Billiards is Not a Stand-Up Sport

Why should you stay down on your shots?

If you’ve been holding a cue for more than a week, then you have heard it a hundred times: “You missed because you stood up on the shot.”  You’ve probably noticed others doing, too, and you told them as much.  Right?

So… what does that mean?  Why is standing up during your shot a bad thing?

Let’s start with looking at the mechanics of a well-executed shot:

You have surveyed the layout, and chosen the ball you want to pocket. You visualize the shot in your mind, including the aim line.  After chalking your tip, you approach the shot, lining up your cue on the line of aim.  Everything looks good, as you plant your feet in a comfortable stance.  Your head lowers over the stick, your back arm settling in at a beautiful right angle, perfectly perpendicular.  You take a couple of practice strokes, and you’re confident the ball is going to go in.  The only thing moving is your back arm; elbow and shoulder are locked in position.  You deliver the stroke, the cue ball strikes the object ball cleanly, and the object ball finds the bottom of the pocket.

It’s a beautiful feeling, isn’t it?

Now, I want you to remember one of the many shots you took where you missed.  I’m going to bet that somewhere in the sequence of events above, something was… off.  You may not have followed your routine exactly, or your aim was a little off, or you didn’t take enough practice strokes.  You might not even know exactly what it was, but somehow, your subconscious mind knew that you weren’t going to make it.

And chances are you stood up.

I have a friend who uses “body English” when she shoots sometimes… it’s quite humorous to see her do a little “rain dance” right after she shoots, trying to will the object ball into the pocket.  Her subconscious mind told her she was off, but she didn’t listen, and tried to use the force to make the ball do what she wanted.  Not only does she stand up, but she leans to the side, dances up and down, and sometimes even yells at the ball!

Standing up on your shots is usually indicative of your subconscious mind screaming at you “NO, you’re going to miss!” It sometimes will act on its own, throwing in a little swerve of your back arm, or adding English to the shot, in order to compensate.  Your head comes up, and you start walking back to your seat before the cue even hits the object ball.

People will tell you “you need to stay down on your shot,” but that isn’t the whole answer.  Standing up isn’t the actual problem.  It’s a symptom of a larger problem. Your subconscious mind takes over to compensate, and makes you move your head, your bridge, your elbow, or your shoulder.  Your hips might move as well.  Standing simply exacerbates the problem by moving more body parts.  And the more parts are moving, the greater the chance of the shot going awry.

Listen to your inner voice. Don’t shoot the shot until he says he’s satisfied.  Once your inner voice is ready, you’re ready to shoot with confidence.  And when you shoot with confidence, you’ll find yourself staying down on the shot, watching the ball drop into the pocket every time.

Then you can stand up, and high-five your teammates.  Just don’t forget to shake your opponent’s hand.

If you would like to share some of your success stories (or even the failures), or have suggestions for future articles, please feel free to drop me a line at

Posted in Article, Fundamentals, Table Talk, The Break / Rackem / Stroke Magazines