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View Full Version : To play better, STOP aiming?



phil in sofla
06-17-2004, 03:01 PM
I have heard some, Mark Wilson I think and others, say, 'if you are tired of missing shots, try aiming!'

I found this hard to understand at first, thinking, 'who shoots pool without aiming?' With more experience in the game, I heard people saying that they had missed easy shots because they hadn't bothered to aim, thinking the shot unmissable, or thinking they were on the proper line and shooting the shot it without verifying that was true.

Margins of error vary from shot to shot, how close to the pocket it is, etc., but many or most shots require the cue ball hit the object ball within the width of a penny, or the shot will not go. More precision yet may be required for off angle combination shots. As even easy shots are missable if one doesn't aim, I think everyone should aim all shots.

I am considering, however, that once the line is confirmed, and aim taken, that one should stop consciously doing that aiming, and instead focus on how the stroke feels, and 'see' the result of the shot, as the last two things at the end of the stroke process. That doesn't mean one shouldn't keep the eyes on the aim point (or the cue ball, if you look at that last), just that 'aiming' as a process of confirming the line should end.

I think this has two benefits. One, once 'aiming' is ended, and the line trusted, last second adjustments to the line of aim can be eliminated, and I think such last second second-guessing of the line one thought was right is one key reason for missing. The other benefit is that by moving the focus to a heightened awareness of the sensation of the stroke, while imagining the speed and action of the shot, greatly enhances the touch one has on the stroke, e.g, to follow or draw a precise amount, or to get a more exact length of roll on the cue ball to achieve more perfect position.

This is something I interpret CJ Wiley's tape series to recommend, although in an oblique way that is hard to pick up on. He's a system aimer, as he explains, lining up 1/8ths of the cue ball to either the center or edge of the object ball. He says once he has that line, and is practice stroking down the line once he's confirmed it, he doesn't 'pay much attention to the object ball.' He jokes that since the object ball will soon be off the table, he doesn't want to get that attached to it. Reinterpreted by me, I think he's saying that once he's done his aiming, that phase is over, he trusts the line he chose and trusts his stroke to be on that line, and aiming gives way to shooting.

I'm not sure of this, and wonder how others feel about it. For me, it seems to have both enhanced my pocketing, and just as or more importantly, greatly enhanced my feel for getting precise shape.

woody_968
06-17-2004, 03:39 PM
IMO you are on the right track. I would even say that when one is playing well, during the aiming proccess they arent thinking about aiming at all, they just do it.

As far as not thinking about aiming during the final stroke I fully agree. As my signature always states - If your thinking about concentrating on the target then your not concentrating on the target.

A very wise man gave me some advise a while back. Scott told me that before I shoot to ask myself four questions.
1. Do I know where I am stricking the cueball?
2. Do I know where I am hitting the object ball?
3. Do I know how hard I am going to hit it?
4. Do I have a reasonable idea of where the cueball will stop?

This sounds like alot, but with some practice it takes very little time. It makes sure I have done the things I need to do before I shoot, and my last thought is where I want to stop the cueball. I can tell you that this proccess has helped my position play a ton, and would say my ball pocketing has gotten better as well.

I had read somewhere else that during the shot you should be thinking about the cueball comming off the object ball, and just learning to assume you are going to hit the OB where you want to.

I dont think anyone should think about the actuall stroke as they strike the cueball, as then its easy to try to over controll your stroke.

pooltchr
06-18-2004, 06:11 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote woody_968:</font><hr> I dont think anyone should think about the actuall stroke as they strike the cueball <hr /></blockquote>

Good point. The time to think about your stroke is during practice. Establish your stroke then, and it will be there for you when you need it during a match.

catscradle
06-18-2004, 06:26 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote phil in sofla:</font><hr> ...
I am considering, however, that once the line is confirmed, and aim taken, that one should stop consciously doing that aiming, and instead focus on how the stroke feels, and 'see' the result of the shot, as the last two things at the end of the stroke process. That doesn't mean one shouldn't keep the eyes on the aim point (or the cue ball, if you look at that last), just that 'aiming' as a process of confirming the line should end.
...
<hr /></blockquote>

