Regardless of where you’re at in your billiards journey, there will always be a few billiard tips destined to improve your game at each stage of progression. Generally, the occasional player begins honing their skills much too aggressively, resulting in a poor mastering of the fundamentals of billiards.
Learning and practicing as much as possible is vital for any beginner or seasoned player hoping to brush up on their skills and advance. Failure to learn and understand the basics of pool will hold back even the most eager players.
Take the proper amount of time to understand the game. Knowing the rules, and the various executions required will increase a player’s skill and enjoyment simultaneously. Use the following billiard tips to make you a stronger, more confident player.
Build Your Cornerstone
Before any balls can get rolling, your hands, arms, and body need to be in a stable position. This requires balance control and correct feet placement to create the strongest striking position. One that will withstand the occasional bump from a passerby. This is especially important if you enjoy playing in bars or other areas that are generally crowded.
With a solid lower body position in place, the hand bridge comes next. Beginners often use the open hand bridge, with the index finger and thumb connecting to form a ‘V’ and the palm flat on the table.
The swing of your cue is vital in shot accuracy, speed, and trick shots. Beginners often fall into the temptation of whacking the object ball with as much strength as they can muster, assuming this will allow for greater control and accuracy.
This is false, as shooting too fast will only cause balls to fly or roll wildly without aim. To mitigate this, hold the cue with a loose grip, just barely gripping it with the ends of your fingers. Your palm should not touch the cue–imagine the cue is hanging from your fingers.
With your cornerstone built and ready for action, take a few moments to align and prepare for each shot. The swing of your cue should only be powered by your forearm, another crucial aspect often overlooked by beginners.
It is tempting to swing with a motion similar to throwing a ball, using the upper arm, shoulders, and even the upper body, but this will overpower your shots much like a grip that is too strong. Instead, consider your stroke to be a pendulum swing, hinging from your elbow.
Your backswing should remain slow and controlled regardless of your shot distance or type, while the front swing controls power and speed.
Once this groundwork is in place, practice your aim by imagining a ghost ball where you want to strike the object ball. This will create a more precise aim, rather than aiming in the general direction of your object ball and hoping your cue ball will hit it in the spot you’d like. In addition, your aim should come from your entire body and not your cue alone. Align your chin above the cue and your shoulders, feet, and core along this imagined centre line. This will give you a stronger aim, as everything in your stance and position is geared for precision.
Prioritize Control Over Speed
As aforementioned, there is a common misconception that hitting the ball hard will result in better aim and essentially force your object ball down into a pocket. This seems natural, but true control comes from strokes that are soft and controlled. This is especially important when shooting angled shots and tight shots, as sending your object ball careening around the table may knock your opponent’s balls into pockets or better align them for an easy shot.
Following through on your strokes is important as well, as this further engrains the motion into your mind and body and keeps shots from falling short. Try to aim your cue four to six inches past your object ball to get a complete range of motion. Additionally, ensure that you’ve chalked your cue before each strike. The chalk helps the grip between the tip of the pool cue and the ball, an aspect vitally important in aiming true.
Play And Practice Methodically
Jumping right into a game of pool sounds like a fun and easy way to quickly increase your skills, but this instinct may work to harm your progression rather than enable it. Additionally, shooting balls to and fro without any real goal behind your practice will, unfortunately, lead to a slower progression as a player.
Instead, consider replacing the all-in mentality with one of controlled, broad progression and switch out random strike practicing with drills and real-game setups. Practicing in any sense or amount will bolster your skills, but choosing drills that focus on problem areas you hope to lockdown is a great way to become a well-seasoned billiards player.
A beneficial drill for beginners is the center drill, which aims to enforce consistent center hits. Hitting center and true is another vital pool skill to possess, but this can only be obtained through careful practice.
Try hitting your cue ball into the opposite table wall–a true center strike will send the ball right back to the tip of your cue. Hitting dead center is a finicky, frustrating feat to accomplish, but using center drills will make the process much less intimidating and make you an overall better player.
Allow Failure To Teach
Losing a match or hitting balls wrong over and over again is an understandably difficult, frustrating thing to experience. However, allowing what goes wrong to teach you how to make it right is the best (and free) way to improve.
If a particular shot costs you a game, practice it until you have it mastered.
If you’re struggling to aim accurately, take the time to calm down and focus, as oftentimes the only threat to your game is yourself.
Pool is not a game of chance, nor a game of pure skill. Like chess, playing billiards takes strategy and a clear plan of action that you must create and adjust. Hoping to get lucky will only set you up for disappointment, but a careful strategy will focus your mind and body on the final objective.
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