What is the “conventional wisdom” and “best practices” concerning how to sight during aiming?
See “Aim, Align, Sight – Part III: Sighting” (BD, August, 2011). It covers this topic fairly well.
Regardless of what method you choose, the most important part is to be as consistent as possible for each type of shot!!! If you are consistent, your vision and brain will develop to “see” the correct line of aim for every shot.
By “where do you sight,” I mean: where do you align your vision center, which is the head alignment that allows you to see a center-ball straight-in shot as straight, with the tip appearing to be at the center of the CB.
An obvious option is to always align your “vision center” with the center of the CB, regardless of the type of shot. This way, you learn to see all different shots, and how they vary, from the same perspective.
Mike Page’s videos on aiming and sighting present excellent background and insights on this topic:
He points out that the only sighting that makes sense for a straight in shot is over the cue through the center of the CB.
He also points out that with a thin cut, the sighting line that makes the most sense is also along the contact-point-to-contact-point line (which will be very close to the edge-to-edge line for a really thin cut).
Then he suggests that maybe you should also sight along the contact-point-to-contact-point line for all shots in between (any cut shot). He also makes a good argument that you should probably never sight along a line that is not parallel to the aiming line (which is along the cue for a center-ball hit).
Another alternative is to always align the inside eye of the shot with the inside edges of the CB and ghost ball, so you can more clearly see the ball-hit fraction (i.e., ball “overlap”). In this case, with a thin hit, you will be aligning nearly edge to edge (ETE). Some people recommend sighting exactly ETE with thin hits. An alternative here is to temporarily shift your head and close one eye to get a look at the ETE line, but then re-center your “vision center” over the cue during your final set and stroke.
Again, regardless of how you align and sight, the important thing is to align and sight the exact same way for each type of shot. That way your brain is seeing the same picture for the same type of shot every time.
It is also very important to find your vision center and make sure you align it perfectly with the cue for straight in shots.
It is also very important to make sure the cue tip is aligned with the center of the CB when you don’t intend to apply english (see finding the center of the cue ball).
from Patrick Johnson:
The things you want to align for aiming (CB/OB contact points, CB/OB fractions, etc.) are rarely on the same line as your stick – they’re separate lines. So when you center your vision directly over one line, the other line is necessarily off to the side a little and therefore harder to line up precisely – i.e., if you center your vision over your stick it’s more difficult to be sure you’re lining the contact points up precisely and if you center your vision over the contact points line it’s more difficult to be sure you’re lining your stick up precisely. It’s a tradeoff.
So I don’t think it’s a given that one way is always better than the other. I’m not even sure it’s necessary for a player to do it the same way every time – maybe some shots lend themselves better to one and some to the other. For instance, thin cuts and shots with lots of sidespin might lend themselves more to sighting along the contact points line, while thicker shots with less spin might be best sighted along the stick.
What’s best might also change with the player – some might see the alignment better by favoring the stick while others might favor the contact points line, like how different players have different centers of vision because of eye dominance.
Is aiming a pool shot the same as aiming a rifle?
from Patrick Johnson:
Aiming a rifle and aiming a cue stick are similar, but they’re not the same.
There’s only one place for anybody’s eye (singular) when aiming a rifle, but that doesn’t mean there’s only one place for everybody’s eyes (plural) when aiming a cue stick or aligning balls in pool. The difference is that when aiming a rifle you’re using only one eye and you can get your eye directly behind and in line with the rifle sights and the target, but when aiming a stick or balls you use both eyes and your eyes are always above the line the stick and balls are on.
You use monocular vision to aim a rifle, but binocular vision to aim in pool, and the two are very different. With binocular vision from above it isn’t necessarily best to have one eye directly above the things you’re trying to align – sometimes, or for some people, it’s best to have the things you’re trying to align somewhere between the eyes because that’s where your brain assembles the twin images from your binocular vision to present the truest single image (mostly due to which eye is dominant and how strongly dominant it is).