Whether you’re walking into a smoky pool room (They’re all smoky, always. Smoking bans and health nuts aren’t what controls the smokiness of a good pool room, its the players that make a room smoky. The haze of the gamble is only broken by the constant banter of the hustle.), or just trying to look like the coolest guy in your buddy’s basement, the first thing you have to know are two words. Solid. Balance.
Lesson number one doesn’t have anything to do with making shots, aim points, cue ball control or shooting drills. Lesson one is having a solid bridge and a solid stance. That’s it. Without a good bridge and stance you’ll never be a good pool player, there’s no way to sugar coat that fact.
Now, it doesn’t matter at all what style bridge you use, in fact, throughout the course of a rack, I’ll change my bridge every shot if its necessary.
Here’s a test: make your bridge like you would if you were getting ready to take a shot. Now, take your other hand and smack your bridge hand. If your bridge hand moves, you fail. Your bridge should be so solidly in place that the only way to move it would be for someone to walk over and physically pick your hand up by the wrist.
I cannot stress this enough. The only way to be consistent with your stroke and aim is to be as unwavering as possible with your bridge.
Your stance is just as important as your bridge, and just as open to different styles, too. Some people line up square to their shot, some people put their feet in a parallel line to the shot, some folks even cock their head sideways to aim.
I’m not going to spend an hour making you convince yourself that you’re comfortable in a stance if it makes you feel like you have to be a circus contortionist every time you rack ’em up, do it how you’re comfortable. The only thing you must do is have some knee bend. The reason you need to bend you knees is the same reason you need a solid bridge, consistency. Think about how you would stand if someone was trying to push you over. If you’re not in balance, with your feet solidly on the ground, you won’t even be able to learn the basics of aim and shot making.
Have you ever watched (or been this person) someone set up for a shot and the tip of the cue moves around and they just can’t get still to aim? That’s a weak bridge and an unanchored stance. With balance and solidity, the tip of that cue stops moving, your head stays still, and you can concentrate.
Try this. You’re not going to be a world beater overnight, but I guarantee that you’ll natural and make more shots just from focusing on your stance and bridge.
Hit ’em straight.