i’ve had some interesting discussions with people about aiming lately. a couple of players told me of the uncertainties about their aim; during two separate discussions i came to a realization.
when i watched these players shoot, they both had kinks in their forms that prevented them from hitting the ball accurately. the way i look at aiming is basically how you eyeball your shot. once you get down to actually shoot, it’s no longer just the aim, it’s also your body alignment, your bridge hand position, your stance, the space between your head and the cue, and the way you stroke (and possibly more). if any of these parts is out of line, it may cause you to miss where you want to hit the ball. when that happens, cognitive dissonance occurs and your brain rushes to fill in an explanation. i don’t have any scientific data to support this theory, but i think the most common explanation (or excuse) your brain creates for this scenario is “there is something wrong with my aim”. it is possible your aim is off, but that may not be the case.
when we miss, it’s important to do a thorough system check and figure out which part, or parts, malfunctioned so we can pinpoint the problem. the way i do it is basically to close my eyes (mentally at least; you don’t have to physically shut your eyelids), and run through every part of my movements from sighting the shot to hitting the ball. i try to remember everything i did on the shot and compare it to the routine i’ve developed. did i stand funny? feet too close together? did i stand higher or lower than normal? was my arm swing loose and effortless? when i run these things through my head, i can usually find the problem, and i’ll pay more attention on the next shot.
a coach (or a second pair of eyes) is enormously helpful here, since your coach can spot the problem areas and correct them to make sure everything lines up, if you’re not seeing your mistake(s). (if you’re not good at remembering what you did on your missed shots, you pretty much have to rely on your coach/teacher to find the mistakes. :P) of the two players i talked to, the first one was jumping up on shots and the second one had a hitch in his stroke. since they were missing, they just attributed the miss to their aim and didn’t look elsewhere. the really sad thing is that some players become convinced that their aim is the only thing wrong with their game, and spend the rest of their lives trying to find that magical aiming system that’ll make everything better. unfortunately, it’s a mistake in thinking that no one can help them correct.
i’ve been very fortunate to have developed the habit of doing system checks on myself when i miss. it may be helpful to analyze your entire form the next time you miss, or have your coach/teacher/friend watch you and give you feedback. it could be the aim, but it may be something else entirely.
last but not least, the glorious sight from last week’s popeyes gorgefest.
worth every penny.