How can I improve my draw stroke?
In general, to get good draw action, you must hit the CB both low and hard. Probably the best advice to accomplish this is to keep your grip relaxed and smoothly accelerate the cue into the ball (i.e., don’t jerk or rush the transition from the final backstroke to forward stroke) to create good follow-through. A longer bridge length can help create more power without jerkiness. A longer bridge can also help you get the tip lower on the CB without elevating the cue (which can cause inaccuracy), especially if you have thick fingers. More stroke advice can be found here. Also, make sure you have a good tip that is well shaped and textured so it holds chalk. Also, be sure to chalk up before each shot.
If you are having trouble with your draw stroke, make sure you are being careful with the following:
- As with any off-center hit, make sure there is an even layer of chalk over the entire tip, especially close to the edges.
- Don’t elevate the cue. This can make your stroke more awkward and less accurate, and it can reduce the amount of draw (see draw shot cue elevation effects).
- Don’t rush the transition between the final backstroke and the final forward stroke. Go back slowly, pause, and accelerate smoothly for best accuracy and power.
- Don’t tighten your grip during the stroke. This will reduce your power and tip contact point accuracy.
- Don’t drop your elbow before CB contact. This will make the tip hit the CB higher than you are aiming, reducing draw. Also, when the elbow drops, it can also tend to move sideways, which can throw the shot off line.
- Don’t jerk the cue back after the hit. Follow through with a smoothly accelerating stroke. You have time to lift, pull back, or move the cue sideways, after you follow through, to get out of the way of the drawing CB.
- Here are good video demonstrations of draw shot technique advice, physics effects, and game-situation examples:
Here are two additional good drills for practicing and challenging your draw shot technique:
- Dr. Dave’s Draw Drill
- for more info, see “Draw Shot Primer – Part VI: draw shot practice drill” (June, 2006)
- Draw Shot Challenge Drill
Another factor in achieving consistent draw and avoiding miscues is having a repeatable stroke. As shown by the following illustration from Patrick Johnson, a shooter with better tip contact point accuracy and precision can safely aim lower on the CB, and typically get more backspin, than a shooter with less accuracy and precision:
Mike Page’s sense & nonsense of cueball draw video does a good job of explaining this and other factors that limit people’s success with draw.
Anytime you practice or do experiments with draw shots, it is important to verify that you are hitting the CB where you think you are. The best way to do this is to use a marked ball (for example, a Jim Rempe CB or an Elephant Practice ball) or a striped ball, and note the location of the chalk mark on the ball after each shot. Just make sure you align the markings on the ball with the line of action of the cue (for example, see the 9-ball stripe in Diagram 1b). People are often surprised by how high the actual tip contact point is on the ball despite how low they might think they are aiming. Sometimes, people just don’t aim low enough on the CB. Sometimes people drop their elbow during the stroke, before tip contact. This brings the tip up, and you get less draw. If you tighten your grip during the stroke, the tip will drop and you might scoop the CB in the air. Always look at the mark on the CB after the shot … the chalk mark never lies!
It also helps (a lot!) to have a very slick and fast cloth. It is a lot easier to draw the ball on a slick and fast cloth! For more info, see: cloth and cue ball effects.
For more information and advice, see the following series of instructional articles dealing draw shot physics, aiming, applications, technique, and drills:
- “Draw Shot Primer – Part I: physics” (BD, January, 2006)
- “Draw Shot Primer – Part II: aiming” (BD, February, 2006)
- “Draw Shot Primer – Part III: using the trisect system” (BD, March, 2006)
- “Draw Shot Primer – Part IV: game examples” (BD, April, 2006)
- “Draw Shot Primer – Part V: how to achieve good draw action” (BD, May, 2006)
- “Draw Shot Primer – Part VI: draw shot practice drill” (BD, June, 2006)
- “Draw Shot Primer – Part VII: tips of english” (BD, July, 2006).
Also see the physics-based draw shot advice resource page.
from Rod (concerning causes for miscuing and “scooping” the ball):
The number one reason. Your grip hand tightens up, in turn so does your arm and shoulder. When that happens it elevates the butt of the cue. Guess what comes next? The tips drops and you hit too far below center. The cue ball goes flying.
If at the same time (which happens a lot) your stroke swerves to either side, then the cue ball squirts off to the side. Nothing worse that that nasty miscue sound.
Tight muscles are shorter and probably slower, relaxed muscles are longer. Stay relaxed, not only will you improve your draw stroke, it will improve every stroke.
Striking the c/b accurately is premium. You need to hit where you addressed the c/b to make the shot come off as planned. If your grip tightens up — well you know the answer.
You will probably receive all sorts of contradictory advice on this one. The only real requirement is that you hit the ball low. If the object ball is far away, you will also need to hit the ball hard to keep back spin (also known as draw or screw) on the cue ball, as the cloth rubs the spin off. Some things to keep in mind: You must chalk your tip well; most players don’t. A shorter bridge (hand to cue ball spacing) will let you hit where you want more accurately. If your elbow is pumping up and down, hitting the intended spot on the cue ball is more of a challenge. Do you jump up at the end of the shot? Do you follow through so the tip ends at least a ball diameter or two beyond the original position of the cue ball, or do you jerk abruptly to a stop at the instant of contact?
from Bob_Jewett (concerning a slightly elevated cue, which causes cue ball hop):
The simple theory is that the cue ball loses a fixed number of RPMs per second on its way to the object ball. If the cue ball is hopping on its way to the object ball, it will lose draw only on the landings, but the simple theory says that the total loss of draw on the way to the object ball will be about the same.
The theory also says that if the cue ball is hopping with draw off an object ball, or maybe hopping from a massé shot, it will travel in straight lines between the landings as seen from above, but the path will take abrupt turns at the times of the landings.
One consequence to practical play of the first paragraph is that to get best draw for a particular stick speed off a distant ball it is sometimes better to cue higher on the cue ball. The closer to center you hit, the faster the cue ball will be going at the start. It is a balance between getting there quickly and not losing as many RPMs and starting with more RPMs and losing more due to the slower cue ball travel.