stylistic differences

i recently recorded the wpba’s pacific coast classic broadcasted on espn.  interesting matches; can’t say the pool was great, but it was pretty good.  however, i am continually being impressed by jasmin ouschan’s game.  i think she has one of the best forms in pool, along with kim davenport.  i think those two players are the only ones i’ve seen that can do the water bottle drill in high speed.  normally when i see people demonstrate the water bottle drill, they typically stroke the cue slowly.  ouschan can stroke the cue very rapidly and still the shaft won’t touch the insides of the water bottle.  now that is some straight stroke.  plus, when ouschan gets down on a shot, she looks absolutely like a robot.  how can one player’s form be so completely mechanical is beyond my understanding.  i think ouschan’s form is a thing of beauty; the phrase “repeatable precision” comes to mind.  (or maybe teutonic engineering.  :P)  davenport has the same kind of stroke.  nothing moved on cali kim when he played except his right lower arm.  you could probably put a bubble level on davenport’s cue and it would stay level.  as i said before, if you have to copy someone’s form, pick either ouschan or davenport.  you cannot screw up and harm your game when you go with their forms.

i’ve also been watching Xiaoting Pan’s game with some interest.  pan’s form makes absolutely no sense; it should never have worked.  somehow, she puts it together successfully.  when using the standard loop bridge, she seems to have a tendency to elevate her bridge and use only her fingers as support, as opposed to planting your entire hand and fingers on the table as support.  technically it’s a no-no, but again she seems to make it work a la louis ulrich.  (ulrich likes to elevate his bridge too for some reason.)  however, in this pacific coast classic tournament, pan seemed to elevate her bridge less than she did in the past.  it could be a sign that she’s improving; an encouraging thought.

i still haven’t figured out the rationale behind rubbing your chin on the cue.  allison fisher does it.  loree jon jones did it (and probably still does) when she competed.  obviously that works for those two players, but i just don’t understand the technique.  i’d think that your chin would impede the stroke, but fisher and jones make it work.  maybe they will explain it to me one day if i’m really lucky.

of course, bustamante’s form is strictly for bustamante only.  another form that should have never worked; in fact, if you’ve read ray martin’s 99 Critical Shots In Pool you’ll remember that martin listed busty’s grip as one of the things you don’t do.  martin called the busty-style grips “the butterfly” and he cautioned against using it.  nevertheless, django made it possible.

and who can forget allen hopkins’ poke stroke?  i’ll never understand that form in my lifetime.  mike davis has a weird form too, but he understands the game best with the form that he’s got, so i’m happy that he’s found something uniquely his own.

also, i look at the phenomenon of cross-eye dominance as an opportunity for big power.  in case that sounds confusing, cross-eye dominance is basically when you aim from the eye that’s opposite of your shooting hand.  a left-hander will aim out of his/her right eye, and vice versa.  since you have to twist your body a bit so you can aim out of your opposite eye, your shooting arm will naturally have more room to swing, and possibly generate more power.  i haven’t paid any attention to cross-eye dominance in pro players, but i’m going to keep my eye out (no pun intended) for it in the future.

this is a kind of random post; i just wanted to write about some of the observations i’ve made over the years.  when it comes to forms, i’m more an advocate for basic stances, grips, and swings.  the more outlandish styles cannot be taught; you either know how to use it instinctively or you run away from it like the plague.  if someone offers to teach you the slip stroke or busty’s grip, he/she is probably crazy.  act accordingly.