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Hoop Running Technique

Stephen Mulliner suggests a method to overcome hoop running problems:

There is another way of improving hoop-running that some may find helpful. It consists of experiencing the success of the pendulum method and so providing support for introducing a degree of "pendulumosity" into one's own hoop stroke to the extent that you feel comfortable doing so.

Place a ball 6 inches in front of a hoop and grip the mallet with the forefinger and thumb of each hand only. The first point of interest is that it may well make surprisingly little difference whether you adopt an Irish (both thumbs in front), Standard (lower [dominant)] thumb in front, other one behind), Reverse Standard (the reverse of standard) or Solomon (both thumbs behind). Then try running the hoop by a few inches a dozen or so times using gentle casting1 a few (say three) times over the ball. It is very easy to run the hoop cleanly and you will become aware that the mallet is acting as an almost pure pendulum.

Then repeat the exercise with eyes closed, then with the gaze on the hoop and, finally, when looking to one side (as if you were conversing with an onlooker). You will soon be able to convince yourself that, once you have aimed yourself and taken your stance, the hoop is for all practical purposes already run (it is just that the ball is unaware of the fact) and all you have to do is to set the swing in motion to bring about this certain result.

This is a simple and effective Inner Game technique and once you can do it at 6 inches, do it at 12 and the 18 and then 24. Then introduce modestly angled hoops and then more angled hoops. The method works for all.

It is a minor party piece to show beginners how you can set up to run an angled hoop from 2 or 3 feet out and then look at them while you are talking and casually set the mallet off and, hey presto, you run the hoop as cleanly as can be.

Obviously few of us would be prepared to run hoops for real with only four fingers on the mallet but once you realize how effective the pendulum method is, it is easier to relax the wrists in the hoop stroke when using your normal grip and to avoid stabbing or mallet-lifting.

Stephen Mulliner

1). Casting: the swinging of the mallet over the striker's ball one or more times before making a final swing in which the mallet hits the ball.


Chris Clarke added a few hints in response to a query about running hoops (Nov 2013):

I have a few suggestions, some of which you may find helpful, some of which you probably won't

  1. When playing with narrower hoops, make sure you strike angled hoop shots more firmly.
  2. Pick a blade of grass through the hoop that your ball would travel over if the hoop wasn't there. Visualise your ball going over this blade of grass.
  3. Make sure you get a rush on every pioneer. If you approach half your hoops from the side or behind, then you should expect to break down. You can try practice routines like peeling every pioneer before running the hoop - this should help you play better breaks.
  4. Make sure you see yourself hit the strikers ball
  5. Make sure you are hitting the strikers ball in the middle
  6. Hit the ball as flat as possible. Don't be fooled into thinking that striking down slightly will add top spin and make you better at running hoops. Just focus on a flat strike and an accurate strike.
  7. Practice becoming comfortable running hoops with control. At your home club, make sure that one of the lawns is set to a tolerance of 1/64" and then play some 2 ball breaks going from 1 to 5 to 4 to rover to 1 again. An alternative is to start with 3 balls on the E boundary, level with hoop 4 and take off to get rush to h4 leaving a ball on the boundary, then rush to 4 and then make the hoop getting a rush back to the boundary and repeat the procedure 4 times. Then start again, but rush to hoop 5 instead of hoop 4.
  8. Stalk each hoop shot. If you find that you're finishing in the jaws, you may be aiming too far from the near wire. Your aiming point is so that the edge of the ball just misses the near wire.
Author: Stephen Mulliner
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Updated 28.i.16
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