FINDING THE STROKING LINE, setting up your feet, and developing and preparing your bridge hand for each shot all require attention before your stance is complete. What about the stroking arm though; doesn’t that need preparation, too? Absolutely.
Your stroking arm is basically your weapon in pool and you need to prep it or position it before dropping into your stance. It is similar to a fighter positioning his arms and body right before throwing a punch.
First, the feet are positioned and stabilized, then the torso is turned and the punching arm is cocked back and ready to punch. In pool the feet are set, the torso turns and the stroking arm gets locked and ready to load into the stroking line, along with the prepped bridge.
I like to teach putting your grip, wrist, elbow and shoulder all on the stroking line for the ideal alignment. This allows your stroke to swing vertically back and forth from your elbow, which serves as a hinge.
Granted, as proven by the great players with sidearm or underarm strokes, a perfectly vertical alignment is not necessary; just ideal.
Those sidearm players still set up the same every time on the stroking line and have tremendous hand-eye coordination and lots of practice to keep the cue in a straight line. The side arm also serves them by keeping their stroke away from their body. This will be achieved with my recommendations. Plus, you will have the benefits of a vertical pendulum motion with your forearm.
The stroking line is actually within a vertical plane as well, and it is in this plane where the grip, wrist, elbow and shoulder of the stroking arm reside when they are in the textbook stance.
My main point here is to have you try and get all these components inside the vertical stroking plane before and as you bend down into your stance. Now, by the time you are down, you know your stroking machine is already dialed into the shot.
You can actually configure your arm into a plane at any time and then place that plane right into the stroking plane. So, just like making a bridge before placing it on the table, you can lock in your stroking arm before taking your stance. In time, your whole stroking arm drops into the stroking plane as one unit ready to fire.
Eventually, your form will blend into one entity with all the pieces working together in perfect unison. Until you get there, each piece will take plenty of work to develop and will most likely feel awkward or strange in the earliest stages. This is normal. It is like learning a language or learning to dance. You must learn the vocabulary and then how to put it all together, and with lots of practice it eventually all flows together with ease.
Now you can speak, dance, and play pool, right? Part of the fun is enjoying the learning process while knowing in your heart that you will get there with patience, persistence, and determination.
Copyright 2003 Max Eberle. All rights reserved.