Technique

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Understanding Cue Ball Deflection

 

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The vast majority of all shots are missed when English or sidespin is used. The reason is simple: when you use English, the cue ball doesn’t go where you aim it. That is called cue ball deflection or cue ball error and the typical player takes years to learn to compensate for it. The amount of cue ball deflection depends on the cue used, the tip placement and the speed of the stroke. The farther the strike from center, the more the cue ball is deflected off-line. Cue ball deflection will also increase with a faster stroke. Lower deflecting cues require less compensation and therefore make the game easier. The Predator shafts are designed to reduce cue ball deflection and are the lowest deflecting shafts on the market. They greatly increase your chances of making your shot when you use English.

About Pivot Points

With any shaft, there is an optimal point on the shaft, called the pivot point, where you need to bridge to maximize your accuracy. In simple terms, if you bridge at the correct pivot point for your shaft and your initial set-up alignment is on target, you can actually hit the cue ball off-center and still hit the 1-ball dead center.

At that bridge length, the deflection, or squirt, produced by the shaft will compensate for a stroke that deviated from its original set up or alignment. The optimal pivot point on the break is the bridge length that allows you to maximize your speed and gain maximum forgiveness at the same time.

The BK2’s pivot point has been tuned between 13″ and 14″ to allow you to maximize both acceleration and forgiveness at the same time.

A majority of strong breakers bridge between 13″ and 14″ because it allows them greater acceleration and more powerful breaks. Most break cues have pivot points between 9″ and 11″ and require an extremely accurate stroke when using a longer bridge to generate speed. The BK2’s pivot point has been tuned between 13″ and 14″ to allow you to maximize both acceleration and forgiveness at the same time. With a pivot point 2″ longer than its next competitor, the BK2 gives you greater speed, increased accuracy and, much more importantly, a more powerful break.

Shaping Your Tip

Predator research has clearly shown that a dime radius (or shape of a dime) will produce 5 percent to 10 percent less cue ball deflection than the more commonly used nickel shape. The cue ball deflection is reduced because the dime radius centralizes the hit to the center, or strong part, of the shaft.

What Burnishing Does For Your Shaft

The purpose of burnishing your shaft is to smooth and seal the wood. The more you burnish, the better the finish and, the slicker and more moisture resistant your shaft becomes. Moisture is the #1 enemy of your shaft. It causes the grain to raise and your shaft to warp. To burnish your shaft, use a leather burnisher and avoid abrasives. Sanding your shaft wears it down and makes the wood porous, which allows moisture to penetrate the grain and damage the wood.

Stay Away From Abrasives

Do not use any abrasives on your shaft and stay away from green pads in Pool Rooms. Using abrasives is going to take the diameter of your shaft down and modify the shape of your taper. It may even void the warranty of your Predator shaft if the ferrule or wood diameter falls below 12.25mm for 314 shafts and 11.4mm for Z shafts. Very fine micro papers (1500 grit) or burnishing is about all you need.

Break Cue Weight

Contrary to what many believe, lighter is better when choosing a break cue weight. Even though a heavier break cue feels more powerful, a more powerful break will be achieved with a cue weighing 18.5 to 19 oz. Most professional players break with a cue that is 1/2 to 1 oz lighter than their playing cue because less weight allows them to generate more cue speed, resulting in greater cue ball speed and a more powerful break.



JUMPING, PREDATOR-STYLE.

First, visiually measure the distance between cue ball and the ball(s) you want to jump over. If the distance between the cue ball and obstacle ball is more than 18 inches, use the jump cue at normal length. If the distance is shorter than 18 inches, break the cue down – this will increase your control and create enough speed and force to leap over the obstacle ball at a sharp angle.

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  • THE RIGHT ANGLE. Position your cue at roughly a 45-degree angle, but remember, the more you angle your cue the higher it will jump and the higher the cue ball goes the less accurate it will be. So experiment with how much angle you really need on different shots and distances.
  • ACCURATE FORCE. Try to use minimal force when jumping. The harder you have to stroke, the more difficult it will be to maintain accuracy. The Predator Air should help you achieve that with its extra power.
  • A QUICK STROKE. Jumping requires a faster arm movement when compared to a regular level stroke – almost like throwing a dart. Most top players use their wrist in a quick snapping motion during the stroke.
  • PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT.If you’re a beginner, start with jumping over a piece of chalk. When you build your skill and confidence up, try a full ball. The real secret in jumping proficiently is practice. The more you practice the shot and motions, the more you will develop the correct feel for all jump shots.


BREAK WITH POWER.

A great break requires power and accuracy. Many people tend to treat power and accuracy separately, but they are actually intertwined with each other. If you have a powerful stroke, you must have good technique and be accurate enough in order to transfer maximum power into the rack. The following topics will focus on both power and accuracy and will help you direct all the energy of the stroke to the point you want to hit.

