By Jim Meador
Anyone who plays tennis knows what a sweet spot is on a racquet. Cue balls also have sweet spots that radiate outward from the center. The sweet spot pattern will be different for different shooters, depending on where (on the ball) they developed their strength and confidence. I use a lot of bottom left and bottom right english, partly because I use a lot of throw, which is a bad habit. I automatically add a touch of top or bottom outside english on most cut shots. If I need a tighter angle off the rail, I use center english, or even inside english, cut the ball thinner and, if it is safe to do so, shoot harder.
The illustration at the top of the page indicates my unique hit pattern (simulated). Notice that I use a lot of bottom. I only use top when I shoot easy to medium, and rarely more than one tip above center. When I use extreme bottom, I usually raise the butt of my stick (slightly to avoid "scooping" the cue ball.)
There are any number of ways to get to the same position point on the table. Someone who prefers follow may go to a rail and back, or use multiple rails for position. When it is safe, I prefer draw. Draw is not the best way for most shooters, because draw is harder to control due to tip and cloth inconsistencies. The point is, my hit pattern on the cue ball will indicate a lot of bottom hits.
Your shot pattern can be recorded. After each stroke, record your cue ball hit, or have someone stand behind you with a diagram of a large cue ball. Each time you shoot, have them record the contact point on the actual cue onto the cue diagram. Obviously it is best to have experienced pool players doing the recording since they are accustomed to seeing such things. You might be surprised at the results. You could discover a weakness in your shooting, such as favoring right over left english, or using too much side spin, which can cause miscues. You might find out that you shoot less top than you think, or less bottom.
Recording your hits, for reasons other than curiosity, probably serves no purpose. It might be fun though.