Questions and Answers with Jerry Briesath
Q: What is the best way to correct a student with the problem of "raising up " on the shot ?
A: Thanks for your question and it is a good one. Many Pool players move their head while they are stroking through the cue ball which is a huge mistake and causes many a match to be lost. Once a player gets the habit of moving their head as they are shooting, it becomes ingrained in their muscle memory. The best way to fix it is to place the cue ball on the head spot and an object fall at the far end of the table near one of the corner pockets. Place the object ball six or 8 inches from the pocket with an angle that requires one half to one third ball hit. Now with that big of an angle the cue ball will roll a long ways after pocketing the object ball. Now the player must shoot the shot and not move his head even 1/4" until the cue ball stops rolling. You can also set up shots with a large angle into the side pocket and do the same thing, the head must not move until the cue ball stops rolling. This is the only way to retrain the muscles not to move during the shot. It teaches the player to actually watch the collision between the cue ball and the object ball in his or her shooting position and the head cannot move until the cue ball stops.
Q: I have recently read some information on swerve that I find hard to believe and would like to get your take on it. According to this author, when you use left or right english on the horizontal centerline, (no follow or draw), you will of course get squirt, but according to him no eventual swerve back. Additionally, he states that english applied off the horizontal centerline, (accompanied by follow or draw), will result in eventual swerve, but in opposite directions, one way if follow is applied and the other with draw, (same side english of course). This doesn't make any sense to me. Why would high right swerve back one direction and low right swerve back the other, and center right not swerve back at all? Is this information correct? If so can you explain?
A: We know that if you keep the cue as level as possible and strike the cue ball with low right English the cue ball will deflect to the left and then eventually swerve very slightly to the right. And if you elevate the cue with right-hand English the cue ball will deflect to the left and then swerve much more to the right than with a level cue. Now remember, it is almost impossible to get the cue level on a pool table because even on a follow shot the butt of the cue is almost always higher than the tip so if you strike the cue ball with high right it will also deflect to the left and then swerve slightly back to the right.
Now here's a twist -- with right-hand English you have two choices, a level cue and an elevated cue which means you're either shooting level at the ball or down at the ball and you're even shooting slightly down at the ball with a follow shot as I mentioned above. Now let's pretend the cue ball is on the very edge of your kitchen table and you lower the butt of the cue below the table level so you are shooting up at the right side of the ball, now the ball will deflect to the left and swerve more to the left as it progresses down the table.
So the only way you could use right-handed spin and caused the cue ball to deflect to the left then swerve more to the left is if you were shooting at an up angle towards the right side of the cue ball.
Q: As we get older and it's harder to physically play 8 hours a day, is there a specific excercise or excercises you would recommend for our neck, legs and back?
A: You are so right, when a young player falls in love with our sport, playing for eight to 12 hours a day is a piece of cake. Then sometimes with age and lifestyle changes, playing in those double elimination tournament's that last 12 or 14 hours can take its toll.
Staying focused hour after hour requires both mental and physical stamina and nothing drains your mental stamina faster than your body saying "I'm tired and I hurt". One of the best exercises for pool muscles is swimming or It may be as simple as taking a brisk 10 minute walk several times a week and eventually building it up to a 30 or 40 minute walk. One thing you want to avoid prior to playing pool is lifting weights which means you never help your neighbor move his furniture to a new house a day or two before a Pool tournament.
By the way, never start an exercise program without checking with your doctor.
Q: I am having problems with banking and kicking. Some people aim at the diamonds when banking or kicking and others use the actual points on the cushions. I just cannot find a way to bank balls consistently. Furthermore, at some pool halls the lighting from other tables, or even the table you are playing on, reflect on the rail and I cannot see the diamonds. It is really hard to aim without having anything in the background to reference. Any suggestions?
A: First you must understand that all amateurs have problems banking and kicking and even the pros only bank as a last resort. Let me give you a few reasons, and there are many many more, why banking is so difficult. First of all if you are playing on a new cloth and you roll the bank softly the object ball has a tendency to go past the intended pocket or a long whereas on an older cloth the object ball would go into the pocket when struck softly on the same angle. Second, if you shoot the same shot with a crisp speed the object ball will rebound off the rail at less of an angle than it went into the rail and will usually be short of the intended pocket. So when one player says he always aims at the diamonds and another player says he always aims in front of the diamonds, neither one will be a consistent banker because of the variations. The good players know that the diamonds are only a guide and that the angles vary with conditions.
Humidity also plays a role. When it is very humid in the room the object balls come off the rail at a sharper angle than they go into the rail and hit short of the intended pocket.
Here is the kicker that will help you make a lot more banks. Nine out of 10 banks that are missed are missed short of the pocket so the secret is to bank the object ball to go a little past the intended pocket than the angle dictates and you should make twice as many banks.
I agree with you that it is very difficult to aim when you cannot see your reference point on the opposite rail. Just remember to play the object ball an inch or two past the intended pocket and you will be surprised at the results.
Q: I watched Jerry's video 'How to play pool right' a while back. I have developed my own shot cycle (shooting system) and I am very aware of every single thing that I do from the time I get out of my chair to the time I have to sit down again. In the video Jerry recommends lining up the chin with the cue ball when approaching a shot. I started doing this about 2 years ago and it works great for me. It helps me visualize the aiming line/path , the ghost ball, the object ball, and the line/path to the pocket. However, when I am ready to go down, I have to move my right foot (I am right-handed) to the left so it is on the aiming line/path. It all works good for me but lately I have been questioning the whole approach because I have never seen any other player approach the shot in a similar fashion. Furthermore, I have not seen a pro player do this before. All of the pro players that I have seen do not have to move their right foot so much.
