CTE: Perception is Everything

For the purpose of this article, when we say CTE we are referring to CTE PRO ONE.

Center-To-Edge aiming, probably the most controversial thing to hit pool in our lifetime. We can demonstrate it, we can teach it, but we can’t seem to diagram it. Why is that? Isn’t everything in pool explainable with math, geometry and physics? Most would agree with that statement. However, there is a fundamental part of this equation that we tend to take for granted: visual perception.

When you look at a shot diagram in a book, you might see something like this:

That is, a two-dimensional view of the table. That’s fine for getting a point across, however it is technically inaccurate. That is, unless pool is played by looking at the table from directly above with one eye, and everything is perfectly flat and we are playing with little circular discs lying on the surface.

However when we take the shot to the table, we are presented with something completely different:

Even this photo is not an accurate representation of the perception. This is just a flat 2d picture of a 3d world. If you move your head left and right looking at the photo above, the perception does not change. However when looking at a shot on a real pool table, moving your head even the slightest bit changes the entire perception. Just to complicate matters, we have two eyes that give us a stereoscopic view of the table. Each eye sees things independently, and together they give our brain information to work out the entire visual perception.

Let’s take this to ghost-ball aiming. If we were playing on a 2d surface the ghost-ball is easy to diagram, and a line through the center of the cue ball through the center of the ghost-ball is easy to draw, no matter how you turn the diagram and look at it. However if you walk up to a table and stand behind the cueball, now how do you find that ghost-ball? There is an inter-play of the mind that happens to map the 2d information to the 3d world. Through repetition your mind recalls a shot picture and muscle memory to execute a successful and repeatable shot.

This is by in large how most of us learn pool. We take something taught in a 2d form of geometry and math, and through repetition the brain figures out how to translate this to a 3d perspective. Now, some super smart people (Hal, Stan, etc.) figured something out completely different. Instead of translating 2d solutions to 3d perspectives, what if we start with objective visuals available to us in our 3d perspective, and see if we can map these to shot lines that connect with the pockets? (objective just means definitive or unambiguous, strictly defined targets.) I’m only speculating here, but maybe these people setup some shots, and for each one they moved their eye position left and right and determined there were objective visuals available that were in identical and repeatable positions. That must have been a glorious day 🙂 From there, the rest is history.

So we end up with Center-To-Edge aiming. We take a specific CB/OB/Pocket relationship, and through repetition and practice we learn to identify the correct visual for the given shot. From there it is a matter of lining up on the visual, moving into center cue ball (with a slight but identical/repeatable left or right sweep) and landing on center cue ball, and striking straight through that line.

So the first question someone may have with this system, what about all the shots in between the visuals? Well that is most certainly the million dollar question. I don’t have a mathematical proof, but I can say with conviction that there are no in between shots. All shots align to the heart of the pocket when executed perfectly. I believe this is evidence of how the system starts with a visual perception. 2d diagrams are fine for getting the idea across, however it will never be geometrically accurate. These lines represent visuals found in a 3d perception. When you stand behind a shot and align a visual, these are not discrete lines you can draw on a 2d diagram and mean anything geometrically. For instance, I can stand behind the cueball and line up CTEL/A, both lines aligned with my right eye from maybe 5 feet behind the shot. There is no way to take a pencil and protractor and draw the two lines through CB/OB and make them intersect 5 feet away. Even if it did, it doesn’t correlate the perception from a 3d view. However when you stand behind the shot, the perception is exact and repeatable. When you see a 2d diagram of a CTE perception, it is just that, a representation. Anyone trying to take these visuals to paper and making a claim that it doesn’t work, well they are not working with the correct or complete information.

So then you might ask the question, what does this aiming system have over something like ghost-ball? This is another highly debatable question, but I’ll tell you how I see it from my own experience. With ghost-ball, you are not using objective targets. You are using invisible points and/or invisible balls to feed your brain and through practice, make these shots accurate and repeatable. CTE starts you with objective targets through a 3d perception. From there the path from standing to execution is very definitive and repeatable. So how is that really any better? For easier shots, especially shots where CB/OB/Pocket are directly in front of you, the difference may be negligible to most. These are not difficult for the brain to digest. However, move to long thin cuts, or shots where the pocket is out of your perception, or move to 1, 2, 3 rail bank shots. Now the system really starts to show it’s merit. You might want to watch Stan shoot some bank shots to get the idea what I’m talking about. Objective, repeatable targets to take the object ball to the heart of the pocket.

To conclude, it really is not possible to represent CTE in a 2d diagram with any mathematical or geometric accuracy, as the entire system hinges on ones perception of a shot standing behind the cueball. Although 2d diagrams are helpful to represent the visuals, they are not useful for anything mathematical or geometrical.

CTE PRO ONE is a product of Stan Shuffett and Just Cue It productions.

