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View Full Version : Should We Be Hitting the Balls Harder?



SpiderMan
07-21-2003, 02:03 PM
In his instructional column in the current issue of American Poolplayer, Steve Mizerak advises amateur players looking to improve their skills to start shooting the balls harder. As a preface to this general statement, he points out that most pros stroke the average shot considerably harder than amateurs.

Contrast this to Bert Kinister's frequent statements of "I don't care who you are, you're shooting too hard".

I'm just curious, if you had to take sides, do you feel that either of these blanket statements represents sound advice?

While I agree with the Miz in that the better players often shoot firmer shots, I wonder if he was confusing the cause and effect. As you get better and more confident, you will tend to stroke with more authority, but will adopting the resultant form early get your ability up to speed any sooner?

SpiderMan

Wally_in_Cincy
07-21-2003, 02:13 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SpiderMan:</font><hr> In his instructional column in the current issue of American Poolplayer, Steve Mizerak advises amateur players looking to improve their skills to start shooting the balls harder. As a preface to this general statement, he points out that most pros stroke the average shot considerably harder than amateurs.

<font color="blue">That's not the first bad advice I've read in The American Poolplayer" </font color>

Contrast this to Bert Kinister's frequent statements of "I don't care who you are, you're shooting too hard".

<font color="blue">I agree with Bert K. George Fels says the same exact thing in his book "Advanced Pool"

Of course if you're shooting on an unlevel bar table in an all-too-typical APA venue, then may have to hit a bit firm /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif.</font color>

I'm just curious, if you had to take sides, do you feel that either of these blanket statements represents sound advice?

While I agree with the Miz in that the better players often shoot firmer shots, I wonder if he was confusing the cause and effect. As you get better and more confident, you will tend to stroke with more authority, ....

<font color="blue"> I think you just answered your own question /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif </font color>

<hr /></blockquote>

Bassn7
07-21-2003, 02:15 PM
The difference: as a novice player, you do tend to hit the balls too hard, not realizing that the same outcome could be achieved with a different kind of stoke. As a seasoned player, you realize that a "hard" hit is often used as a tool to produce a certain outcome. (ie. a center-ball punch shot where you want perfect 'slide' all the way to the object ball can often be hit fairly hard to achieve.)

SpiderMan
07-21-2003, 02:24 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Wally_in_Cincy:</font><hr> <blockquote><font class="small">Quote SpiderMan:</font><hr>
I'm just curious, if you had to take sides, do you feel that either of these blanket statements represents sound advice?

While I agree with the Miz in that the better players often shoot firmer shots, I wonder if he was confusing the cause and effect. As you get better and more confident, you will tend to stroke with more authority, ....

<font color="blue"> I think you just answered your own question /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif </font color>

<hr /></blockquote> <hr /></blockquote>

Well, of course I already knew my own answer, but I thought it would be interesting to see yours as well. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Good point about the overall quality of advice in AP, especially considering that the readership is heavily biased toward lower-skilled players and seasoned bar-table bangers (unless Dallas is just different from the rest of the organization). I doubt I'd coach MY APA teammates to start hitting the balls harder. Not safe, in a crowded bar /ccboard/images/graemlins/wink.gif

SpiderMan

Scott Lee
07-21-2003, 02:35 PM
Spiderman...IMO, Bert is much closer to the mark! The Miz is probably talking about beginners, who don't know how to stroke through the CB, and end up "dinking" the CB, instead of following through with a smooth stroke. In my travels and teachings, I find it almost without exception, that most players, regardless of ability, shoot TOO hard much of the time...and don't know HOW to hit the ball softly (what I call lag, or pocket speed)...at least with a quality stroke.

Scott

Cueless Joey
07-21-2003, 03:14 PM
I absolutely agree with Scott.
Everytime I see Efren play, I am awed by his cueball action. Whitey just seems to roll in the right spot when he shoots.
How many of us cross the cb most of the time when we miss shape? More often than being short I would bet.

