Do you have a problem with your Cue Action or Mechanics?

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Are you wondering if your cue action, stance, or general mechanics are causing you to miss shots? Congratulations!  You aren’t alone!

I think it’s quite common for players to question their mechanics when they miss a shot. For the lucky few that have a certified coach or knowledgeable adviser with them, they get the correct answer right away. For the rest of us, however, we don’t always get a clear and accurate answer unless we fully understand how to self-diagnose our misses. Some people can fix their own mechanics through trial and error, but it’s usually a long and painful process.

When I talk about your mechanics, I’m really talking about everything you do physically from start to finish including:

  1. how you physically approach the table
  2. how you stand
  3. where you look before and after
  4. how you grip
  5. where your cue is in relation to your elbow, shoulder, head
  6. how your head gets into line.
  7. how your arm moves
  8. how your eyes move

Having a cueing action or mechanical imperfection is actually more common than you might think.  I think it’s one of the primary factors that separate pro-level snooker players from everyone else. Fixing a mechanical imperfection isn’t that easy. The first challenge is  knowing and discovering what that mechanical imperfection is, and then secondly making the correct adjustments to fix it.  Quite often, we might be misled by our own diagnosis.

For example, if you tend to dip your cue into some of your shots (a common problem), you might believe it’s your grip, or your elbow, or your shoulder, or even worse the cue itself. It could well be any of those things, but what if it’s how you approach the table and how your head and eyes come into line with the shot?  If your eyes aren’t in line with the shot when you stand, they might not be when you get down. As a result, it’s entirely possible you could be introducing that cue dip because your eyes and head weren’t in line in the first place. This could cause you to dip into a shot because you are trying to make your cue follow a line that you can’t see perfectly.

Sometimes, errors can be solved by changing one or two moving parts in your overall mechanics, but that doesn’t always make it more correct or perfect. Some people might change their stance, or their cue, or their grip action and sometimes it ends up working for them and they stick with it. These little mechanical corrections and patches – I call them kinks – can end up being minor flaws that can introduce more errors into your cueing later on. One kink introduces another which introduces another and so on. Before you know it, your cue action and mechanics starts looking like a series of kinks and flaws that are bundled together into one big mess. Yes, these cumulative errors may work to bring your cue into line and straight, but that still doesn’t make it correct.

I think a classic example of how far you can go with strange kinks, mechanical patchwork, and cueing imperfections is Barry Pinches.  His approach to the table is so mechanical and pre-determined, that he literally has to remember a 20 step dance routine just to get in line. I’m not saying it doesn’t work for him.  It has thus far allowed him to get to the current level of competitive play and ranking.  I’m convinced, however, that his mechanics will limit him to a certain level of play and when he reaches a plateau in his abilities, he will be constrained by the previous errors in his mechanics.

Even the great Stephen Hendry, has at least one kink that I know of: just before he gets down on the shot, he cocks his head to the right momentarily as he approaches the table. It could be that he tried it one time in practice, and he just stuck with it because it worked. Maybe it’s something he does unconsciously – although I doubt that. Hendry’s kink is minor and generally when he is down on the shot, his cueing is near perfect.

I see it all the time at my club. Bad mechanics that limit a player to a certain level of play. Kinks that work themselves into a players concious and subconcious because they just found that it worked. In their defense, it’s not their fault as they don’t have a qualified coach or resource to fall back on.  I think in most clubs and leagues everyone has at least some minor cueing imperfection that hinders them. These kinks often have a direct affect on the success a person can achieve in their game.  For some, it’s how far they can go with break building, and for others those kinks become crutches that prevent consistency, long ball potting, or something else.

Think about things you might be doing in your mechanics that just ended up working fine for you. Are you using patches and tricks to get the job done? Have you been doing it for so long you no longer think it’s an imperfection?

So what is perfect cue action?  Well, it’s not an easy question to answer.  I think given the history of snooker, we can look at some general characteristics and recommended guidelines on good cueing and good mechanics.  You can look at the top players in the game that have published material on the subject of mechanics like Steve Davis, Ray Reardon and the like.  You can also learn through observation by looking at other great cueists like Shaun Murphy, Ronnie O’Sullivan, Stephen Lee, Ding Jun Hui and the like. World Snooker Coaching and certified coaches are also great resources for learning what is considered good mechanics and flawless cueing.

