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View Full Version : Predator Experiment (Long)



Fred Agnir
12-14-2004, 07:55 AM
In case anyone wanted to know, especially Kato and Shane Sinnot, I've concluded my Predator experiment.

For background, I've been playing forever just like everyone else. I've consciously adjusted for squirt since ~1990 when I took a $10 lesson from Grady Matthews. That lesson opened my eyes to the importance of squirt, and the relatively low importance to throw for firm shots. Therefore, for over a dozen years, I've been consciously adjusting for squirt.

Years later, through USENETS Rec.Sport.Billiard, Bob Jewett, and the FAQ, I learned the Aim & Pivot method for squirt compensation, further honing my technique for squirt compensation. The result is that neither outside nor inside english is more difficult, but both are more difficult than outside english used to be and less difficult than inside english used to be (pre-1990).

I had a "discussion" with Shane, then a heavy hitter on the Predator staff. His argument was based on his game elevating after he went to a Predator. My argument was that if I already felt very comfortable with compensating for squirt, how could it improve my game since that was it's main design?

Arguments aside, I played exclusively with a Predator shaft for a year and a half. The result: my game is worse. It didn't help me. I never had that wonderful feeling of complete control. Sure, I still won tournaments, I still had a high rating in all the leagues, but I never felt like I was playing my best. Shotmaking may have been better, but position play and speed control just wasn't there. And, because of the low squirt, swerve became so important to understand. And some shots, like a slow shot with english, if I didn't stop and think about swerve, I had a good chance of missing the exact spot to get the proper "blend" of hit.

So, is Predator all hype? Not at all. I honestly think that if you don't have a good handle on squirt (99.9% of players) and how to hit firm english shots, then a Predator could be helpful. If you already know how to compensate for squirt and can make firm inside english shots without fainting dead, then for me, it didn't help. Take a look at all the pros that have switched to Predator shafts. Has there been any drastic change in the player rankings? I don't think so.

I have returned to a "high squirt" cue, with a pivot point of about 10-12". Results speak for themselves. I've played 7 matches for a total 49 8-ball games. Other than two break and runs against me and a runout after my dry break, I've only lost one game that I actually stepped up to the table. That's 45-4 with 6 or 7 break and runs (it's all alternating breaks, so that about a 25% clip). I haven't had a string like this since... before the low squirt shaft. And better yet, I feel as good as I've ever played, a feeling I never had playing with the low squirt shaft.

In my crazy APA 9-ball, I'm 5-2. The two times I lost, I lost because my opponents played well enough to win and I played well enough to lose. The five times I won, my teammates (who have only seen me shoot with low squirt shafts) tell me it's the best they've ever seen me shoot.


Fred


P.S. If you ever find yourself saying "I didn't throw it enough," IMO, you don't understand squirt.

SpiderMan
12-14-2004, 09:36 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Fred Agnir:</font><hr> I have returned to a "high squirt" cue, with a pivot point of about 10-12". <hr /></blockquote>

I've always maintained that the "ideal" cue would be one whose squirt pivot is at or near your standard bridge length. This should increase the "make" percentage for anyone with less-that-perfect stroking technique (and who's perfect?). Though a swerve in your stroke when bridging at the squirt pivot would still add spin, at least it would have minimal effect on the originally-intended travel path of the cueball.

BTW, a fine point to consider is that the squirt pivot point varies as a function of cueball weight. My play cue is self-compensating at my normal bridge length when playing with most bar-league balls, but pivots a little further forward when I play with a red circle.

SpiderMan

Deeman2
12-14-2004, 09:43 AM
Fred, I agree with everything you say. I, too, went with a Predator shaft for about eight months. I suffered badly trying to relearn to control/compensate for deflection. My conclusion was that it might be ideal for less experienced players who have no built in compensation for squirt and swerve or do not appreciate the difference. I've been back on my higher deflection Schon for about 6 months and could not be happier.

That's not to say the product is not right for many, just not for me.

Deeman

Rollthecheez
12-14-2004, 09:44 AM
Good post Fred. I have been thinking about the Predator shafts myself lately but I am worried that I would have to relearn to shoot pool all over again! I have been playing for 9 years so I figure I am pretty set in my ways as far as compensating for english.

I was interested in the part where you discussed finding the right pivot point. I have purchased a Jacoby cue after 7 years of playing with only my Woodworth cues and I am having to adjust. The hit on the new cue feels great (nice and solid) but I notice the pro taper makes english less predictable. How do you find the proper pivot point and how could this help with compensating for throw and squirt?

Thanks!

