Your cue action, your body mechanics, and your stroke fundamentals are the primary tools you use to play snooker, pool, billiards and all other cue sports in a consistent way. The more you can discover, learn and practice these foundational tools, the better and more consistent a player you will become. I don’t profess to be a master of body and cue action mechanics, but I know a thing or two about proper execution. See these posts below where I discuss various aspects of your cue action mechanics.

Snooker Breakbuilding Tips and How To – 62 Break Explained

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Breakbuilding is crucial to your success in snooker and other cue sports. The best way to win in cue sports is to clear up all the balls. I have been working on my break building for many years and have finally started knocking in several 50+ breaks. I was at my friends last night – he has a 5’x10′ table – and I knocked in a 62 break. I have recorded my commentary and tips in the break and placed them on Youtube so can learn and get better at your snooker breakbuilding and cue ball control skill. Shot selection is crucial in snooker and I have tried to provide some ideas and tips in this break.

Got comments? Leave them below!

WITH Commentary:

WITHOUT Commentary:

How to Fix your Cue Action and Stance – Analysis of Duane

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A commenter, Duane, asked me a number of questions recently as you can see at the following comments on a few of my articles. Duane sent me some videos of himself playing on a pool table and I provided a bunch of feedback through analysis and assessment of his cue action. If you are looking for FREE assessment or analysis of your cue action, stance, stroke, or game play, send some videos of you playing snooker, billiards, pool, or any cue sport. I love watching these videos and learning from my students and providing feedback to help them.

SCROLL to the END of the article to see the video

Hello Mayur
I am working on approach and coming down slowly it does seem to be a key ingredient in great play when you say look at the cueball while feathering do you mean on your practice strokes and then are you looking at the object ball aim point only once at the flow through

Thanks this is great insight into the game

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Hello Mayur
Thanks for responding to my question .It has been very helpful. I am currently implementing some of your suggestions and am having some good results.Yes I am interested in hearing more of your thoughts n this subject. I believe steering is a major reason why I and others miss balls.I in particular fall victim to this because I have difficult looking at the object ball last

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Great instructional video on fundamentals. I learned a lot about what I should be doing and shouldn’t.
Here are some question I have problems with.
One ,what is the best way to make sure your stroking arm is on line ,and straight ,mine tends to chicken wing out off line or in ,but not fall straight on line.
Two what is the best way to release the cue straight( follow stroke) some times I feel I jerk the cue especially on firm strokes I feel aim holding the cue loose but I still am steering. Thanks looking forward to hearing your response

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Hello everyone. Great article on pressure and how to use it. I never thought about it that way And it really shed some light on why I Need to play more safe, instead of just going for it.

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Hello I live in the US. I am a serious student .I have played pool ,snooker and billiards for 25 years. I currently play 8 ball, 9 ball, and 10 ball, and one pocket.I have been recently getting lower on the ball for improved aim My high run back 15 years ago was 69 on 5 dx10 but have not played snooker in several years .I play with a 60 inch cue 19 oz with Predator z 2 shaft 11 3/4 mm. I am trying to make it to the next level and believe that fundamentals is one of the main ways to do this. I would appreciate any help you have to offer. Thanks Duane

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In the video below, I provided various feedback to Duane, talking about:

  • Importance of having a stable, predictable, and well planned stance and how it’s important to stand in the right place, facing your shot head on, with both feet, and learning to walk into the line of aim correctly.
  • General recommendations on height vs cue size
  • Thinking about how to play safe in 8-ball and 9-ball vs snooker and why playing safe is an inevitability at some point in any cue sport. I also mentioned about the art of safety play on the smaller table. I also mentioned about the push shot in 9-ball off the break.
  • Mentioned some strategies to prevent steering – namely that steering actually starts from the stance and pre-routine.
  • How to think about the ghost ball in you pre-shot routine and mentioned that it helps in identification of the 1/4, 1/2 ball, and 3/4 ball
  • How to prevent aiming when you are down and why aiming in cue sports is so difficult.
  • How to create an approach system for getting into your shots
  • Accuracy in cue sports (snooker, pool, 8-ball, 9-ball, billiards, etc)
  • Talked about traditional cue action mechanics and getting your head down low and why it’s important to actually have your head down vs being a stand up player.
  • What happens when your head is above the cue
  • Slight variance about missing shots
  • Twisting of the wrist and why it’s happening and when Duane’s wrist came out of line on the backswing
  • Conscious vs Subconscious potting and wrist issues
  • How to create a stance that actually works
  • I also mentioned Mark Allen, Mark Selby, and Ronnie O’Sullivan
  • Thinking about the body being a starting point that can either inhibit or enhance your aiming system

