6 Tips to Sink Basic Bank Shots

Close up, angled view of a man playing pool.

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Master the bank shot to sink any ball during a game of pool or billiards. Anyone can learn how to aim the ball, line up shots, and plot a course.

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Aiming Bank Shots

A pool table diagram with a grid overlay.

ThoughtCo/Matt Sherman

Aiming a bank shot in pool and billiards with precision is easy if you use this method, which relies upon an aiming secret you likely already know.

Where, for example, would you plan to bounce the yellow 1-ball if you wanted to bank it into the pocket? Perhaps the far corner pocket? Consider your options carefully, including double kisses with the cue ball and cushion play.

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Reviewing the Cross Pocket Line

A pool table diagram of a cross pocket line.
Taking the measure of the cross pocket line.

ThoughtCo/Matt Sherman

You're used to playing balls into the pocket all the time, so simply begin by dropping an imaginary line into the corner pocket from the point on the cushion directly opposite the center of the ball to be banked.

Be sure to aim across the pocket at its opening (the spot with the largest allowable margin of error where cloth meets empty space) and not the back of the pocket on its plastic or leather surface. In other words, where the blue line changes from the white table surface to black space and not the top of "Darth Vader's helmet."

You should know that the pocket opening center is where all balls are to be aimed for all six pockets. This spot yields the best chance to score on a miss, giving maximum space on both the right and left sides of the line to sink the object ball in the pocket.

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The Ball Pocketing Line Is Drawn

Diagram of the ball pocket line on a pool table.
The ball pocket line, imagined across space.

ThoughtCo/Matt Sherman

We've established aiming bank shots using the cross pocket line for the bank shot in pool. Now, we need to build the ball pocket line for the object ball. The second line is easy to pick, as it always forms an "X" with the cross pocket line.

Draw this second imaginary line (shown in red on screen) from the object ball into the pocket opposite that for the intended bank shot (the one ball will sink where the blue line goes in the opposite pocket).

Again, this method relies heavily on what you already know well — how to aim balls into the center of the pockets.

Align all bank angles and lines using the bottom of the pockets and cushions where they meet the cloth of the table. Lining up on the tops of the rails will cause a false perspective in measurement.

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The Bank Stroke Line Is Measured

Diagram of the bank point line, cross pocket line, and ball pocket line.
The bank point line.

ThoughtCo/Matt Sherman

To determine the bank point line for any pool bank shot, you need only to divide the ball pocket lines and cross pocket lines where they join together.

By drawing a straight line, perpendicular to the cushion where the ball pocket line and cross pocket line meet, we can calculate the precise spot where we want the 1-ball to strike on its way across the table before changing direction in exciting fashion.

This may be rephrased as "drop a line from the X you've drawn and the 1-ball will touch the cushion on the bank shot."

Hold a cue over the imagined cross pocket or ball pocket line to aid your thinking.

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Bank Plot

Diagram of a standard pool bank shot.
The bank plot is thickened.

ThoughtCo/Matt Sherman

Having derived the bank point line in our easy as 1-2-3 calculation, you have arrived at the moment of truth, a concrete look at the precise place we need to bank the 1-ball to meet.

The method is easy since you are already used to drawing lines between balls and pockets. As seen in another look at this bank shot as diagrammed here, you are helping yourself make many non-banked shots going forward also.

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Banking the 1-Ball Cross-Corner

Diagram of banking cross-corner.

ThoughtCo/Matt Sherman

Simply drive the cue ball from its present position to meet the ghost ball as diagrammed to make this spectacular-looking bank shot with ease.

Take the bank calculation with a grain of salt, as english derived from impact with the cue ball on an oblique angle or with the stroke can affect the path of the object ball. Draw, or topspin and speed, also affect the bank stroke.

Bank shot calculations as indicated are correct for a one rail bank if the cue ball is spinning into the cushion at the moment of impact.

Having said that, you can do the calculation for any bank faster than you read it on these pages. A mere ten minutes' practice drawing these imaginary lines with the aid of a cue stick will save your win hundreds of times. You have a good career ahead in banking.

The banks are now open!