This is a not uncommon complaint amongst snooker players from 20-40 highest break level.
If the headline is what you think then I have a feeling you are trying to recognize the angles consciously – if that is the case you have no chance of progressing as aiming does not work like that!
I could not aim like that myself, and made snooker's maximum 147 over 25 years ago. I certainly could not ‘remember’ any potting angles which is what a lot of players also try to do. Each pot and its potting angle must be started as a new shot without trying to ‘remember’ a similar shot from last Wednesday! So, we have to guess from new on every shot – which is a process or learning potting angles that cannot be taught, only learned.
Where you need to get to is a place where you can recognize that you are aiming WRONG – this will reduce aiming errors.
So set up a blue in the middle, black off the spot, or any pot you struggle with. Then EITHER set up the Cue Action Trainer ‘The Fastest Way, To Perfect Cueing’… in Potting Mode or just set up normally but with a solid bridge hand. With the cue ball in a set position aim the object ball at varying angles (deliberately thicker and thinner than the potting angle) and roll the shot slowly at cushion / pocket speed with above centre striking to avoid any distraction with a positional element of the shot. Before you pull the trigger (make the backswing and delivery), GUESS where you think the object ball will go on your randomly selected angle, then play the shot and see if your guess was right or wrong. Do this for ten minutes at a time at least three times and see what happens. You should find yourself gradually getting better at estimating where your aim is relative to the pocket.
Also, you can ‘Peripheral Potting’ where you get down and can NOT look at the object ball… you are only allowed to look at the cue ball during all cueing actions and the backswing AND the delivery.
This forces us to aim with peripheral vision – which most players don’t realise makes up 90% of our aiming. In fact, if when looking at the cue ball the object ball was blocked from your vision, and vice versa, you would simply not be able to aim. Most players think they ‘aim’ by looking at exact spots on the cue ball and object balls. Actually, when they look at one ball, their peripheral vision is seeing the second ball, the pocket, and the cue to unconsciously confirm or correct the aim. Most players are amazed at how close they can get to the pocket without ever looking at the object ball which in turn gives them more confidence that they can aim correctly. If you keep missing, make sure you are playing the shots slowly to avoid cueing errors, and bring the balls closer together until they start going in.
It is key to commit 100% to a line of aim on every shot, and to a straight delivery to reveal where you were aiming, with the ‘win’ that you will learn how to get closer next time when you miss.
Too many players think there is a solution to aiming rather than it being a gradual improvement over time – so they feel reluctant to commit 100% as they should do as they will fell foolish if they miss.
Test the exercises above, stick to a set snooker ‘Eye-Cue Action’ sighting pattern between both balls that gives around 50% eye time on cue ball and object ball, watch the object ball all the way to the pocket so that even on pots you know if you were perfect central potting or not, use the mental attitude mentioned above, and let me know your progress!