There are MANY more comments in the video. PLEASE comment and enjoy!

CLICK HERE to watch on YOUTUBE. COMMENT on YOUTUBE or in the comments below or on Facebook! Thanks!!

CLICK the video below to PLAY

Knowing when you might miss a shot

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We all miss shots. Missing a shot is something you need to learn to accept, evaluate, and eliminate. Missing shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing, but instead as a learning experience that provides you the necessary feedback to improve.

Getting Upset

I see players that miss shots and then are upset with themselves. It’s natural, in a match or in practice to get upset initially, but you should move on quickly from that mistake. It’s history. It can’t be changed. The consequences of that action are already playing themselves out. Once the cue ball is struck, what happens after is not within your control. If you find yourself getting upset often, then your expectations exceed your ability. Or perhaps you lack the emotional control required to deal with failure. Whatever the reason, something you are doing needs to change.

Why you miss

If we could look back at videotapes or ourselves playing, it would be easier to identify why we miss shots. Recently I have been recording my own match play at a friends house. I have had the advantage of seeing a lot of video of myself and it has helped me become more self aware. Some people struggle in identifying their weakness or are unwilling to accept that they lack the skill. They stubbornly stick with the same way of thinking, unwilling to work on their weakness, and then wonder why they continue missing and get upset.

There are many reasons why we might miss shots:

  • difficult cueing – over a ball or near the cushion for example
  • pressure – either in a match, or when trying to reach a new personal best in practice
  • imperfect mechanics – either from your stance, your eyes, your hand, your grip etc.
  • difficult pot – the pot itself is inherently difficult like a long shot, or thin slice or having to pot into only a portion of the pocket
  • unwilling to sacrifice position – sometimes, potting the ball successfully means that you just won’t get the position you desire and need to reassess your outcome
  • equipment issues – kicks, bad cushions, miscues, etc.
  • inadequate understanding – of english, ball striking, ball control, cushions, etc.
  • unreasonable expectations given our level of skill

Everyone is individual and will have shots they are more or less likely to miss compare to someone else. For example, depending on your eye dominance, you may miss “right angles” more than “left angles” or visa versa. Pros on TV are no exception – some are just better at some shots than others.

Some shots, as a general rule, are also missed more than others by everyone. For example:

  • down the cushion
  • very thin cuts
  • shots with the rest
  • long shots

Playing your best vs playing perfectly

What if I told you that you won’t play the kind of snooker you WANT to play, and that you WILL miss shots you didn’t expect to? Most snooker players are always looking to improve their game and so always see a gap between their aspirations and their current ability. Would that make it easier to accept misses? I doubt it. Missing still hurts because its unexpected.

Now, what if I told you that for any shot you attempt (safety or pot) that there is ALWAYS an estimated chance you will be successful? That knowing your past history with that shot, we can guesstimate your success rate for the next one? This success rate is something we all know as snooker players. We know when it’s a tough shot vs an easy shot. For most players, that’s as far as their thought process goes: it’s hard vs it’s easy. It’s nearly impossible, however, to determine success rate on a shot by shot basis and then make a decision based on past performance.

Success Rate

Success rate is an important feedback mechanism in shot planning. I believe one day we might even start seeing success rate for any given shot for pros as they already have the ability to measure distances between cue ball, object ball and pocket on television with the technology available.

Since you have the ability to assess your own individual success rate for every single shot you play, are you able to use that in shot planning? I would venture to guess you probably already are. Subconsciously, you probably turn down shots that others wouldn’t pass up. Are you willing to pass up shots you haven’t yet perfected because you know based on past experience that your success rate is unacceptably low?

