One of my students was astonished at a tip I gave them during a pool lesson this week, regarding what types of stroke adjustment I make between shots at the table. Let's get right to it…
The vast majority of pool literature describes three forces of stroke as "soft, medium and hard" action on the cue ball. Bear in mind for the next several hundred shots you take, until this becomes ingrained, that strokes you will take are "soft, medium or hard" and not "slow, medium or fast".
This Next Part Is Dangerous For Most Players
I am hesitant to share this next tip with you as most of you grip/wrench/force or leverage/yank/crank or power/pull/push/toss the cue stick way too hard! I get very impressive results on my draw, follow, english, break, etc. strokes with a clasp on the cue I would rate between 1 and 1/5 on a scale of 1 to 10.
My drawn cue ball zips straight back from impact with an object ball or pack of balls. I can adjust speed at will and alter the cue ball and object balls path using intentional throw at will, bust the rack open with a shattering crash, and much more using a gentle clasp.
I'm not telling you this to be immodest. I'm telling you because if you squeeze the cue excessively or apply excessive force to the stroke, your game will suffer overall and this next tip will hurt and not help your game.
Below is the tip I gave my student. I hope you can handle it well!
"Soft" and "hard" strokes are expressions of the tension in your shooting hand and the force you send through the cue ball, not the speed of the cue stick. The pace of the stroke is about the same for a soft stroke as for a medium stroke. The slightly slower pace of the soft stroke comes from a gentler grip, and not any conscious slowing of the stick.
One benefit of loosening even more on a soft stroke is you will be able to maintain control, striking the cue ball firmly enough to maintain the path you've aimed upon, without any wobbling to the side, or the more embarrassing baby stroke where the ball fails to reach its target.
I wrote recently about hard and soft and how to avoid super-soft or super-hard strokes that can wreck your play.
Likewise, the hard stroke mostly involves a tightening on the cue stick and not a mad rush to pace a speedy stroke. This is a slight tightening action. Think "1.35" instead of "1" on a scale of 1 to 10 in total gripping force.
My student was amazed that all my strokes are without tension, all are roughly the same pace of movement, and I can seemingly hit delicate yet accurate shots (or near sledgehammer force strokes) at will. It looks like magic, but it involves 1) working the medium-pace stroke from a relaxed grip 2) taking minute adjustments of grip force to a medium pressure and adjust for soft or hard strokes.
Think "hit the ball harder" and not "stroke much faster". Think "I'll make a soft hit on this one" and not "I need to really slow my stroke to almost no speed here". Therefore, if you already grip hard and squeeze the cue, this tip will actually worsen your play further!
If you get this aspect of pool to become consistent in your game, hitting soft or hard and not fast or slow, whether it takes you two years or twenty minutes of practice, it's worth it. Guaranteed you will improve in all areas of pool after absorbing this one pool lesson.
This tip is so hot, I was hesitant to post in publicly here at About.com. It's that good (or potentially bad) for your game and the kind of thing that makes a personal seminar with me at the tables an expensive lesson in person. And you're getting it for free online!