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How To Stroke A Billiards Shot - Expert Advice

These Tips Will Take Your Game Up Several Notches


how to stroke a pool shot

Get your stroke in line with these superb tips

Illustration courtesy of Marcel Elfers

Stroke Thoughts

Continuing my article series on lots of power tips in condensed articles. Take these stroke tips out for a test drive on the pool table. You'll get addicted!

**Line up five balls on the table near a corner pocket. Without a cue ball, can you take a full stroke and knock all five balls into the pocket in five seconds? If not, your grip is probably too tight.

**If you truly have a loose grip/have the cue stick under control, you can through the cue out of your hand completely and still score the object ball.

**Improve your stroke confidence with wing shots for practice and what I call throw the cue stick through trick shots.

**You cannot tighten your hand and wrist and get the correct two of six possible wrist movements with ease.

**"Let go and let cue" and let the cue stick play through your hand or let your hand play along cue. Try different cues with different material grips if your hand tends to stick to the grip.

**The cue tip's impact is brief (with the exception for push shots) with a maximum normal tip to ball impact time near two-thousandths of a second (.002 seconds).

**Keep the tip low; high tip positions at higher speeds will bounce the cue ball into the air, at times enough to jump three or more stacked U.S. cent coins. Elevation further drives energy down into the slate that could be used to manage the cue ball instead.

**You can use your body to aid the stroke, some like their stance leaning their body to the right to cut left shots and vice versa.

**Your mindset plays a big role in stroke. A typical shot should yield three or four ready options but when I look stuck onto one possible stroke/aim/speed, I bear down and take that option with commitment. I usually play these back-against-the-wall-shots better than with my regular mindset.

**Keep your stroke simple. Forget the fancy wrist action and etc. for most shots.

**I've elsewhere addressed the issues with trying to make a perfect pendulum stroke. But through contact with the cue ball, most of the great players have a pendulum-like pinned elbow that deviates after contact if at all. You can accomplish this with smooth and light stroke action rather than conscious effort to hold the elbow in place.

The pro's pool stroke is not a true pendulum but has an elongated straight line motion. The notion of pendulum timing throws off true pool stroke timing. A pendulum stops at either end of its arc, nothing like a pool stroke which stops near its bottom to smack into an object, so "think straight back and forth" instead.

**In general, taking a slow backswing helps so that muscles don't need to tighten to reverse direction for the forward stroke. A light clasp on the cue stick through the stroke helps automate pace.

**Does your cue stick tip come back to inside your bridge on a full stroke? If not, there may be some undue tension in the grip.

Dead Stroke Advice

**Dead stroke usually has little to do with any conscious spin, aim, cue ball distance or stroke mechanics. You just totally "zone out".

**If you make an especially good shot, stay emotionally neutral.

**Ideally, you feel the shot is made during or even before practice strokes are taken.

**Pause a bit during your execution to get your fingers to "think".

**Alter your awareness to feel as if you're body's balance point is at the object ball and not on the floor beneath your feet…

More Winning Techniques From Matt

**What I call "the calm and win" or "active relaxation" on longer strokes has to do with trusting the stroking hand gone behind you on the backstroke. Think about the last sentence for a few moments.

**Advanced players can try the index card drill and fold a 3' x 5' card atop their stick. Can you sink balls while the card stays atop the cue stick?

**For safety play, try a super short bridge because the bridge hand is the magic stroke length adjuster. It's better to stroke a short distance hard than try to stroke a long distance softly.

**Those who say, "Take practice strokes until it feels right then hit the final stroke" are wrong. Practice strokes are to relax the muscles and mind and bear only passing resemblance to the final stroke.

**Those who say, "Hit the ball then follow through with purpose" really should say, "Let the cue out on its own through impact and follow through."

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