How to Get Better at Pool

Pool requires a lot of practice to get good at and like many other indoor games, pool is a mental game involving geometric calculations and the use of some principles of classical mechanics. Every player will play better pool mastering the basics.

However, just practicing won’t get you anywhere. You need to practice the right way. One of the greatest mistakes that most beginner pool players make is to jump into advanced pool techniques and concepts like draw shots, combo shots and cue ball spin techniques.

That’s practicing the wrong way. Eventually, you will have to learn the technical shots and strategies in order to become an advanced player. However, you must master the basics first, learn the fundamentals first before you can move into advanced concepts.

Getting better at pool begins with very consistent practice of the most fundamental technique and mechanics. You will become a far much better player when you master the basics before proceeding to advanced concepts. Be sure to invest in a good quality cue. The pros all swear by wood cues as they have their advantages.

Therefore, in a bid to help your journey much easier, in this article we are going to give you some of the most basic things you need to do so as to improve your overall game. Whether you are an accomplished player or you are just starting out, you will find this article quite helpful.

1. Proper Stance

The first fundamental thing you should work on is your stance, your standing posture when shooting. You want to ensure that you maintain a comfortable but rigid pose when making your shots.

How you address the ball will actually determine you stance. A balanced stance would see you address the ball square on. If you are a right-hander, your right leg should remain straight while the left slightly bent at the knee so as to allow you get much closer to the cue. If you are a left-hander, then you should do the opposite.  

Being closer to the cure helps minimize any unwanted movement. It’s also important because it allows your shoulder to be loose and relaxed making it easy to follow through on the stroke.

Your rear foot should be a shoulder width apart from your front foot. By maintaining this pose, your weight will be well distributed on both feet allowing you to feel more stable and comfortable.

When you lean forward, your head should be low and level over the cue. Generally, you shouldn’t strain much trying to attain the perfect stance. Just ensure that you find a stance that’s as comfortable as possible, well-balanced and low, then be consistent with it.

2. Holding the Cue

How you hold the cue stick is very vital to how you actually get to play your shots. The first step is figuring out where and how to hold it in the right way. This comes down to your hand positioning.

Use your dominant hand to hold the thick end of the cue with the palm facing upward. Make sure to find a pot that you feel the cue evenly balances and hold the cue around 1-inch behind that spot.

One common mistake that most beginner pool players make is holding the cue too tightly. The harder you grip the cue does not mean the more precise your shots would be. That’s the wrong approach.

When you grip the cue too tightly, you are likely to raise the butt as you are shooting and this can make it much harder to attain a straight and accurate shot. Furthermore, when you hold the cue too tight, chances are that you might accidentally jump the cue ball off the pool table more often.

You also don’t want to hold the cue too loose as it might fly out of your hand when striking. You need to keep your grip light, natural and relaxed for the best results. Try to find the right balance that will facilitate a nice, light grip but strong enough to give you optimum control over the cue.

You want to make sure that you keep the pool stick as horizontal as possible with your forearm perpendicular to it when you take your shot. If you hold it at a higher level than the tip, it can cause accuracy problems and even affect the power behind the shot.  In general, make sure that your hand and the cue stick are aligned properly and that your grip is relaxed, but strong enough to give you great control.

3. The Bridge

Your bridge is another very important aspect of your overall game and performance. You can assume the right stance, and alignment, master the grip and different types of shots, but if your bridge is clumsy and inconsistent, all that won’t matter.

Once you know how to pose and hold your stick, the next thing you want to do is to work on your bridge. You need to create a comfortable and consistent bridge with a firm and stable base. Note that your bridge needs to be consistent for the majority of your shots, so you must find the right one for your game and stick with it.  

If you are a beginner, then the open bridge would be a perfect fit for you. It will allow you to maintain a solid foundation with the fingers spread on the table. One thing you want to make sure is that the contact area between the thumb and your index finger is large enough to allow the cue to move freely.

The open bridge is not just ideal for beginners because it’s also quite effective when making softer shots and it still offers a solid foundation that can take plenty of power when needed. The closed bridge on the other hand is more preferable if you are an advanced player that like to shoot harder shorts with a lot of spin on the cue ball.

Generally, it might take a while to perfect your bridge, but whether you decide to use open, closed, or looped bridge, make sure that it’s solid, smooth and allows the cue to glide straight and freely. If you have sticky hands, then you can use either a billiard glove or talc.

4. Aiming & Stroking

There is no single aiming technique. Aiming procedure might differ from shot to shot as well as from people to people. However, no matter the style you use, there are three important things you need to consider when taking aim.

They include your actual target, the alignment and your stroke.  These three factors will determine how successfully your shot will get to be. Anybody can aim, but in a game of pool not everyone can aim correctly.

At the pool table, you need to ensure you aim for the right spot first. For a straight-in shot, your aim should be straight towards the center of your object ball in order to get the right shot.

However, when aiming for angle shots or cut shots the point of contact is often not the center of the object ball. It might be located a little on the side. Therefore, one of the most common mistake a beginner can make is to aim for the center of the object ball.

When aiming for angle or cut shots, focus on the aim point not the center of the object ball. The aim point is the point where you aim at on the cue ball in order to pocket the object ball.

Once you have identified the right spot, then you want to ensure that you align your body properly because proper body alignment is necessary if at all you want to make accurate shots.  Your head, particularly your eyes need to be aligned correctly with your aiming line as well as cue.

Always make sure to confirm that you are aiming correctly before proceeding to making a shot. Put as much time as possible in perfecting you stance and aim before you start exploiting different types of shots.

5. Stroking the Ball

The time to execute the stroke is the point where you get to put all the preparation into action. Remember, when making a shot, the only part of your body that should be in motion is your forearm. It needs to be flexible but not clumsy.

Your lower and upper arm should function like a pendulum. Your forearm or rather the lower arm should be the one to move the cue through the shot while your upper arm remains still.  It needs to be a smooth and slow back-swing to ensure proper execution of the shot.

Whether you plan to hit the cue ball hard or soft, make sure that you maintain a slow and steady back-swing. Your elbow should be up and in line with the body without moving up-and-down or side-to-side.

You also want to make sure that there is an element of follow through after every shot. Always hit through the cue ball to ensure that there is no snatching at the ball which might cause some unwanted spins.

So, whether it’s a powerful or gentle stroke, your forearm should maintain a slow and steady back-swing, and you should always follow through every shot.

The Bottom Line

To improve your pool game, you need to polish these five elements I’ve mentioned above. Your stance and body alignment needs to be right, your aiming and shooting technique precise and your stroke fluid so as to facilitate accurate shots. A lot of these skills will help you also learn to play billiards.

Once you put in more practice and perfect on these areas, and continue to apply the same technique consistently in each game, you will definitely start to make great strides in your performance. You can also play a few games of speed pool to help your game.