Friday, January 16, 2009

Caution: Boring Pool Stuff Ahead

"I really need to work on my break"
"Yeah, everyone does... even the pros."
conversation during a game

Back in May I re-posted a video from the blog by pool minnow, about how to have an incredible power break. I watched the video a few times... more often than not deciding the audio was terrible, and I wasn't dedicated to killing my hearing every time the cueball struck the rack. So many times I watched about 4 to 5 minutes... and then gave up and did something else.

When I watch a pro (on espn, youtube, propoolvideo, etc) I can see how their body moves and where the cueball goes. Watching how the cueball reacts tells me what the english does... watching the person's body tells me what the cuestick does. But what I can't see is where they want the cueball to hit when it gently touches the rack with the force of a sledge-hammer behind it. Where is the player looking in the rack, when they're aiming for the break.
Right then...

Because of this video I also decided that I would modify my break, 1 piece at a time.
I break from the right side of the table, this wouldn't be changing.
I use 2 different break spots... first spot is at the head string... 1 diamond in. As exact as I can get without busting out the tape measure.
I aim at different spots depending on what kind of rack I'm facing. I'll describe this part later... by this point, you'll probably have gotten bored and clicked away to another page, but maybe pretty pictures will keep you around (kat)

I took a single piece of magic from the video... went to a pool hall, and spent 4 hours breaking 8 and 9 ball racks.
And yea, I'm a geek... I actually took pen and paper, and charted my results. (I won't subject you to that though.) If you care to know... comment, or email... whatever.

Here's basically where I was aiming, and breaking from... with each change I did change the aim point, and the starting spot.
Where the chalk is = where my eyes are aiming

My first modification was to choke up on the cue stick. I'll talk about the 8ball rack. Pretty much always an 8 ball rack unless mentioned.

Before In the past I've always taken the break stick from the farthest point back as a comfortable grip would allow.
with this I was getting about ball to pocket out of 10 breaks, with a decent spread.

The Change When I approach the table... I have the stick just like a regular hit during a game. Before I bend over, I adjusted my grip about a full fist forward.

After With this change I was getting the same... 1 out of 10 racks. That's 1 out of 150 balls. Crap results.
But the spread did improve and I usually had 2 or 3 balls drift towards at least 1 pocket. Made for a lot of ducks, and an easy out for the other guy.

I'm not really happy with this modification.
Oh, my consistancy dropped too.

Before My next modifcation was to revert back to my original grip placement... but change the english.
I was using center english... I'd aim just a TOUCH lower than center, maybe 1/2 tip lower... because when I was hitting the cueball my stroke would end up hitting center. Yea, I've tested this. If you care to know how... comment, or email... whatever.

The Change Anyway... still knocking in 1 out of 150 balls, so I adjusted to hit the cueball 1/2 tip north... and about a full tip east.
Pretty close to 1, maybe 1:30 on the ball.

After I wasn't making any more, but the cueball did start moving the 8 a good amount... which was a wonderful thing.
Usually towards the side, but on occasion towards the corner.
Spread and make percentage didn't change... but I kept the change for a little while on the slim chance the 8 would drop during a match one day.

Before Long ago before I was conscious of my break results, I'd aim at a particular contact spot for a 9 ball rack... and a particular spot for an 8ball rack.
With a 9 ball rack this was no issue... but with the 8ball rack, there was so much more activity on the table I'd often forget exactly which aiming "point/spot" gave me the best results, translating into me forgetting where to aim.

The Change This is where the chart that I mentioned earlier, was most important.
I hit 10 racks... 1 stroke, same english, same stroke, different contact point, different starting position.
10 racks... then moved to next aim spot... 10 racks... next aim spot... finished all the spots... move to a different starting position... lather, rinse, repeat.

(kat) So I'm not going to describe it... I'm just going to make some cuetable pages, and hope you have java installed... if you don't, you're not going to see what I documented.

After Long Data Short... My best results were to aim from the head string, 1 diamond in, and aim for the far 2nd ball in the rack for as full a hit as possible... as if the head ball wasn't even there.
3 out of 10 racks, this dropped 2 balls. another 4 racks dropped 1, and 3 more came up empty.

The biggest change of all was my stance.
Before My normal break is was all arm. I'd ensure proper grip, ensure proper cueball placement, settle into my stance, take some practice strokes, pause, then pound the cueball as hard as my geeky arm could.

The Change As I'm settling into my stance I move my back foot forward about an inch. Just a guess... I move it forward enough to slightly bend my leg, but still have a stable stance. Lowering my hips a bit... I start my practice strokes.
When I'm ready (and I'm still working on this part coming naturally) I project my rear leg up and forward, and in 1 fluid flurry of motion... the cueball is sent flying towards the pack.

As my leg is extending my arm is also exstending to keep the cue level... my chest heaves forward a bit and my hips rise even with my fist. The moment my leg is fully extended my arm begins to accelerate forward... I do my best not to move my shoulder, and I push the cue stick into the middle of the table. At least that's my focus point.
My grip is still at the back of the stick
My aim is still at the 2nd ball in the pack, on the far side.
My english is just above and just barely to the right of center.

After 1 out of 15 balls drops. on average 1 per break... and I'm ok with this, because I'm almost always staying at the table.
Granted... every now and then I make 2, or 3 on the break... and 2 breaks later I make nothing. So it evens out to 1 per break.

If you've made it this far... wow.

Just wow.

So how do you break? Do you have a power break? Is your's a soft yet effective break? Share it in the coments.

Oh, and don't bother going into the detail I have in this post. Unless you REALLY REALLY want to, well then have at it.