Understand Cue Ball Angles - The Best Billiards Tips

Roll With My Ideas And You'll Be Playing Top Notch Pool, Fast

Understand Cue Ball Angles
From behind the cue ball, all things are possible using this position primer. Photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to About.com, Inc.

This time we're looking at some classic tips for positioning the cue ball. It's been said before but is worth repeating, pool fans. Simply sink and ball while positioning the cue ball to set up an easy shot next, and repeat, and you'll never miss a shot or lose a game!

These tips will take you far in billiards, as they have me. Don't hesitate to shoot me an e-mail with any type of pocket billiards question, dear reader!

**Memorize the old golf expression, "Pacing beats chasing!" It's better to hit a gentle shot straight down the fairway on the golf course than to look for a lost ball in the woods. In billiards, pacing using natural roll is better than chasing a wildly running cue ball.

Note I wrote "natural roll" and not "natural angle." Understand the naturally-induced roll a center ball medium speed shot will place on the cue ball and then extrapolate from there using spin and speed. Thinking about the distance between cue ball straight into a target ball, 6-inch, 9-inch and 3-inch shots provide different cue ball results using the same stroke.

Get natural roll down like a champion using my Home Again Shot. and remember, it's better than guessing at a personal 7.12 speed or 5.34 speed to stick to soft shots or medium speed shots wherever possible.

**I can play Nine Ball and run and run, using no english, for half an hour or more, on a 9-foot table. (Well, for one or two shots, I might be putting a quarter tip of english on something here or there). Experts limit english where possible.

**As Dr. Dave Alciatore teaches at his marvelous pool instructional website, understand that the cue takes off at about a 30-degree angle on cut shots (make a V-sign with two fingers to see what 30 degrees off line is) for rolling cue balls (topspin) versus stunned tangent lines of 90 degrees.

**A novice hopes to reach a cue ball position after the shot as accurate as an 8.5" x 11" letter sized sheet of paper. (Put one on the table for the landing spot and go for it). The strong intermediate is working to hit a 3" x 5" index card. The pro? A coin-shaped position the size of a U.S. Quarter!

**As I've taught elsewhere, look for golden angles or angles to work the cue ball, look for the wide part of shape zones to enter, and run down (or away from) the aim line for the next shot. Write me an e-mail if you want more shape help here.

**"Great players win by executing difficult shots" is nonsense. Position players almost always beat "shot makers" over the long run.

**"Look three balls ahead" means carefully plan for the next two balls moving backwards. In Nine Ball, ask where you want to be for the 3-ball, then what 2-ball shot gets you there, and now you know where you want to roll coming off the 1-ball. Now you can shoot. Get in this habit and soon you'll be strong enough with position to plan the entire rack ahead of the first ball in 9-Ball!

**Choose what kind of shot you need next. Offense? Defense? A little of both? And to play better defense instantly, understand that 100% of speed transfers to the object ball on a full hit but 25% of cue ball speed stays on a quarter-ball cut, 50% on a half ball hit, etc. Simply choosing how much of the object ball to hit guarantees you can play both cue an target ball to whatever section(s) of the table you want.

**Use a classic stroke on topspin and draw shots for better control. Don't do any special draw or topspin strokes with "wrist" or "extra" in most cases.

**Teach yourself superior shape skill with my 1 ball, 1 diamond drill. Become a pool genius off one drill! Seriously, this one was vital to me when I was a younger player.

**Know in your soul it's "soft, medium, hard" in pool and not "slow, medium, fast". Think about the last sentence for an hour if you need to and you'll "get it".

**Position starts with knowing that each ball on the table fits into your sequence for the whole run. There are only four kinds of sequence balls, Aces, Kings, Queens and Jokers

**Choose speed of stroke and spin before you bend to shoot or face unwanted english and wild table scratches.

**Play to the middle of the table and understand that balls that go all around the table tend to form semi-parallelograms. The angle off the fourth cushion is parallel to the angle off the first cushion!

**Learn to work the cue ball as I suggest in related articles. Harder or softer, "driving" or cutting, cheating the pocket, punching 1/10" below center to create a micro-jump on impact, immediate roll with 70% of maximum height for topspin, etc. all effect the white cue ball.

**Look for shots with the shortest routes and fewest rails, in general.

**Position is important. Most 8- and 9-Ball games are lost and not won outright. Look backwards and at the 8-ball (or 9-ball) first, and its key ball second. Don't start to run unless you can get them all for sure-play two-way instead and shoot pro speed to block pockets in 8-Ball or miss intentionally in 9-Ball.