Hi everyone! As always, thanks for writing in with any questions you may have about your pool game. I have been teaching for many years now, and the question I want to cover this month is about dropping the elbow during the stroke.
I typically stand in an open stance, meaning that I more or less face each shot. If you do the same, you know that it is difficult to follow through beyond a certain point because the chest inhibits this. It is only possible to get more follow through by dropping the elbow.
In a typical pool stance, where the body is turned more to the side, it is easy to get more follow through, for the chest does not inhibit the stroke any more. However, the question really is how much follow through beyond hitting the cue ball do we need? The cue tip stays in contact with the ball for one two-thousandths of a second. This has been proven with the use of slow-motion camera.
So why follow through? The purpose of following through is for a consistent and natural stroke. It is part of having great fundamentals. You will never see a golfer or a tennis player stopping after striking the ball. The reason is that they would be slowing down their stroke during contact. The game of pool is all about timing, the energy we are giving the ball during contact. When the cue ball does not go from “A” to “B,” often it is because we decelerated the cue during the delivery. The spin stays on much longer with a good follow through because of the energy and mass of the cue.
When I teach, I tell my students that their back swing should look like their follow through—a mirror image. Of course this will vary, depending on the power of the shot. I teach my students not to drop their elbows. I like to keep everything as compact as possible. Only in very extreme circumstances, like with a long draw shot, would a longer follow through help because of more stick speed. The most important thing is to be accelerating when impacting the cue ball with a smooth delivery.
The only things that should be moving during a stroke are the eyes and the lower arm from the elbow down. I think when some players try to create more power, they tense the muscles up, hitting the ball like it is a brick wall. Therefore, very little spin is applied to the cue ball. Others create power by dropping the arm, which can bring the tip up at the wrong time. See what happens when you drop the elbow. You will see the tip ends up in the air, thus not contacting the cue ball in the correct spot. This is where timing comes in to play. Stay very loose in the arm so that the biceps and triceps can do their job at the right time. Just be aware of what you are doing, as this will help you improve your game.