Play Your Best Pool: Are You a Feel Player or a Mechanical Player?

Johnny Henson

Here are some of the main differences between a feel player and a mechanical player.

A feel player mainly thinks their body will do the right thing at the right time. They are not always conscious about what they do, or even how they do it. They come across as being more relaxed and looser at the table. They are more fluid with their setup and stroke. Many excellent players and a lot of professionals are feel players. When I think of a feel player, I think of Earl Strickland.

A mechanical player tries to be aware or conscious of how they set up and play. They are focused on the many details of their aim, alignment, stroke, and other things. Whenever possible, they use science, ballistics, and physics to help them plan and set up their shots. They try to have a sense of purpose in whatever they are trying to do. They are a little less loose at the table when playing. When I think of a mechanical player, I think of Shane Van Boening.

Many players have times when they are a little of both. Somewhere in the middle is a good spot for most players. If a player is too far towards the feel player side, they may get so relaxed that they don’t have enough focus, and they can get sloppy. Likewise, if a player is too far towards the mechanical player side, they may get too tight and overthink or focus on too many things.

When training players to improve their games, they must be aware of their Rhythm. Cadence + Tempo = Rhythm. Cadence is the parts that you’re doing such as 1, 2, 3, 4, and tempo is how fast or slow that you do these parts, such as 1234, 1  2  3  4, or 1   2   3   4, and the combination of the two is your rhythm. No matter what type of player you are, you must focus on your rhythm. By improving your rhythm, you will be able to play better within your style of play.

If you’re a feel player, having a good rhythm may slow you down and not allow you to become careless. If you’re a mechanical player, having a good rhythm may allow you to speed up and improve your fluidity. Either way, it will help you play better. When practicing, most feel players try to be more mechanical, especially when trying to learn new skills. When practicing, most mechanical players try to be more of a feel player, because they are trying to learn to play a little more loose, relaxed, and unrestricted. Players will benefit from practicing in a style that is not their normal style. If you’re a slow player, in practice, speed up a little bit. If you’re a fast player, in practice, slow down a little bit.

Sometimes we must learn to leave our comfort zones or normal routines in order to take our games to the next level. Hopefully you will discover that somewhere in the middle is where you will find and play your best game. Let me know if this helped you.

Johnny Henson, Professor Pool, and Steve Farmer are both PBIA and ACS certified instructors. If you have any questions, please email me at [email protected], or call 623-377-0042. Visit our website at