transition in forward swing is too rushed. Please advise with more elaboration on stance mechanics.”
First off, let me commend you for fine play. Many of those reading are beginners and intermediates who aspire to your ability to break and run 50 balls during practice sessions of Straight Pool. Due to your obvious skill, I am hesitant to make many changes in your mechanics sight unseen. Why ruin a good thing, although I think I can certainly assist you in playing pool pain free or nearly so.
1. Be sure to bend from the hips, not from the waist. Pool bending should actually strengthen and not weaken neck and back muscles, but it starts with a proper bend into the final stance.
Stand upright or nearly so without a cue stick in hand. Place your hands at your sides along your waist, your fingertips on your belly and pointed at your navel. Bend over from the waist. Where your thumbs are pressed into your back muscles, you can feel the tension in your back. This is not the bending you’ll want to do for a long session at the tables.
Stand up once again, this time, hands on your hips. Next, bend from the hip joints, almost as though you want unfold your hipbones over your fingertips. Now your thumbs should be experiencing far less tension beneath their pads from your muscles.
The difference in a hip bend or waist bend can make or break back pain for us as we play pool. More tips follow.