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The Mad Professor's Shooting Bible
Part VII

In Part Six of this series we talked about aligning our grip in such a way that it would work with the rest of our bigger “power” muscles, instead of in conflict against them.  Today, we’re going to take one more step on our path to getting a more consistent on-axis toss, and a higher reliability of primary-face outcomes.

Feet, Hips, Shoulders…Grip

Let’s say that you shoot right-handed from the SR-1 position (that is the first table position to the immediate right-hand side of the stickman). 

Now that we know WHERE you are standing, let’s take a look at HOW you are standing.

Your feet, hips, and shoulders have a HUGE and DIRECT bearing on how well your dice will stay on-axis. 

Sure, your arm, wrist and fingers have a lot of bearing on it too (and we’ll return to that subject quite shortly), but the whole on-axis thing STARTS in your feet (especially how they are aligned in relation to the backwall).  From there, it works its way back up through your hips and shoulders.  At that point, your arm, elbow, wrist, hand and fingers carry out the signals that are being sent down from your brain. 

If the foundation of your throw (your feet, legs, hips and shoulders) aren’t in proper alignment; then the rest of your throw will probably be out of alignment and off-axis too. 

If you want to make a nice consistent toss, then you’ll want to position your body in a nice consistent and relaxed manner.  That way, your body (from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head) is working WITH your toss, and not fighting AGAINST it.  This isn’t rocket science; it’s just one of the basic elements that I use to achieve a consistently repeatable on-axis, primary-face outcome.  

Let me put it another way.

If your major muscles (legs, chest and shoulder) are fighting AGAINST your fine muscles (wrist, hand and fingers), I can tell you right now that the big guys (the major muscles) will win or at least conspire against and screw up what you are trying to do to two lightweight cubes of cellulose resin (the dice).

For reliable, repeatable and CONSISTENT dice-results, we want both muscle-groups (major/power muscles and minor/fine-control muscles) to work IN HARMONY together, and not in conflict AGAINST each other.

Power Throw vs. Finesse Throw

If you need to throw an object with a lot of power or to a far away target; then you have to position your body so you can exert maximum throwing force into it.  In that instance, whether it be hurling baseballs or whacking golf balls, a “side stance” works best.  That is, our upper-body will rotate in the direction of the throw, and our arm will “cross” in front of where our chest was during the “wind-up” motion. 

In baseball, we wind-up in preparation for the toss, then uncoil our body in a vigorous twisting motion that imparts and transfers the most power to the object that we are about to release.  In that case, how we position our feet, hips and shoulders at the beginning, middle and end of our motion will determine how much power we transfer into the object being thrown.   We use our body/arm combination as a sophisticated slingshot which works quite well in transferring maximum power and force to the baseball throw.

Now, let’s take that to the other extreme.

Take two dice and toss them less than six inches from where you are standing or sitting now.  It doesn’t take much effort does it!  Somewhere between the two extremes of hurling them as FAR and as FAST as we can, and the simple effort of moving them a couple of inches, is where a controlled and consistent Precision-Throw comes in.

How Far to Go, and How to Get There

On most casino tables, we are throwing the dice to a target that is from five feet all the way up to fifteen feet away. 

Though we don’t need maximum POWER for the dice to get there, we do want maximum CONTROL.  For that reason, we set a firm foundation (feet, legs, hips and torso); then we build in the fine-control (arm, wrist, hand and fingers) from there. 

If you align your major muscle groups to work in concert WITH your fine muscles; then you’ll not only be doing what your body WANTS to do, but your on-axis results will improve NATURALLY and dramatically because of it.

Some Settling May Occur During Shipping

Many people who shoot from any of the Stick-Right (SR) positions, Set and Grip the dice while their body is facing across the table.  Their belly is against the table-rail instead of their hip.   From the SR positions, that means that the dice are passing in front of and across their chest during the release motion.  A left-handed SL player may encounter the same across-the-chest type of release as their belly-to-the-bar counterparts on the SR-side of the stickman.  

In either case, most people who shoot this way are often frustrated that their dice results are less than consistent, and find that they are just as likely to throw off-axis as they are in being able to keep the cubes on-axis (about 50% of the time). 

In most cases, the cause can usually be traced to the fact that a side-twisting (off-axis) motion is unintentionally (and unknowingly) imparted to the dice upon their release.  As a result of this upper-body twisting motion; not only aren’t the dice-faces square to the backwall, but they also are not square (flat) to the tabletop.  The across-the-belly release imparts an uneven twisting torque that forces at least one dice to yaw (twist sideways) off-axis as well.  Most players don’t even realize that they are doing this, and they certainly don’t realize that the dice are not only leaving their hand “un-square” to the backwall, and they are also leaving their hand while “un-square” to the flat table surface.  In both cases, the results are rarely satisfactory for any sustainable number of throws.

When you add up all those twisting, off-axis torquing forces that are imparted to the dice upon their release; it’s a wonder that they even manage to stay on axis the 44% of the time that a random-roller accidentally manages to accomplish.  In a lot of respects, an unbalanced throwing motion can cause a “worse-than-random” result, whereby you have an even higher expectation of 7’ing-Out than a random-roller does.   YES there is such a thing, and that is also WHY you see so many perfect on-axis 7-Outs as well.

