QMD Stroke Trainer

QMD Stroke Trainer

Author
  • Price
  • Quality of equipment
  • Applicability to Casual Players
  • Applicability to Serious Players

The QMD Stroke Trainer / Analyzer is the most technologically advanced billiards training tool I have seen or used to date. The product utilizes advanced motion sensing technology combined with computer & smartphone software that provides sophisticated, animated pool stroke analysis analogous to the kind of training technology used by baseball players for swing analysis and other professional athletes.

QMD provides detailed insight as to what idiosyncrasies are going on with your stroke mechanics, from your backswing through to your finish. Features of the QMD Stroke Trainer include:

  • Statistics captured throughout the entire stroke including cue elevation, horizontal alignment and cue ball strike location.
  • Complete animated simulation of your stroke. The software goes beyond just capturing statistics. It actually records the entire stroke and is able to play it back via computer animation that can be played back frame by frame, slow motion or regular speed. The animation depicts three virtual camera angles through the stroke including top down, side and from the back that provide amazing insights into your stroke mechanics. These animations can be saved for future playback.
  • Real Time Audible alerts provide instant feedback when a flaw in your stroke is detected. A different series of beeps indicate a swerve to the right vs. left.

This combination of features make this product a unique and valuable training tool.

The QMD sensor attaches conveniently and safely to your cue and wirelessly communicates via Bluetooth technology to the QMD software installed on your computer or smartphone. The computer software is compatible with both, Apple and PC computers. At the time of this review, the smartphone software is currently only compatible with Android and PC smartphones, so unfortunately iPhone users are out of luck. I am an iPhone user, so this review will solely be based on a Windows PC configuration, specifically a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet.

Using the QMD sensor and software might be a bit frustrating at first and may take a bit of getting used to. Give yourself time to get used to using it as the insights it will provide you can be valuable in helping you understand the flaws in your stroke and allow you understand over time, if you have made progress in correcting them.

Let’s take a look at the QMD Stroke Trainer in more detail, first reviewing what the package consists of, then focusing on the setup, and finally, using it to analyze your stroke.

What the Package Consists Of:

The Package

The package consists of the QMD Sensor, charging cable, carrying case and brief instruction guide. The Smartphone and Computer software required does not come packaged with the product. You will need an internet connection to download it from the QMD website. I prefer this method of software distribution because shipped CDs can get lost or damaged and also CDs become out of date very quickly as enhancements and updates are made to software on an on-going basis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The QMD Sensor   

The QMD Sensor is a bit large at 2 1/2 inches long by 1 1/2 inches wide. It has a rubber bottom that protects your cue from scratches or damage by the sensor. A Velcro strap wraps around your cue to hold it snugly in place.  While a bit large, I found that it is not in the way and is not cumbersome or obstructive when affixed to the cue during practice sessions with it.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Carrying Case  

The carrying case is a semi-hard shell with a fabric exterior that will protect the sensor from damage. It is a compact size that makes it very convenient to store in your cue case to take with you on the go.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The carrying case is well constructed and does a nice job of holding everything snugly and securely.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setup:

Step 1 – Read the instructions: If you are like me, you will have a tendency to dive right in and just start installing the software, etc. You will save yourself some time and a bit of aggravation by reading the user’s guide. There are nuances to installing and configuring the software that you will need to understand. The user’s guide does a very good job of walking you through the setup. The user’s guide is located on the downloads page of the QMD website.

Step 2 – Install the software: You will need an internet connection to download and install the software from the  downloads page of the QMD website. The installation was not as straight forward as I had expected. The software is Java based and as a result, you will need to ensure that you have the Java runtime environment (JRE) installed on your computer. If not, the QMD software will fail to run. You are also given options to install 32 bit or 64 bit versions of the software, so you will also need to download the appropriate version based on the operating system you are running in order for the software to operate properly. I had to do this dependency & version checking for myself as well as install the Java runtime environment. The software installation program could have made this easier by automating these aspects of the installation process, which most modern computer software typically does.

Step 3 – Configure the computer software to communicate with the QMD sensor: This can also be a bit tricky as well. You will have turn the QMD sensor on, then go into the Bluetooth settings on your computer to search for the device and then connect it to the computer. You will then need to open the QMD software program and select the appropriate COM port on your computer to communicate with the device. This whole process took a bit of trial and effort, but I eventually got it to work.

