The Top Basic Pool Strokes: Learn Billiards Technique

These Strokes Will Put You Over The Top

Here are my 8 top pool strokes, there's more than one way to hit the cue ball to win. Here are some of the most important techniques for the beginner to learn.

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A Classic Pool Stroke, Step by Step

John Sturgis/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

The basic stroke on the white ball is a smooth throw-like motion. The "experts" say to hold your elbow joint so that your lower arm sits to the ball at a ninety-degree angle to the table, but take a look at how our stop action photography disagrees.

Add this basic stroke to your arsenal and you will be well on the way to becoming an excellent pool shooter. I back classic stroke instruction with help for the stance, a pro-like grip and expert help with aim and real aim systems that work for all players.

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Crushing Break Shots!

smash that rack
Smash that rack, bro!. Photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to, Inc.

A powerful break stroke will stand you in good stead for the life of your pool career.

Everyone wants to learn how to smash a 9-Ball break.

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Stroking The Cue Ball To Send It Backwards

draw more often
Draw more and more often using my tips. Photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to, Inc.

As I've written about elsewhere, I rarely use draw strokes, because I use a different technique instead. But spinning the cue ball backward off the hit with the object ball not only looks cool, it's a vital position play in pool.

Here are the right and wrong ways to draw stroke the ball, two different draw methods made easy for beginners and the powerful force draw stroke. Together, this family of strokes, the "draw family" is something you'll turn to again and again.

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"Slip Strokes" Illustrated

slip strokes, slip pool, slip billiards
Getting slippery (and deadly!) with that cue stick. Photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to, Inc.

The slip stroke is an unusual technique, of endless fascination at my clinics. Will it work for you?

Give it a try and check out the reverse slip stroke and body slip stroke also, for odd variations on the original "pool juice".

These techniques have been in use for longer than a century and have been to good use by some of the greatest billiards champions of all time. Try them today and you might be amazed at what you can do with the cue ball.

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A Massé Stroke Made Easy

masse, massé
Even the dread massé stroke is easy if you take it easy with the cue stick. Photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to, Inc.

Since its inception over a century ago, the magnificent massé has dazzled pool pros and onlookers alike. And, if you elevate the cue and use a light-to-heavy motion as I describe, you can pull this show stopper off, too!

Remember to take care of the table you are practicing on unless you want to get barred from play for tearing the cloth. Start with light strokes so you can see the ball curving off its path--too much momentum forward and the spin will never take hold anyway.

Work your way up to more forceful massés and see this article for more.

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The Force Follow Stroke

force follow, force follow shot, force follow stroke
The "force follow stroke" is a dazzler that lets you pound the cue ball hard for a change. Photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to, Inc.

So much of pool is about precision. If I asked you to drill a ball straight ahead or nearly so fairly hard into a distant pocket while sending the cue ball forward past impact exactly one diamond's distance across the table, could you do it?

I can make that stroke every time, and it has less to do with magnificent hand-eye coordination than with physics knowledge, and knowledge of a shot only a relative few players have even heard of...

Any beginner can make the cue ball follow down the table, but what to do when you want to send the cue ball a short distance but with a full or strong stroke. The Brits have built the force follow stroke into Snooker, and you can see it in stop action photos on a pool table here in this article.