View Full Version : Stroke evolution

phil in sofla
05-28-2002, 05:55 PM
When I was first learning, my first mentor had me set up my bridge close to the ball, and I don't believe I had much of a stroke past or through the ball. Eventually, this was pointed out by others as a limitation in my mechanics, and I began to bridge a little further away, take a longer backswing, and an extended follow through.

As time went on, I went from a little tapping/rolling the balls game to a bigger stroke game that could do more things requiring power, and liked how it worked (and sounded!). While I continued to work on my bridging, aiming and special situation shot making, I ignored my stroke, thinking it fixed.

Recently ran into someone I'd seen a lot in the past but hadn't played, and it turns out he's a part-time pool coach. After playing a couple of sets, he mentioned a couple of things that he saw about my stroke I might want to consider changing. When I addressed the ball, I was too far away-- not necessarily with where my bridge was, but where my tip was. I was following through so far on some shots that the fat part of the shaft would come through my bridge, forcing the fingers to open at the end of the stroke. And I didn't have my forearm vertical at the time of contact, but before, inducing an arc in the stroke as of contact.

Changing these things was like going back to my original stroke. Choked up a bit on the grip end, got closer with the bridge hand, got very close to the cue ball on address, and in general, made stroking a lot more controlled and secure. Did wonders for my precision and accuracy in just the next outing by considering those things. Played a guy who marched the quarter around the table on me the last two times we played in the last 10 days, and played him about dead even, to where he claimed I must have been taking lessons (in the 4 days between the last time we played?). But he wasn't far off in that observation.

Makes me REALLY think about pool school. If a two minute conversation with a stranger can do me that much good, there's no telling how much more some real instruction could do.

And I am now convinced that the 'stylish' 12 to 15 inch bridging that so many of the local players use is a great hidden detriment to their games.

Out of curiousity, how close do you get the tip to the cue ball on address?

05-28-2002, 06:00 PM
My cue tip is about inch from the ob on almost every stroke.

05-28-2002, 06:24 PM
Cheers to you...been there done that...it's been said that "when the student is ready the teacher will appear"...keep on strokin...smooth and staight!

Ralph S.
05-28-2002, 09:16 PM
I would say that my tip is generally about an inch away from the CB on most shots. I alter this just a little pending on certain shots and ball clusters that may be an obstruction to my normal set.
Ralph S.

Scott Lee
05-28-2002, 10:45 PM
Phil...I get my tip about 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the CB...VERY
close! fyi...my bridge hand is 8 inches from the CB, NOT 12-15! Followthrough should be no more than 6-8 inches maximum, past where the CB was sitting (this is the way your arm works with a pendulum swing). If you are following through 24 inches on your stroke (like you described), you are 'pushing' the cue through the CB by dropping your elbow...which is the antithesis (opposite) of the perfectly timed 'thrown' stroke! I'm glad you have experienced immediate improvement, by going back to the fundamentals that were originally taught to you! LOL This is what ALL of us competent instructors do...is take the player back to the basics (regardless of skill level), and make sure they are doing everything correctly, and efficiently!

Scott Lee

Scott Lee
05-28-2002, 10:47 PM
TC...better NOT be 1/2 inch from the object ball! LOL How about 1/2" from the CUEball!

Your buddy,


05-29-2002, 02:07 AM
Phil, what the part time coach give you was a valuable peice of information. It is important to get very close to the c/b. It simulates the impact position, where your arm is and exactly where you intend to strike the c/b. It also has has an effect on where you aim at the o/b. When the tip is a distance from the c/b it is anybody's guess as to where you will actually hit the c/b. Just a small error can cause a missed shot or the c/b not reacting as you expected.
That's another reason for the pause at the c/b, to check aim and your tip position on the c/b. It is critical IMO if anyone expects to have good control of whitey. My final address position is about 1/4" and definately not over 3/8".
I'm sure in the begining you may feel a little uncomfortable getting that close, and may foul the c/b, even at 1/2".You'll get comfortable in a short time and it really will improve your game, as you have already noticed.

And yes to your thoughts on the very long bridge, it is a detriment to their game.

Fred Agnir
05-29-2002, 06:18 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: phil in sofla:</font><hr>Out of curiousity, how close do you get the tip to the cue ball on address? <hr></blockquote>
Pretty damned close. Though impossible (due to a foul), ideally, I would think you'd want to have the forearm vertical and the tip just touching the point of contact on the cueball at your final set position. I'm not suggesting anyone do that.


05-29-2002, 07:29 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: phil in sofla:</font><hr> Out of curiousity, how close do you get the tip to the cue ball on address?<hr></blockquote>Hi Phil,

I heard RandyG say one time that people who wear glasses generally have a larger gap between their tip and the cue ball.

I have no idea how large my gap is because I can't see it from where I am! I do know that I am afraid of the foul, because it's happened before. So I suspect that I'm quite a bit back from the cue ball myself.

Jay M
05-29-2002, 07:44 AM
I don't know on mine, I'm always focussed on the OB when I am taking my final warm up strokes.

My routine once I am down on the ball is:

1. take warm up strokes looking at the cue (not cue ball) to make sure my stroke is straight. If I see deviance in my stroke, I get back up, reposition my body and do it again.

2. look at the object ball and cue ball to make sure I am lined up in the general area I want to hit. General area in this case is somewhere in the pocket.

3. Lock my eyes on the exact point on the object ball I want to make contact with (yes, I use contact point for an aiming method 99% of the time) From this time til execution my eyes will never move from that exact point.

4. Take a few more warm up strokes while I am "feeling" how the shot will be. If I move my eyes for some reason,I'll go back to step 1 again.