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  • John Barton

    Excellent article.  I would like to add that it’s surely possible to accurately diagram CTE but in my opinion that diagram needs to take into account the shooter’s perspective and allow for the variable that is human visual perception.  And when done that diagram will probably be correct but of no practical use to anyone.

    To me this is pretty much what the problem with Ghost Ball aiming is.  You can diagram it but you cannot actually see it.  So every application of the Ghost Ball method is by definition 100% reliant on the perception of the shooter, from shot to shot to shot and distance and angle make these shots “harder” to judge.

    It has often been said that CTE takes the illusion out of aiming and it’s true.  Here is one telling thing about CTE aiming.  When you are wrong with your visual alignment choices then you are consistently wrong.  You shoot the shot to the same wrong place over and over until you make a deliberate choice to use a different pair of alignment points.  It’s not that you adjust a smidgen left or right and try again.

    You pick an alignment and try it, the shot does not go anywhere close to the pocket.  You try again with the same alignment the shot misses again to the same place.  Then you pick another one and the shot goes in easily, you repeat it and the same thing happens.  Then from the same position you try the opposite alignment and find that it banks perfectly. 

    Imagining a ghost ball sets you on the general alignment.  From there you are supposed to use trial and error to figure out the wiggle room you need to use to get as comfortable as you can with the shot line you are going to go with.  CTE is uncomfortable at first because it does not give you a shot line out of the gate.  Instead it gives you a hard edge of a stationary object to align to.  It dictates that if you use that edge and work on how well you can orient to it then you can train your eyes to follow a very quick routine to swing into the shot and land on the shot line.  The scary and confusing part is that you DO NOT KNOW that this line is the right shot line as long as you are using the Ghost Ball method which gives you the line from the first moment (whether correct or not)

    So with CTE you learn to ignore those signals you have previously used with GB which informed you that a shot was “on” even if in reality it was not.  Once you learn to ignore those signals and focus on training your perception to use the balls in front of you then you will find that you can make balls that look like they don’t go and which look super difficult to observers.  And in fact those shots ARE super difficult for anyone trying to play them using GB or by feel.  For anyone but highly trained players that is.  You CAN play your way into knowing the right line for any shot with enough trial and error and experience.  However if you have an accurate illusion-free method like CTE then that practice time becomes SO much more productive. 

    • kike

      Even if you get the visuals and CTE line, you still NEED PRACTICE (which mean time spending on the table) to determine whether the shot requires A,B or the C point and even more, still decided whether its a pivot in or pivot out. THEREFORE, ITS ALSO A GUESSING GAME JUST LIKE GHOST BALL, EXCEPT GHOST BALL IS EASIER TO UNDERSTAND AND GET. SO CTE PRO ONE HAS A PORTION OF GUESSING GAME JUST AS WELL.

      • mohrt

        Yes you need to practice to recognize what visual/pivot to use on a shot. It does not take long to get extremely accurate and instant at this. With ghostball everything is always a guess game. Especially on tougher shots.

      • John Barton

        A very small portion of guessing. if you can reduce the aiming to one of a few keys then practice will tell you what key works for sure and experience will tell you what key is likely to work for the shots you have not yet practiced. A CTE user who is proficient will outshoot a GB user most of the time in my opinion.

  • Is there a trick to aiming when the distance between the CB and OB are less than a diamond?  It’s not explained in Shuffet’s Pro One.   I can do the pivot relatively well with CB-OB distances greater than a diamond, but closer it seems like I over cut.

  • rocco balducci

    are any of these bums world champions?

  • RJ

    You are wrong & being misleading. ETA or ETC with the CTE line are converging lines & the only way to see them equally & simultaneously by any objective means is to have one’s vision(center) on the BISECTING line that is equally between those lines. One can be 5 ft. from the CB or 500 ft. from the CB. There is no need for lines to intersect at all. If one goes off of that extremely long line to get into some other physical location for the purpose of adding or subtracting cut from that alignment then one has done so by some subjective means & it is no longer in the objective realm. The same is true for the ETB with the CTE line, but those are parallel lines & one’s vision(center) would need to be on a parallel line that is equal distant between those two lines, but again one could be 5 ft. from the CB or 500 ft. from the CB & that line is infinitely long in the shooters direction. The aiming method is not a system & it is NOT an objective method for anything other than the very few lines that are dictated by the very few ‘objective’ points & the lines between those points & the lines that one MUST be on to see them in any kind of conjunctive manner that would be objective as dictated by the two lines & there is nothing objective that tells the shooter for what angled shot those objective visuals actually fit. It is a subjective method that merely starts out objectively before going into the subjective realm & that is all that it is. One might as well start every shot on the the CTE line & adjust or the CTC line & adjust or the CT1/4 line & adjust. One can become proficient by doing that just as easily in probably an equal amount of experience time utilizing those methods… but they are NOT object aiming systems or even objective aiming methods.

