Dr. Dave's answers to frequently-asked questions (FAQs), mostly from the AZB discussion forum
for more information, see Sections 2.04, 7.05, and 7.09 in The Illustrated Principles of Pool and Billiards
What are the recommended "best practices" for the stance?
Generally recommended "best practices" for the stance can be found here:
fundamentals "best practices" check-sheet
The stance can be a very individual thing. You need to do what works best for you. The important aspects are stability, good and consistent alignment, stroke clearance, and comfort. The ideal feet placement, body position, knee bend, head height, and other stance mechanics issues can vary a lot from one person to the next based on the person's height, flexibility, body shape and anatomy, comfort level, and any physical issues. As with most stance, grip, and bridge related issues, individual comfort is a primary consideration. The main purpose for the stance is to create a consistent and comfortable body position and visual alignment that allows accurate aim and a consistent and repeatable stroke. If your stance does this, then it is a good stance.
A good pre-shot routine can also be an important consideration involving stance and visual alignment.
For a good demonstration of general stance recommendations, see the following video from Vol. I of the Billiard University (BU) Instructional video series:
And here's another (starting at 2:05): NV B.59 - Mike Pages's "Learn to Play Pool in Ten Minutes"
There is no such thing as an "ideal stance" for everyone. There is what I would call a "classic" stance...that which is recommended in most texts dealing with the subject which are, in turn, based on the stances used by a large number of top players.
That "classic stance" might be described as:
1. Placing the back foot on the extended line on which the CB will be directed toward the OB.
2. Place the front foot at about a 45 degree angle to that line.
3. Bend forward with a RELATIVELY straight back leg onto a bent forward leg.
4. Place the cue directly under the chin.
5. In the SET position, with the tip very close to the OB, the forearm should be at a right angle to the CUE.
The variations from "classic" are nearly endless but frequently would include.
1. Instead of a nearly straight rear leg, both legs are bent in a partial "squat" type of stance...watch Strickland who does this.
2. The Brits tend to adopt more of a snooker stance where the forward leg is placed at a wider than 45 degree angle which, in turn, "squares up" the chest toward a more perpendicular orientation to the line toward the OB.
3. The chin is moved to various positions to the outside (away from the body) of centered under the chin.
Finally, various chin heights (above the cue) are used. Back in the day, the chin was help several inches above the cue but today, many pros have moved the chin much lower...Allison's cue rubs back and forth ON her chin.
Trying to emulate Bustamante's "loopy" stroke and his technique of practice stroking with the cue tip literally dragging on the cloth...and then striking the CB with...say...high left would ruin most player's games.
Keith McCready's side arm stroke is another example among many.
In attempting to learn from watching top pros, the student should focus on how MOST players play not any ONE player.
... whatever you do...do it CONSISTENTLY.
from Fran Crimi:
If you are tall and are having trouble getting comfortable at the table, you can try spreading your legs farther apart. This will help alleviate having to bend so much at the waist, which can cause fatigue, and possibly back pain over time.
Yes, if the stance is right, it will feel comfortable, but in some cases, such as when you're making a stance adjustment, the comfort feeling isn't there immediately. It may take a little while to get used to something new. The thing you should never be feeling is pain.
Many people don't realize how fatiguing a bad stance can be. When you start to force your body into positions that work against it's natural anatomy, you are putting a constant strain on your body. Imagine yourself turned sideways towards your cue stick, and then having to twist your neck so you can look over your shoulder to set up for your shot, and then to hold that position while you try to swing your arm as you stroke. Now imagine being in that twisted position for hours and hours. That's what many players do to themselves --- and they wonder why they can't stay down on their shots or why they lose their focus after playing awhile.
Why do so many pro pool players, and virtual all pro snooker players, have such a low stance, with the chin very close to or touching the cue?
A low stance, with the chin just over the cue, offers many advantages:
Why is snooker player's stance different from a pool player's stance?
A classical snooker stance is described and demonstrated here: snooker stance. A pool stance is described and demonstrated here: pool stance (see more info on the stance "best practices" resource page).
A snooker stance is more "open" than a pool stance, and more weight is placed on the planted foot closest to the grip hand (e.g., the right foot for a right-handed player). The feet are also farther apart, possibly providing a more-stable stance. An open stance can allow your head to be more square to the shot with less neck twisting. This can make it easier to get the head lower with the chin directly over the cue, which can make aiming and sighting more consistent and accurate (for more info, see the low stance resource page). This is especially important on a snooker table, which is large with small pockets, where aiming and alignment accuracy is critically important. The open stance also allows you to use your standard stance when your body is up against the table to reach a shot, which can happen a lot on large snooker tables. The open stance also allows one to use the chest and chin to help constrain and guide the cue. This is helpful to make sure the alignment and stroke are true during warm-up strokes and during the final forward stroke. Any swoop in the stroke would be immediately noticeable, and the chin guide can also prevent the swoop from happening in the first place (assuming the head is still).
The more-closed stance of pool can create more clearance between the stroking arm and the hip and chest. This allows more stroke freedom, especially with power shots where the elbow might drop during the follow through (for more info, see the pendulum stroke vs. piston stroke resource page). A closed stance also allows a more-even weight distribution between the two feet. A closed bridge can also be more natural and comfortable for some people.
Snooker players also prefer an open bridge. For more info, see the open vs. close bridge resource page.
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