The pre-shot routine is a much talked and written about phenomenon in the game of golf, and as important as it is in golf, it is also important in playing pool.
An effective pre-shot routine leads to consistency in your game and successful results over and over again. There are plenty of items on your physical checklist to take care of in a short amount of time and you will need a solid mental pre-shot routine as well to keep you focused on the task at hand; which is getting both the object ball and cue ball to go and land where you want.
Clear thinking presides over all of it. Knowing what you want to accomplish on every shot with complete clarity is imperative. That being said, your routine requires clear thinking. This could be classified as a (pre)-pre-shot routine.
Thinking over your strategy—even if it’s just a visual glance of the table to see the pattern so that you know with confidence what your first shot will be—is critical to consistently winning pool matches, especially against tough opponents.
To keep them in the chair, get clear on your game strategy.
Once you’ve decided on a strategy, get clear on that shot. You will never be a great position player if you don’t pick out exactly where you want the cue ball to land. You will also have a slower time adjusting to table conditions if your targets are hazy at best.
Now that you know what you are planning to do with clarity, it’s time to get set up. This is the beginning of the real pre-shot routine, and it begins with your feet—in particular your back foot. You’ve got to be aware of your back foot and its position in relation to your shot. This helps set up your stance for the entire shot. Both feet are completely involved so this can be called your foot work. Good foot work is essential in playing top level pool.
Most people do this on auto pilot and it works for them. Even pros do it without thinking. The difference is that a top pro has put thought and time into making their foot work as good as possible so that their automatic mode happens to be awesome by design, and conducive to playing consistent run out pool.
The best foot work out there can only be guided by planning or visualization for the shot. Keep that in mind.
What you want to do is set your feet the proper distance from the cue ball on every shot, so that the rest of your pre-shot routine can flow in proper sequence and order. So start thinking about the spacing between your feet and the cue ball, and focus on setting that up properly before each shot.
Enjoy and see how that awareness helps your consistency in playing pool!
*originally published here.