What is the System for Aiming With Sidespin (SAWS)?

System for Aiming With Sidespin (SAWS) is a full-length instructional video by Dr. Dave that covers a new system to compensate your aim for cue ball (CB) deflection and object ball (OB) throw when using sidespin. It is based on using combinations of Back Hand English (BHE) and Front-Hand English (FHE), and it can be applied to any cue, bridge length, and shooting style. A detailed table of contents of SAWS along with a video overview can be found at DrDaveBilliards.com/saws, and here is an overview video:

Here is the SAWS BHE/FHE calibration handout.

For examples of how SAWS is used, see the following videos and articles:

Background information on important related topics can be found here:

Do you actually use SAWS? If so, why?

I use SAWS on every shot with sidespin. It gives me confidence since I don’t need to think about or judge CB deflection (the net effect of squirt and swerve, which vary with shot distance and speed). And SAWS is very effective. I make more shots than I would otherwise if I were using just feel and intuition. I just do the BHE/FHE pivots and I get the right line of aim. For more info, see the videos and question answers here:

What should you move, not move, and look at during the BHE and FHE pivots?

As demonstrated in the SAWS instructional video, it is best to move your whole upper body with the BHE pivot to keep the stroke/body relationship mostly the same. During the FHE pivot, by nature, everything should stay still except for the front hand and arm. It is best to look at the tip position on the CB while doing both pivots (and during any post-pivot “warm-up” strokes). Then return your gaze to the OB target before the final stroke (see eye pattern “best practices”).

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 the SAWS BHE/FHE system?

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 for shots of various distances, angles, amounts and types of spin, and speeds. However, for those who do not already have perfect intuition for aiming with sidespin, the SAWS BHE/FHE techniques can be useful and effective. And over time, if you pay attention to how you aim the cue for different types of shots (using SAWS), you will eventually build you own pro-like intuition.

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 you adjust your 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%.

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