One To Watch
WHENEVER I'm at a major tournament, I can't help but study all the best players. I watch Efren Reyes and Johnny Archer and Francisco Bustamante, because I can learn just from seeing how they do certain things.
When students of mine gets an opportunity to see a professional up close, I notice they always focus on the stroke, the movement of the arm, the fluidity of the motions. What's interesting is that pros do a lot of things a lot of different ways. Earl Strickland twists his wrist a bit. When Bustamante takes his warm up strokes, it looks like he's barely using more than a pinkie for his grip.
While the unorthodox approach obviously works for these guys, developing players will improve much, much quicker if they stick to rock-solid fundamentals. Professionals have drilled and drilled their strokes to the point that their idiosyncrasies are second nature. But for you, following the textbook stroke will lead to more favorable results faster.
And when it comes to the perfect example of near-perfect fundamentals, there's nobody better to study than Allison Fisher. Besides being one of the absolute all-time greats, Allison is the closest thing there is to the perfect pool player. Her approach, her stroke, her demeanor, she does everything just as it should be done.
So, if you get a chance to watch Allison (in person or on TV), key for the following three things:
1. Balance: When players, even the best players, get rolling, they have a tendency to slide into position from one shot to the next. But Allison is a master of keeping herself in line. After every shot, she will step back and restart her pre-shot routine. You never see her off balance because she steps straight into every shot.
2. Rhythm: I've been watching her for a solid decade, and I've never seen Allison rush her last stroke. I've never seen her jump up on a shot. She's always in rhythm. After she takes her warm-up strokes, she pulls the cue back for her final stroke, pauses at the end of the backswing, and then strokes the cue ball. Always.
3. Arm Position: Once Allison is down and set, her back forearm is exactly perpendicular to the ground at the moment the cue tip strikes the cue ball.