5. follow through on the final stroke without moving my head at all. I'll stay in this position until the shot ends or I am forced to move to keep a ball from touching my cue.

It's when I don't do it like this that I miss or screw up my leave.

I think I'll ask someone to tell me how close my warm up strokes come to the cue next time I shoot.

Jay M

05-29-2002, 08:18 AM

Scott Lee
05-29-2002, 09:37 AM
Whitewolf...The bridge distance is measured from the CB to where the cuestick crosses your bridge (doesn't matter whether it is open or closed). The main reason for keeping the bridge close, is to ensure an adequate followthrough on the stroke...without having to drop the elbow! Some of the Philipino players play with an extraordinaryly long bridge (15-20"), and perform admirably using it. However, I like to teach things that are repeatable and sustainable. Using too long of a bridge is a bad habit, that will almost inevitabley result in poor execution of the stroke...for the average player. How does Efren do it? Who knows!...but
he will be the first one to tell you, "Don't try to do it like me! Use proper fundamentals!"

Scott Lee

05-29-2002, 11:40 AM

I'd like to address just one of your questions, regarding why some players can get away with using a longer bridge. I believe it is a function of their cue. If you have ever performed the "aim and pivot" test for cueball squirt (from RSB FAQ), or understand the physics behind "back-hand english", this will make sense.

For any given cue there is a bridge length where changes in "stick aim" made by pivoting the entire cue about the bridge point will have negligible effect on the direction of the cueball immediately after being struck. This is because the change in aiming direction exactly compensates the squirt angle. A shorter bridge gives more aim change for equal tip offset (overcompensation) and a longer bridge gives less (undercompensation).

Well, guess what? This compensation occurs just as well for accidental off-center hits due to poor stroke as it does for intentional application of sidespin. So, if you are forming your bridge at the length of exact compensation, you can mis-hit the cueball and it will still go in the original centerline direction!!!!

Now, to tie this all together ... my cue (Jacoby) has a zero-squirt pivot a little over a foot from the tip when used with a blue-circle ball. So, if I'm using an 8-inch bridge and my poor stroking causes me to hit "off" to the right, my cueball path will also error to the right (overcompensated). OTOH, if I bridge at about 12-14 inches, the same off-center hit will be compensated and I will make the shot. Of course, there will be "unintended sidespin" on the cueball, but the aim will stay correct. So, if a player happens to have a cue with a zero-squirt pivot point near the location of their long bridge, the tip/cueball contact-point errors introduced by that long bridge will be somewhat compensated and they will be able to shoot accurately.

BTW, my Jacoby's zero-squirt pivot is pretty close to my natural bridge length when shooting with a mudball because of it's higher mass.

A low-squirt cue, such as a Predator or a small-diameter conventional shaft, will have a zero-squirt pivot point much further back (sometimes as far back as the joint, or more) so that essentially no compensation occurs - the ball basically goes where it is aimed, including any error due to poor stroking. So, a longer bridge on a low-squirt cue may result in more cueball-path error, not less, if the stroking is not straight.


<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: whitewolf:</font><hr> Hi Scott. Is this 6 - 8 inches measured from the OB to the tips of your fingers of your bridge hand or to where the stick actually touches the bridge hand. Also, one more question: It seems to me that the longer your bridge, the better your aim, but at the expense of accuracy due to the difficulty of a good stroke from the longer bridge. Allen Hopkins on TV this week said he liked the short bridge, and then when the other commentator said that some very great players had some long bridges, Allen seemed to say that this was possible also but he preferred the short bridge. Why then can some players get away with the longer bridge etc.?

05-29-2002, 12:03 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: phil in sofla:</font><hr> Out of curiousity, how close do you get the tip to the cue ball on address? <hr></blockquote>
about 1/4"

I can not be looking anywhere but at the object ball any time the stick moves forward while practice stroking, lest I foul.

05-31-2002, 07:55 AM

05-31-2002, 09:18 AM
No, I didn't mean to say that at all. The advantage of a low-squirt cue is that it requires less compensation when applying side english using a parallel-aiming technique (as opposed to back-hand english), and that's probably a boon to an intermediate player because it's easiest to understand and implement.

I do, however, believe that a player using a longish bridge might shoot more accurately with a "squirty" cue whose zero-squirt pivot corresponds to his bridge length. This is because it would tend to self-compensate for stroking errors, but realize that this would only work for that one bridge length. I've done an experiment with my cue, bridging at the pivot point, aiming carefully with a centerball hit, and then deliberately hitting 'way off from my line-up point. The ball still goes in, pretty much independent of how I jump up, swerve the stick, or whatever, as long as I don't move the bridge pivot. I can't do this with a Predator because I can't bridge back at the joint. I guess this implies that you can bridge long with a squirty cue, and then deliberately hustle folks by showing terrible technique. They'll never figure out how you can be making a ball, and think it's just luck /ccboard/images/icons/wink.gif

I do like the Predator shafts and am considering having them supplied with the custom cue I'm trying to commission. Simplifying the aiming process and making it more independent of bridge length is more of an advantage than I'd gain from BHE self-compensation. I'd rather have my choice of many short bridges than try to use the same long one for every shot.


<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: whitewolf:</font><hr> Thanks SpiderMan. So I take it you don't like sticks with low-squirt. Interesting. I wonder why the competion hasn't blasted Predator yet, or maybe they have and I haven't read about it. Seems like mediocre players should stay away from low-squirt cues? <hr></blockquote>

05-31-2002, 09:19 AM
My post above, forgot to log in.