For a new student:
This is a great opportunity to get it right the first time. You haven't had time to develop bad habits. Work with an instructor to develop strong fundamentals. Use CueTrack to develop a straight consistent stroke without hitches and learn to see the correct line of aim.
Your grip hand should hold the cue without gripping too tightly, conversely your bridge should be tight and secure about the shaft of the cue. Maintain a solid bridge and loose grip--the grip hand should not steer the cue, but allow it to ride smoothly back and forth.
A proper stroke is delivered by pulling back slowly and accelerating through the cue ball all the way to the end of the stroke. A jerk at the end of the back swing can be avoided by a slight pause, as outlined in the stroke technique instructions "SPFF" (Set, Pause, Finish, Freeze). [Great advice and you can avoid jerking the cue with the correct pacing of your entire swing also. - Matt]
For an advanced or expert student:
Once your game is established and you are performing well, it is difficult to be unbiased and look for areas to improve or think that you need improvement. You should always look to reevaluate and improve your fundamentals, stroke and ultimately your game. Even advanced players do not see the correct line of aim or have flawless strokes.
You can hit 1,000,000 balls and learn to grove your stroke to compensate when you're not aligned to the line of aim or you can analyze your stroke and alignment and correct the issues. If Tiger Woods can break down and rebuild his golf stroke after winning the Masters and earning millions, so can you.
Working with an instructor to re-strengthen your fundamentals or identify and remove bad habits is always a great idea. Use CueTrack to develop a straight consistent stroke and remove those hitches and learn to see the correct line of aim.
Your grip hand is probably too tight and ultimately will steer the cue. If you need proof of this, try shot # 4 of 5 from the CueTrack™ - "Stroke and Alignment Evaluation".
After executing the shot at the end of your stroke, don't look at the cue ball, look at your cue stick. If the cue stick is to the left or right of the line of aim, you were not aligned properly to the shot or you were aligned properly but your stroke is grooved to move the cue stick to one side or the other during the delivery of the stroke.
These two factors apply as well if you missed the shot. If you are making this shot and the cue stick is ending up on the line of aim, tighten the entry into the pocket with heightened accuracy. The object ball is 2¼", make the entry within 4", then 3".
You need to find a pressure shot that will test your fundamentals. If your fundamentals are rock solid they will not fail, even when a shot is very difficult.
Pressure should be applied with the bridge hand. Maintain a solid bridge and loose grip--the grip hand should not steer the cue, but allow it to ride smoothly back and forth. A proper stroke is delivered by pulling back slowly and accelerating through the cue ball all the way to the end of the stroke. See the comments on "SPFF" above.
And for additional stroke evaluation shots, see CueTrack™ - "Stroke and Alignment Evaluation". This area is a work in progress and we have not tied it to our main website yet. Matt and About.com readers, feel free to use these shots for your personal evaluation of your stroke and your students' stroke and alignment.
Thanks for the interview, Tony. And for our readers, I'm confident that the product will bear under testing, as Tony Mattina clearly understand pool's fundamentals on stance and alignment. Look for our product review and play testing with beginner and advanced pool student within the coming days and weeks.
Update: Read our CueTrack Product Review