View Full Version : Do practice strokes really matter?

02-27-2002, 11:46 AM
I think they don't. A friend of mine, who is a free stroker, advocates long and plenty of practice strokes. I have found out that I just can't maintain my line if I stroke like him. I'm a Nick Varner type stroker. Short stroke, get the line, pause and deliver the long final stroke. Even though Nick looks tight, he is not because his final stroke is still fluid. Not everyone can stroke like Efren and Busta. I can probably try but it might take me a decade. Bert Kinnister, whose shot number one is a killer stroke checker, advocates no practice strokes if you keep failing to do his shot number one.

02-27-2002, 11:51 AM
when i get horny i practice my strokes. i like long soft strokes, btw. ala jeanette lee.

02-27-2002, 12:02 PM
I think practice strokes are very important for people who are just learning the game or are out of stroke. You need to train your arm to move straight, and the practice strokes are rehearsals that train the muscles. For many players, the hard part is to make the final stroke along the rehearsed line.

If I'm playing well, I like to zero-stroke the shots, and this technique is also helpful for concentrating on aim, but I think most beginners need the muscle practice.

Bob Jewett

02-27-2002, 12:08 PM
You might be right that practice strokes are not as important as some would claim. Still, I feel that Frank Callan has a good idea regarding practice strokes, or waggles as snooker players call them.

See: http://www.fcsnooker.co.uk/intermediate/the_drill/the_drill.htm (http://www.fcsnooker.co.uk/intermediate/the_drill/the_drill.htm)

There's good sense in what he has to say. Still, to each his own.


02-27-2002, 12:43 PM
While I certainly agree with Mr. Jewett's opinion, I am wondering what you think the practice strokes do for a player with the "phillipine" style looping stroke e.g. efren, santos sabajos, even charlie wiliams loops his stroke a bit.

I would assume that the practice strokes for them are a way to "groove" their stroke, but I am interested in your opinion. Do you think that it is wrong for players to develop that style stroke?

Zach <----wishes that his stroke was 1/2 as accurate as any of the above players

02-27-2002, 12:53 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Zzach:</font><hr>I am wondering what you think the practice strokes do for a player with the "phillipine" style looping stroke e.g. efren, santos sabajos, even charlie wiliams loops his stroke a bit.<hr></blockquote>


When you mention 'looping', is that when the tip goes up and down during the waggle?

02-27-2002, 01:06 PM
By looping, I am referring to their backswing, then forward swing being in a small circle. Instead of going straight back, then straight forward through the ball, their strokes take the cue in a circular manner. Another way of explaining....if you were to trace a line around their hand that is holding the cue, for a straight stroke, the trace marks would for a straight line. For a looping stroke, the trace marks would for an oval.

Sorry for the overkill, just wanted to make sure you understood.


02-27-2002, 02:01 PM

That's what I thought you meant. I was told that shooters who use that method use it to make sure the cuetip isn't moving side to side at all. They create a vertical plane/wall, that is directly in line with the shot. Having that 'oval' (looping) stroke any slight side to side movement in the stroke is easier for them to see. With that said, even though the tip is moving considerably up and down during the practice strokes, the cue still looks like it's in a straight line when you're looking down over your shot.

02-27-2002, 02:48 PM
When I started playing Snooker (years ago) I noticed that all of the best "rest" players (mechanical bridge) pumped the cue in a circular motion (tip goes up and down) before making the final stroke. It seems to me, that this motion reinforces the image of the cue moving up and down, but not side to side. When using the rest, your arm is not vertical, and you do not have your body to guide you, so it is hard to tell if you are moving in a straight line. The looping motion is so standard with the top players that it must be doing something useful.

That lead me to woder if the Philipino's were doing something similar. Notice that their cues are almost never touching their bodies (well away from the body), and their elbows are rarely vertical (many are canted in or out). It seems that this looping motion might be a way to "groove" the image of the cue moving in a straight line (when viewed from above).

While it does work for them, the fact that many other top players can get equal results without this looping motion idicates that it is not a requirement, and certainly not a method that would work for all.


02-27-2002, 02:55 PM
Do they really matter? Well it depends what aspect of the shot is most important. For potting, no I don't think that it is critical to do any practice strokes at all. Although I would say that this applies to experienced players only (that have developed a reasonably straight stroke to begin with).

But for speed control, the practice strokes might be useful. You need a sense of how much cue speed you will use for the shot at hand. The practice strokes give you a way to "rehearse" the speed that you will need. Ben Hogan also mentioned this with regards to golf and practice swings.

So if all that is required is to pot the ball, and position (or at least speed) is not critical, then you might not need any practice strokes. But if you must move the cueball a precise amount, then the practice strokes might give you an edge.


02-28-2002, 08:32 AM
&gt; I think they don't.

One word: rhythm. Even Nick Varner takes practice strokes to develop a rhythm and hits the cue ball on the beat (even though it's tough to see since he has such a slow tempo). Very few players can be consistent with no practice strokes. It feels very awkward.

Fred Agnir
02-28-2002, 11:55 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Anonymous:</font><hr> I think they don't... I'm a Nick Varner type stroker. <hr></blockquote>

Nick Varner certainly uses practice strokes.

Fred &lt;~~~ other than the fact that Nick shoots well, I'm just like him

phil in sofla
02-28-2002, 10:53 PM
Seems you're talking about two different things. One is whether to use a long practice stroke, and a lot of them, to boot. Another is whether to use practice stroking at all.

Those aren't the same. It's true that you can lose your line if you stroke too long. But taking two or three measured strokes doesn't tax your attention span, or get some largish momentum in your arm to take you off line.

