Top Break Shot Tips

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Have a Plan

Balls of Snooker in a red table
Bambu Productions / The Image Bank / Getty Images

It was tough placing these tips in some type of order—they are all valid and help my students in lessons and group clinics to smash their breaks with skill.

The pros have stopped thinking about the break stroke as "lucky" long ago. Bear down mentally and plan the path of the cue ball, predict the paths of key balls, and plan to sink at least one ball on any offense-directed open break. I'll teach you how to play position breaks throughout this expert site.

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Rack Tightly

Don't get washed out by your opponent. Photo courtesy of

Ensure the balls are racked rather tightly for your game so you learn (and so you avoid unneeded cue ball scratches and weak breaks). For some competition, you will be allowed to rack your own, too. And a super-tight rack is the best defense, by the way, against your opponent’s open break.

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Practice Into the Corner

Use that corner pocket, wisely. Photo courtesy of

Crush the cue ball in a corner pocket for break practice. For psychological reasons, including less fear about leaping the ball off the table or colliding with the racked balls, players who deliver otherwise weak break strokes can smash the same cue ball into the corner.

Think about it--the head ball of the rack is closer than the corner and you can shoot nearly straight into the rack as opposed to a diagonal shot with the corner pocket. In other words, if you can smash it to the far corner pocket, you can smash into the head ball even harder. See what feedback you can absorb from this corner-power practice, but loosen a bit if the room owner insists you are abusing a corner pocket!

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Pure It!

Smooth like mom's home baked pie. Photo courtesy of

Ensure a smooth, rhythmic breaking motion. You can power stroke a ball quite well while maintaining smoothness. And here’s an added tip article, using the break slip technique to add still more devastating power to your break strokes.

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Fast Hands

Ten digits of magic. Photo courtesy of

Fast moving hands and fingers are all you need to smash apart a break. Let me repeat that, as you practice a few breaks this way to feel the sensation— fast moving hands and fingers are all you need to smash apart a break.

The arm and body wiggles you can add later, once you get those hands flying faster.

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Wrist Deviation

Ulnar deviation does it. Photo courtesy of P. Winberg

Consider adding ulnar deviation on the final stroke, giving extra zip to the break.

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Loosen Up!

Loose is good, dude. Photo courtesy of

Experiment with grip, holding the stick so loosely that it might clatter to the floor with a slightly looser hold on the break.

On a scale of 1 to 10, ten being the strongest grip strength, if I'm shooting balls in with "2" I break with a "1" or even "1/2" to make 'em fly around the table.

Think about it--how could the top pros move about on the break so vigorously if their grip, hand and arm are tense.

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Coat With Chalk Lightly

Light chalk, not light colored chalk. Photo courtesy of

Lightly apply chalk before the break stroke—the added friction of chalk forces the tip to adhere to the ball longer, but you want the cue ball to rebound faster on the break—a thin, hard tip helps also.

Did you get that? Less chalk if you want to power the cue ball into the break.

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A Crooked Cue Stick?

Take a turn, perhaps for the better. Photo courtesy of

Let's end with a controversial breaking tip, this one is sick...

Fetch a crooked cue stick to break with and learn by feel the motion the pro uses when their cue widely bends and flexes on the stroke. Don’t bend another’s cue you need for this purpose, please.

I have some stories about hustlers who bent player's break sticks only to have this action go totally against them. Try it with a cheap cue you don't care for.