Popcorn
12-14-2004, 09:44 AM
Most players who have been playing for a time are accustomed to what they do to play with the equipment they use. Changing may not be the best idea. Would you think it would be good for a beginning player to start off with a Predator? They would go through a different learning experience but in the end would they be better off?

Fred Agnir
12-14-2004, 09:49 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> Most players who have been playing for a time are accustomed to what they do to play with the equipment they use. Changing may not be the best idea. Would you think it would be good for a beginning player to start off with a Predator? They would go through a different learning experience but in the end would they be better off? <hr /></blockquote>I'm going to guess that a beginner would do well to start with a Predator, and that their learning curve might be quicker. I don't think in the long run, they'd be any better, but they might get to near their top skill level quicker.

The question is, when you're hustling for drinks on Friday nights, can you still play with "any old bar stick" if you've played exclusively with Predators? I wouldn't think so.

Fred

Fred Agnir
12-14-2004, 09:55 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Rollthecheez:</font><hr> How do you find the proper pivot point and how could this help with compensating for throw and squirt?

Thanks! <hr /></blockquote> Here's what the FAQ has to say:


The "aim-and-pivot" method of squirt compensation:

For each cue stick, there is a particular length of bridge for which you can aim straight at a close object ball and then pivot bout your bridge hand and shoot straight through the new line and hit the object ball full. (You can also use this (very old) method for non-full shots too, but a full shot is best for finding the right bridge length.) For a stick you want to measure, just find the needed bridge length. A hint: if you shoot softly at a ball far away, the cue ball will curve on its way to the object ball, and your measurement will be useless. Do not give the cue ball the time or distance to curve. Shoot firmly. Use as much side spin as you can without miscuing. The shorter the bridge, the more squirt the stick has. ("Close object ball" means about a diamond away.) The cue ball should sit in place spinning like a top when it hits the object ball full.

--------------------------------------------------------

Fred

Chopstick
12-14-2004, 10:04 AM
Hi Fred, I've been playing Predator shafts for a couple years now and I have to agree with your assessment. Low speed high spin shots are a problem. I am shopping for a non-Predator shafted now.

They do perform as advertised. It's just not the performance I am looking for. I have found that playing with bar sticks is like riding a bicycle. I have a few surprises at first but after little while I'm am back in the groove with them. Spending time with Predator was actually good experience. Seeing the difference in deflection made me more aware of unconsious compensations in my game. I'm better off for it.

SpiderMan
12-14-2004, 10:11 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> Would you think it would be good for a beginning player to start off with a Predator? They would go through a different learning experience but in the end would they be better off? <hr /></blockquote>

I would guess that a beginner would initially play better with a predator. It requires less compensation, and the beginner doesn't understand compensation anyway, so when he plays sidespin his uncompensated error will be less with the predator and he'll make more shots.

On the other hand, he won't benefit from the "self-compensation" you get when your cue's squirt pivot point is near your natural bridge, so his wobbly stroke will hurt him more with a predator.

SpiderMan

Eric.
12-14-2004, 10:35 AM
Thanks for the feedback, Fred.

FWIW, I feel that the benefits of a "low defection shaft" is moot. No matter what, if you don't compensate for some amount of squirt&amp; delfection, You'll never reach your full potential in this game.

Predaqtor claims to have something like 25% or 50% or whatever percentage less deflection than other sticks. It doesn't eliminate deflection, nor does it claim to. So, I'm wondering if it makes a difference to aim 1/8" thinner or 1/16" thinner when you compensate for deflection? Either way, you still have to compensate some and I don't think you're gonna be more accurate if you only have to compensate 1/16" vs. 1/8" on the aimpoint. You still have to make adjustments.



Eric

Deeman2
12-14-2004, 10:58 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Eric.:</font><hr> Thanks for the feedback, Fred.

FWIW, I feel that the benefits of a "low defection shaft" is moot. No matter what, if you don't compensate for some amount of squirt&amp; delfection, You'll never reach your full potential in this game.

Predaqtor claims to have something like 25% or 50% or whatever percentage less deflection than other sticks. It doesn't eliminate deflection, nor does it claim to. So, I'm wondering if it makes a difference to aim 1/8" thinner or 1/16" thinner when you compensate for deflection? Either way, you still have to compensate some and I don't think you're gonna be more accurate if you only have to compensate 1/16" vs. 1/8" on the aimpoint. You still have to make adjustments.