Knowing our own success rate from shot to shot often comes into the pre-shot decision making process – going for the pot or playing safe. Our success rate also gets used by our opponents in determining what shots they decide to leave us. I remember many years ago, friends would always leave me side pocket shots because I struggled to pot them until I practiced and overcame my own lack of skill.

We can also make general rules about success rates for different kinds of shots also and suggest that some shots are always harder to execute. For example, I have one friend that consistently plays his cue ball on or near the cushion. He claims that doing so is a defence mechanism against his opponent – as most people have trouble off the cushion, but I also know his success rate off the cushion isn’t that much better than anyone else.

Accept misses as part of the game, and work hard on perfecting your own skill level in the game and improving at your own pace. If you personal high break is 30, carefully monitor what shot you missed, and practice it until you fully understand it. Each time you do this, you increase your chance of beating your last performance.

Monitor your own progress

Watching videos of yourself playing will tell you a lot about your own game. I have also found that practice routines will give you this feedback. One practice drill in particular – the lineup – provides great feedback for most players.

I have been doing the lineup recently in practice (2 reds below black, 6 below pink, and 7 below blue). In every session I have discovered certain patterns emerging. At first, I was having trouble clearing more than 5 or 6 reds, but once I started assessing what shots I’m missing more than others, I worked on them and overcame the difficulties. The lineup – and any other practice routine – is great for this kind of individual feedback because the balls are always in the same position, and if you play close attention, you can pickup on patterns for yourself. You will, however, need to be disciplined in how you approach practice so that you can gain this additional benefit and feedback: if you miss, or cannon a red, start over. With the lineup start with the 2 reds below the black (nearest the cushion first), and then directly above the black and either side of the pink, followed by all the remaining reds in whichever order you prefer.

Practice is great for understanding what shots you are more or less likely to miss, but what about when you are in a match? I think as snooker players, we tend to have a black/white method in our decision making on shot selection – either we go for the shot, or play safe. This polarity in shot selection, however, doesn’t translate into our success rate on producing the outcome we desire. Overall past success is much more grey and uncertain. Depending on our personality or mood, we might be more courageous than past performance allows.

Should you ignore past performance?

I’m sure some of you are reading this article thinking that past performance shouldn’t be an indicator of future success. I fully understand that courage, determination, and perseverance shouldn’t be ignored and that you need those qualities in match play. I know that you should overcome your fears and doubt, and take the shot on that’s called for, but I also know that you will need to accept failure as a possible outcome, if you decide to take that path.

I have found that it’s very hard to play matches by taking any shot on. Offense has it’s place in snooker, but so does knowing when to play the safety as well. Being realistic about our own abilities, and following our own success formula in match play, and then working on our weakness in practice will reduce the pressure we place on ourselves, and provide a system for improving our offensive and defensive capabilities.

Think through your past results when faced with a difficult shot. Knowing how often you missed a shot in the past, can provide a good baseline to make decisions from. If you decide, in the end, to take the shot on anyways – regardless of past performance – you can at least do so knowing that the results might not go your way.

How to Win in Snooker

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Everyone has their own theories on how snooker should be played. I’m of the opinion that scoring heavily truly is the recipe for success. Break building is something every snooker player should aspire to work on. By scoring heavily you ensure success for several reasons:

  1. Your opponent has no chance of scoring
  2. Your opponent can’t snooker you or play safe
  3. You increase your confidence

There is one aspect of consistent break building that is often missed by aspiring players: the ability to clear the balls under pressure. If you are a consistent and heavy scorer, that skill helps you to win frames, but it also helps you save frames. Under pressure when you need all the colors to win, being a consistent heavy scorer has it’s benefits:

  1. You become skilled in moving the cue ball into various positions
  2. You know how to play cannons and kisses
  3. You know how to clear the colors at the end of the frame
  4. You aren’t scared of taking chances and scoring heavily
  5. You are willing to split the pack early and clear the balls

So how do you become a good break builder and heavy scorer?

