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skin
08-22-2008, 03:11 PM
If you watch most of the pros break at nine ball, you notice that they lock their front knee and kick their back foot up during their forward motion. The idea is to transfer weight from the back leg to the front, but is stiffening the front knee while driving off the back foot the best way to do that? It seems to me that not only does it stop the forward momentum of the hips, it also raises the torso out of the vector along which the energy is being delivered and pushes the head and stick up during the strike forward. The front shoulder also gets jammed until the bridge hand releases from the cloth. On the surface, it seems like a very unathletic motion for generating power and accuracy.

It's hard to argue with the results that the pros get, but I wonder who came up with this body motion for a break.

At the pause of the back swing, I start a 1/3 step forward with the front foot along the line of the cueball to the rack, then move forward with the strike, and keep the front knee flexed through the strike. The weight transferred from the back foot is onto a front foot below a flexed knee, which is an athletic position. I think this not only keeps all the force from the hips and torso going forward along the correct line, but also keeps the head down and prevents the shoulder from jamming when I rise up at the very end of the follow through. The cue stick also stays level with the prep strokes.

I have tried the stiff front leg break and don't like the feel of the motion. It seems more like an adaptation of the golf swing to pool than something that has been well thought out and scientifically experimented with, but I also could be doing it all wrong!

1Time
08-23-2008, 12:48 AM
Power and consistency. You want the body to move forward to add power, but you also want it to move the same way with each break and end up in the same position each time. Keeping the front leg stiff makes it more of a constant than a variable, which helps with consistency while allowing more power.

skin
08-23-2008, 08:15 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: 1Time</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Power and consistency. You want the body to move forward to add power, but you also want it to move the same way with each break and end up in the same position each time. Keeping the front leg stiff makes it more of a constant than a variable, which helps with consistency while allowing more power. </div></div>

OK, maybe I'll try it again with that in mind. I get good power and cb control with the way I am breaking, but I am not making a ball consistently even when I change cb positions. I'm looking for something to help and that's why I have been looking at the pros' mechanics.

1Time
08-23-2008, 10:14 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: skin</div><div class="ubbcode-body">OK, maybe I'll try it again with that in mind. I get good power and cb control with the way I am breaking, but I am not making a ball consistently even when I change cb positions. I'm looking for something to help and that's why I have been looking at the pros' mechanics. </div></div>Sure, try it, if you're not concerned with being able to switch back if needed to regain the power and consistency that you now have. More power may be the difference you need for the breaks you are trying.

It's been my experience though that more power works against me as I lose control of the cue ball.

skin
08-23-2008, 11:16 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: 1Time</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: skin</div><div class="ubbcode-body">OK, maybe I'll try it again with that in mind. I get good power and cb control with the way I am breaking, but I am not making a ball consistently even when I change cb positions. I'm looking for something to help and that's why I have been looking at the pros' mechanics. </div></div>Sure, try it, if you're not concerned with being able to switch back if needed to regain the power and consistency that you now have. More power may be the difference you need for the breaks you are trying.

It's been my experience though that more power works against me as I lose control of the cue ball. </div></div>

Power is not a problem for me with the 1/3 step forward just before I start coming forward with the rest of my body. But, take a look at this video. It's a good explanation of how to produce power. Colin Colenso keeps a stiff front leg, but he also moves about a 1/3 of a step forward after he lines up the cue ball and before he takes his practice strokes for the break. My forward step is not fully planted before I start forward after the final pause. Let me know what you think. I'm going out now to try the stiff leg again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xW1tsONEI_U

EDIT: I just got back from the practice and the world of the weird. I got the wing ball a lot on the stiff-legged break with the cb stopping at center table. How'd that happen? Maybe it was because my speed (power) was only about 1/2 of what it is with my regular break. It still feels weird, though, to raise up and stop against that stiff front leg.

sack316
08-23-2008, 11:29 AM
I actually derive most of my power through rotating my hips when using a hard break. Maybe it's just the old baseball player in me, but I'm down kind of turned to the side in relation to the table on my lower half. I have a slight shift of my weight to the back as I perform my backstroke, and sort of "roll" my weight to the front as I begin moving forward and rotate my hips around while doing so. This may be completely wrong, just stating what I do... but in doing so I believe I leave some flexibility in my front leg (stiff in the beginning with weight back, and then bending with my forward movement). Then a strong emphasis on my follow through. I get a ton of power out of my breaks (I think Deeman can attest to this), but as 1Time said I tend to lose control of the cue ball.

Sack

skin
08-23-2008, 02:50 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: sack316</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I actually derive most of my power through rotating my hips when using a hard break. Maybe it's just the old baseball player in me, but I'm down kind of turned to the side in relation to the table on my lower half. I have a slight shift of my weight to the back as I perform my backstroke, and sort of "roll" my weight to the front as I begin moving forward and rotate my hips around while doing so. This may be completely wrong, just stating what I do... but in doing so I believe I leave some flexibility in my front leg (stiff in the beginning with weight back, and then bending with my forward movement). Then a strong emphasis on my follow through. I get a ton of power out of my breaks (I think Deeman can attest to this), but as 1Time said I tend to lose control of the cue ball.

