By Roger Long
Advanced Certified Instructor
When it comes to the stance, I think I probably teach the same thing that most other instructors teach. What we try to emphasize is that the stance should be balanced and comfortable. If you have adopted a stance that is balanced and comfortable, then you are 90% of the way home. But today, it’s the remaining 10% that I’d like to take a closer look at.
Let us first examine a typical “balanced” stance. This is a stance that will have the feet placed at an effective angle to the line-of-aim (the direction the cue stick points). By “effective” I mean that the angle should not be less than 15° or more than 45°. Any foot placement that closes the angle to less than 15° or opens it to more than 45° makes it very difficult to get your head and upper body over the cue without losing your balance.
As far as “comfortable” goes, that is largely a matter of personal preference. Since people have all sorts of different physical make-ups, they can’t all stand over a shot exactly the same way. Depending upon how high or low they want their head to be over the cue, some will prefer to put their feet close together and adjust height by flexing (or not) at the knees; while others will prefer to lock at the knees and spread their feet wide apart to get low, and maybe not spread them so wide for higher head elevations. Any method the shooter prefers is acceptable as long as he or she is balanced and comfortable.
Over time, however, some players will change their stance in search of more comfort or better balance. Oftentimes, these changes are subconscious and the player isn’t even aware that they have taken place. But some changes in the stance may require other adjustments to be made in order to keep the cue level and straight. (For example, changing the height you stand over the cue requires a change in the placement of your grip hand in order to keep the cue level.) But if a player isn’t consciously aware that a change has taken place, there will be little chance that he or she will be able to figure out what the problem is when some shots are missed.
Proper aiming still plays the most important role in pocketing balls. The best vantage point for a good aim is with the head directly above the cue. And the best upper body alignment is one where the head, both hands, the rear shoulder, and rear elbow, are all in one vertical plane. When a player has practiced this type of alignment while using only one certain stance, it can then be easy to lose the instinctive feel needed for that alignment when a change in the stance has taken place.
The point here is that the stance deserves more attention than what most players think. If you’ve been having trouble with your aiming consistency; examine your stance. You may have to enlist the aid of a friend or wall mirror to help you see it, but you just might find that your problem is down at ground level.