I think comparing your own cue action and mechanics with the recommended guidelines is a perfectly acceptable – and actually necessary – thing to do. Those guidelines on how to achieve flawless cueing and mechanics are based on the cumulative knowledge about the game from many players and coaches. It’s hard to argue with. Start there first.  Analyze your own mechanics with a video recording or a mirror and compare it with the recommended guidelines on good mechanics. You can even get other professionals to analyze you by posting a video of yourself on TheSnookerForum or on AZBilliards Forums. There are plenty of coaches and cue mechanics there that can give you some valuable feedback.

Has this blog post helped you think about your mechanics differently or inspired to you fix flaws you know about?  Let me know!  Post a comment below!

 

 

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40 replies
    • SnookerDelight
      SnookerDelight says:

      Hi Gordon. I’m not entirely sure what you mean by the winggrip fingers. Are those on your bridge hand or your cueing hand? I assume you are talking about your grip hand and that during the backstroke, the fingers open up and you end up using more wrist in your cue action? Are you able to record a video and send it to me? That would help a lot. It’s not preferred to have your fingers opening up in your grip hand but that doesn’t mean you aren’t cueing straight. If you do it unconciously and you can play all the shots the game requires, I don’t see an issue with it. Don’t forget, Alex Higgins often dropped his index finger in his grip hand and was able to play the game at a high level (although I think he could have been even better if he had a more conventional approach).

      Reply
    • SnookerDelight
      SnookerDelight says:

      The simple answer is yes. Every part of your cue action can be changed and modified but it takes hard practice and work. It also helps to have a proper understanding so that you mentally buy into the new idea because with any change there may come a drop in performance. If you agree with the new approach, you have to stick with it a for while and know the reasons why so that don’t fall back to an old habit because you aren’t getting the results that you were looking for initially.

      Reply
  1. ExMax
    ExMax says:

    Hi,

    I also have an issue with my game.

    I tend to lean my head over to the right (right handed player) which makes the line of the shot look wrong and consequently I cannot pot a straight ball.

    Is this something you have come across before?

    Reply
    • SnookerDelight
      SnookerDelight says:

      Yes, I have come across this Jayson. OK, remember that song you sang as a kid? “The finger bones connected to the…hand bones, the hand bones connected to the…arm bones, the arm bones connected to the…shoulder bones”…?

      Anyways, my point is that if your head is offline you need to start further back to determine how to correct it without bringing your cue offline.

      My guess is that it’s in your foot work. Steve Davis says in his book that a right handed, right eye dominant player should have a square stance meaning that his feet should be inline and 90 degrees to the line of the shot, whereas a right handed, left eye dominant player should have his feet in a boxer stance (left foot forward of the right foot). Because the feet are your foundation, their position determines everything else that happens in your cue action. It’s also possible that you are not standing in the right place as well as you approach your shot so that you end up bringing your cue and head offline as you walk into the shot.

      What I normally do for myself is 1. Stand behind the line where my cue will travel. This is the same as the cue ball path when using centre ball which is where you should begin training anyways. 2. My feet are together and my cue is to my side. 3. As I begin stepping in, I bring my cue forward in front of me, and up and my right hand close to my body. 4. I step in one step with the right foot, and slide the left foot off to the left and forward of my right foot (it works for me even though I’m right eye dominant). I then bring my cue under my body and my head over the cue line. The combination of my own technique gets me into position pretty accurately.

      Anyways, look at your foot work approach first. If that’s not the issue, then the other option is that it’s somewhere else in your stance – possibly a long torso, or short legs, or whatever. It’s going to be much easier for me to diagnose when I see you on video so put one up on Youtube and send it to me and I can give you more feedback.

      One good trick to checking and confirming that you are in fact cueing straight is from Nic Barrows in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZyoYd4-_G8. In this video he talks about the Acuerate cue and uses loads of side, but you can adapt the same concept with just plain centre ball by putting a ball on the top cushion behind the black spot, and cueing into that ball with the cue ball positioned about 1 ball behind brown spot (so that you don’t wear the spot out). If you are cueing straight, the cue ball should hit the cushion and virtually come back to your tip. As you work out your alignment issues, you should be able to achieve good accuracy with this test around 8/10 times.

      Best of luck and I do hope I can help!

