Is there a style of play (e.g., using aim-and-pivot aiming systems) that can compensate for all of the effects of squirt, swerve, and throw when using sidespin?
The System for Aiming With Sidespin (SAWS) covers a comprehensive system to aim accurately and consistently with sidespin over a wide range of shots. Here’s an overview:
Background information on important related topics can be found here:
- aiming with english handout
- back-hand english (BHE) and front-hand english (FHE)
- SAWS BHE/FHE calibration handout
- cue natural pivot length
- squirt, swerve, and throw effects
- throw tutorial
There is no sliver-bullet “style of play” that can magically solve all of the “challenges” associate with compensating one’s aim for squirt (CB deflection), swerve, and throw when using sidespin. The BHE and FHE aim-and-pivot methods can be used to adjust for squirt (and in some cases the combination of squirt, swerve and/or throw, using an “effective pivot length” for each shot), but swerve and throw vary too much with shot speed, shot distance, cue elevation, type and amount of english, amount of forward roll, ball and cloth conditions, etc. The best you can do is be knowledgeable of all of the squirt/swerve/throw effects and/or have solid intuition based on many years of successful practice and play. There is no magical “style of play” that can solve all of the world’s problems … playing pool at a high level is simply not easy.
Below is a video showing how to aim effectively using sidespin, using the BHE/FHE calibration system of aiming. It also includes many examples of interesting game-situation english shot examples:
The aiming systems used in this video are covered in great detail in the System for Aiming With Sidespin (SAWS).
The SAWS BHE/FHE system sounds too complicated. And doesn’t the pivot affect your stance alignment?
Obviously, the best way to aim and align, taking everything into consideration, is to do so naturally (without having to think) as a result of countless hours of successful practice and experience. However, most pool players (me included) don’t have perfect intuition for everything yet and can benefit from a methodical approach. But I do all of my thinking before a shot. I first adjust my aim for throw (CIT or SIT), if necessary, while “aiming while standing.” I also observe the shot distance and think about the shot speed while I am standing. This tells me the BHE/FHE percentages that will be required (based on my BHE/FHE calibration system). I have my calibration table memorized, so no thinking is required here (just rote recall). Now, without any more thinking or judgement required, I get down into my stance with a center-ball alignment (which is very easy to visualize), with my vision center over this line (before, during, and after getting down). Once down, and after I’ve verified my center-ball alignment and aim, I do the pre-decided BHE/FHE pivots (if the shot requires sidespin), take a practice stroke, and then and I shoot (all with no thinking whatsoever). The pivots do not bother or affect me one bit.
Before implementing this system in my game, I used to spend too much time trying to make small aim adjustments based on experience-based judgement while down on the shot (taking into consideration throw, squirt, and throw all at once). Now, I don’t have to judge or think about anything. I just pivot and shoot.
Why don’t pro players use BHE/FHE?
Top players with lots of experience don’t need techniques like this. They instinctively know how to align the cue to compensate for squirt, swerve, and throw, and they come down into the stance with the cue already in the correct direction. However, for those who do not already have perfect intuition for aiming with sidespin, BHE/FHE techniques can be useful and effective.
If I use an LD shaft, will I need to use more FHE than BHE, and wouldn’t it be better to just use a higher deflection shaft with pure BHE?
Obviously, if there were one bridge length that worked with BHE alone for a wide range of shots, that would be the best approach, and this is one of the alternative methods covered on SAWS; however, as demonstrated on SAWS, this doesn’t work very well over a wide range of shots.
With a lower-CB-deflection shaft, or with a shorter bridge length, the percentage of FHE vs. BHE does increase; so for people who prefer to use BHE alone, a higher-CB-deflection shaft and/or a longer bridge length could give better results over a chosen range of shot speeds and distances.
However, there are advantages to using an LD shaft because with less aim adjustment (e.g., a small FHE pivot vs. a large BHE pivot), there is less chance for making errors (especially if a person’s BHE pivot is sloppy, with bridge shift or distortion, which might be more of a problem with some closed-bridges).
How do I adjust my aim for draw and follow shots when using SAWS?
Small corrections need to be made for draw vs. follow shots. With a draw shot, because the CB slides over a longer distance, swerve is delayed and the effective CB deflection is greater. This requires more squirt compensation, so more BHE (and less FHE) will be required, especially on longer shots with medium to fast speeds and shorter shots at slow to medium speeds. With a follow shot, swerve happens sooner, so the effective CB deflection is less. This requires less squirt compensation, so more FHE (and less BHE) will be required, especially on softer shots. For draw or follow, the recommended average amount of BHE/FHE adjustment required is 10%.