.....When I was learning how to play
pool there were no books, no videos, no instructors and no leagues
to play in. The best way to learn was to watch. I was privileged
to see some of the greatest and some of the not so great. My
purpose for publishing my pointers insrtuctional column is not
only to inpart pool knowledge to my viewers but to share with the
public what these great players from the 1980s and 1990s looked
like. Through my trusty Canon, for a moment in time they are immortalized.
Some are still here and some are gone and I still remember the
joy of watching them play.
SEE THE FOREST AND THE TREE
The Contact Point Is At The End Of The Path
.....AFTER TWENTY SOME ODD YEARS OF TEACHING I’ve noticed a common habit of beginner and intermediate players when viewing a shot. They usually try to look at a combination from very close up. And for the most part, they use that same technique when aiming at a single ball, physically pointing their stick from the center of the cue ball to the contact point on the object ball. Now I agree that you should look closely at a combination or your point of aim on a single ball. But as an experienced player, I look at both the combination and the line of the combination or shot. This discussion is not so much about shooting combinations as it is about standing back from your shots to see the line of aim.
.....BONNIE HOFFMAN played pool on the national scene for about ten years. Here she is lining up her dominant eye for a nine ball combination during the 1986 Classic Cup. As she envisages the line she is figuring out the converging place on the nine ball. Then she configures the line from the five ball to that spot and works her way back to the cue ball’s center. And she makes all her calculations standing about two feet away from the shot.
.....One time, Gloria Walker, winner of both the first two Womens Professional Billiard Association events ever held, and I were driving to a tournament in Illinois. (See more on Gloria…) For hours all we saw were cornfields on both sides of the road. Looking at the fields from so close up prevented us from seeing the beautiful Illinois countryside. Those were the days when there were no iPods or even CD players in your car. If you lost radio reception there were no options to listening to anything other than each other’s chatter or the sound of the tires on the pave way. A boring but necessary activity for two pool zealots looking for organized competition. To break the doldrums, I turned to Gloria and said, “Why did we stop here?” The point being that the scenery never changed so it seemed like we never moved. To this day, we still laugh about the comment. But dear reader, I digress…
.....The idea I’m putting forth is you cannot only look at a shot or combination from close up. You have to step back and see the entire path of the line. You must ‘see’ the forest and the tree. The line of the combination starts at least a foot or more in back of the shot. And, in the same way as when aiming at a single ball, your aim starts at your feet and works its way up to the point of contact on the ball being hit.
.....LARRY GERACITANO, who hails from Niagara Falls, NY, knows the value of inspecting a 14.1 pool rack for combinations. Stepping back from the pack, he has a better chance of seeing the line of aim for his discovered combo. In a combination, the final line of aim is the imagined line from one object ball towards another object ball’s target point that will allow the desired object ball in the combination to be pocketed. Preliminary, you need to see the line of aim from that set of balls first. Then you must see the center of your cue ball to the point of contact on the ball you will initially strike. You’ll want to work backwards from the final contact point on the pocketed ball to the secondary ball and then to the cue ball. (Yes, sometimes there are more than two balls in the combination that have to be taken into account.)
.....It is wise to line up the center of your head or your dominant eye with the line of aim of the combo. The cue stick must then be aligned with the center of your head or right below your dominant eye to see the secondary line to the opening ball in the combo. Experiment with different body positions to see what head alignment works best for you. The important thing is to keep your head flawlessly vertical to the floor and not tilted left or right. I usually take a photo of my students with my cell phone camera when they are lined up correctly and give it to them as a guideline.
....Look at shots from further back and above the table to see the correct shot alignment, whether it be for a combination or single ball. Get down to shoot directly on that sight line. Do not try to
‘re-aim’ after you’re down at the table. If necessary, get back up and take a second look from above if you’re unsure rather than trying to adjust your aim when you are already down. If an
adjustment is made, make it a tiny one.
Survey the entire cornfield and beyond rather than the first row of corn.
Pool Pointer Archives
.....1. Closed Half-Bridge
... .2. Look Before You Leap
.....3. Mechanically Inclined
.....4. Keep A Level Cue
.....5. Double or Nothing
.....6. Chalk It Up
.....7. V-Bridge It To Victory
.....8. The Right Combination
.....9. Referees; Unsung heros
...10. Don't Lag Behind
...11. Tongue Twister; Mouth Pool
...12. Read The Right Angle
...13. Don't Let Your Draw Stroke Be a Drawback
...14. Under and Over
...15. Kangaroos & Big Pockets
...16. Find The Path To The Contact Point
in for more Pointer articles coming
your way each month.