I just finished reading "The Inner Game of Tennis" because I've seen it recommended on so many pool forums. What you just iterated is also, IMO, his basic theme. Get your concious, thinking (aiming?) mind out of the way of your body. Your body "knows" what to do, let it do it. The natural physical ability of humans (all animals for that matter) too adapt, learn, and adjust are astounding. I'm a computer programmer by trade and I don't really know how I do it at times, I can be totally stuck and something from 5 years ago I don't even remember will bubble to the surface and solve my problem. It is the same with the physical side of life, we learn even when we are not aware of it, if we let that learning "bubble up" we'll sometimes surprise ourselves.

Jimmy B
06-20-2004, 03:23 AM
Phil I've tried them all, systems, ghost ball, spot aiming, edges, and bottom of the ball. For the life of me I can't figure out how the hell I aim and I can shoot pretty darn sporty for a guy who can't aim. I'm not really sure what I am saying but there are times when I am in that dead stroke zone where I don't even recall what the hell I looked at last and I'm not sure it matters. I hate to use the term "feel" but I think it may be the best way to describe it. I guess I use the *Force* LOL in any event I think this lack of a certain method is what really holds my game back, it makes my life a living hell when I am in a slump and it makes certain shots (the ones I can't see for whatever reason) hard as hell. I need just once to live one rack of rotation or even 9-ball in Efrenís head, just so I could hear his thoughts and see what he sees and how he aims. I know I didn't add to your thread but I needed to vent.

JB

phil in sofla
06-21-2004, 12:21 PM
To me, however it is done, aiming is seeing the line, and then confirming you are on the line when you are practice stroking. Unless you get that feeling, one way or the other, then you're in trouble on the shot. It's necessary to do this part somehow if you want to have a decent chance of pocketing the shot.

I guess what I'm saying is that the aiming and then confirming is a distinct phase of the pre-shot routine, and then active aiming in this sense should end, the line accepted as valid, and then the stroking of the final shot should not have that active aiming going on (although continuing to 'see' the line may, unless you use the look at the cue ball last).

woody_968
06-21-2004, 12:35 PM
Jimmy, you just described how I feel LOL

I normally just look at the object ball contact point to aim and when I am playing well I can play with anyone in town. But sometimes I cant hardly make a ball! I am trying to find an "aiming routine" that I feel comfortable with, I say routine as I dont want a "system" that I totally rely on, I think feel still comes into play. But I need a more consistent way to aim IMO.

Chopstick
06-21-2004, 01:43 PM
There is a saying in golf, "What you think you are doing is not really what you are doing." I think this applies to pool also. Try these shots. Put an object ball on the spot and place the cue ball at some place that you are confident that you will make it and shoot it. Now set it up again take your stance and drop your head down until your eyes are pointing directly at the floor. Close them if you wish. Shoot it again. I'll bet you make it. Try it with a few random shots around the table. I'll bet you can make them too.

Then try some wing shots. Hold the cue ball and an object ball in one hand and roll the object ball down the middle of the table (keep the cue ball with you) and shoot the object ball in the corner. I even got a wild hair one day and shot some wing shots with my eyes closed and I found I could make those too.

Wing shots and blind shots, aside from being really cool, make a point about aiming. There is a lot more going on than we are aware of. It boils down to a level of physical awareness. People can make these shots because they know where they are(meaning their selves and the balls and the pockets).

The difference between the Pros and the rest of us is that their level of awareness is much more highly developed than ours. I was playing Grady Matthews some Nine Ball and he had gotten into a funny position shooting over some balls and when he shot the object ball skidded a little. I didn't think he could see it from where he was so I said "I thnk that one skidded on you." He said "Yap, it sounded like it."

It struck me right then that I had heard it too and I hadn't noticed it. As a matter of fact I had heard that sound many times before and never connected it with anything. Grady was not only aware of it but he has folded that level of awareness into his game so long ago that he doesn't even think about it anymore.

How do develop that level of awareness is the question. Maybe it's just a natural talent that they have.