CueTips Billiard Instruction – What Are You Looking At?

Posted on by Alison Fischer

By NYC Grind Contributor, Mark Finkelstein

I’m off to Chicago this afternoon for the BCA Summit. I always have a great time at these events, meeting old friends, making new ones, and surrounded by pool. That is about what I think heaven is all about!

This week I want to look at something that we almost take for granted. It is where our head is in relation to our cue stick. I think a lot of us never really thought about where we put our head when we started to play pool, and developed a sight picture around this random head placement.

As creatures with two eyes, we are biologically designed to use our two eyes to see a three dimensional world. For pool players and billiards players, this means that holding your head up higher gives you a better 3 dimensional picture that helps for billiards play.

Snooker players on the other hand have a much different problem. They have to pocket very small balls into unforgiving pockets. Most snooker players have their head down really low, with their chin dragging on the cue stick.

I’ve seen pool players go from chin draggers to higher up and all are able to play well.

The next question about head placement is where do I put my chin? Is it directly over the stick? Off to the left or right? Or do I put my cue stick under my dominant eye? Does this really matter?

Well from watching top players over the years it seems that there is no one right answer! Some are high, some low, some with the dominant eye over the cue stick, some off to the side. So what are we to do to optimize our ability to play pool?

I think the best way to figure out how you see correctly is to go to the table and try a controlled experiment. Set this shot up.

This is a shot that a lot of players have trouble with. Now what we want to do is keep our head height the same, and change where we have our chin over the stick. You might try to the left of the cue stick, then on top of the cue stick, and even to the right of the cue stick.

Shoot ten shots from each position. Here is what I found out for me. ?I shoot about 75 to 80% with my dominant eye over the cue stick and my head slightly above the cue stick. That is about the best position for me. Anything else and my make percentage falls off.

I would suggest that you shoot this shot over a period of a week keeping track of how you do with different head positions.

The next shot that will help you drill in to your optimal head position is the spot shot.

Again, shoot ten each of these shots from various head positions, trying to find the optimal place for you. Hopefully this optimal place will be the same for the cut shot to the right and the cut shot to the left.

Some things to watch to make sure these trial runs are indicative of your vision is to make sure you use the same bridge distance and same speed.

Again, do these shots for a week and keep track. Hopefully at the end of a week or so, you will see a trend that will lead you to your optimal head position. This is a valuable piece of information for improving your pool game.

MENTAL TRAINING TIP:

Everyone wants something for nothing! We are all looking for that magic pill that will make our pool game better. Well, here it is. If you do these next few things on every shot, your pool game will improve. Guaranteed.

Here they are: use a loose grip, pull your cue stick back slowly, shoot softly, get your eyes to the target early, keep your head still, and put your bridge down in the same spot every time. That’s it.

Do each one of these on every shot and your game will improve.

See you on the road in Chicago or Atlanta!

Mark Finkelstein is the House Pro at Slate Billiards on 21st Street in Manhattan.

If you have questions, or would like to see a particular topic addressed, you can email Mark at mark@nycgrind.com.

About Alison Fischer

NYC Grind Editor & Contributor
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