Draw the Cue Ball Correctly in Pool

The secret to drawing the cue ball lies in not lifting the hand abruptly before the stroke begins.

A lovely draw stroke is part of the soul of pool. It's tons of fun to send the cue ball forward and watch it spin backward again off the object ball. Author Robert Byrne calls pool draw "the equivalent of the strike in bowling."

But you need to know what type of stroke and force to exert on the cue ball regardless. Most of the players I encounter draw poorly and if they can spin the cue ball back, they are imprecise with their distance and direction both.

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Plan To Smack The Cue Ball On Its Bottom

Preparing to draw. Photo (c) Matt Sherman

I can draw on a shot a few inches to a foot distant and spin the cue ball back to touch my fingers 100 times out of 100--because I do not interfere with the cue stick's physical motion once released to the final stroke.

It's simple physics--strike the cue ball below its equator (as it faces you) and you will impart bottom spin on the ball, enough for it to rebound again on most shots. In this first photo, I am lining up to hit the cue ball low on this stroke.

The following pages will give you some idea of draw technique and make your life at the tables simpler. 

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Draw Shots - A Common Mistake

Into the air!. Photo (c) Matt Sherman

Watch and laugh as I uncork a common error on draw shots.

I'm purposely exhibiting a fault many beginners make on draw shots. Newbies lift their cuestick in an effort to gain leverage on the shot, hitting the ball harder. The draw shot requires simply that the cue tip contact a hit point below the ball's equator and not a forcible stroking motion.

Compare this photo to that on the previous page, and you can see how much I have lifted from the table.

Keep the shooting hand low if not quite level to the plane of the table.

One key thought is to hold the cue so loosely it might almost tumble to the ground except where it rests, cradled along the bottom of your fingers.

Any tension in the stroke or before the stroke is made indicates the lifting motion that launches the cue ball into the air with such comical (and dangerous!) results.

Another way in which beginners miss draw shots is in trying to put perfect pendulum motions on the stroke with their lower arms, taken from the elbow.

I go into great depth explaining elsewhere why pendulum strokes are wrong, and what the proper pool stroke really is. And while you're at it, why not check on my stance secrets and stroke and aim secrets also.

Loose, loose and looser still. I recommend loosening your draw grip as you take away the cue stick for the final backstroke. Loosen a second time at the top of your backswing as you reverse cue direction, and--I know this will sound strange but work great--loosen as you come into the hit impact also.

Now we're touching on a secret common to all pro and hustlers' strokes, which is often called "let the cue do the work" in error but is actually making the stroke not deviate in movement per Newtonian physics.

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Draw Shots - Fluidly Made

A smooth draw shot. Photo (c) Matt Sherman

"Nice and easy does it... every time," just as Sinatra sang.

In contrast to the previous photo, in this photo, I have allowed my shooting hand to linger down low, quite near the table surface. The cue ball will receive draw spin as planned, easily and without added effort on my part. Note the extreme bend of the cue shaft along the table. The stick's tip has followed through with the motion of the stroke to the felt and is now sliding along the cloth of the table as my follow-through continues on. Most cuesticks are this flexible.

Note that it was a gentle shooting motion, taken smoothly back and then through, that caused this bend. How often I lecture my students on the excellencies of gentle pool strokes!

It doesn't make the shooter less of a man (or woman) to take soft and medium speed strokes. As a matter of fact, I just wrote a two-part article called "Natural Strokes", basically 1,500 words extolling never hitting the ball harder than you have to but calculating cloth effects on the cue ball.

In this way, the expert can run a table using 8 or 9 medium and soft speed strokes while the suckers keep trying to make custom speed strokes for different shots.