IT IS ESSENTIAL TO DEVELOP and maintain a consistent pattern of eye movement if you want to be consistently successful at the pool table. Your system should be focused and deliberate for maximum accuracy, efficient enough to help maintain rhythm, and relaxed enough to prevent confusion.
As a general rule for your practice strokes, look at the cue ball as you stroke toward it and until your cue stops near it, and look at the contact point on the object ball through and until the end of your back swing. Within your routine, you may choose to look at either the cue ball or object ball for one or more strokes in order to really key in on your accuracy. The reason you look at the cue ball when your tip is extended, is to prepare for the accurate cueing of the ball. That is also why you stroke directly towards the exact spot you want to strike. Remember, it is like a dress rehearsal for your stroke, so pay attention.
The reason to look at the object ball when you start your practice back swings is partially to keep your stroke on line (see article on page 87). You also need ample time to focus on the contact point (which is what I suggest looking at on 99% of your shots, however it is possible to look at the cue ball last) before you strike the cue ball. On your practice strokes you are verifying the contact point and making sure you are lined up to hit it. You are also verifying the stroking line and making sure your aim looks correct.
Now, it is up to you to put these ingredients together in a way that suits your own style; in particular, the number and speed of your strokes. It might be a good idea watch closely and learn from top players’ eye patterns. Once you develop a system that works for you, be sure to use it in all situations. Sometimes the pressure of a match may disrupt your eye pattern and throw you off a bit. Try to get back into your pattern as soon as possible. Your eyes are amazing instruments and they will let you know if everything is on line—try using them in coordination with your cue stick.
Copyright 2000 Max Eberle. All Rights Reserved.