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The first key to a good breaking technique is good alignment. This simply means making sure that your stroke, your eyes, and your body are aligned correctly with your target point, which should be the center of the head ball in the rack. Keep your eyes on the point. After the preliminary practice strokes where you look at the cue ball and also the line of your follow through on, your eyes should lock in on the exact point of contact of the headball for your break. Your eyes should remain on that point from the beginning of the backstroke to the end of the follow through.

A superb follow through is also key. Many players fail to follow through, or do so without confidence and force. You must come through the cue ball decisively and make sure your cue extends well past the point where you struck the cue. An average world class follow through will have the cue ending near the center line of the table (a good 15-24 inches of follow through). Make sure you follow through on a straight line to the point you want to hit. If you have a long follow through with power, but an inconsistent line of follow through, you will consistently miss your target. To practice this, draw a line or mark a place on the table with a piece of chalk, and practice breaking to see if your stroke is true to your follow through line. Also, to help you follow through straight, use a closed hand bridge and make sure that you do not unravel your closed bridge until after the follow through is complete.

To get maximum power on the break, use your legs to give your arm and stroke more speed and momentum. Using your arm alone will not release your true stroke potential. By adding the strength of your legs, and pushing off your back foot, you will increase your acceleration and develop explosive stroke power.

Finally, practice. There is no other way. Knowing how is helpful but useless if you can’t execute. I recommend starting off by focusing on accuracy and follow through. Practice until you can consistently hit the head ball full with a medium stroke stop shot. When you can consistently hit the headball where the cue ball stops or jumps back a little then stuns, add 10% more in power. Keep practicing and adding power until you can hit the cue ball with 100% power and still hit the head ball with accuracy. Good luck and Happy Hitting!


HOW TO ADJUST TO PREDATOR

With Predator’s minimal deflection, you don’t have to adjust for English as you would with a conventional shaft. The less you have to adjust your aim, the more chance you have to make the ball.

Drill: To be consistent, set up a simple cut shot that you will repeat several times. Aim as if you were aligning for a center ball hit and see if, and how much, you have to adjust. Start with no English, and then repeat the same shot several times using progressively more outside English. Do the same drill with inside English and see how much you have to adjust. With this drill, you will quickly learn how little you have to compensate with your Predator product. You will soon realize how Predator will take your game to the next level.


PERFORMANCE OF THE CUE

Although it is important that the butt and joint are balanced and provide a solid feel, the shaft, more than anything else, determines how the cue performs. The butt contributes to comfort, style and in the end provides feedback on the shot.


AVOID BENDING YOUR SHAFT WHILE BREAKING

When breaking, most players tend to bend the shaft on the follow-through. Wood does not a have perfect memory, therefore bending the shaft may cause it to warp. The only way to keep a break cue shaft from bending is to pick up your bridge as you follow through. In other words, don’t let the shaft bend on the table.


Tony Robles’ and Mastering the Art of Spin with a Predator Shaft

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As both a player and a teacher, I have learned that more than 50 percent of all shots are missed due to the fact that players don’t know how to adjust for deflection and that’s when they get into the bad habit of avoiding spin. Not using spin will limit their ability to play position and stops them from improving their game.

The key to playing with a Predator shaft is experimenting with different hitting speeds. With either the 3142 or Z2, you’re going to feel and see a difference in how the cue ball and object balls react.


Deflection Differences Between 3142 and the Z2

The 3142 – my personal preference – is perfect for players that like to adjust their shots, but want to have more assurance on where the object ball will land. It lets me aim the object ball to the center of the pocket and then adjust, or swivel, my back hand position to compensate for deflection. With a normal shaft, I’d have to aim the object ball away from the pocket and then adjust my back hand position also. That’s too much guesswork – the 3142 is a big confidence builder because when I play with it, I know where I’m aiming and the ball actually goes there, too.

The Z2 is better for players that want more access to spin without adjusting much. It’s what I call the Miracle Shaft. Within a three to four foot range, I was able to aim the ball straight to the center of the pocket, with as much spin as I wanted, and I got no deflection whatsoever. I could see right away how this would help someone take their game to the next level.


Test How Deflection Works with Tony’s Deflection Drills

To practice deflection, use the illustrations below to set up your shot. Each depicts the aiming point and the paths the object ball will take with a Z2 shaft, a 3142 shaft, and a conventional shaft. Note, the Desired Cue Ball Path shown is approximate and will vary slightly depending on the shaft you’re playing with. As you improve, practice these shots with different distances between the cue ball and the object ball. Once you get to a five to six foot range, you will need to make an adjustment and aim the object ball closer to the rail by the point of the pocket.

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Deflection Drill: Aim high left on the cue ball for left english and right deflection.

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Deflection Drill: Aim high right on the cue ball for right english and left deflection.

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