View Full Version : Quiet Eye

04-04-2002, 02:35 PM
Did anybody happen to catch that PBS program with Alan Alda about the use of computers to track eye movement in sports competition? It was pretty interesting stuff on eye movement and aiming in sports like golf and tennis. They made some interesting observations about where your vision should be focused to improve aiming and shot execution. They called it "quiet eye". Any views on the subject?

04-04-2002, 04:59 PM
I caught a similar program a few years ago on the Discovery channel. This caused me to track down some of the researchers involvedwith the hope that some of this stuff could apply to billiards.

The term "quiet eye" was coined by professor Joan Vickers at the University of Calgary center for Human Performance Institute. A recent, (rather involved and technical) study (I have a copy of it) was done by professor Robert Singer at the University of Florida, researching the "qiuet eye" phenomena, and he used as his test subjects........billiard players!

See an article at:


The upshot of his research was that pool players that had the longest quiet eye duration - those who focused the longest on meaningful objects such as a cueball and object ball - before shooting, were the most successful with their shots.

Another finding was that if you compare low skilled players with highly skilled players, the highly skilled players had significantly longer quiet eye durations.

Also (and this is interesting) when a highly skilled player missed a shot, it was almost always preceded by a shorter than usual quiet eye duration!

Some of this research falls into the category of "reverse engineering" the technique, based on emulating what the good players do. So if good players have long quiet eye durations, then a good idea for a successful training routine is to try and adopt some of the successful strategies used by skilled players right from the beginning.

Jerry Briesath's pause at the cueball, and Allison Fisher's pause at the backswing are both methods that can help achieve a consistently long quiet eye duration imo.


Cueless Joey
04-04-2002, 05:07 PM
You da man Tony. Great scoop.

04-04-2002, 05:22 PM
Great stuff Tony...thank you Thank You, THANK YOU! I think I love you! Well...I certainly appreciate you.

04-04-2002, 06:28 PM
Nice catch TONY!!!!

Scott Lee
04-04-2002, 06:35 PM
Tony...Thanks for the GREAT article! I am going to contact those people and see if I can participate in the next study. I use, and teach this same "quiet eye" theory, albeit with a slightly different take. It would be interesting to see if my ability to focus on the CB last successfully (sometimes for several seconds before the backswing and execution of the stroke) would impact the results of the study. Obviously, MOST poolplayers focus more on the OB last, using the 'quiet eye' concept, than on the CB, like I do. Thanks for sharing!

Scott Lee

04-04-2002, 06:49 PM

Great article! I learned about eye movement patterns and focusing in RandyG's Pool School and have been playing better since. I'm no longer playing "peek-a-boo" with the CB and OB.


04-04-2002, 07:36 PM
Scott Lee wrote:

"I use, and teach this same "quiet eye" theory, albeit with a slightly different take. It would be interesting to see if my ability to focus on the CB last successfully (sometimes for several seconds before the backswing and execution of the stroke) would impact the results of the study."

Well that would be interesting! What makes pool unique amongst most other sports that involve aiming at a stationary target, is that we actually have two targets: the cueball (the tip contact point to be exact) and the object ball.

I'll re-read the data from Professor Singer's study, and see how much time the skilled players spent on the cueball versus the object ball.

Regarding this issue for one second, I think that a case could be made that the greatest amount of quiet eye time should be spent on the primary target. However, there are two targets in pool (as I said). But it could be stated that which target is defined as "primary" would depend on the relative "value" of that target in the successful completion of the shot.

So for shots that are highly dependant on the tip location (masse shots, jump shots, jacked up shots, frozen to the rail shots etc.) it makes sense to regard the cueball as the primary target, and therefore it should get the bulk of the "quiet eye" dwell time.

But for shots where the object ball contact point is critical (difficult long pots, many Snooker shots etc.) it makes sense to make the object ball as the primary target, and therefore it should get the bulk of the "quiet eye" dwell time.

So for me, it is not a question of cueball versus object ball, but rather, which target should be primary in the case at hand.

So therefore, I feel that it is best to teach an "appropriate" quiet eye target, which could be either the cueball or the object ball, depending on the sensitivity to the success of the shot at hand.

I don't think that it should be an either or issue.


04-04-2002, 07:37 PM
Let's not get carried away Jim!

-sheesh, you might not even be my type!