Eric <hr /></blockquote>

<font color="blue"> Eric,

For those of us you see pound the ball with lots of spin at a distance,(know Spiderman and Chopstick are in this club) it is a knowledge gained over many years of hitting balls with speed and spin. We all paid a price for that knowledge in missed shots and wobbling shots out of pockets. I don't (anymore) consciencely think of hitting the ball a little left or right as I "just know" where I intend to hit it gleaned from many missed attempts. That's the reason, beyond all else, IMO, that going to a lower deflection shaft is harder on us. I think Fred, Chopstick and Spiderman made a good point that lessons were learned from the Predator but it takes a lot to overcome 20,30 or even 40 years of imprinting those particular hits in your brain. I believe, really, that Fred probably knows more about the swerve/deflection/squirt science than I do and I do think it can make a difference in making your adjustments when you shoot if you KNOW the different things that are happening when the cue leaves the tip. However, it gets to be a feel after 40 years or so (maybe much less) and you either understand it or you continue to miss a lot of long shots, hit hard at a distance and even some hit softly...</font color>

Deeman

Tom_In_Cincy
12-14-2004, 11:09 AM
[ QUOTE ]

Fred wrote;

Arguments aside, I played exclusively with a Predator shaft for a year and a half. The result: my game is worse. It didn't help me. I never had that wonderful feeling of complete control. Sure, I still won tournaments, I still had a high rating in all the leagues, but I never felt like I was playing my best. Shotmaking may have been better, but position play and speed control just wasn't there. And, because of the low squirt, swerve became so important to understand. And some shots, like a slow shot with english, if I didn't stop and think about swerve, I had a good chance of missing the exact spot to get the proper "blend" of hit. <hr /></blockquote>

I applaud your patience for using the predator shaft for 18 months. When I took the predator plunge (summer of 1999), I could only stomache the decrease in my level of play for about 3 months.
I tried, I really did, I kept an open mind and was willing to go thru the effort to evaluate for myself, what this 'new' technology would do for my game.

My result was very similar to yours.

I would only recommend predator shafts to newbies. If they have to spend money on a cue, they might as well spend it on a cue that will work for them in shorting the learning process.

BCgirl
12-14-2004, 11:57 AM
Fred,

I'm curious to know what kind of tip you used on the Predator. I have a Meucci and switched to a Predator shaft. Initially, I was disappointed in the Predator, until I junked the medium, layered tip (don't remember if it was Moori or LePro) and switched to a very soft tip. I like to use a lot of english on fast cloth, and spin the CB around, and the soft tip made a huge difference with the 314 shaft. Until I got the right tip, there were some shots, particularly power shots, where I could get a lot more control from the regular Meucci shaft. Did you try different tips during your experiment?

BCgirl

Fred Agnir
12-14-2004, 12:10 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote BCgirl:</font><hr> Did you try different tips during your experiment?

BCgirl <hr /></blockquote>Yup. LePro, Triangle, Moori. I have four low squirt shafts. My main shooting cue had a Triangle.

Picture this: all your life you point at "A" to land at C for a certain shot and speed. Now with a Predator, you point at "B." The muscle memory for that shot wants to shoot the shot with a speed and stroke meant for "A," so you end up at D instead of C.

So, it's like the blend never matches up unless I was will to spend another 15 years with the Predator to ingrain the blends. By then, I would have played at a lower level just so I could get to a level that I'd been playing at all along.

START(
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%eC1a0%_D6M8%`M1N8%aP3M0
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Fred

Eric.
12-14-2004, 12:22 PM
I hear ya, Dee. I think we're on the same page.


Eric

Eric.
12-14-2004, 12:28 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Tom_In_Cincy:</font><hr> &lt;/font&gt;&lt;blockquote&gt;&lt;font class="small"&gt;Quote:&lt;/font&gt;&lt;hr /&gt;

<hr /></blockquote>

I would only recommend predator shafts to newbies. If they have to spend money on a cue, they might as well spend it on a cue that will work for them in shorting the learning process. <hr /></blockquote>

Honestly, Tom, I don't think the Predator would even shorten the learning curve. If ya think about it,the Predator doesn't eliminate deflection, only "decreases" it. But you still have deflection and that means you still have to learn to compensate "X" amount on that shot. If the stick had zero defection (and I would be the first to buy that one) then you would speed the learning process because that is one less variable that you have to adjust for.


Eric

nhp
12-14-2004, 04:31 PM
Fred, I completly agree with you here. One of my friends went into a slump, a pretty bad one, and he thought it was because of his cue. He switched to a predator shaft, and his game got worse. One day he was practicing with it, and I asked him if he was satisfied with the 'results' of his predator shaft. He told me 'now that I'm used to the shaft, I could never go back to anything else'. So for the next 6 months, this guy continued to gamble and lose to just about everyone he used to be able to beat, before he finally gave up the game.

