How To Break An 8-Ball Table Wide Open

Improving Your Break And Your Concentration At The Same Time

Big Break, break it big, bigger break, catch a big break
Get a big 8-Ball Break!. Photo courtesy of Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

I answer Part II of a reader's questions about a powerful 8-Ball break shot and the different concentration required for big and small pool tables... bust 'em wide open with my handy tips. Do these tips apply to your game as to the reader whose questions I answer for a more powerful 8-Ball break?

8-Ball Break Shot - Improved Racking, Breaking And Concentration Tips

"Hey Matt, Thanks for the tips! I do seem to get a large portion of the balls on the upper half of the table many times in Eight Ball (see our last conversation with more break tips included, but it's just mind-boggling at times, how often nothing falls.

It is very frustrating, and the majority of guys I'm playing with will make you pay. I do think that the racking is a big part of the problem, but it seems with the equipment we play on and use most of the time a tight rack is really hard to get.

I cannot believe the racks the pool vendors put on their tables. It is disappointing to think that anyone who would manufacture those cheap racks don't care more than they do or just don't know what a good rack is. They are made of that really flimsy plastic and fit so tight that you can't possibly get the balls set properly.

I can't believe that for only pennies on the dollar that they couldn't make the plastic ones more rigid and also larger to give you some extra room to pull the rack off without disturbing the balls. It seems on a nationwide league level our sport doesn't get much respect… thanks, Mike."

Matt Answers - Break 'Em Hard!

...You bet, Mike, here's what I'm thinking. First, bring your own rack to the poolroom. And why not? Players bring large cases these days with jump and break cues, cue care and cue cleaning equipment, etc.

I like the old wooden racks myself as they are adjustable and can be sanded down for best play. Yes, the rack needs a bit of breathing room to properly rack the balls, which is an almost an art form. It takes seven photos and 2,000 words to explain proper racking technique in my book!

Mike continues, "I was wondering if you have any drills I could do to improve my game while working on the nine foot regulation table every day? Our pool hall has four gold crown tables and it only costs me six dollars to play from 11 to 6 daily. I really want to start taking advantage of the affordability, while at the same time improve my game.

I've found that playing on the bar tables makes your game a bit sloppy and undisciplined, because you can miss the pocket by so much and still pocket the ball. You also can create angles you don't have by being able to miss the pocket up the rail when making a run.

The big table forces me to be so much more precise, and the concentration it forces you to use also helps your game. Any suggestions on learning to focus and concentrate better overall? I find that my game is great when I keep my focus, but lately I've been struggling a bit to really keep it going throughout a whole tournament.

Thanks Matt, and God bless you, Mike"

Spot Them Correctly Or Pay

Okay, regarding the break itself, have your opponent move up just ahead of the spot in a friendly match if the spot is worn down or poor, since if you rack behind the spot, many balls will be broken in easily!

Also, you may ask if you can break on the opposite end of the table, reversing the head and foot spots for play. This is usually okay unless you tend to jump the ball off the table entirely on the break, and are a danger to passerby!

Some feel the nap of the table gives them a speed advantage when breaking toward the true table foot--more speed. Actually, that would depend on the cloth having been installed properly to begin with and is negligible compared to racking on a clean side of the cloth instead.

And yes, on a nationwide level our sport hardly gets the airtime, newspaper space or respect it deserves. Bowling and pool have slipped off TV and almost entirely out of the public zeitgeist lately.

As for the big table and improved concentration thereupon (I've always wanted to use thereupon in a sentence-thanks, Mike!), I recommend you line up the shot, close your eyes, take a cleansing breath and then shoot, without opening your eyes again!

Pool, like other athletic endeavors, requires not aggressive concentration but relaxed concentration to perform your best. Closed eyes and gentle self-awareness regarding your stroke is what is needed on ANY pool table of ANY dimensions, right?

You be surprised how much five minutes of closed eye concentration can accomplish for your game. Talk to you soon, and keep crushing that 8-Ball break shot!

From Matt Sherman, your friendly neighborhood Guide to Pool & Billiards at