In the last three articles I have covered the fundamentals and types of stance, how it relates to your shooting technique and thirdly, your level of comfort and how it relates to the time involved in your game.
In this article I am going to discuss a couple other characteristics that are important in this one aspect your technique.
More specific characteristics of stance:
1. Zero angle of shoulders
Zero angle of a shoulder is a position of the arm in which it has the greatest amplitude of motion without using additional musculature. If you try to make a circle with both of your arms simultaneously you will notice that the arms meet at the center of the body and so in order to make the greatest amplitude of motion you have to make circles under angle of 45 degrees in relation to your shoulders.
This is the angle where the arm freely circles and that angle is dictated by the shoulder’s range of motion.
If during a game, you keep the angle of your back arm and shoulders 45 degrees then your hand will move freely and in a straight line back and forward. And if you hold the cue in your hand it will move in the same manner which is an elementary principle for a proper cue technique for executing a shot.
This story’s conclusion about the zero angle of a shoulder is that when you hold a cue with your arm spread next to your body, it must form an angle of 45 degrees with your shoulders and when you lower yourself into stance you must lower yourself next to the cue in the angle of 45 degrees in the direction of the line of a shot in order for your cue to move in a straight line.
2. Eye height
Constancy of your eye height is vital for accurate aiming. Our goal is that our eyes always be in the same line as the table except for the break, masse and jump shots.
Why is that important? The answer is simple.
Imagine that you have a rifle with the best possible scope and imagine that someone is always moving your scope left—right. How accurate would you be? The next logical question is how do we maintain constant position of our eyes?
Snooker players solved that by placing their heads directly on the cue so that their eyes would be in line with the shot. But in pool, balls are much bigger and we tend to give extra spin (often unnecessary). The shots are executed with more power so that position would be inadequate.
I advise you, as my coach Ralf Eckert advised me, to place your chin four fingers length above the cue, so when you are executing a draw shot the cues gets closer to the chin but the chin doesn’t affect the cue.This makes possible the execution of powerful draw shots and great amplitude of hand motion—stretch.
But many of you saw that a lot of professional players keep their cue on the chin. Why is that? In time when you develop the quality of your stroke and shots so much, low energy shots with good timing and a nice hit can help you succeed to get greater effects. Then you can begin slowly to lower your head nearer to the cue—especially in the perfect competition conditions (new cloth, clean balls, quality rails, normal temperature and humidity).
Many of us don’t train in such conditions so that approach in the beginning would be complicated and it wouldn’t allow you to gradually develop your technique. My advice to beginners is to start with the four fingers above the cue and after a year or two steadily lower their heads if they feel the need for it.
In the end of this story about stance, I will compile everything in one string of motions that will place you in a perfect position for playing under one condition—that you are using a ghost ball aiming system. Some other systems need corrections with the stance, but we might talk about that sometime in the future.
In this picture you can see the starting position of the body before entering into stance. As you can notice the cue is 45 degrees in relation to the shoulders and hips, and the head and the body are in the line of the shot. In this phase you visualize the movement of the cue ball to the object ball and their contact for making the shot. When you determine the line of cue ball to pot the object ball you must “lock the chin”—freeze the chin over the line of the shot.
Keeping the chin on the line of the shot rotate the body rotate the body for 45 degrees so your cue comes in the line of the shot. During a rotation you notice that your back leg positions itself below the cue in the same angle as the shoulders—45 degrees so the whole body is equally rotated and moved next to the cue. The shoulder, elbow, hand and whole right arm are 90 degrees in relation to your cue and you will keep that during lowering yourself into stance.
While you are learning to position yourself into stance you assure to be in the correct angles when you lower yourself into stance.
On the third picture you can see that the cue is right in front of the cue ball and it is in line of the shot.
In order to place yourself at the right distance off the cue ball first you make a small step with your right leg, keeping the foot below the position of the cue at 45 degrees, so that the cue “cuts” the foot in the line of the joint with which your thumb and little finger are connected with the foot. The second step was with your left leg away from the cue so you can maintain the broadness of the stance, keeping the general angle of the body and the cue in 45 degree relation, which is the zero angle of the shoulders.
In the last phase, in order to lower yourself into stance you should step with your left leg forward. With that beside the broadness, we get the longitude of the stance, with a very small rotation of the foot on the direction of the cue ball in order to relive the pressure from the front leg, which is bent, so it can carry 40% of body weight.
The front arm forms the bridge, it’s lightly bent and shoulder is a bit inside. The back arm is constantly 90 degrees in relation to the ground and in line with the cue in the line of the shot. All joints (shoulder, elbow, hand), including the dominant aiming eye and joints of the back foot must be in line.
After all that, all you need to do is to execute the shot and move on to the next ball and repeat this procedure again. With this we have concluded this chapter about stance and in the next chapter we will talk about grip. Until then I wish you all the best!
Photo: Piroshki Photography Editor: Dana Gornall