By Roger Long
Advanced Certified Instructor
Have you ever examined your own pool stance? If you have, did you think it is okay the way it is, or did you think it could use some improvement? Do you know the difference between a good stance and a bad stance? Does the stance make any difference, anyway?
First off, let’s identify the purpose for developing a “good” stance. A good stance will provide two basic elements: balance and comfort.
Now let’s examine that first element; balance. In relation to your line of aim (the invisible line the cue stick is stroked along) there are three basic ways the feet can be positioned: The first is the totally closed position. The second is the totally open position. And the third is at some angle between totally closed and totally open.
To understand all this, you have to first imagine the totally closed stance as being that where one foot is placed directly in front of the other, just as you would have to do if you were to walk on a narrow beam. Now imagine keeping your feet in that straight line while leaning over to the side to sight down a pool cue. Would it be easy to balance yourself? Of course it wouldn’t. (If you were actually on a high beam, you would probably fall to your death – ouch!)
Now we’ll examine the totally open stance. Imagine this stance as one where you fully face the direction of the shot, with your feet and the front of your body at a 90° angle to the line of aim. And again imagine keeping your feet in that position while you lean over to the side to sight down a cue, and again you will see how far off-balance you would be.
So obviously the foot placement you need for balance is neither totally closed, nor totally open. You need something between those two extremes. A good balance angle will be anywhere between 25° and 45° in relation to the line of aim. Anything beyond those parameters will be either too closed, or too open.
Now we’ll look at the second element in a good stance; comfort. It is important to adopt a style that is going to be comfortable, otherwise your back and legs will fatigue quickly and you will be going home early. But as long as your foot placement provides good balance, everything else in the stance should be left up to you. Don’t let anyone else tell you that you must stand higher or lower over the cue, or that you must bend or lock your legs, or that you must point your toes this way or that way. There are no “musts” when it comes to finding a comfortable style. Only you know what feels most comfortable to you.
There are always exceptions to every rule, and the stance is no different. There will be times when you have to stretch for certain shots, or jack up for others, and the above advice will be out the window. But you should limit yourself to those times, only. On all the other shots, you should be striving for balance and comfort.