A: I'm glad you took my advice and started doing that chin lock routine that I explain on the DVD. If you watch closely you'll see that every pro keeps his chin in line with the shot before and while he is bending over into his shooting position. Don't change that.
The thing that seems to bother you is that right foot movement. The pros you are watching may be getting into their chin lock position with their body already turned slightly to the right which pulls that right foot back more in line with the line of the shot before they start bending over into their shooting position. When you get out there and watch more pros play you will see that some of them get that right foot in line before they bend over and some do it as they're bending over into their shooting position the way you are doing it.
You mentioned a couple of times how great that chin lock system worked for you. And your explanation of how you visualize the aiming path and so forth was very well done. Don't stop using it because it works as well for you as it does for the pros and every pro does it whether they know it or not. It's an automatic part of their pre-shot routine.
Q: Is there something you do differently on a long draw shot as opposed to a medium or short draw shot? Do you have a senior discount on your vidieos?
A: By the way you state your question I think you're okay on the short draw shots but have trouble with a long draw shots.
The only difference between the two is that you must use more power on the long draw shots and that's where the problem comes in because when we shoot hard we lose some control of where the tip strikes the cue ball. Novice players tend to speed up the backswing as they use more power. One of the ways to overcome this and make your power draw more consistent is to slow down the backswing.
One more thing to check is your follow-through. As you accelerate the cue through the cue ball, the tip must strike the cue ball at least 1 3/4 tips below center then continue through the cue ball into the cloth and scrape the cloth the remaining three or 4 inches of the follow-through. If the tip does not end up on the cloth at the end of a draw shot you are dropping your elbow during the swing which causes you to strike the cue ball higher than where you aimed.
You might want to invest in my three DVD set "A Pool Lesson". You can order it right here on my site
Q: I was wishing you could tell me where some other pool camps are near the New Jersey Area. It would also be nice of you if you could tell me how to hit a jump ball, back spin, and english.
A: Thanks for your interest in my school. I think the first thing you should do is get the official BCA tape "How to Play Pool Right". If you cannot find one in your area you can send me a check for $25 and I will send one to your door. It is a very good tape that will answer many of your questions.
I may be coming to the New Jersey area to give a clinic but I do not have the details yet. You can go to my web site (poollessons.com) and go to the links page and then to the BCA where you will find a list of all the instructors in the U.S.. If you have any other questions please give me a call at 623-584-9221.
Q: After shooting a shot and the cue ball ends up on the rail. What is the best way to shot next at a ball and get position on another shot?
A: First of all when shooting off the rail is important to have the cue as level as possible, and use an open thumb bridge rather than a closed bridge. It is extremely difficult to use any side spin or bottom spin when shooting off the rail, therefore choose a shot that you can use follow with to get position on the next ball.
Q: I think I am a pretty good pool player and I plan on attending one of your classes in February. Anyway I think I am pretty good at shotmaking but my positions is not so great, are there any drills I can do that can maybe help me in that area?
A: Thanks for your interest in my school. The first thing you should do is get my three DVD set "A Pool Lesson". It will give you a lot of knowledge about using tangent lines to improve your position play. You will learn about follow shots, draw shots, stop shots and tangent line shots, which are stop shots with an angle. It is easy to understand and you will be improving in no time at all.
One great exercise is to throw three balls on the table and now you must play the balls off in rotation. You start with cue ball in hand and before you place the cue ball to shoot the lowest number ball, ask yourself where you would like the cue ball to end up so that you have an easy shot and the proper angle on the second ball making it easy to get to the third ball. This exercise is great because it starts training you to leave the correct angle on the second ball so you can easily get to the third ball.
When you are ready for those lessons please give me a call and if you can't find that DVD or tape in your area give me a call at one of the numbers on my web site and I will send one to you.
Q: My pool stroke is very poor please help me.
A: You are certainly asking the right question first. Before you can shoot straight, have speed control or play position you must develop a good stroke and know exactly what it is. First I will tell you what a good stroke is. It is a smooth throwing motion with the forearm with very little up or down elbow movement.
The stroke always starts with the cue tip at the cue ball and you are finished aiming a ready to shoot. Start the stroke with a smooth, slow backswing of 8 to 10 inches depending on the length of your bridge, then accelerate the cue through and past the cue ball with a four to six inch follow-through. When the stroke is finished the cue stick should be pointing exactly at the cue ball as it rolls down the table. Practice this by placing a cue ball on the spot and shooting it into one of the far corner pockets using that slow backswing with acceleration through the cue ball.
Be sure to freeze and hold your position after the stroke is complete to make sure the cue stick is pointing directly across the spot. Now with the cue ball on the spot, place an object ball near one of the far corner pockets and practice this stroking technique until it is easily repeated.
Thanks -- Jerry
P.S. Be sure to get my three DVD set "A Pool Lesson". It will demonstrate everything I said and make it easier for you to learn. If you cannot find one in your area call me and I can send you one.
Q: If after a shot, the cue ball comes to rest on top of the rail, is this considered a foul?
A: New Rule From the BCA Rulebook:
BALLS JUMPED OFF TABLE
Balls coming to rest other than on the bed of the table after a stroke (on the cushion top, rail surface, floor, etc.) are considered jumped balls. Balls may bounce on the cushion tops and rails of the table in play without being jumped balls if they return to the bed of the table under their own power and without touching anything not a part of the table. The table shall consist of the permanent part of the table proper. (Balls that strike or touch anything not a part of the table, such as the light fixture, chalk on the rails and cushion tops, etc., shall be considered jumped balls even though they might return to the bed of the table after contacting items which are not parts of the table proper).