What are the most common reasons people miss shots that they should make?

  1. not enough care and focus given to actually visualizing and aiming the shot (see pre-shot routine).
  2. not enough care and focus given to accurately aligning the cue and tip for the shot (see pre-shot routine).
  3. inaccurate or inconsistent visual alignment (see vision center).
  4. lack of understanding or intuition for how to adjust aim for squirt, swerve, and throw (see aim compensation for squirt, swerve, and throw).
  5. poor, inconsistent, or inaccurate stroke (see stroke “best practices”).

Most people miss shots because of reason 1 (not aiming carefully); although the other reasons, especially reason 5 (poor stroke), are also common. An inconsistent and inaccurate stroke can cause a miss, but it can also result in an inaccurate tip contact point and poor speed control, which can result in bad position for the next shot. A solid understanding of (or intuition for) CB control principles is also critical. To win, you need to make the current shot, but you also need to make the next shot; so if your speed and position control are inaccurate or inconsistent, you won’t be very successful.

For more info, see “Top 10 Reasons for Missing,” (BD, February, 2022).

Here are some additional reasons people miss shots:

  • misjudgment of the required line of aim of the shot, even with care and focus on aim and visualization (for help, see DAM advice).
  • too much focus on the leave and not enough on the shot.
  • poor position left from the previous shot.
  • uncertainty or thinking while shooting.
  • inaccurate perception of cue alignment or the tip contact point (even with proper vision center alignment).
  • tip not chalked properly.
  • disrespect for shot because it was too “easy.”
  • eyes, head, or body not still during the shot.
  • poor eyesight with no vision correction lenses.
  • excessive throw due to cling/skid/kick.

Often, people will make lame excuses for missing shots instead of trying to diagnose and improve their game. Here are some examples:

  • It’s the tip.
  • It’s the chalk.
  • It’s the cue.
  • I miss because I suck.
  • I can’t focus on pool with all the pretty ladies in here.
  • The music in here is too distracting.
  • That guy three tables down took a sip of his beer.
  • I missed the bank because Diamond table bank short.
  • It’s too cold in here.
  • I’m playing down to my opponent’s lower skill level.
  • The lights are too bright.
  • There is not enough light in here.

Do pros miss because they “get up on the shot” or do they “get up on the shot” because they miss?

Despite what pool match commentators often say, pros usually “get up on the shot” because they miss. See:

from Colin Colenso (in AZB post):

On near straight in shots, applying unintended side english throws the OB offline. On slow shots the throw effect increases, as does swerve on the CB, further messing up the shot. On firm shots, throw is less, swerve is far less (unless the CB is hit high) and depending on one’s bridge position relative to the cue’s pivot point, deflection could counteract or add to the error. Bridging a little longer than one’s pivot point can reduce and even cancel out the effects of such stroking errors.

On cut shots, applying unintended outside english can throw the OB significantly off the intended path. Conversely, unintended inside english often has negligible effect on the OB path. So being careful to hit center or slightly inside can be a way to avoid the stroking errors that result from unintended outside english.

from Matt (in AZB post):

1) If all you are concerned with is making the object ball and you are bridging at the effective pivot point and swerve and throw are insignificant, alignment is far more important than stroke accuracy.

2) If all you are concerned with is making the object ball and are attempting a shot where you are compensating for swerve or throw, stroke accuracy is more important than it is in the first case.

3) If you are trying to make a shot while controlling the cue ball, compensating for swerve or throw, bridging somewhere other than the pivot point, shooting down on the cue ball, and pretty much any other situation besides just trying to make a ball using BHE, I would say that the accuracy of the stroke is at least as important as the alignment. That said, you can have a laser-straight stroke and still miss the object ball if you haven’t lined up correctly in the first place, including any necessary compensations.

from 12squared (in AZB post):

I agree that poor alignment maybe the cause of a miss, but there are several instances where a bad stroke would cause a miss, most of which is when using side spin. Here are a couple of examples I would consider reasons for a miss that was stroke related:

1) On your final stroke, you twist your wrist or do something to change the direction.
2) If you decelerate during your final stroke using sidespin causing the swerve to increase over the plan. (I call this finishing my stroke before I hit the ball).
3) You stroke slower or faster then planned (still accelerating through the stroke unlike #2) while using sidespin that changes how much swerve was planned. This could be because of pressure or whatever.

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