How to learn to stroke straight

Written by James Bradley

We are all still working on executing the perfect stroke. I am improving mine lately, thanks to the help of recent instruction. I'll try to relate the high points of what I was told by instructor Scott Lee.

My stance apparently was OK- he said many different stances are used by players and they are all fine as long as the person is in a balanced solid position-i.e. you can't push them over with with a light push on the shoulder. Kind of a tripod idea- legs in comfortable position with some weight on the bridge hand to provide the third leg.

My grip was trouble- even though I thought I did use a light grip ( I've read this a hundred times in many books), I was actually starting out loose but would tighten my hand as the stroke progressed. This causes the cue to go sideways!

My stroke itself was not timed well and was using way too many muscles.(upper arm and shoulder) He rested his cue on top of my elbow as I hit balls and forced me to use only the forearm. This uses only two muscles (triceps and biceps)- allowing for simpler consistency. Also-very important- always finish the stroke with your grip hand at you chest/armpit. Lean over without your cue and swing your forearm only all the way forward until it stops at your body. Do this on every shot- a consistent finishing spot for the back of the cue brings it through straight every time. It also, if done correctly will bring the cuetip through the cueball and towards the cloth in a downward motion on the finish. You will notice the cuestick pointing STRAIGHT ahead on the table. He also said that my backstroke was way too fast. He said pause at the cueball on the last stroke and pull the cue back slowly before hitting the shot. This has been hard to re-learn but is very effective.

So to put this all together I simply (it wasn't simple at at first!)practiced shooting the cueball only, up and down the center of the table, softly ay first- trying to get the cueball to return straight back. (this actually pretty easy to do-even with a bad stroke) Try to do the four things described below on every stroke:

  1. VERY light grip on cue-don't tense up on stroke
  2. Smooth pendulum swing with forearm only
  3. Slow backstroke before the hit ( think of a bow and arrow-how a bowstring is pulled back slowly before release)
  4. Finish the stroke with grip hand at chest and cuetip on or near the cloth

You'll see that when all four are combined- you have a smooth stroke and straight followthrough. ( it took me about 4-6 hours of working on this to remember/relearn to do all 4 every time. I've been doing it wrong for almost 30 years!) When you can combine the four elements every time- try shooting hard enough to go up and back twice- this simulates a break-speed shot. This is a the real test of a straight stroke and whether or not you hit the exact center of the cueball. ( I mean 1/2 to 1 tip above the center of the cueball but directly in the middle of right and left.) If you miss the center by an 1/8 inch- it will go way sideways on a hard shot.

  • If your cuetip ends with a sideways motion- your grip tightened up on the way thru.
  • If the cuetip comes up after contact, instead of down towards the cloth- you dropped your elbow and /or shoulder -use forearm only! That means you did not finish the stroke with your grip hand at your chest also.
  • The slow backstroke focuses your aim on the object ball before you hit the cueball.

I have praticed these new ideas for the last 3 weeks and although it is temporarily causing my game to be off a bit- I'm really happy that when I aim at a shot- I have confidence that the cueball will go where I aim. Doesn't mean that I make them all now- because I still aim like crap sometimes!

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