Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Still Tinkering: The Ungolf Grip

Sometimes the smallest revision can have a huge effect. Like when Shakespeare revised the soliloquy from “To exist or not to exist…” or when Springsteen dropped “Born in New Jersey” in favor of “Born in the USA.” The same principle applies to pool. Since I’m far from happy with my game, I’m always tinkering with the various elements of it. Recently, I stumbled onto a little something that has had a significant positive effect. It involves the grip.

I know, most of the books are in agreement that the cue should be held with the first three fingers. Nonetheless, for some reason, I always felt uncomfortable about giving my index finger a dominant role. In fact, at times, I even went so far as to eliminate it completely. Why? Well, during the many years when I wasn’t playing pool, I was playing golf. One of my favorite golf books, Six Days To Better Golf, made a big point about the harm the index finger could do to your golf swing. And the advice proved to be sound. Unconsciously, I had been applying the same principle to gripping the cue.

I was rereading Ray Martin’s 99 Critical Shots the other day, when his instructions for gripping the cue made me pause. I immediately picked up my practice cue, carried it to the kitchen table where I practice my stroke, and began stroking with a grip that, rather than deemphasize the index finger, was dominated by it. It felt right. Later, when I hit the table for my practice session, I was pleased to learn that this new grip produced a much crisper stroke and more solid hits. Please note, it’s not a death grip, just a grip that’s dominated by the index finger.

Unlike some revelations that fail to stand up to the test of time, the benefits of my new grip have proved to be no fluke. And all aspects of my game – shot-making, position, speed of stroke – reflect the improvement. Just goes to show, sometimes the smallest change can produce monumental effects.

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