View Full Version : The Line Doesn't Lie Stroke Drill

04-04-2002, 11:50 AM
Here's a good drill which (with the help of another player) will tell you more than you may want to know about whether your stroke is a perfect straight back and straight through movement, and if not - how to improve it.

Pull a string from the middle of one corner pocket slate drop-off point and approximately the middle diamond of the opposite end rail. After securely taping the string down, run masking tape (1/2" to 3/4" wide) down each side of the string in a perfect straight line - about 1/2" to 1" off the centerline of the string. The tape should extend past the cushion and across the end rail. Remove the string and you should have a perfect taped line stripe to the corner pocket - with somewhere around 1"-2" of cloth between the two stripes of tape.

Now you're ready to go. Align a striped ball (as your cue ball) with the stripe parallell with the line about 2-3 diamonds from the end rail and place an object ball also centered between the tape about 3-4 diamonds away.

If by yourself, practice stroking up and down the striped line adressing the striped ball with center-ball at all times. As you stroke back, the tape across the end rail will give you instant feedback (when you peek down) as to whether the back of the cue is remaining centered between the tape throughout the stroke. You can then start pocketing balls, and noticing whether the striped object ball is spinning (during or after contact with the OB), indicating you did not hit centerball as intended. You can also observe the chalkmark on the striped ball to see exactly how far off center you hit, and if your cue-tip is finishing between the striped lines.

The value of this drill can really be realized if you can find another player (whom you can trust) and take turns observing each other - with the observer standing in line directly behind the pocket you're shooting at and giving you feedback on your stroke. From this angle - with the aid of the tape they can clearly see whether the front and back of your cue are remaining in a straight line throughout the entire stroke.

As a warning, let me say that you may find out things doing this drill you would rather not know about your stroke. Not surprisingly, very few players have a perfectly straight back and straight through repetitive stroke - but don't be alarmed. Sadly, most of us have all learned how to compensate for our less than perfect strokes. Learning to stay directly on the line throughout the stroke is not going to be easy - and is going to feel very strange for most. Most will feel when they stay in line and are on centerball, that they aren't lined up properly to pocket the ball, and will often miss even worse than before. Problem is we've all learned to compensate for our less than perfect stroke with at least 2 and sometimes 3 errors - one on the backstroke, one on the forward stroke and alignment on the cueball. Unless and until you're able to fix all 3 errors, you won't have the consistency. Of course, having the aid of a trained instructor work you through this would be extremely helpful - but not absolutely critical. Some players looped strokes are the result of improper alignment or body position, yet they have learned through trial and error to become fairly proficient at pocketing balls even with these stroke faults. For many, you may find it's better to leave well enough alone, but for those really seeking a perfect pendulum Iron Willie stroke this is a great drill.

I know this is long, but one last observation we made testing 5 players here on this drill. We aligned every player centerball with both the front and back of their cue centered between the tape, then instructed them to close their eyes at address and naturally stroke the ball. Everyone made the shot with their eyes closed better than they did with their eyes open - go figure that one! - Chris in NC

04-04-2002, 12:44 PM
Byrne has a similar drill in his book/video where he places a tape from corner to corner to practice making straight in shots. Starting about a diamond apart and gradually increasing the distance between balls. Start with stop shots and see how far off the CB drifts after contact. then you can also do follow shots. Trying to keep both balls on the tape is pretty hard. Byrne recommends dressmaker tape or sewing tape. I used something my wife had in her kit. Hope she didn't need it. But checking the alignment of the cue in the straight plane is interesting and could come in handy. Will have to try that. When I see a new player lining up way off it is hard to get them to visualize the alignment. Maybe using the tape will help.