Pool Instructions From The Master Player

Take My Pool Instructions Like You've Taken Aspirin, You'll Feel Better Tomorrow

pool instructions, pool instruction, billiards, pool aiming
Take these pool instructions then call me in the morning... Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Pool instructions are my bag, friends. It's what keeps me going at this GuideSite. For a detailed look at practicing pool and aiming pool, check out my reponses to a letter today where I give simple and (dare I say?) profound pool instructions:

"Mr. Sherman,

Thank you for your About.com website.

I have researched many pool instructional materials and much of it I found not to work for me, at least in the way it was presented, so I tried to develop my own ways and watching pool players play as some kind of guide. But I found I would be inconsistent, doing really well sometimes and doing poorly other times.

So I am re-dedicating myself to fundamentals and I am using your website as the main resource for this.

Great! I emphasize not only fundamentals, but the basics I feel are incorrect or inelegant on other sites and in other books. Students who use the fundamentals I suggest improve--Matt

I played pool at an early age but did not really get beyond hitting one ball in at a time. Then I came back to pool after about 12 years and joined an APA 9-ball league, which motivates me to work on my game.

There is a lot of knowledge on your website, so there is much more for me to look at.

My current pool goal is to be able to consistently run racks of 9-ball, and I was taught the ghost player method I think it's called or some other names - where you set a goal for points, and break, and get ball in hand, and try and make as many balls as you can until you miss, and then you do it again for 10 racks, trying to reach your point goal.

Yes, this is called "playing the ghost" and not to be confused with the ghost ball method of pool aiming. Playing the ghost is not the best practice for your personal pool instructing but it can be less than boring!

So that is really my goal, because I notice there is a difference between players that can run racks, and those that can't. It is sort of like a marker, and there are a lot of areas I would like to work on as far as pool is concerned, but I have to be confident about my pocketing ability before I can move on to the finer details of the game.

Yes and no. You can work on both at once. But as you develop a smooth, gentle stroke for your basic shotmaking, it will soon be easier to determine your aiming misses and correct them, leading to better and better shotmaking.

If you hit the ball hard and fast all the time instead, you can hardly tell whether you tend to aim too thinly or too thick on angled shots.

So I figure going through your website, looking at your pool instructions, what you have to say about the fundamentals, and practicing, hopefully I can eventually reach my goal.

One thing I want to mention about practicing your articles, and you can respond if you so choose, is that I did the ghost ball correction to aim from the center of the entry point of the pocket like you suggest, and then when I am actually down on the shot I use the edge to edge aim - and also when I bend down I get straight down with my head and trunk in the stance you suggest, and then I adjust the head slightly towards the cue ball.

When I do this whole process I notice that sometimes I get a really good idea about where to send the cue ball, and other times there is some doubt in my head, like somehow I am not seeing the shot correctly when down. This always takes place when I am at the final stage of applying the edge to edge method when down on the shot.

I have played around with aligning my vision with the cue stick, like maybe this is the issue. However, I still have to practice more with it. If you have any input into what might be causing this doubt in my head with seeing the correct trajectory the cue ball should take when hitting the object ball to the pocket, during the final stage of being down implementing the edge to edge method, feel free to let me know.

My response may seem over simple to you to correct this problem, but it's right here for everyone to see. If I'm sighted correctly before I take the stance, including centering on the cue ball and choosing the edge or point of contact on the object ball, it should also not wobble in my vision in my stance...

Further, most players will not be helped by using the cue stick to adjust aim. For most, the stick is only seen using peripheral vision. Getting the balls to be clear in your sight and feeling "on" as you described, that's the key. Don't bend to the stance until it's "on".

Just to summarize, I read your pool instructions, your articles about the stance and the adjustment to the ghost ball, and sight the ghost ball when standing up in order to find where to point the cue stick, get straight down, then adjust the head slightly towards the cue stick, and then look for the edge to edge for any adjustment I might need to make, and it is at this exact moment of looking at the edge to edge that sometimes while down on the shot that sometimes doubt creeps in, and I miss the shot, like I am not seeing the shot correctly.

Again, the choices are all to be made and finalized before bending to the stance..

Usually when I can see the shot and the doubt is not there, the ball goes in.

Hopefully I have provided enough information for you to know what I am talking about, based on reading your articles and on providing some feedback about applying what is in your articles.

Thank you. --David"

David, thanks for sharing your aim issues. They are a lot more common than you think. They only went away completely from my game once I truly committed to choosing the aim point(s) before bending to shoot.

The confirmation taken from the stance, therefore, is only that I am aimed where I wish on the cue ball, not the object ball, for spin/no spin/english/no english, etc.

Next, let's review some other reader questions that are likely to help still other readers also. And thanks for following my pool instructions where you can. They won't hurt your game in any way.

You Know What? You're Never Too Old To Learn Pool Instructions From A Master

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