Fran Crimi
07-21-2003, 03:39 PM
Steve is a champion. When players drew him in a tournament, they would literally shake in their shoes. That's how well the man played the game. So when he speaks, I listen, even if it at first doesn't sound all that clear. There's a method to the madness.

I think I know where he's coming from. When someone first starts playing pool, they usually hit the balls too hard. No question about it. This goes on until they realize the benefits of soft-stroking shots. Once they realize that soft stroking pockets the balls better, they start slow rolling every shot. It's easy to get caught up in slow rolling, and then they become afraid to "hit" the balls. I see it a lot.

I just worked with a player last week who panicked every time he had to hit the ball with any speed. I asked him how he got to this point of slow-rolling shots and his answer was what I described above. He started out shooting too hard, then went softer and now can't get out of that mode.

I guess it's like almost drowning in the ocean. Once you've had that experience you never want to go in water above your waist.

Fran

Fred Agnir
07-21-2003, 04:03 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote SpiderMan:</font><hr>

I'm just curious, if you had to take sides, do you feel that either of these blanket statements represents sound advice?<hr /></blockquote>Yes. I think both of these blanket statements represent sound advice.

I think that striving to be able to hit both soft and hard with accuracy is the right goal.

Fred &lt;~~~ thinks being able to hit balls firm is a good thing

tateuts
07-21-2003, 04:19 PM
I was watching Steve Davis at the WPC on television. Every shot sounded like the crack of a whip, but reacted as if it were hit with an easier stroke. Object ball down the center, cue ball to the next spot. Tha-wap. next shot. Tha-wap. next shot. Tha-wap. next shot.

He was spanking the cue ball but it was totally under control. That's the kind of stroke I like, firm but totally under control. I think this kind of stroke breeds accuracy and is less subject to nervous jitters in competition.

Chris

griffith_d
07-21-2003, 06:00 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Scott Lee:</font><hr> Spiderman...IMO, Bert is much closer to the mark! The Miz is probably talking about beginners, who don't know how to stroke through the CB, and end up "dinking" the CB, instead of following through with a smooth stroke. In my travels and teachings, I find it almost without exception, that most players, regardless of ability, shoot TOO hard much of the time...and don't know HOW to hit the ball softly (what I call lag, or pocket speed)...at least with a quality stroke.

Scott <hr /></blockquote>

I also agree with Scott, hitting firm is 2 rail speed or less. It you hit the CB to hard the english can get cancelled out, resulting in just stunning the CB.

If you hit too slow and the table is off at, on a long shot the CB will swerve off its path.

Hitting softer than harder will result in more made balls as harder hits will result in the OB rattling out.

Griff

dave
07-21-2003, 06:02 PM
The central axis "stun" shot (where the cue ball slides into contact with the object ball) can produce more predictable and consistent control of the angle of deflection after contact than rolling the ball for some people. This typically requires a harder hit to insure that the cue ball is sliding rather than rolling into the object ball, especially on long shots. It's done for a specific purpose and outcome and is often misinterpreted as shooting with greater confidence or carelessness.

Rod
07-21-2003, 06:39 PM
Who knows? I think Steve must be refering to dinking the shots. On the other hand Bert's reference may be towards players that shoot to hard and do nothing with the c/b.

Rather than pick a side I just shoot at a speed the shot calls for. A dink won't draw the ball 5' and I don't need a firm stroke for that shot either. There is a medium, it's just that many players have not fine tuned their stroke/speed at different distances. Another possibility that exists, is know your equipment. Different tables accept certain shots, being soft or more firm on one table may not work on another. I'm talking about less than a perfect hit. Throw in humidity, is another element. I've seen fair shots go sour as many of you have. Knowing the table and conditions can be a real advantage. I don't think one can give a specific answer. If I did, from what I see most, it would be slow down.