      Reply
  2. Richard
    Richard says:

    Hi wonder if you can help I am right eye dominant when I approach a pot I do it exactly from behind I sight it but as I sight it I cannot line myself up at a perfect 90degree angle so as I go down I’m off line .however if I close my right eye when I’m up sighting then open it I find my self bang on line as I go down can you give me advise on how I can initially approach and stand behind the pot at a perfect 90degree angle .another way I have found to get on line is to do sight the pot standing slightly left of line help please

    Reply
    • Mayur Jobanputra
      Mayur Jobanputra says:

      One thing I found which helps a lot is to stand with your feet together behind the cue ball line. This is the path the cue ball will travel. Do this with both eyes open. You really should never close one eye during any phase of your approach or cue delivery as this “crutch” will crack under pressure. Anyways, once you are standing in this position, walk into the shot line a little more slowly and also with your cue coming into that same line. What you should be doing is stepping slightly to the left as you widen your stance to get into final position. Can you send me a video?

      Reply
  3. paul hanson
    paul hanson says:

    Hi
    I have a problem with my cueing. I cant release the cue to hit the cue ball, my cue arm keeps stopping and preventing me from hitting the cue ball. How do I get over this.

    Reply
    • Mayur Jobanputra
      Mayur Jobanputra says:

      Hi Paul. I haven’t heard of this issue before. I assume you are jabbing or stabbing the cue ball? Are you able to record a video and show me? That would give me a much better understanding of what’s going on. What you can also do is just try potting the cue ball into pockets and setting up some easy practice routines. It sounds like perhaps there is a hesitation in your delivery. What’s going on with you mentally when you are cueing? Something isn’t right that can be sorted out but I need to see what you look like on video.

      Reply
      • raju
        raju says:

        hi mayur , yes it is the same problem i am having since last one year now and suddenly this problem has come up , it very similar to what i used to see people playing carrom board and they cant release thier fingers until they tilt backwards
        let me know if u have overcome that problem

        Reply
          • raju
            raju says:

            thanks for replying mr mayur.
            well video i think i ll have to ask my freind to take it
            just to go in detail:
            like when i am aiming the cue ball and as i am about to hit it , suddenly i feel i cant hit the cue ball like somebody is holding my cue back and i have to delibrately hit the ball and make it all wrong
            it only happens when i play a slow shot , when i shoot it like playing a stun shot or a pull back it goes fine
            it only happens when i want to play a low shot
            please help

            Reply
            • Tim
              Tim says:

              Hi raju,
              Did you ever get a solution for your cueing problem? I came to this site to see if I could find a cure as I have exactly the same problem as you, by the sound of it (though mine has been coming and going for any years now). As with you, slow shots are a nightmare but hard shots not so. I’m pretty sure it’s something to do with my cue action but don’t know what to do to remedy it. Periodically, I hit a patch where I don’t have a problem and I’m always aware I’m cueing really well, and keeping my head down, at these times. I think it’s like when a golfer can’t strike the ball, similar thing. It’s like you get the jitters and my opponents notice it and that compounds the problem. At least, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one. Cheers

              Reply
              • Rob
                Rob says:

                Hi Tim and Raju. I had exactly the same problem for many years. It mainly happened when playing from tight on the cushion, but crept into other parts of my game as well. Sometimes the problem disappeared for months at a time but would always come back again. I was always convinced it was some sort of mental issue, particularly as my stomach muscles knotted up with tension when I experienced this cueing problem. In the end I decided to have a few sessions last year with a hypnotherapist (this one specialised in working with sports people) to see if that would help. I am pleased to say that the results were absolutely amazing, and I haven’t had a recurrence of the problem at all since. I’m not saying that hypnotherapy would work for everyone, but it certainly did for me.

                Reply
                • Mayur Jobanputra
                  Mayur Jobanputra says:

                  Wow thats wonderful to hear that hypnotherapy worked. I would love to hear more about it if you would be interested in a video chat. I would post it up on the site if you approved also. Let me know Rob.

                  Reply
                • raju
                  raju says:

                  hi rob
                  can u please share the hipnotherapist so i can have a word with him
                  good that u have overcome this frustating problem
                  all the best bro

                  Reply
              • raju
                raju says:

                hi tim
                just came back to see if there is a good remedy for the problem i mentioned last time
                please share if you found out a good remedy
                and also Mr mayur if you can help us both
                waiting for a positive answer

                Reply
                • Tim knowles
                  Tim knowles says:

                  Hi Raju.
                  At the moment I seem to be doing ok but it comes and goes. I’m convinced it’s my cue action that’s at fault but have found that by lining my shot up and then just focusing on the white ball (I think the norm is the object ball?) it seems to help me keep the cue down and run through rather than nervously stabbing. Still a long way to go and, to be fair, I don’t really play enough to permanently iron the issue out but I’m definitely more confident when I’m playing at the moment which makes a hell of a difference.

