SOFTLY NOW

HOW CAN YOU HIT the cue ball very softly and still get a good stroke and follow-through? Well, the idea behind a regular stroke is to be accelerating through the cue ball, like you are throwing the cue ball through it. If you need to hit the cue ball very softly and you take a full backswing, you will have to decelerate or have a slow monotonous stroke in order to get a soft hit. This could take away from your touch.

To get a nice soft hit, take a short or very short backswing. One way to accomplish this is by moving your bridge hand to within just inches of the cue ball. Or you could have your normal length bridge but just do not pull your cue back all the way to your bridge hand (see middle photo on page 75).

Notice that when you are just trying to touch the cue ball and not really move it, you put your cue tip right next to the cue ball before striking it. How far you pull your backswing back for different soft speeds depends mainly on the feel you develop as you play more and more.

In order to develop your soft shot backswing distances and touch, here are a couple of useful drills. The first one I call “teeter-totter.” The idea is to hit the object ball so softly that it travels to the lip of the pocket and hesitates before dropping. You want to pocket the ball at the softest speed possible. Practice shots of all distances between both the object ball and the pocket, and the cue ball and object ball. Also set up shots of all different angles. If you are not familiar with this, I suspect you will be surprised at just how softly you can hit the ball and still make it.

The other drill is to shoot towards random object balls with the goal of having the cue ball barely make it to that ball, touch it, and remain frozen to it or stay within four inches or less distance from it after contact. Practice this from all distances and even with kick shots of one or more rails (a kick is where the cue ball strikes a rail before hitting the object ball). These drills will certainly make you a better-rounded player.

Copyright 2003 Max Eberle. All Rights Reserved.

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