Rod

Hopster
07-21-2003, 10:47 PM
Mosconi had said theres two speeds to hit a ball : Soft and softer. I have tried to always follow that recommendation and for straight pool it works out well.
Then again, maybe thats why my nine ball game sucks.
Go figure.

pooltchr
07-22-2003, 06:10 AM
I read that article and couldn't understand why he would make a blanket statement like that in a magazine read primarily by beginning and average level players. I would have liked to seen that comment expanded upon further by Miz. Like Scott, I see more players shooting with too much speed rather than not enough. Every shot is different and will require the speed to be adjusted accordingly. But for a blanket statement, I would have to agree that Bert is more on the mark than the Miz was. (With all due respect to the Miz!)

Qtec
07-22-2003, 07:10 AM
Well spotted. Not many people notice this 'phenomenon'. When working with a pupil , with my back to the table, I could tell [ to within 90% margine of error ] if the white , after the pot , had reached the desired position.

Snooker players try to hit the Qb at the same speed and alter their shape by hitting the Qb on different spots.

eg .Take a straight shot. If you want to draw the ball back 15cm instead of 5cm , all you do is hit the ball lower. The only thing that changes is the spot you hit on the Qb.


Compare this to the method of hitting the same spot , but harder. I can show you the exact spot on the Qb but I cant tell somebody how hard to hit it. They cant tell me how hard they are going to hit it either.
In snooker you HAVE to follow through .Doing the same thing all the time brings the cue ball under control, consistently.
Timing is everything .WHEN when you hit the ball, is all important. We do not allow the Qb to roll if we can help it.



Pool, on the other hand , from my observations at the WPC, is played for the pockets. They avoid hitting the ball too hard. There seems to be an ideal speed that gives the ball the best chance of falling. They leave themselves shots that let them play the ball at the right speed and with a little English to help it on its way. They see the shots differently than snooker players.

I think that pool players can learn better technique from the Sn layers and the Sn players can learn the 'game 'from the pool guys.

Watch out for the Sn players , the are coming up fast. /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif

Qtec

Fred Agnir
07-22-2003, 07:55 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Qtec:</font><hr> I think that pool players can learn better technique from the Sn layers and the Sn players can learn the 'game 'from the pool guys.

Watch out for the Sn players , the are coming up fast. /ccboard/images/graemlins/laugh.gif

Qtec <hr /></blockquote>
This is a good post to tie in the "should we be hitting the balls harder" idea. I've said this before, so for old timers, sorry to bore you.

When they used to run the World Team Championships (pre-cursor to the Mosconi Cup), this was one of the first times the European "pool professionals" got a good chance to play professional pool players from the U.S. and the Philippines. The teams that had what were former snooker professionals (Team Ireland, Team Scotland, Team England) had easily the worst players in the entire tournament. All their potting skill made no difference because of two huge reasons. They didn't have a clue how to play 9-ball patterns, and they had no idea how to hit power shots.

I have tapes of some of these matches. It's a howl. You'd think you were watching bar bangers.

So, do we as pool players need to hit balls harder? Yes. I think if you're going to be a seasoned player, you have to be able to hit the balls hard. That's not to say every shot should be hit hard. It would be nice to think that we all play so wonderfully that we never have to hit the balls hard, always getting the right angle, always being the right distance from the balls. But that's just a pipe dream. I think when the time comes that I'm faced with a "come with" shot that I have to blast hard, I'd like to think that I'd be comfortable knowing that I'd practiced it and performed it a million times before. Good pool players have the ability to hit the ball hard with accuracy and consistency.

Do I think pool players can learn something about potting from snooker players? Sure. Absolutely. But the snooker potting skill don't normally have the range of higher speeds often necessary in a game of 9-ball, nor the range of crazy patterns seen in 9-ball, so there's only so much learning to be gathered from snooker players.

Do I think that snooker players can adapt? 10 years ago, I said that it would take about 10 years of continental seasoning. That is, the entire pool playing population in Europe had to be in tune with shooting the power shots and 9-ball patterns before snooker professionals would have a realistic shot at being competitive *all the time.* I think I wasn't far off.