    • mohrt

      You are assuming lines are 2D lines as drawn on paper. That is not how perception works, even parallel lines eventually meet due to our perception. Your thoughts should be taken with a grain of salt, as the do not represent what is seen at the table.

      • RJ

        I am not “assuming” lines are 2D as drawn on paper. Send any line out into 3D space & it IS basically still 2 dimensional as a “LINE” between two points has NO depth… but it can be oriented in an infinite number of 3D configurations. But… once a line is defined between defined points on two spheres they are fixed as long as those two spheres are stationary & fixed where ever the balls are. Since the points on the balls are defined as being on the equators, that 2D plane is set & the shooter is merely envisioning them on that flat 2D plane from above. Regardless of what height they are envisioned from they are stationary in that one plane. Are you suggesting that an individual that is 6’4″ tall will envision different lines on that defined plane than an individual that is 5’4″ tall? I hope not…. because if so… you have then lost that little bit of objectivity.

        • mohrt

          Of course not, it will work the same for both heights. The lines are perceptions, not 2D lines, even when fixed on the edge of a ball. We look at these lines with our vision center, not with one eye or the other. It is this perception that changes as the positions of the balls are moved. You think not? Take some simple setups to the table and line up the CTEL/B, then look where CCB crosses the OB. It is not a consistent place.

          • RJ

            What you are saying is scientifically & physically impossible. Are the “LINES” not defined by precisely defined points on the two balls? What in the world do you mean that the “LINES” are perceptions? If the “lines” themselves are perceptions & NOT specifically defined, then one could… envision them to be where ever one wants from where ever one wants & there is absolutely no objectivity at all in that. You seem to be arguing your way out of it having ANY objectivity at all…. not even an objective starting point.

          • mohrt

            They are defined as points on the balls, however they are perceived by our vision center. BOTH eyes. On any given shot, one eye may be dominant on one or both lines, or they may not. However the visual for a given CB/OB position is consistent. This is how CTE works. If you are unwilling to conclude that this is even feasible, then you may as well end your arguments there, we will not get anywhere. You have to at least go to the table and discover some of this yourself.

          • RJ

            Our ‘vision center’ does not “perceive” anything. It is our mind that perceives. Our ‘vision center’ is basically our mind’s eye & where it is physically located merely yields a physical perspective from which to see or perceive. Different locations of the mind’s eye/vision center yield different perceptions of the same physical existences. When there is only one place to see something properly then that is the only objective location or perspective from which to perceive the reality of the true physical existence. I can see that we will not ever come to any agreement as you seem to be much too deeply rooted in your beliefs. But…I will try to make one more point. Many individuals do no even know what eye is their dominant eye. Of those that do, most can not control what eye is seeing the straight line & what eye is seeing it from an offset & what picture the mind’s eye chooses to ‘see’ & recognize what it thinks is the reality of the truly physical. So… IF as you say… on any given shot, one eye may be dominant in seeing one of the lines… or both of the lines… or one may not be dominant in seeing one or both lines… & THAT is how & why it works… then that may explain the inconsistency & apparent holes that I have heard tell about & found to be so myself. That said.. I can certainly not see how that could be considered in any way, shape, form, or manner any kind of an objective ‘aiming’ system… or even a method… when it is dependent on varying vision centers. Most players struggle to even get one ‘vision center’ in the proper place to send the CB exactly where they want it to go. If it requires one’s vision to fluctuate depending on the shot then that is rather weak for any kind of objectivity, at least to me & I would think any reasonable & rational individual. Given my science education… I do not see how there can be any completely objective means of aiming ALL of the different angled shots that come into play. There are simply too many variations & there are not enough objective indicators to meet those needs. As I think I said in another post, I can see how the objectively defined visuals can place one at a staring point perhaps close to the actual shot line … but I do not see any way that it can objectively take one to the exact shot line by only objective means without one’s subjective interpretation of what is needed & then a subjective attempt to supply that. The high number of requirements are not met by what is objectively available… & I do not see how any rational individual can see it other than that. That said… I do see how it can be believed to be so, because it certainly is something that we as players would want to have at our disposal. I just see it as impossible to be a completely objective means.

          • mohrt

            You are trying to dive way too deep into the specifics, at least in regards to making the system work. Don’t get me wrong, it is all good discussion and interesting. But when I talk about vision center, eye dominance, which eye looks at what, etc. Those are all particulars that he shooter does NOT need to concern themselves with. All they need to do is site the two lines using THEIR vision center. All that means is, what looks completely natural to THEM. Although we all have unique vision centers, our centers are consistent for any given shot placement. It does all sound complicated under the hood, from a shooters perspective it is mainly line em up, pivot and shoot. Through practice you get more and more consistent as you acclimate yourself to the visuals. It’s not as complicated as it sounds after you once take it to the table and work with it.