Sack </div></div>

Yeah, the mechanics of my break also have things in common with a batter's swing. Raising that front foot up and coming forward is beginning to seem like it has a timing component (ala Charlie Lau) as much as it produces power for me. At least that is the way it felt when I studied it today while working on the stiff front leg in practice.

wolfdancer
08-23-2008, 03:19 PM
I like Colin's ideas on the power break....I tried the stiff leg thing, but at my age I just can't get stiff anymore...

1Time
08-23-2008, 05:00 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: skin</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I got the wing ball a lot on the stiff-legged break with the cb stopping at center table. How'd that happen? Maybe it was because my speed (power) was only about 1/2 of what it is with my regular break. </div></div>Had you asked up front how to better pocket a wing ball, I would have suggested backing off on the speed. But you seemed to be in search of more power in an attempt to pocket other balls instead, so I suggested trying the other technique. With a harder break, the wing balls are sent into the side rails faster which tightens their rebound angles toward the corners. A slower break widens these angles. So if I'm pocketing a wing ball, I try duplicating that speed with subsequent breaks.

sack316
08-23-2008, 05:17 PM
doesn't pocketing the wing ball have a lot to do with the rack itself as well? I look for certain gaps on either side of the rack to gauge what ball is most likely to go in... which in most cases will tend to be a wing ball (see Joe Tucker's... I think that was his name... works on that).

Sack

skin
08-23-2008, 05:34 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: 1Time</div><div class="ubbcode-body"><div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: skin</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I got the wing ball a lot on the stiff-legged break with the cb stopping at center table. How'd that happen? Maybe it was because my speed (power) was only about 1/2 of what it is with my regular break. </div></div>Had you asked up front how to better pocket a wing ball, I would have suggested backing off on the speed. But you seemed to be in search of more power in an attempt to pocket other balls instead, so I suggested trying the other technique. With a harder break, the wing balls are sent into the side rails faster which tightens their rebound angles toward the corners. A slower break widens these angles. So if I'm pocketing a wing ball, I try duplicating that speed with subsequent breaks. </div></div>

I wasn't looking specifically to pocket a wing ball, it's just what happened today with the stiff-legged break. I wanted to get a ball in more consistently on the break and thought maybe something in the pros' mechanics would help. That's when I got to thinking about why they use a stiff front leg instead of a more athletic bent knee, and what the reasoning is behind it.

I think Colin Colenso posts on here sometimes. Maybe if he sees this thread he can comment. That would be great. As I understand it, he was one of the prime movers in popularizing this style of breaking. But, he doesn't address the issue of the stiif front leg specifically in the video I posted.

1Time
08-23-2008, 07:09 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: skin</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I think Colin Colenso posts on here sometimes. Maybe if he sees this thread he can comment. </div></div>I suggest posting a new thread with his name in the title so you can better catch his attention.

colincolenso
08-24-2008, 04:09 PM
Found the thread :-) I don't check in here often enough.

Not much time right now but the stiff legged idea reminds me of the blocking technique used in Javelin throwing. I'll have a think about it and post some thoughts this evening.

Colin

colincolenso
08-25-2008, 03:14 AM
Ok, back from a day spent send the cue ball off the table on too many breaks. Nothing beats breaking practice.

Anyway, to the stiff leg method. I doubt it can increase power, in fact it is likely to decrease power. In throwing events like shot putt and javelin the left leg blocks so that the strong hip flexor and lower abdominal muscles can pull the torso forward more strongly.

When breaking, we actually want to extend the torso in the other direction. One could argue that the planted front leg provides a base for the back extensors (hamstrings, glutes, lower back) to create a powerful rise, but I don't think that would help the break significantly.

A planted stiff leg may help with stability and that is certainly very useful. Better to hit the CB perfect at 80% than to hit off the mark at 100%.

Colin

skin
08-25-2008, 05:00 AM
Colin, thanks very much for your comments. The stiff front leg break looks a lot to me now like a softball pitcher's front leg block after the jump forward, whereas the flexed front knee break is more like what a boxer does when delivering an upper cut to the belly. Both are underhand motions like the break with the right hand moving at about the same height above the ground as the break. I guess the difference is that the pitcher wants to stay tall to extend the lever as you talk about in your video while the boxer wants to stay down using eccentric contraction for power. Don't know.

At any rate, in pratice I have found the stiff leg reduces my power v. stepping into the break with a bent knee, but it does seem to increase accuracy...just as you suggest. I suppose I'll keep working with it even though it feels odd. Thanks again for the kindness of your analysis.

-skin