04-05-2002, 01:05 AM
Tony, thank you for the link to a good article. The concept is not new news, but using an infrared or sensor must be fairly new. It's good to see someone decided to do a study.
Since the 70's I've used a similar theory. I'll also add to that, being able to stay focused on any small object for extended amounts of time. This can be anything, including just a part of a painting as an example. When you lose focus it "blends in". Like looking at a dotted celing. Of course when you blink or have an eye twitch the focus is gone. It helps train the eyes. We all are guilty at times of staring, and not having a precise focus. It takes patience and training to get and stay focused.
This subject could get very indepth, and beyond my limited knowledge, but when anyone plays, check to see how precise your aim is and not merely a stare. Almost anyone can learn to keep their eyes quiet or improve that area a great deal. I have been a little lax in that area also, so this thread is a good reminder.

04-06-2002, 08:10 PM
Rod, this thread on the "quiet eye" made me wonder if there might be a correlation between a "quiet eye" and a "quiet mind." Perhaps being in a detached, meditative, non-anxious mind set allows a longer dwell time on the target? In my own play, anxiety or stress seems to make it difficult to attain a sustained focus on the OB just prior to delivering the stroke.

Scott Lee
04-06-2002, 08:29 PM
Tony...I agree, both methods have their uses. I just happen to prefer CB last, and use it for most shots. Interesting article.


04-06-2002, 09:28 PM
This is my shooting eye http://www.gifanimations.com/animation3/eyes/eyes_056.gif I can't figure out where I look last but I do miss quite often /ccboard/images/icons/smile.gif

04-06-2002, 10:51 PM
A very good point Bill, and I'm sure a quiet mind would help quiet eye or focus. You know the old saying, do your thinking away from the table. Sometimes though it is difficult, when you have "things" on you mind. I still think it can be improved, even in this situation. I think a person has an idea that something may not be right. So rather than just shoot, why not get up from the shot? Evaluate the shot again and take you stance. Even if it takes more than one time. When your focused on the shot then shoot. I also think people have a tendacy to call it, "good enough" and settle for second best. Which is not the correct part of the pocket, or the end rail!
Lets face it, patience is a gift in this game, and a gift that keeps on giving.

Last night during play I had to take my stance three times during one shot. That is very rare for me. I just couldn't set and feel comfortable with my aim, and c/b control. It paid off because the shot come off as I expected.

04-08-2002, 11:21 AM
Well Tony, after having read this post thread and that article, last Thursday night I tried focusing more intently and purposefully at the OB and CB. The results were more pocketed balls and less anxiety over my problem shots (severe cut shots, short or long).

Last weekend at Corner I incorporated my new purposeful focus and noticed that I was nailing long, severe cut shots that were unnerving my opponents. I mean the kind that the OB is maybe 1" or so off the middle of the short rail and the CB is 6 feet away about in the middle of the table, too, about 90 degrees to the short rail. I hit about 5 of those that I haven't been able to do in a long, long time. Now mind you, I just got my eyes checked on my yearly exam and am corrected to 20/15, but I do think that by focusing more intently and purposefully at both the CB and OB, I was pocketing balls better. Plus, focusing longer on my shot quieted me and I was less anxious on those "don't choke on these" shots. In fact, those words didn't even enter my mind's conscious.

Needless to say, I'm going to be working on this.


Cueless Joey
04-08-2002, 02:10 PM
Now, we need to keep this in secrecy. LOL
Helped me last night too. Wuz playin' some cheap money games. Funny things happened when I just focused at the ghost ball more intently.

04-08-2002, 03:32 PM
Did you just call me "Barbs"??? "BARBS"?????

Sic 'em, Kato!!!

Barbara~~~note full spelling...

Cueless Joey
04-08-2002, 03:45 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Barbara:</font><hr> Did you just call me "Barbs"??? "BARBS"?????

Sic 'em, Kato!!!

Barbara~~~note full spelling... <hr></blockquote>..........
Didn't Redford call Streisand ( I know you spell yours with an extra A) that during the Oscars? " A sequel Barbs?"
Referring to The Way We Were, of course. Still a great flick and song.

04-08-2002, 08:05 PM
I'm not Streisand! (although I wouldn't mind having her money)

Sic 'em Kato!! Kato, SIC 'EM!!!! Go for the ankles!!!

Barbara~~~wondering where Kato is when you need him...