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Controlling Standard Stroke Speed

How do you tell someone how hard they should hit the cue ball? The Old Professor tells us of a billiard stroke shot system he learned from Bob Radford of Cue U.

Controlling Standard Stroke Speed

What is a hard shot? What is a soft? Medium? Pool players are always directing each other to play a shot soft, or a hard shot, or something in between. The problem is, nobody really knows what that something is, much less how to measure it. Even when we're talking to ourselves we don't actually know what these terms really mean when it comes to shot execution.

There is a standardized definition where the lag is "soft" and the variations up from "soft" to "very soft", or "soft" to "medium", or "medium" to "hard" are separated by one table length. Okay, sure, that is interesting but I think you'll agree that a table length is just too broad a difference to be useful.

My master instructor, Bob Radford of Cue U came up with a much better system for describing stroke speed. Using his system we can define our stroke speed, from soft to hard, in nine "two-diamond" variations. The lag is a "one" and the hardest stroke is a "nine". The "normal" stroke for most people would be about a "four".

There are many benefits to this system but communication and planning top the list. Each speed variation in this system is plus or minus one diamond. To work with this system, start with the cue ball at the head string and using your most comfortable and relaxed stroke, stroke the cue ball toward the foot rail. You should find that you're sending the cue ball close to three lengths of the table, something in the range of a 4 to 6 speed rating on this scale. Don't fret if your stroke is stronger or softer than this, all we're trying to do is establish a reference standard (centergistic in the BCA instructor nomenclature).

Let's say your stroke came out a 5. Set up at the head string again and try stroking just a little faster. The object would be to dial in a speed of 6. Now set up again and try stroking a little slower to see if you can generate a speed of 4. What you should find is that with some perseverance and a little practice you will be able to dial into most of these speed variations with uncanny accuracy and consistency.

Your base stroke speed might vary a little from day to day or from pool table to pool table but all it takes is a couple of practice strokes down the table to establish your baseline (centergistic). From there you'll be able to tune in and reference most stroke speeds at will. You'll also find that it is much more satisfying and productive to talk and think about using a 4 or a 3 or even 3 1/2 than something vague like "soft", "medium" or "not too hard".

Introduce yourself to this system, I know you'll find it useful. The astute observers might have noticed that this system doesn't define any speeds slower than a lag. Again, thanks to Mr. Radford and Cue U for a complimentary slow speed system which we refer to as finesse speed. Finesse speed starts with the lag and works down to two diamonds, again, all in two diamond increments.

The purpose of practice is not to make us think but to relieve us from the necessity of having to think. Think about it.

Editor's Note: There was a great diagram that went along with this article, but it was a link to the image on a website run by "The Old Professor". It is no longer online and I can't reach the original author. If anyone can illustrate (or explain how to illustrate it) please get in touch below.

Controlling Standard Stroke Speed

  • Title: Controlling Standard Stroke Speed
  • Author: (Billiards Forum)
  • Published: 6/6/2008 10:16:00 PM
  • Last Updated: 9/15/2016 7:00:48 PM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum
  • Source: The Old Professor

Controlling Standard Stroke Speed

The Controlling Standard Stroke Speed article belongs to the Speed and Billiard Ball Control category. Billiard tips for controlling the speed or velocity of the cue ball when making shots.

Controlling Standard Stroke Speed Comments

  1. Ed Orange CityEd Orange City from Orange City, FL on 7/1/2014 10:52:15 AM

    This is the perfect answer to my quest for accurately determining speed of the stroke. This is after more than thirty years of playing this game!

    Thanks!

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