Many snooker players try to approach break building from the perspective of a pro. They go into the pack off the blue and then try to score. The problem with this approach is that they often aren’t ready or skilled enough to clear the table. Often it’s a complex mix of many primary issues:

  1. Lack cue ball control
  2. Lack potting ability
  3. Have poor ball selection
  4. Have poor mechanics
  5. Have poor focus and concentration

Often it’s a complex combination of the above primary skills that let them down. I think it’s actually more important and more useful to break down the individual pieces of a big break and deal with them one by one as individual practice routines:

  1. Clear the colors from a ball in hand position
  2. Learn how to go from black to yellow from different cue ball positions
  3. Learn how to go from pink to yellow from different cue ball positions
  4. Learn how to go from blue to yellow from different cue ball positions
  5. Clear 3 reds, 3 black balls and all the colors
  6. Clear 5 reds, 5 black balls and all the colors
  7. Clear 7 reds, 7 black balls and all the colors
  8. Open a pack of 3 reds below the pink with the cue ball low on the black, clear all reds with blacks and pinks, and all the colors
  9. Open a pack of 6 reds below the pink with the cue ball low on the black, clear all reds with blacks and pinks, and all the colors
  10. Open a pack of 10 reds below the pink with the cue ball low on the black, clear all reds with blacks and pinks, and all the colors

Focus and concentration can’t be worked on directly through any of the individual practice systems. Your focus and concentration develop as a side effect of practice assuming you are trying your best and looking to practice perfectly rather than imperfectly.

Once you have worked on the above practice routines and have had some success with each of them, it becomes much more apparent that you can score sufficiently when in match play because situations will become familiar to you and you will be able to draw on practice experience, knowledge, and muscle memory.

Break building is part science and part art. If you work on the fundamentals of cue ball control, potting, mechanics, and so forth, the rewards of practice eventually pay off in match play because things become familiar. As something becomes familiar in practice, it becomes familiar in match play when you need to “turn it on” and score. As it’s often said in cue sports, “practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect”.

Did you like this article? Let me know by leaving a comment and sharing your opinion!  Thanks!

Review of Saeed’s Cue Action and Review

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When asked I review the cue action of people that get in touch with me on Skype or email. Email and Skype are OK, but I prefer to see videos because I can see what is going on. See this video below of Saeed who got in touch with me and asked me for help.

Notice the position of his feet, the movement of his body and shoulders to the right as he measures and cues. Please watch the video and leave comments! Thank you!

Tutorial: How to stop missing certain angles in snooker

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There will always be some shots in snooker that you will consistently miss. I have put a lot of thought into why I miss shots over many years of playing. Often, when I leave the table after a missed shot, I try to recreate the shot in my head to see if there was something I missed. I often ask myself questions like:

  1. Was I rushed?
  2. Was I standing in the right place?
  3. Did I rush the shot?
  4. Did I cue poorly?
  5. Did I not concentrate?
  6. Was I on a big break and got nervous?
  7. Was I distracted by something or someone?
  8. Did I understand the angle correctly?

Whenever you miss a shot, this is good practice to do. It’s important that you do this because you can experiment and change the next time you face the shot (or any other shot) or remember to work on the practice table as well. If you pay close attention, you will find with some experience that there will always be some shots that you consistenly miss. You end up having to concentrate more on these shots which in turn makes you miss even more. Many of the common issues that will cause you to miss a shot can be corrected through a fundamental approach to every shot:

  1. Step 1: Determine where you want the cue ball to go
  2. Step 2: Determine where the cue ball will strike the object ball
  3. Step 3: Determine how to strike the cue ball – pace and position
  4. Step 4: Stand behind the intended line of the cue ball (NOTE: this is where a lot of amateur players get into trouble)
  5. Step 5: Walk into the shot in a specific consistent way
  6. Step 6: Feather and pause as needed
  7. Step 7: Strike the cue ball

However, even if you do everything suggested above, there will still be some shots that you miss often. A common example of a shot we all miss is shown below.


I tried over the years to determine WHY I missed this shot and I discovered that the MOST common reason players miss this shot is that they miss-read and misunderstand the angle.

