Guide to Breaking in 8 Ball

Strike the 8 ball break in the center of the chosen object ball. Photo (c) Matt Sherman

When discussing the best 8 Ball breaks, including how to break in the 8 ball with this all-important stroke, it becomes necessary both to emphasize basic break strategy and specific technique for two kinds of 8 ball breaks.

Victory in 8 ball pool at times requires (rules permitting) a commitment to sink the 8 ball on the break, and at other times, a mere shattering of the rack to spread the billiard balls effectively to splatter breaks and win the game.

Power Break

Certain rule sets and certain 8 ball tournaments require that the 8 ball not sink on the break, while in other pool matches this makes for an easy win. First, review the basic power break strategy. At times, it's best to scatter the balls widely, i.e. send 7 or 8 balls past the side pockets toward the head of the table. So the player may run out with ease, rather than break the 8 ball in. Yet there is something wonderful about dropping the 8 ball in on a break if you can.

For sheer power to scatter balls, a bit of ​ulnar or radial deviation on the break stroke, and quick hand movement can add plenty of force to the 8 ball break. But whether or not you are attempting to break in the 8 ball, you ought to keep in mind one principle for the shot...

The Shot

Strike the 1 ball at the head of the rack (or whatever ball you've chosen, such as the 3rd down along one side of the rack) exactly flush, no matter where the cue ball is resting for the 8 ball break. In other words, see in your mind's eye the purple stripe in the diagram facing yourself and the cue ball so that the cue flies straight ahead to hit the ball of choice dead center.

This accuracy of hit will give you better results than you've ever had, killing the cue ball to sit dead center of the table and sending most of the momentum into the object balls where you want.

How to Break in 8 Ball Billiards

8 ball breaks require not so much of a deft touch or sheer genius, but the will to play an unusual stroke that could win the game for you in one try (if local rules for 8 ball breaks call making the 8 ball on the break a win).

Here's a tip, reader, for knocking the 8 ball in on the break. It's a clever tip because it requires an unobvious move for sinking the 8 ball:

1) Post the white cue ball along the head string (the imaginary line two diamonds in, the closest a ball may be placed to the rack on the break) about three inches from either long rail.

2) Maintain a fairly level cue stick. Strike the cue ball a bit below dead center. Aim to hit a ball on the second row clean, without hitting the apex ball.

3) The cue ball may now kick off the side rail, after the balls have scattered apart from the 8 ball, and drive the black 8 ball into a center pocket.