What are the recommended “best practices” for the stance?
Generally recommended “best practices” for the stance can be found here:
The stance can be a very individual thing. You need to do what works best for you. The important aspects are stability, good and consistent alignment, stroke clearance, and comfort. The ideal feet placement, body position, knee bend, head height, and other stance mechanics issues can vary a lot from one person to the next based on the person’s height, flexibility, body shape and anatomy, comfort level, and any physical issues. As with most stance, grip, and bridge related issues, individual comfort is a primary consideration. The main purpose for the stance is to create a consistent and comfortable body position and visual alignment that allows accurate aim and a straight, consistent, and repeatable stroke. If your stance does this, then it is a good stance.
A good pre-shot routine can also be an important consideration involving stance and visual alignment.
For a good demonstration of general stance recommendations, see the following video from Vol. I of the Billiard University (BU) Instructional video series:
More good stance advice can be found in sections 1, 3, 4, and 9 here:
The following video that covers the “textbook” or “orthodox” pool and snooker stances and offers advice and techniques to help you find your perfect stance as an individual:
For more information, see: “Finding Your Perfect Stance” (BD, November, 2019).
This video deals with the details of how to approach your stance:
For more info, see: Pre-Stance Routine (BD, August, 2020).
Why don’t pro players crouch with knee bend like you (Dr. Dave)?
The last two videos above explain why I crouch with knee bend in his stance. An alternative to bending at the waist or knees to get the head lower in the stance is to widen the feet. For tall people like Dr. Dave, bending at the waist can cause a lot of hamstring, neck and back strain. Widening the feet is a good alternative since it might allow you to keep one or both of your knees locked, which can help stabilize the stance. I have personally experimented a lot with different combinations of widening the feet and bending at the knees, and my best solution was to widen the feet just a little and mostly bend at the knees. My stance is stable, and I have no discomfort whatsoever. When I widen the feet more, to reduce the knee bend, I feel strain and discomfort in my right hamstring and/or ankle. The large knee bend might not be the best approach for all tall people since it does require quadriceps strength and endurance. Also, bent knees are not as stable as a locked knee. Each individual needs to experiment with the stance to determine the most effective and most comfortable way to create proper “vision center” alignment with the head as low as possible. The solution will be different for everybody, especially with tall people.
Most pro pool players are very short, so there is no need for a wide or crouching stance; however, some do it. Shane VanBoening, one of the greatest American players of all time, crouches with bent knees and he isn’t even very tall; although, he towers over many other players. I am much taller than SVB (middle in photo), but not quite as tall as Mike Massey (left in photo), who uses a classic upright stance:
There are many advantages to getting the head as low as possible, so if crouching with knee bend helps you do that with less neck, back, and hamstring pain or discomfort, then it is a good thing.
There is no such thing as an “ideal stance” for everyone. There is what I would call a “classic” stance…that which is recommended in most texts dealing with the subject which are, in turn, based on the stances used by a large number of top players.
That “classic stance” might be described as:
1. Placing the back foot on the extended line on which the CB will be directed toward the OB.
2. Place the front foot at about a 45° angle to that line.
3. Bend forward with a RELATIVELY straight back leg onto a bent forward leg.
4. Place the cue directly under the chin.
5. In the SET position, with the tip very close to the OB, the forearm should be at a right angle to the CUE.
The variations from “classic” are nearly endless but frequently would include.
1. Instead of a nearly straight rear leg, both legs are bent in a partial “squat” type of stance…watch Strickland who does this.
2. The Brits tend to adopt more of a snooker stance where the forward leg is placed at a wider than 45° angle which, in turn, “squares up” the chest toward a more perpendicular orientation to the line toward the OB.
3. The chin is moved to various positions to the outside (away from the body) of centered under the chin.
Finally, various chin heights (above the cue) are used. Back in the day, the chin was help several inches above the cue but today, many pros have moved the chin much lower…Allison’s cue rubs back and forth ON her chin.
- Pointing to the technique that any particular championship player utilizes for ANYTHING…including the stance is a prescription for disaster. Trying to emulate Bustamante’s “loopy” stroke and his technique of practice stroking with the cue tip literally dragging on the cloth…and then striking the CB with…say…high left would ruin most player’s games. Keith McCready’s side arm stroke is another example among many. In attempting to learn from watching top pros, the student should focus on how MOST players play not any ONE player.
- Regarding stance while body size, type and flexibility are certainly major issues, there are a few important matters that are NEARLY universal.
- The back foot should be positioned on a line extended from the aim line out to where the player is standing. Most top players “walk into the shot” being CERTAIN to have their back foot “step on the line.”
- The forearm and upper arm (grip arm) should form a 90° angle with the forearm perpendicular TO THE CUE….NOT TO THE FLOOR.
- The “traditional” front leg position is at about a 45° angle from the aim line but the snooker converts open that angle up somewhat which, among other things, makes the shoulders more square to the shot. Either method is fine and is a matter of personal choice based on extensive experimentation. HOWEVER, avoid at all costs placing your front leg much narrower to the shot line…i.e. placing the front leg much less than 45° to the line. Doing so is a VERY unbalanced position that risks overall body movement during the stroke…especially harder strokes.
… whatever you do…do it CONSISTENTLY.
from Fran Crimi:
If you are tall and are having trouble getting comfortable at the table, you can try spreading your legs farther apart. This will help alleviate having to bend so much at the waist, which can cause fatigue, and possibly back pain over time.
Yes, if the stance is right, it will feel comfortable, but in some cases, such as when you’re making a stance adjustment, the comfort feeling isn’t there immediately. It may take a little while to get used to something new. The thing you should never be feeling is pain.
Many people don’t realize how fatiguing a bad stance can be. When you start to force your body into positions that work against it’s natural anatomy, you are putting a constant strain on your body. Imagine yourself turned sideways towards your cue stick, and then having to twist your neck so you can look over your shoulder to set up for your shot, and then to hold that position while you try to swing your arm as you stroke. Now imagine being in that twisted position for hours and hours. That’s what many players do to themselves — and they wonder why they can’t stay down on their shots or why they lose their focus after playing awhile.
Is it important that your upper arm and shoulder be in the plane of the cue and your forearm?
It is generally recommended that everything (cue, forearm, upper arm, shoulder, vision center) be in the vertical plane through the cue, but doing so can cause neck strain and can make it difficult to get one’s face square and eyes level with the vision center in the right place (which is much more important). As long as you keep your upper arm and shoulder joint still during the stroke into the ball (see pendulum stroke), they have little effect on the straight motion of the cue, assuming the forearm is in the vertical plane of the cue hanging straight down.
How important is it to have the face square to the shot with the eyes level?
There are advantages to having your face as square as possible with the eyes as level as possible, but one can learn to master any head orientation, assuming the vision center is properly and consistently aligned. For more information, see Diagram 4 and the surrounding discussion here: “Aim, Align, Sight – Part II: Visual Alignment” (BD, July, 2011).
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