          • RJ

            I have taken it to the table & in doing so only confirmed that one can not objectively get more than one angled shot from a visual if utilized objectively. In other words… when I got into position to see the CTE line along with say the ETA line & made the pivot from the inside the ball existed at an angle… AND… it did so at the ‘same’ angle when ever I objectively used that visual & pivot…. for the same CB to OB distance separation regardless of the angle to the pocket that was needed. Naturally if I realized from my past experience that that was not enough angle for the shot at hand… I could then move to what in effect would be a bigger pivot… but THAT was NOT done by any objective means. When I then set up such a shot again & tried ETB with a pivot from the outside, it too was not the shot line & I would have to again augment. What I am saying here is supported by the physical sciences. I saw nothing that objectively dictates any different alignments dictated by the same visual. It was only my experience that told me that the line dictated was not the shot line & that it then needed to be augmented. So… I don’t see why one should go through the process if it is NOT going to dictate the actual true shot line in an objective manner by objective means. Basically it does not do what it is said to do by the means said & the physical science supports that. As I said, I can see that we will not come into agreement as you seem too set in your belief that it works by the means that it is said to work & my analytical mind & experience tells me otherwise. Basically, given my experience… I can cheat the method… but I have more easily utilized methods if I am going to still have to rely on things other that what is objective. I know how to shoot a spot shot by the objective cte alignment & how to thicken & thin off of that line & I know how to do the same for a 3/4 ball overlap… but… I still miss some of those shots because the thickening & thinning is not objective but is instead determined by me subjectively based on my experiences. I think that is very much what it is but based on but from slightly different pictures because of combining them with also seeing the other 2nd line. Subjectivity is involved… because it must be.

          • mohrt

            If you are having to consciously, physically cheat the visuals then you are most definitely doing it wrong. One session at the table will not determine the answers. Its like someone telling you how to backswing a tennis racquet, and after 10 minutes on the court you have concluded it can’t be done.

          • RJ

            Why are trying to put words into my mouth to give a false impression? I spent way more than one session with it. What exactly do you THINK that I was doing wrong? It’s rather simple, is it not? Get into position so that one can see both the CTE line AND the Edge To Line Simultaneously & then set the cue for a 1/2 tip pivot to Cue Ball Center to either add or subtract cut & stroke straight on that line. I think it is YOU that perhaps has NOT given the matter enough TIME… in actual THOUGHT. You are asking everyone to believe what science says can not be. Yet… you offer no real rational explanation as to how or why it can contradict the physical sciences. I can teach nearly anyone how to hit a tennis backhand in less than ten minutes.

          • mohrt

            Its a visual phenomena that make the difference. There is no “science” to disprove, our eyes don’t see in geometrical straight lines. Simple test: take CB/OB place on table two diamonds apart (going table width, the short way) strattling the center table. Now line up CTEL and ETA. From here take note where CCB falls on OB (using vision center, not one eye.) Now shift both balls over one full diamond. Do the same CTEL ETA. Take note where CCB falls on OB. Although “science” and logic would dictate you would get the exact same CCB alignment with the OB, that is not what occurs, it is slightly different. Anyways, you can do the test or not, I think this discussion is better had in a forum, not in blog comments. We can take to AZB aiming forum for more detail discussion.

          • RJ

            I just erased a post because I realized that you might actually be serious regarding the statements that you have made here & that you seem to actually believe them & if so… then no real rational discussion can be had with you because of those deep rooted false beliefs.

            I’m not inclined to teach geometry & physics to one that says, There is no science… & that we do not see in geometrically straight lines…. BUT… those laws do NOT change simply because something is moved over a few inches.

            I guess light now travels in big zig zags with big curves in between & when we see something & point straight at it with our index finger we are not actually pointing at it in a straight line but we are pointing way off to the side of it because light travels in uneven zig zags with curves in between… but if so… then I wonder how target marksmen hit the bulls eye with REAL bullets that really do go straight down & out of the straight barrels of rifles.

            I guess if they move laterally to the side for the next target they would have to aim well off to the side in order to hit that different bulls eye…. because light must travel differently in that new & different location… in a different zig zag & with a different curve than at the previous location.

            Sorry for the tone… but perhaps YOU should invest some more TIME in critical THOUGHT.

            Have you ever heard of the power of suggestion… & of people that WANT something so bad?

          • Bob Faestel

            Hey Mohrt, I was kinda following these comments and your replys here, what I noticed when learning Pro1 was that I had to find QB center to OB edge first then look for QB edge to OB a/b or b/c. If I tried to line up both at the same time my aim was always wrong. I had a Pro1 lesson with a local Pro1 instructor, that helped tremendously over trying to figure it out myself.