If you find your half stroke and then go rhythm works best for you, I'm sure it does. But I don't think it's because practice stroking in a controlled and brief manner makes for stroke errors and deviation from the line. Properly done, I think it minimizes them.

03-01-2002, 11:11 AM
Chris Cass insists you use practice strokes to get yourself on rythm. Same rythm everytime. Smart I'd say because since I started working on my rythm my game has improved.


03-01-2002, 12:31 PM
I agree Kato, a player needs those practice strokes
to develop an inner rythm for the shot at hand.
Its all part of the blend of the pre-shot routine.
It is also your own personal rythm, although I've
seen some that have a few kinks in them. Besides if
your going to be a babe magnet, you gots to have rythm.

03-01-2002, 01:22 PM
I can only tell you what works for me. Practice strokes are critical for my game. I use fewer than I used to, but still use them. I used to unconsciously use maybe 8 to 10 in my preshot routine, and shot very well. Then an a$$hole member of my team started counting them aloud while I was preparing my shot. It totally destroyed my game. I started concentrating on the number of practice strokes instead of my shot. He thought it was funny. I tried fewer and even none to get this clown to stop harrassing me, but couldn't shoot worth a dang. I finally did the best I could at totally blocking him out, and doing what came naturally. I eventually, did so well enough to get him to quit. He didn't do this in my matches, but rather during my practice before the matches. He started doing this because I punished him so bad when we practiced together. I don't play with or around him anymore, and have no problems. I must have unconsciously started using fewer, and a friend who is an excellent player, suggested to me to use more and to do so fairly rapidly to instill the memory in my stroke. I've been doing so and the results are good for me. I don't count the strokes, but would guess they are maybe 4 or 5. I think each player has to decide what works best for them.

Chris Cass
03-02-2002, 02:41 AM
NOT, I was talking to RJ.
C.C.~~Kato's setting me up again. Kato wasn't suppose to listen...

03-02-2002, 11:03 AM
They do matter for me. While in theory, we basically stroke the same way for each shot we execute, there are subtle differences that come into play for different shots. Practice-stroking helps me hone in on the things I need to do a little different for that particular shot, such as release all tension in my back hand for a very delicate finesse shot, or make sure my bridge hand is extra secure for a long power draw shot. I prefer to make and feel these slight adjustments during practice stroking.

03-02-2002, 12:05 PM
Practice trokes are a MUST!

Its like playing golf, You stand behind the ball. You look to determine the best route for the ball to go. You pick a spot about 4 feet in front f the ball to aim at. You get up take a "Practice Swing" Line up, and shoot.

You get up to the table and line up the shot. You figure out where to strike the object ball and you adjust according to your english. Take Practice strokes, and shoot..

To throw all of you off..
Ever watch the asian players?
Their practice strokes are always very low and then when they hit the ball the spot they hit on the cue ball will be anywhere other than LOW. This seems odd to me, but works so well for them. Anyone know what i am talking about?

I wish I could type what I mean and it would all come out clear.lol

03-02-2002, 03:14 PM
I'm glad RJ has been working on his timing. He listens to that dreadfull 80's Metal and its hard to get your timing right when your head is banging on the side of the table.

Voodoo...smoothly moves to the velvet tones of Barry White, when in stroke

03-02-2002, 07:00 PM
Yes, IMO the pre-shot strokes do matter - mainly as an opportunity to fully prepare both mentally and physically for the shot and to "lock" in on the line and precisely the pace you plan to use for the stroke.

It's no different than the pre-shot routine that pro golfers go through waggling the club at address before starting the swing, pro tennis players bouncing the ball before serving, pro basketball players bouncing the ball before free-throws, pro baseball batters rituals before each pitch, etc., etc. - Chris in NC

Jay M
03-02-2002, 09:58 PM

I know exactly what you are talking about and it does seem counterintuitive. I've noticed though that a lot of the "punch" stroke players do something similar. They'll aim center cue during their warmups and adjust their final stroke to get the english. I've tried that technique and it works well, but is very hard to put small changes in the english without a LOT of practice. BTW, the stroke that many of those players use is the pendulum shaped stroke and the follow comes because the follow through is while the cue is in motion in an upward direction.

Jay M

03-02-2002, 10:45 PM
Speaking of Strokes...I can't stand watching Allen Hopkins
Stroke! It reminds me of the first time I drove a stick shift!

Chris Cass
03-02-2002, 11:04 PM
Oh MY, have I been screwing up. It's Barry White, not White Zombie! LOLLOL
Your right on target with that Barry White, Voodoo. He's smoooth, that's me all the way, however I tend to shoot with the music that's playing. Once Crazy by Patty Page was playing and I ran out with tears in my eye's. Just joking.lol

I do believe Rhythm and basic shot timing are simular yet different. I have a 4 stroke method (aim, WU, WU, final stroke, shoot), it's part of my pre-shot routine. My rhythm of play depends on the ease of the table layout. If I'm in stroke I'll reach my optimum rhythm or speed in which I play. If the tables giving me headaches and everything is tough. Then, I'll rely on my Basic pre-shot routine to pull me through.

Sometimes it's tough to get a rhythm going, that's why the pre-shot routine is good for me. Also, it's a good idea to have a start place to troubleshoot from when I need it. I find it helps me. My 4 stroke timing stays throughout my play. When I zone I have no clue what's going on.

Wierd, like a pilot passing out coming out of the hole at 7 grand on the Sun Tach.
Great to see your name Voodoo,
C.C.~~stay away from the Luther V., then your cooked....LMAO

03-02-2002, 11:10 PM
it defitnatly matters to me. I use a different lenght stroke for every shot. 2-3 inches for softer shots 5-6-7 for harder shots well you get the picture. its alot more complex than that. jon from mn