Thursday, 27 August 2015

Backstroke Fundamentals

By: Erik Hjorleifson

Greetings everyone hope you have had a great summer! We will all take the last the last breaths of warm air and as always pool season will once again kickoff within the next few weeks. This past week I was at the Turning Stone tournament in Verona New York and I must say the overall strength of the field was higher than I have seen it in quite some time. This year I watched more matches than usual and my attention as it usually does when I am watching pros, focused on the backstroke facet of their fundamentals. I have written about this before and I would like to visit the topic again adding a little more insight into what I believe is one of the most important aspects of proper fundamentals.

The main thing that is different in the characteristics of the backstroke of professional players is the length of their backstroke. Some pros have longer backstrokes and some are shorter.

Here are some notable pros with longer backstrokes:
Shane Van Boening
John Morra
Jason Klatt
Albin Ouschan
Earl Strickland
Neils Feijen
Most top professional snooker players

Average Length Backstroke:
Darren Appleton
Jayson Shaw
Johnny Archer
Ko Pin Yi
Dennis Hatch

Short backstrokes:
Fong Pang Chao
Rodney Morris
Lee Van Corteza
Dennis Orcollo
Shaun Wilkie
Mike Dechaine

Players that use a longer backstroke tend to have the slowest pace in their backstroke and tend to look the smoothest when playing.

Safety play
Positional play


Players that use an average length backstroke tend to have an average pace backstroke. In my opinion these are the most consistent players.


No real common weaknesses

Players that use a short backstroke tend to have the fastest pace backstroke.


Positional Play
Safety play

Skill in kicking in my opinion does not have any direct correlation to stroke length. These are all generalizations of course but over the years these are the tendencies that I have noticed. To say that Shane Van Boening is a weak potter is obviously false and to say that Dennis Orcollo has  weak safety game is false, the observations are more geared towards amateur players.

Pros have so much experience in the game that they find ways to make their styles work for them. The question lies what length and pace of backstroke is best for you. In my opinion take a look at the tendencies I have listed and figure out if any of the areas that I have listed are major problems for you and if changing your backstroke can help those areas. Generally the most naturally talented players are best suited to longer backstrokes. These players tend to have a very high gear, they also tend to need to spend the most time practicing. Personally the way that I want to naturally hit the ball is with a longer backstroke.

If I could choose any style it would be a medium length stroke but I have found that I have a hard time following through the ball properly with a medium length stroke. That being said I have known for a long time that my biggest weakness is potting and I am convinced that it is related to the longer length of my backstroke. After watching this weekend I have decided to try and shorten my backstroke to cut down on missed pots. I've tried it a few times since and it seems to helping. Finally no matter what length your backstroke it is is important not to rush it and the shorter your backstroke is the faster it will tend to be. Something to think about............hope this helps, thanks Erik.