View Full Version : Fiddle-player stroke techniques... and questions

11-07-2005, 12:46 PM
Are there any other fiddle (or violin) players out there serious about pool? If so, I've got some questions.

[OK: to head off all of the obvious questions that everyone always asks: Yes, a fiddle is the same a violin. The word "fiddle" is really just slang for "violin", and also sometimes denotes a specific style of playing. Moving on...]

The other day, a spectator was watching me warm up (very poorly), and mentioned that I "have no rhythm" in my approach to shots and stroke. I took his advice and tried using a consistent shot approach and stroke routine (the number of practice strokes, speed of back stroke, etc).

After a couple of hours of that I was noticing no improvement, and decided to go back to not thinking about it for a little while for a comparison. All of the sudden my shot making and speed picked right up to normal, and I started to realize that I do have a "rhythm", although unconventional, at best.

I generally approach the ball, adjust my aiming and sighting (and then, maybe my stance), take 1 practice stroke, and then backstroke at exactly the same arm speed I intend to hit the ball, and finally stroke through the ball.

As a fiddle player for about 13 years now, I've done an enormous amount of development and practice doing a pretty similar motion with my right arm. That development explains one aspects of my natural rhythm: my backstroke is always the same as my forward stroke (just in reverse), like playing 2 notes in a row.

There are a couple of other oddities in my technique that I can now probably attribute to my fiddle background:

1) my ability to deliver the cue to the ball in a straight line doesn't seem to be affected by my shoulder alignment (so it's still seems fine if I'm not standing as square as I was on the last shot). I'll admit I don't have a really good way to measure this, however. In fiddling, shoulder alignment is a variable in bowing, and you just have to learn to stroke the same way regardless of shoulder joint position. One does that by removing any shoulder joint movement from the bow stroke itself (for example, if I'm playing on the same string, my elbow will not move. To switch to another string, I move my elbow to align my forarm in different plane, and then stroke again without moving the elbow).

2) I deliver the cue in a straight line, with almost no vertical movement of the tip. I do this by bending my wrist forward around the bottom of the pendulum swing, rather than doing this by dropping my elbow at the end of the swing (like Allison fisher). My elbow is usually fixed. I have not noticed any other players doing anything with their wrists during their strokes. [Maybe this has something to do with #1, since I'm not moving my shoulder most strokes...].

3) My grip tension varies, but is mostly very lose (even to the point of cue sliding around occasionally).

As interesting as those may be (or not), I'm still having some problems with my game that I suspect are related to technique. I don't seem to make that many speed errors, although my position planning could use some help. I still have a lot of trouble making balls, however. In fact this is my #1 problem, making everything else that is good about my game useless (except for safeties).

Even stranger, if I warm up playing straight pool, I can pocket balls great for a while, but as I start to spend more time away from the table (like if I'm playing 9ball), I start missing again. Since I'm not "warm" after being away from the table, I'm thinking this is pointing to a technique problem... but maybe it's just aim?

So now I'm wondering a couple of things:
Are any of these things something I should try to inhibit while playing pool (ie. break the habit, and adopt a more conventional technique)?

Has anyone else tried a fixed elbow/moving wrist stroke technique?

Are there any other fiddle (aka violin, or other bowed instrument) players out there who have noticed similar things in their technique?


Scott Lee
11-10-2005, 12:27 PM
Judd...If you look at many 'fiddle' players, there will be several "styles" of how they hold the instrument to their chin...from tight underneath, to not even on the chin, and pointed down towards the ground. Somewhat the same for poolplayers. What we instructors like to do, is help the student find their "natural" positions (bridge, stance, swing, etc.). As long as certain conditions are met, there's lot of room for individuality. Timing is another issue, and if you are backswinging fast (like for a break speed shot, for examaple), the tendency is to grip the cue too tightly, and make a poor transition to the forward stroke. This often affects accuracy, and repeatability. If you pause at the end of the backswing (as well as at the CB before the backswing), before changing directions, then the speed of the backswing isn't such a big factor...but a fast backswing is one of the biggest errors we see. As for the grip, you're right on. Treat the cue like you do your bow...a good violinist nevers 'death-grips' the bow.

Scott Lee ~ played violin 100 years ago!

11-10-2005, 12:40 PM
Scott: You must be old. Did they have horses then? I bet you had to walk to school every day, even in a snow storm. Great to see you back.....randyg

Scott Lee
11-10-2005, 01:11 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote randyg:</font><hr> Scott: You must be old. Did they have horses then? I bet you had to walk to school every day, even in a snow storm. Great to see you back.....randyg <hr /></blockquote>

Randy...UPHILL both ways! LOL Good to be back!


11-10-2005, 03:39 PM
JuddTaylor, Rumor had it that Onifrio Lauri was a concert violinist till he had a nervous breakdown and took up pool while recuperating and never went back to the Violin. If he was one you could never tell it by his warm-up stroke, all he ever did was open and close his hand with the cue held loosely, then he would hit the ball.

He was the all-time greatest in any sport for his age. At age 73 1/2 he lead the 1971 World's Championship with a 15-0 record, then the California Earthquake hit and he lost his next three games and his chance at Immortality.

Now he is among the forgotten who played pool when Pool was in the Dark Ages. For the life of me I cannot understand why the Hall of Fame hasn't added an OldTimers Wing. It must be the cost of adding a few pages to a book that no one sees. ####

11-10-2005, 05:59 PM

11-10-2005, 06:04 PM
Welcome Back. We missed you in Charlotte. Had a great class! Hopefully your schedule will allow you to make it next year. (Yeah, we are already looking at another return engagement!)

Keep me updated when you are going to be in the area. With enough notice, I think we can get enough students for a nice weekend class. We have a new addition to the SPFF family of instructors in Charlotte now, and another in Durham, so we can start cranking it up here.

Fran Crimi
11-10-2005, 07:19 PM
Judd, watch Ewa's backhand. I think she does the same thing with her wrist that you described. It's not unheard of, but it isn't the most common technique used by players. Your grip has to be loose in order for you to roll it back as the cue goes forward, so your loose grip makes sense. Ewa is very loose with her backhand.

WPBA player Romana Dokovic is a concert violinist. Maybe you could contact her through the WPBA and ask her how violin playing has affected her fundamentals.


11-12-2005, 01:50 PM
Hal any sport that is an Olympic Sport doesn't count for anything. If you knew the workings of the Olympic Athletes, they are paid to train in there sport. They never work just train. I would see World Famous Winter Sports figures walking the streets of Lake Placid with not a care in the World. Just keeping in Shape for the Next Olympics four years from then.

Not counting that in Pool only one part of your body moves not all your body.####

11-12-2005, 05:35 PM
Judd, one of Billy Incardona's stories about Efran Reyes, is that the first time he saw him play, Billy decided Efran couldn't be that good, not with that "pump handle" stroke. After watching him for awhile though, Billy said "that ain't a pump handle stroke....he's playing the violin"
Robert Byrne doesn't play the violin, but his father in law did,a little, Jascha Heifetz.

11-13-2005, 06:10 AM
How about a Ukulele player?...
Banjo (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7687402682106917664)