                  Reply
    • Tim
      Tim says:

      Hi Paul, Did you ever get a solution for your cueing problem? I came to this site to see if I could find a cure as I have exactly the same problem as you, by the sound of it (though mine has been coming and going for any years now). As with you, slow shots are a nightmare but hard shots not so. I’m pretty sure it’s something to do with my cue action but don’t know what to do to remedy it. Periodically, I hit a patch where I don’t have a problem and I’m always aware I’m cueing really well, and keeping my head down, at these times. I think it’s like when a golfer can’t strike the ball, similar thing. It’s like you get the jitters and my opponents notice it and that compounds the problem. At least, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one. Cheers

      Reply
  4. Jim Brady
    Jim Brady says:

    When playing the white down over the center dots it consistently returns 1 to 2 inch to the right of the brown spot Can you explain how to get out of this bad habit????

    Reply
    • Mayur Jobanputra
      Mayur Jobanputra says:

      Hi Jim. There are a few things we can look at. Firstly, have you confirmed that the table is dead straight? It’s a silly question, but perhaps the table has a slight issue. One way to confirm is to do the same exercise from the other side of the table. Also, if you are playing the white ball down the spots, it’s entirely possible that when it runs over one of the spots, the white ball starts to veer slightly off center. Try the same practice routine to the left or right of the brown spot so that you aren’t running over the spots. Placing the white ball on one of the spots to start generally will give you inconsistent results.

      On a side note, I’m not much of a fan of this practice regimen overall. It doesn’t prove anything except that you aren’t a robot. If you were a robot or a machine, you would be able to get consistent results, but since you aren’t you rarely ever will. Having said that, if you really want to know how to possibly remove what looks like right hand siding, here a few specific tricks you can implement to discover where the source of your problems are: 1. Look at the cue ball during strike. Very often, our aim is correct, but our cue action isn’t. If you have corrected the problem by looking at the cue ball, then you may have an issue with alignment or with unconsciously bringing your cue into your body during the strike. 2. You should also be using a video recorder of some kind. Record yourself trying this exercise from all sides. Quite often, just looking at the video will give you insight into your cue action problems.

      If you need additional help, get in touch and I will see what I can do to help you.

      Reply
  5. Roy Jenkins
    Roy Jenkins says:

    I have just hit 60 years of age and the best advice for me has been slow down your back swing as this makes it easier to find the object ball which was easier when younger.Are you saying that on the pause at the back (for timing)
    is also when you get your eyes fixed on the object ball which of course is the correct standard.I have found that i am more consistant now by when drawing my final swing back i tell myself draw back slow at the same time take my eyes up to the object ball really spot it then strike through .This cue action helps me to stop snatching helps me overcome bottling so many shots but i have lost some fluency what do you think.
    Cheers Roy J

    Reply
    • Mayur Jobanputra
      Mayur Jobanputra says:

      There is no hard and fast rule really. The dominant practice is to place your eyes on the object ball during the final swing. The problem starts when players aim and feather and there are many variations on the ideal norm. I also find that my eye movement changes as I play. When I’m playing well, I can feel the cue ball and not have to look at it, and at other times, when I’m less “in the zone”, I need to change my eye focus and timing to match. Cue action has many subtle aspects to it that have never been fully explored from a scientific and logical point of view, which I hope to do at some point in the future. Primarily, I do believe that slowing down the back swing to allow the mind to focus and concentrate is extremely beneficial so keep it up!

      Reply
  6. Danny Belcher
    Danny Belcher says:

    Hello, I am having an issue with turning my wrist inwards and pulling my arm towards my body as my stroke speed increases. This is most noticeable on a power screw/draw shot. Thank you

    Reply
    • Mayur Jobanputra
      Mayur Jobanputra says:

      Hi Danny. There are lots of possible reasons for this. I would suggest that you try a larger butt diameter. Are you using a slim cue right now? It’s otherwise an issue that needs my coaching in person to correct. It’s also likely the orientation of your wrist and issue with overgripping. If you are gripping and cueing correctly, you are doing a sort of “release and catch” motion whereby you release the cue and have a light grip right up until the point after contact where you “catch” the cue. Send me some videos and I can investigate further.

