No matter which sport or game you are practicing, there is always a way to attain perfection, which is to avoid commonly occurring mistakes. The same is true for Pool, if you want to excel in it, you must practice it the right way.
Your practice should revolve around perfecting the areas that cause you to commit mistakes. So in this article, I’m going to talk about mistakes pool players make and how to fix them.
Since this article is about improving your game, I’ll be first talking about technical aspects of your play i.e. mistakes that result in less accuracy and control.
So we’ll start from the cue stick. Normally, Pool players consider a cue stick like an ordinary stick used to hit the ball, so they don’t worry much about how they are holding it. This is where they mess up.
The right way to hold a cue stick is hold it from one hand and keep the other hand 6-8 inches behind the cue ball. And put the tip of your stick in between the thumb and index finger of your non-playing hand.
Curious to learn everything about holding a cue stick? Read our thorough article on this topic here.
You must be thinking if this guy is mad, he is asking us to not grip the cue stick? The thing is, you are supposed to hold the cue stick, not grip it — or I should say, choke it!
Yes, this is how hard some players grip the stick as if they want to squeeze it. Choose the right weight and size so you get a gentle feel while holding your cue stick. Only then, you’ll be able to experience fluent back and forth movement of the stick in your hands.
This is a frequently asked question, what’s the right stance to play Pool?
It’s simpler than you think. Just look at the cue ball, how far and near it is to you? Then bend to the table with your head coming straight down. Your weight should be distributed evenly to both legs. If you want to bend your knee, then it should be the front one.
Players make two types of mistakes in this area, either they lean away from the shot or stay too close to it. In either case, your shot suffers due to poor balance.
To fix this issue, you have to experiment at different positions. If you don’t feel comfortable at a certain position, leave it. If it feels too close, move back a bit, or vice versa. The best from you will only come out if you have the balance and right stance.
This is one of the basics you learn if you seek training from a professional. Most amateurs are prone to raising or dropping their cue stick. Since they are new to Billiard, they only focus on hitting their desired ball, in the meantime forgetting that raised or dropped sticks can make the ball jump or curve. Instead, their sticks should be leveled.
In either case, you are not going to get desired results in the form of hitting or pocketing the object ball.
To avoid this mistake, before taking any shot, ensure that your cue stick is leveled. At times you’ll realize you have become oblivious, so regular checking will help you to develop a habit. You can use your eye level to ensure that stick is neither too low nor too high.
This is another basic lesson you’ll come across while learning to play this game. If you want to have a look at how professionals do it, I recommend you watching any competitive Pool game on TV and observe where the players stay while taking the shot.
You’ll see that they are staying at the vertical axis when they are hitting the cue ball, which is the key if you want the cue ball to travel in your intended direction. Stand in such a way that you are at the vertical axis while your stick is horizontal.
Move slightly off this axis, and you’ll experience the cue ball squirting off the cue stick line and traveling in the wrong direction.
To find the vertical axis, hold your cue stick level and match its top curve with the top curve of the cue stick.
This might be a little too technical term for you to understand. Actually a bridge is the hand that goes under your cue stick when you are taking a shot. The purpose of this bridge is to create a smooth groove for your cue stick to move back and forth smoothly. If your bridge is weak, your cue stick will move around extensively while you are aiming.
To overcome this issue, keep the palm of your hand on the table when you are shooting. This way you will have a relatively stable bridge. Though it takes time to get this into practice, results will not be immediate, but with the passage of time you’ll realize the change in your game.
This is another common mistake that can contribute to your lack of growth. No matter how accurate your posture is and how smooth your hand movement is, if you take the eyes off the ball you can’t hit the desired ball in your intended direction.
Here I’d like to clear one confusion prevalent among Pool players, should they keep an eye on the object ball or cue ball?
The instructors suggest your eyes should keep moving back and forth between the cue ball and the object ball. However, at the very last moment, a fraction of second before the stroke, they should be on the object ball.
This habit is not going to develop overnight, you should regularly drill in this way to make it part of every stroke you execute on the table.
This is a common problem with Billiard players who have played other sports which require the use of a stick. Like Golf, Polo, etc. The thing is when you are aiming a shot, you pull the stick slightly back and there’s a pause of less than a fraction.
And then, you push the stick forward to hit the ball. It all happens in no time. And there’s a transition period between this pull and push that impacts your game.
The thing is, during this transition period, your cue stick movement towards forward should be gentle while you focus on the ball. Not a frantic jerk!
If you are facing this issue, you need lots of practice. Make sure you calm your nerves during the drill, imagine yourself one on one with your opponent, and perform this pull and push movement with your stick.
Now, I’ll put some light on the mistakes that are rarely pointed out because they don’t seem to be technical. But they can equally impact your game. So don’t leave before reading them.
I don’t understand what makes people do this. Why would anyone not bother to chalk his/her cue during the game? Some amateurs may mistake it as a one-time thing, like it would be suffice to chalk once in a game.
But that’s not how it is, ask any professional how many times do they chalk their cue stick and most of them would answer after every shot. Because chalking the cue ensures that the duration of contact between the tip and the ball is longer and stronger, giving more power and accuracy in every shot you play.
Another common mistake that players, mostly amateurs, make is they choose the wrong size table to play on. Read our detailed guide on Billiard table size to know what table size is best for you.
The thing is, if your Billiard table is too small while you are an adult, you won’t get to practice according to the real-time scenario. Eventually, you’ll get used to the dynamics of a small table and when you’ll move on a larger table, your play will suffer.
Likewise, if you are playing on a table that is too big for your age and level, you’ll focus more on putting power behind the shot instead of acquiring control and accuracy.
This mistake often goes unnoticed. The time keeps passing by and we stick to the cue stick we purchased decades ago. The taller you grow the longer your cue stick needs to be.
Before buying your next cue stick, have a look at the different cue stick sizes for people of different ages and heights.
Small cue sticks require you to stretch forward a little more and eventually you’ll lose control of the swing.
Conversely, if your cue stick is too long for your size, then you’ll struggle to play complex shots.
One way to determine which size is right for you is to try different sizes in real time play, take different shots and evaluate yourself which size is the best for you.
Your Billiard table has one basic right that you owe it, i.e. cleaning on regular bases. What happens if you don’t clean it the dust settles down and affects the movement of balls on the table. Particles of chalk that you use on your cue are often left out on the table.
Not only this affects the quality of play but can also make your billiard balls lose their color due to chalk on the table, and then these balls too would have to be cleaned.
If your aim is to get better on the Billiard table, then you need to sit down and evaluate your game. Have a look at the mistakes that you are making while playing. Does any of the mentioned above sound familiar? If yes, then you know what to do next to overcome them. Keep coming back to this article and ask questions to yourself, if you are getting results, if yes, then what areas have you improved? These small tweaks will help you to go a long way!