What I mean by this is that even if you do any of these steps you could still miss:

  1. Stand in the right place
  2. Approach the shot correctly
  3. Feather and Pause correctly
  4. Cue perfectly

Somehow, either during practice or prevoius (or recent!) bad habits, you have learned an incorrect point of contact. This can be especially true if you previously played with a lot of side spin to “throw” the object ball into the pocket and you have sinced picked off that angle consistently incorrectly. I try to illustrate this point below. Notice the first cue ball making contact with the object ball below in grey. It strikes the black ball which in turns heads in the direction shown to the left. The second cue ball is shown in slight pink.


Other possible reasons you may be missing the angle or point of contact in a consistent basis are:

  1. You have changed your cue tip size
  2. You have changed from center-ball striking to striking with more side spin or visa versa (NOTE: always use center ball striking in snooker. Side really should not be learned until you become a regular 40-50-60 break player with center-ball striking.
  3. You simply haven’t practiced the shot enough
  4. You use some other imprecise method for aiming

Over many years of trial and error I have discovered a very useful method and practice routine you can use to understand angles of some shots better. This process involves working up to the angle from an angle you know (full ball for example) to an angle that you are uncomfortable with and don’t know (like the shot shown earlier). It’s a simple process that you can follow as shown below:

Start with this shot and count your success out of 50. You should be able to make this shot 50 out of 50 without difficulty.

Start with this shot and count your success out of 50. You should be able to make this shot 50 out of 50 without difficulty. It’s a good shot to start at because it will show you all the technical issues you may have.

After you have success with the previous shot, try this shot. Count your success out of 50. Try hard and concentrate.

After you have success with the previous shot, try this shot. In this shot, the cue ball is just slightly below full ball. It’s about 1-2 inches away from full ball and you should comfortably be able to make this shot. Count your success out of 50. You should be able to make this shot at least 45 out of 50. Try hard and concentrate.

Now the shot is getting harder. If you are not making this shot at least 40 out of 50, then there is something wrong and you shouldn't progress any further. I explain what to look at and pay attention to further below.

Now the shot is getting harder. Again, move the cue ball another 1-2 inches further away from the previous shot. If you are not making this shot at least 40 out of 50, then there is something wrong and you shouldn’t progress any further. I explain what to look at and pay attention to further below. Often, as mentioned in this article it’s a combination of your mechanics and technique and not recognizing the correct cue ball contact point on the object ball.

With this shot, you are starting to work towards the toughest shot and you should be see whats going wrong. Again stop with this shot until you fully understand the shot and are making it 40 out of 50.

With this shot, you are starting to work towards the toughest shot. This is a common angle to start missing because some players tend to look at the pocket and in this shot, this will be difficult. Again stop with this shot until you fully understand the shot and are making it 40 out of 50. When I say ‘understand’ what I mean is to keep studying the angle, and the cue ball path until you intimately understand the shot and you can visually see the impact as well as the cue ball path instantly.

Only attempt this shot if you have mastered the other 4 shots. You should be able to make this shot at least 40 out of 50.

Only attempt this shot if you have mastered the other 4 shots. You should be able to make this shot at least 40 out of 50 with practice and study. You should really spend focused time when doing these practice routines. Focus on angles, contact points and pace. Work hard and study your body and the reactions of the balls. You should be paying attention when in practice.


With the above tutorial, it’s a simple process of doing the shot from easy to hard and creating some success. If you believe it’s just about muscle memory and angles, you are missing the point. The real growth will come when you study the missed shots. It’s when you miss and then study what went wrong, that you understand what you need to do. When I say understand the shot, what I mean is:

  1. Perceive the angle perfectly
  2. Feel when it’s wrong
  3. Sense where the cue ball will go
  4. Know the object ball will get pocketed

I use a lot of “right brain” (creative) ways of describing how to understand the shot because I believe that success in this game is part science (angles, collisions, spin) but also part art as well. Only you can fix the shot based on your own brain’s ability to perceive and sense where it’s going wrong.

I hope that helps!  Please leave comments and rate below!


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!