Fred

bluewolf
07-22-2003, 09:02 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Fred Agnir:</font><hr>
So, do we as pool players need to hit balls harder? Yes. I think if you're going to be a seasoned player, you have to be able to hit the balls hard. That's not to say every shot should be hit hard. It would be nice to think that we all play so wonderfully that we never have to hit the balls hard, always getting the right angle, always being the right distance from the balls. But that's just a pipe dream. I think when the time comes that I'm faced with a "come with" shot that I have to blast hard, I'd like to think that I'd be comfortable knowing that I'd practiced it and performed it a million times before. Good pool players have the ability to hit the ball hard with accuracy and consistency.

Fred <hr /></blockquote>

I guess I am a little confused here. I know that there are times to hit soft or soft-medium. But, hitting,med-hard on a long cut, dont the balls go in easier? Doesnt that take out contact induced throw and minimize swerve if english has to be used.

I honestly want to know. Assuming the absence of a tangent scratch line,It just seemed like when I hit med at least on the long cuts they went in at a higher percent than when hit soft. It seemed like I did not have to compensate for throw. I dont use english hardly at all on the long ones, but heard this about swerve.

I just want to know if I am wrong. That is all so i will be practicing the right way.

Laura

Qtec
07-22-2003, 09:03 AM
Fred, I think firm is a better word.

As for the power shots , I have more than 20 hours of the WPC and I can safely say that tops , 3% of the shots played could be considered power shots.

They are not that important.

I watched the German guy H knock in 6 racks without having to force anything. The difference is the snooker is a potting game . 9Ball is a 'not missing game '.

Once the Sn players realise this , the game is up!

Q

Fred Agnir
07-22-2003, 09:30 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Qtec:</font><hr> Fred, I think firm is a better word.<hr /></blockquote> I think there is a difference between firm shots and power shots. Or maybe power shots are on the upper spectrum of firm shots. But sometimes, simple a very high spin/speed ratio shot can be considered a power shot.

[ QUOTE ]
As for the power shots , I have more than 20 hours of the WPC and I can safely say that tops , 3% of the shots played could be considered power shots.

They are not that important. <hr /></blockquote> How can 3% not be that important?

Between two equally skilled players, but one has trouble with the 3% firm shots, then that percentage becomes rather huge.

Fred

tateuts
07-22-2003, 11:11 AM
The one thing I will say to support Mizerak on this point of view is, there are times when I feel like I'm babying the cue ball around the table, spinning the balls in instead of shooting them in, being a little too careful.

For example, trying to hit critically soft shots instead of just going the extra rail - that kind of thing.

So, to get myself to start shooting again, I'll get on a practice table and start hitting the cue ball firmer, crisper, make some long power shots and cut shots that bounce the cue ball between the rails. Naturally, when I'm playing I'm thinking about making position, and usually that's what determines how hard I hit the ball.

Maybe babying the cue ball is what he's referring to.

Chris

Sid_Vicious
07-22-2003, 01:27 PM
"The central axis "stun" shot (where the cue ball slides into contact with the object ball) can produce more predictable and consistent control of the angle of deflection after contact than rolling the ball"


This is the crux of the question as I see it. Spiderman and I talked a little last week about the topic, and I thought then that the sliding, non rolling CB moved around more controlled than by rolling the balls. My suspicion is that we are really talking about a well timed stroke with ample follow through to produce slide rather than roll, "harder" may be a deceiving adjective in this case...sid

Qtec
07-22-2003, 01:39 PM
Mostly, power shots have to be played because the player has played a bad positional shot or he has been left it after a miss by the opponent.

You win matches by potting simple balls consistently , not by making sensational shots.


Another thing I noticed is that 'throw'[ effect on OB] is minimal . So much so that in most shots it was so insignificant, that it did not make any difference ,
English is more important than 'throw'.


IMO

Q
y

The Watchdog
07-22-2003, 02:36 PM
The balls can be hit at almost any speed on any shot, depending on the route you want the cueball to take. This is what defines a great player. When you are so confident, knowing the pots are there, you can get to the real game, which is directing the cue ball around the table, knocking balls in en route.

Many players shoot AT the object ball. I submit that this is ludicrous. You must DELIVER the cue ball, with your focus on the contact properties. This is true control.

The delivery (like Steve Davis) becomes a non-variable. Now you are playing pool.