 

Using QMD Sensor and Software to Analyze Your Stroke:

Attach the QMD sensor to your cue

The Sensor attaches to the shaft close to the joint. Affix the sensor with the rubber side against the shaft and wrap the Velcro strap around the shaft so it holds it snugly. Turn the unit on to sync it with the computer software. Follow the instructions in the user’s guide for more details on how to get the sensor synced and ready to use. When you look at the picture below, you might be inclined to think the sensor will be in your way and distracting. But it really isn’t. In shooting position, your head alignment, chin and sight line are well beyond the sensor. You won’t even see it when you are shooting.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Setup your session in the QMD computer software

Access the setup screen to connect to the QMD sensor and to setup your session. From this screen, you can start your session, set goals for yourself and set the sensitivity of the sensor. You can start with more forgiving sensitivity as you get started with your training and then up the sensitivity as your stroke mechanics improve over time. Recorded sessions can be exported or imported from this screen for sharing with others or for future playback.


 

 

 

 

 

Access the Practice Screen to Begin or playback a Session

This screen is the heart of the system. This is where your stroke is visualized through the various angles via sophisticated computer generated animation. Multiple strokes can be recorded in a single session and each stroke can be individually selected and played back. A depiction of the cue ball and corresponding strike location show the tip location in relation to the cue ball during the entire stroke. Also interesting is that it will show you where you have a “twist’ in your stroke mechanic. There are three views of the stroke that are able to be played back. Top down, side view and back view.

This screenshot is the top down view.


 

 

 

 

 

This is the practice panel with the side view depicted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is the practice panel with the back view depicted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Access the Statistics Screen to Review Detailed Metrics

For every shot recorded, QMD captures detailed statistics that can help you analyze the issues in your stroke mechanics and provide you input that can help you understand where you are improving. This is really helpful because what often happens as players try to make adjustments to improve one aspect of their stroke, they will often impact other areas of their stroke, hence finding it difficult to understand how to improve. These metrics can assist with this. Metrics captured include lateral range, vertical range, roll range, lateral at impact, vertical at impact and roll at impact. Please refer to the QMD user’s guide for more information about these metrics.


 

 

 

 

 

 

My overall assessment

QMD is a product more suited for the serious pool player who is a true student of the game and who is genuinely interested in putting the time in to improve their game. The product is quite technical and requires attention to detail, study, practice and perseverance.  Casual players, including league players who are comfortable with marginal improvements in their game and who do not take the game too seriously may not get as much from QMD as they might not be inclined to stick with it or put in the required self-analysis and time.

This product is also very well suited for billiards instructors as I believe this is a very good tool to help analyze issues with their student’s stroke and to provide an additional way to facilitate working with their students to improve.

It is my view that products such as QMD can be even more effective used in conjunction with coaching as no tool can tell you specifically “why” your mechanics are flawed. Advanced players who are well versed in proper fundamentals may be more inclined to benefit from QMD alone, while beginning and intermediate players would benefit more from using QMD along with a certified billiards instructor.

The only competing product I know of is the OB DIGICUE Training aid, which we also reviewed. You can read our review here. QMD is a much more sophisticated, analytic product and I would recommend it over DIGICUE, which is limited to just vibration oriented stroke feedback. QMD is more pricey than DIGICUE, but the feature sets are not comparable and you will derive more value from QMD. In fairness, QMD does make a light version of their product that is more analogous to OB DIGICUE and we will be publishing our take on that that specific product in an up & coming review.

It is important to set your expectations properly, QMD is not a magic bullet to improving your stroke. But if you are serious about improving your game, are a true student of the sport or are an instructor yourself, this might be a product you want to check out. If you find it pricey, search similar products such as baseball swing analysis, and you will find the price point on par with comparable training products.

I would also like to see an iPhone version of the app as a mobile phone is much more convenient for taking to the pool hall vs. carrying your laptop. I believe QMD could be excluding a potential market of iPhone carrying pool players.

The following is a video containing the analysis & animation captured in the QMD computer software during my use as I assessed the product for this review:

I am the founder of Billiard Product Reviews. I have been playing pool for over 30 years. I have a genuine love for this game and all things billiards. I consider myself a student of the game and try to learn as much as I can from instructional books, instructional DVDs, DVDs of professional matches, professional coaching, practice and from the other players that I play with. While I play competitively in league and occasionally tournaments, I consider myself a casual player, relatively speaking. I am a skill level 7 in the APA, skill level 5 in TAP and play as a C+ in amateur open tournaments. I created this site to give back to the billiards community and to assist my fellow players in selecting the right products to help improve their game or just get more enjoyment out of the sport we love.

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