Yes it is frustrating, so let’s do something about it…

A Basic Truth

If you are throwing the dice “across your body”, so that the dice pass from one side of your body, across your chest or belly, to the other side of your body when you release them; then you may be putting too much POWER into your toss, and not enough FINESSE and control into it.  At the same time, you are probably imparting too much side-twisting energy on the dice which causes them to yaw and land off-kilter.

Sure, you can TRY to reduce the power and energy of this type of release/throwing motion, but your body just naturally WANTS to throw it harder when it’s in that position, and it also wants to contribute a natural yawing motion at the same time.  The more control that you have to INPUT to REDUCE (hold back) the power of your throw, the LESS control you will have over the controlled finesse that is needed for on-axis primary-face results.

In other words; the more you have to harness and restrain your power; the more difficulty you will have in regulating fine-motor (muscle) control.

If you are constantly re-adjusting and inputting ever-changing amounts of fine-muscle control in fighting AGAINST your major muscle groups, you will have LESS control over your minor, small-muscle-groups.  Your fine-motor skills may LOOK smooth, but the results (dice outcomes) will actually be ragged, haphazard, and dare I say, mostly RANDOM.

Yes, you will get everything to work in unison SOMETIMES, but NOT MOST times.  The idea behind this series in general, and this article in particular, is to get the good tosses and good outcomes happening MOST of the time.

Hip vs. Belly

If you stand at the table with your shooting-side hip next to the rail, instead of facing it with your belly, it’s easier for your arm to get a proper dice-release alignment to the backwall and to be properly positioned in relation to the flatness of the table surface.  That way, your actual release-motion will be much smoother and “squarer” to both surfaces (backwall and tabletop).

Regardless of whether you are using a pendulum backswing or an off-the-table release, the idea is to impart minimum power and maximum control. 

By having your body squarely facing the backwall, you are less likely to impart any unintentional, but barely noticeable side-twisting force (yaw) to the dice upon their release. 

So What Do I Do Now?

With our body facing forward (towards the far wall of your rig), and the dice on the table, we are going to set and grip the dice as though we are going to throw them at the boxman (as if there was one at our Practice Table).  That is, we are going to set the dice in our normal set up (side-by-side) in whatever set we normally choose (V-3, X-6, V-2, S-6, P-6 or whatever permutation you want).  Again we are NOT aligning the dice to the backwall, we are aligning them to FACE the boxman.


Well as we discussed in my Shooting Bible Part Six, that’s the way our fingers and wrist WANTS to align them when our body is facing the far wall.  Remember, they are most relaxed when the palm of our hand is facing our leg, and the back of our hand is facing the boxman (from this SR-1 position).

If your Grip starts out comfortably and is correctly aligned on the dice; then they are likely to stay that way, and release from your hand more naturally and more consistently than if you are trying to do something that any number of your muscles are fighting against.  If you get your body parts to work together; then the dice are also more likely to travel, land and stop together.

Simply stated, LESS muscle conflict means MORE dice control.   More CONTROL means more PROFIT.

Keep Your Hands Where I Can See Them

Now that we’ve talked about what your shooting hand should be doing, let’s discuss what your free, non-shooting hand is supposed to do while all of this is going on.  Does your free hand play any role in getting more consistency out of your dice-tossing?

Yes it certainly does. 

Your free hand can actually play an important role in the solidity of the foundation that you have built by properly positioning your feet, legs, hips and torso.  One of the best ways is to use your free hand to brace and support your body-position against the rail as you shoot the dice.  In a way, it can act like structural cross-brace which brings more stability and sturdy control to your lower, mid and upper body.

For that reason, many accomplished shooters place their hand on the chip-rail to support and stabilize their body during the throwing process.

I’ll quickly add that some players like to rest their free hand on their outer (non-table) hip, or hanging limply slightly behind their back.  If either of these positions helps you deliver an astonishingly high number of on-axis, primary-face dice-outcomes, then I would suggest that you stick with it.

However, if you are less than satisfied with the results while your free hand is in either of those two positions; then it is probably causing and imparting undue yaw into your dice-release.  Again, the tendency of our body is that it wants to give a slight off-axis twisting motion to the dice as we release them.  The more we allow our upper-body to twist and swivel during the release; the more we’ll see off-axis yawing, popping, hopping and scatter during the outcome.

WHOA There Pardner…

The first thing that anyone should learn when they are starting out as Precision-Shooters, is to SLOW the dice down. 

When I watched the A&E Network “Take This Job…” television show, the first thing I noticed was how hard the dice were being thrown by Sharpshooter, Scoblete and Dominator.  Obviously then, I wasn’t at all surprised to see that they were having tremendous difficulty in keeping the dice on-axis, let alone making any honest money off of their own rolls.

You can have the perfect grip, the perfect release, the perfect backspin and trajectory, and hit the perfect target area; but if the force of your throw is too powerful; then most of the time, the result will be a less than perfect outcome.  

Here’s a simple equation:  More Power = More Randomness

Putting It All Together

As you can see, there are a lot of different aspects to keeping the dice on-axis consistently.  It takes a lot of practice and fine-tuning to put it all together and keep it all together when you bring your skills to the real-world casino tables.

The Set, the Grip, and the Release are the culmination of what it is we are trying to do.  By imparting less off-axis upper-body twisting, and less throwing-force energy into the dice; your results should start to show a higher degree of on-axis control and primary-face consistency.

We’ll continue this discussion in Part VIII.  Until then,

Good Luck & Good Skill at the Tables…and in Life.


The Mad Professor

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