      Reply
      • Danny W Belcher
        Danny W Belcher says:

        Hello Mayur and thank you,
        I finally seem to have done the work to “fix” my stroke mechanics and boy were they a mess. I had to find the actual center of the cueball and for this, I did down and back drills and I used the Joe Tucker “third eye” tool. Then I had to find the proper alignment of my eyes in relation to the cue and object ball and for this, I fabricated my own version of Steve Davis’s eye alignment device. Then I found that my thumb needed to be pointing straight down using an open and close grip – open on the way back and close going forward. Then I switched from primarily a closed loop style grip to an open “V” grip. I am right handed and right eye dominant so I started approaching every shot as far to the left of the shot line as I could and moving to the right only enough until the shot was in visual alignment ( there is a sweet spot!). Last but not least my follow through had to be greatly improved and to help regroove my stroke I imagined trying to hit my right ear (because I was swinging in towards my ribs too much) on the stroke. This last bit helped tie everything together into a fairly straight stroke. Now I need to practice these new techniques for many months until they become instinctual. Now I practice long stop shots over and over as I try to imprint this new approach.

        Reply
  7. Ron
    Ron says:

    I am working on my back stroke and I can’t seem to get it consistent. I practice shooting straight middle of the table long shot and I will sometimes hit them straight in but the other half are mostly hit too much to the right of the object ball. I think I’m having problem taking the cue back straight. Any suggestions of what I could be doing wrong so I could work on it.

    Reply
    • Mayur Jobanputra
      Mayur Jobanputra says:

      Working a practice routine down the middle of the table does give some insight but it’s a routine you never seen in actual game play. Are you able to send a video so I can see what’s going on?

      Reply
  8. Siavash
    Siavash says:

    Hello,
    I would appreciate if you could help me with my issue, i see top players cue action are very smooth and in a straight line, but mine will have tension when hits my chest, i tried to release the cue from my chin but im not sure is it a right thing to do or not

    Reply
  9. Belal
    Belal says:

    Hello Mayur,

    Thank you for great posts and timely responses to posts. I am sure it has helped alot of players to develop their game.

    I have an issue with my game which i am not able to solve. When I am down on the shot, i tend to focus more on my cue action, stance, bridge etc. and less on the shot itself. At times i feel i need to adjust my bridge, i do it, and it works for some time, but then again i feel something is wrong and i make more adjustments. This has been the case for sometime now, and i dont know what can be done to overcome this. If you have any suggestions to fix this please let me know.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Mayur Jobanputra
      Mayur Jobanputra says:

      Hi Belal. What kind of experiments have you done? For example, have you ever tried just getting down and shooting, even though it “looks” off? I know this is going to sound counter-intuitive (most secrets are), but try this: Get your stance right and get down into the shot. Now, instead of using your eyes to adjust and using your eyes to execute the shot, don’t adjust at all and don’t rely on your vision. Instead, just pay mental attention (not visual!) to your arm and your hand pushing the cue through straight. Forget about the outcome. I do this on a regular basis because I know (through observation and repetition) that my stance and my body position is correct but that my head isn’t always in the correct position. You simply cannot expect your head (which is your vision) to be in exactly the right spot each and every time. I don’t trust my eyes when I’m down to tell me if I’m on or off. You see one of the great mistakes people make in this game is that what you see when you are down isn’t always telling you the truth. The eyes are correct when you stand, but that’s the last time they play a key role. Everything else is body awareness and position and it’s not the eyes job to tell the body how to move.

      Reply
  10. Craig wood
    Craig wood says:

    Hi, the problem I’ve been told I have is that my cue arm isn’t in line. It’s angle out to the right if you watched me play from behind. Is there anything I can do ? Because I’m not even aware I’m doing it.

    Reply
  11. Richard bogulak
    Richard bogulak says:

    Do not seem to trust myself with my cueing back and forth motion and my eyes although my eyes are on object ball when striking.used to be able to make 100 breaks now only 50 -60.

    Reply
    • Mayur Jobanputra
      Mayur Jobanputra says:

      Hi Richard. Thanks for leaving a comment. Are you able to send me a video so I can review? A few checkpoints when setting up.. When feathering and getting ready for the final stroke.. its normal to look for alignment and “feel” if you are going to make the pot.. but one check is to make sure you are hitting the cue ball in the middle.. even a little off center can cause problems. Also make sure that you stand in the right place before you start.. Take the time to find the potting line. I can’t really help without knowing your specific challenges.. regarding trust.. look for the simplest and easiest solution where you aren’t thinking.. stop thinking about it and just look for feel.. its a dance

      Reply