I have already learned how to use my cue, and I know how to aim to compensate for squirt with my shaft. I use a regular maple shaft, about 12mm, with a real long taper. Lets say I am going to cut a ball with inside english...I automatically line up real thick on the ball, I do that without even conciously thinking about it, and I usually make the ball and get the position I want.

Fred, have you tried the Tiger X shafts? I tried one of their shafts that had the thin long taper on it (like my normal shaft) and I really liked the hit on it. The shaft kind of felt 'alive' to me, I didn't get the dead, sluggish feeling like I did from using Predators. What do you think?

woody_968
12-14-2004, 04:58 PM
Great post Fred.

Since the predator shaft reduces, but doesnt eliminate squirt, wouldnt someone that uses back hand english have to actually lengthen their bridge?

Woody

kyle
12-14-2004, 10:49 PM
I've had my 314 for about the same amount of time as Fred and like BCgirl prefer a softer tip. IMO with the harder tip miscues come into play when using "backhand english".

Jimmy B
12-15-2004, 02:19 AM
Hey Fred does this mean you have some shafts for sale???
Also I'd like to know if you have tried other cues or are you just using the new Gilbert, I wonder if your game would step up a notch if you went back to the Schuler with normal shaft or decrease from the current Gilbert??

JB <font color="purple"> </font color> <font color="purple"> </font color>

Fred Agnir
12-15-2004, 10:16 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote woody_968:</font><hr> Great post Fred.

Since the predator shaft reduces, but doesnt eliminate squirt, wouldnt someone that uses back hand english have to actually lengthen their bridge?

Woody <hr /></blockquote>Not quite. They'd use front hand english. Most Predators have a pivot point in the 40"+ range. So, you'd hold that point and move the tip with your front hand (bridge hand) to the desired english.

And remember, the pivot point is not to be confused with the bridge length. If your cue has a 18" pivot point, you certainly wouldn't be bridging there. Just pivoting there.

Fred

Fred Agnir
12-15-2004, 10:27 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Jimmy B:</font><hr> Hey Fred does this mean you have some shafts for sale???<hr /></blockquote>

One is on a Schuler. One is on the Tucker with a custom ring. One is the Predator BK . Then there's the special Schuler and the special Layani low squirt shafts. I'll consider trades.

<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Jimmy B:</font><hr>Also I'd like to know if you have tried other cues or are you just using the new Gilbert, I wonder if your game would step up a notch if you went back to the Schuler with normal shaft or decrease from the current Gilbert??

JB <font color="purple"> </font color> <font color="purple"> </font color> <hr /></blockquote>I play at home with one of my Schulers once in a while. Maybe I'll take it to league. With the old shaft, it feels beautiful. Just like I remember. The balance and pivot points are very similar to the Gilbert. The dimensions and the sound are different, but the Gilbert sound is still within my liking. I don't know what will happen with the leather wrap on the Gilbert during summer. I have a feeling I'm not going to like the feel of the leather. So, the Schuler might resurface.

I could easily go to the Schuler and feel my best, but I have gone down the thinner 12.75 shaft with the Gilbert. If I go back to my Schuler, I'll have one of the shaft reduced and see how that feels.

Fred

Bob_in_Cincy
12-16-2004, 09:38 AM
Fred says:

"Years later, through USENETS Rec.Sport.Billiard, Bob Jewett, and the FAQ, I learned the Aim &amp; Pivot method for squirt compensation, further honing my technique for squirt compensation. The result is that neither outside nor inside english is more difficult, but both are more difficult than outside english used to be and less difficult than inside english used to be".

I must admit I don't get this. Explain please?

Thanks,
Bob

Fred Agnir
12-16-2004, 09:57 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Bob_in_Cincy:</font><hr> Fred says:

"Years later, through USENETS Rec.Sport.Billiard, Bob Jewett, and the FAQ, I learned the Aim &amp; Pivot method for squirt compensation, further honing my technique for squirt compensation. The result is that neither outside nor inside english is more difficult, but both are more difficult than outside english used to be and less difficult than inside english used to be".

I must admit I don't get this. Explain please?

Thanks,
Bob <hr /></blockquote>Most players fall into using outside english more than inside english. That is, outside english seems easier. That's a consistent message from every player I've ever met.

That's certainly how I was. But, now, inside english and outside english for me are about the same difficult. That is, inside english became easier, but outside english now became harder.

I can no longer say "just cut it in with a touch of outside english," because it no longer is a no brainer.

If outside was a 1 and inside was a 10 on a scale of 1-10 difficulty, they're both now, say, 3 or 4.

All of this because before, my body and mind didn't understand squirt and swerve interaction. It now does.

Fred