By: Erik Hjorleifson
One of the most overlooked skills in pool is jumping. In reality it is a very big skill; being a strong jumper means that you will give up less ball in hands and jumping at a ball and pocketing it can change the complexion of a whole match. Some of you might remember Shane Van Boening's creative jump in the final of the U.S. Open this year where he wasn't able to reach the shot, so he used a stacked bridge method to jump the ball. I have seen Alex Pagulayan do this on one other occasion but admittedly I have never attempted it myself.
Here is the video for your interest (see below). For those that cannot see this video search "Shane Van Boeining 30,000$ Jump Shot" in Youtube.
One of the biggest things to remember when jumping is to try and contact the cue ball below center. This accomplishes a few things:
- When jumping the cue ball will be bouncing towards the object ball. When the cue ball is struck with draw it will spin backwards off of the object ball. The other effect when hitting high on the cue ball is that it will continue going forward and because it is bouncing it can tend to jump the rail and go off the table.
-Jumping with draw will also cause the cue ball to bounce less as it is travelling towards the object ball, this will give you a better chance of hitting the proper contact point on the object ball.
-Thirdly, this concept is hard to explain but from my experience the ball seems to jump easier when you strike the cue ball below center.
Something that is very hard to accomplish when jumping is being able to look at the object ball last, instead of the cue ball. I once asked the strongest jumper that I have ever seen what made him so good and he said that he looks at the object ball last instead of the cue ball. However this is a lot harder to do than you think because the elevation of the shot will make you want to look at the cue ball rather than the object ball. If you do look at the object ball last you have to trust that your stroke will be dead straight as well because catching any side spin on the cue ball will alter the path of shot a great deal. If this is something that you have never tried I would give it a shot but I will reiterate that it is actually very hard to do, it is my belief that most pros look at the cue ball last when jumping.
An underrated option when jumping is jumping to play safe. Percentage wise only the best jumpers in the world can be considered a favourite to jump in balls that are already tough to pot without the added difficulty of jumping. When you play safe the contact point of the shot becomes much bigger, this is something that I do on a regular basis. Pushing out to jump shots is also something that is often overlooked.
There are three main styles of jumping, there is the "dart style" which some people say jumps the ball easier, personally I find it hard to get power with this method. For people that are shorter or people that have a hard time getting their body into a position that they can elevate this can be a successful method. Secondly there is a method where you bring your forearm to a side arm position. This also works well for people that have a hard time elevating. Shane Van Boening uses this method and I find him to be a very strong jumper. Lastly and this is the method that i would recommend, you can simply elevate the cue in a normal shooting position. The key to executing this properly is to have enough flexibility in your shoulder to be able to achieve the proper elevation.
There are many factors that have to come together to be a strong jumper and the fact it that it takes a lot of feel and the best way to develop that is hard practice and repetition. I will be releasing my first instructional commentary series very soon, the idea will be to comment on pro matches adding a visual learning component to our instructional material.