Get Better At Pool With These 6 Tips
Picture this, you have your perfect man cave and invite all of your friends over for a pool tournament. You stroll in full of confidence, ready to take on all comers! Then boom, you lose the first game in front of everyone, in the tournament that you created!
Let’s face it, starting a pool tournament and losing can feel embarrassing. Having your man cave comes with the need to be the best at pool among your friends, especially on home soil! If you’ve got the determination to win and you’d like to know what you can do to bring your pool skills up to scratch, here are 5 tips to elevate your game to the next level.
Grip Is Everything
Have you ever been lining up a great shot from across the pool table, confident of how great it will look when you sink it, only for the cue ball to go completely off course when you finally take your shot? The reason for this could well be how you grip the cue!
Beginners to pool think that a tight grip means enhanced accuracy, and they are seriously mistaken! An extremely tight grip on the pool cue is definitely not the way to go when taking your shot. Having a tight grip can mean you do not have a stable base for your cue to rest on and, as a result, could result in your cue going anywhere and accuracy going out the window! Holding the cue too tightly can raise the butt of the cue when you take your shot and takes away any accuracy you may have had.
The best way to gain this accuracy may be practicing with a light, loose grip instead. This allows the cue to lightly rest in your hands and maintain a horizontal base, rather than raising just before you strike the ball. There isn’t really a right or wrong level of grip to hold the cue with, so it is best to try out different levels of grip and find what gives you the best accuracy. Once you have it, stick with it! This could make all the difference when trying to hit that next game-winning shot.
Solids or Stripes? Does it Matter?
Is there really a difference between choosing spots or stripes? Well, not in the balls themselves, but after the break, looking at the placement of each set of balls can make or break your game, before you’ve even taken a shot! Before you take your shot, take a long look around the table and visualise which set would be easier for you to sink in that game. You want a set that is spread out (preferably in the middle of the table), not a set bunched together in more compromising positions.
Angles Are Important
Being good at pool doesn’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with being a star in geometry. Playing pool regularly will help you get used to the different angles required to sink different shots, and will hopefully become second nature in your pool game. To be able to sink that potentially game-deciding shot, being familiar with your angles can prove pivotal!.
It may be useful to take a little walk around the table before you take your shot. This will help you to visualise your shot from multiple angles and will give a better overview of the angle required for the shot. Many people just hit the ball and hope for the best, but hitting that sweet point of the ball and sinking a tricky shot is unrivalled in how good it feels. Getting to know your pool angles, and the amount of power you need to use as a result, is a potentially game-winning skill that you need to master.
Chalk Your Cue
Sometimes, a shot may require a delicate finishing touch, and can be a bit trickier to sink. In this situation, you want to give yourself the best possible chance of sinking your shot, and having a maximum amount of grip on your cue can make the difference between almost sinking a good shot, and landing a fantastic shot that changes the path of the game. But the amount of chalk isn’t the only factor that comes into play, having a good chalking technique can also make the difference (yes, there’s a right way to do it!). A common mistake people make is not chalking their cue regularly enough. You should apply some chalk to your cue tip before every shot to make sure your accuracy doesn’t slip!
In order to properly chalk your pool cue, use a swift and straight motion with the chalk across the cue tip from one side to the other. You want an even distribution of chalk across the pool cue, and spinning the chalk on top of the pool cue is definitely not the way to do this. Spinning the chalk on your cue tip just wastes chalk and means you won’t get an even distribution across your cue.
Work On Your Bridge
What’s do a great Pool player and San Francisco Bay have in common? They both have a great bridge!
Terrible jokes aside, a bridge in Pool refers to the support that one of your hands makes that allows you to connect the cue with the cue ball. The bridge hand is whichever one is not holding the cue, and is instead on the table. A great pool player will teach themselves to take a good shot with either hand, giving them the best chance of sinking almost any shot. However, if you can’t do this or just prefer to shoot with your dominant hand, make sure you practice your bridge as much as possible in that stance.
A solid bridge, when combined with a strong and stable stance, is one of the best skills to learn when looking to improve your pool game. There is no magical guide to creating the perfect bridge, it is instead up to the player to find the best technique to suit them. There is no perfect way to bridge, as not every stance and bridge works for every pool player. The only criteria is that your bridge is stable, and allows you to hit consistent shots. As long as it is an action that is repeatable for you, it’s a strong bridge. Whatever works for you, is the best way to do it!
Imagine an Aiming Line
No matter the shot you’re lining up, the path to your chosen pocket isn’t always too clear. However, you should always know which pocket you’re aiming for and find the centre of the target pocket when lining up your shot.
Imagine a line running from the centre of your chosen pocket to the centre of the ball you plan on hitting. This imaginary aiming line should continue through your target ball and all the way to the cue ball. This should allow you to line up and make contact with the centre point of the target ball.
In your head, follow your line all the way from the centre of the target pocket through the target and cue ball. When you’re ready to shoot, follow the line and make sure to target the area of your target ball that falls directly on your line.
When practicing, try to make these imaginary lines a regular part of your pre-shot routine. Soon, they will become a natural part of every shot and will allow you to visualise your shot with much more accuracy.
It’s a common issue that pool players have, do you put a lot of power behind your shot? Does hitting the ball harder ensure you pocket it? In short, not really. For some shots, this works, but for others, you want to reduce the power you put on your shot so the target ball simply drops in the pocket. It all depends on the length of your shot and where you want the cue ball to be after you’ve hit your target ball. Controlling the power you put on a shot will help improve accuracy and make you a better player.
You’re all set!
Now that you have these tips and tricks in your arsenal, you’re ready to take on that next pool match! Now, let’s put this list to use and get that winning streak going!