Wrong Ways And Right Ways For Shooting With English

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English In Pool. Photo courtesy of MorgueFile.com

When shooting pool with english, you are likely to miss your target or miscue without using the methods I describe. Here are reasons to shoot with what is called "carabao english" and not "parallel english" or "pivoting/swiveling english".

Shooting Pool With Your Best Worst English

What I mean by taking your "best worst pool stroke" refers to the little known pro technique, today called "carabao english," referring to the Filipino pros including Efren Reyes, "The Magician," who popularized the style. Carabao or "backhand" english looks incorrect but is a very powerful technique.

Carabao is a Filipino water buffalo. Buffalo leather is a popular cue tip material, and there you have it for the name of this secret weapon. What looks like an awful pool stroke, curving and twisted, is a powerful way to shoot sidespin or "english" without a miscue or too much unwanted swerve, curve and throw.

2 Wrong Ways And 1 Right Way To English

The carabao stroke is taken by aiming as normal using what I call a "shoot through" center ball stroke. And everything looks and feels normal through center ball on the practice strokes and final backstroke before--importantly, only on the final stroke forward, --moving the shooting hand to one side to generate english!

In other words, take a regular stroke, and if you want, say, bottom left english, at the last moment move your hand UP and RIGHT to shoot down and left through the cue ball.

The magic of this stroke is that its momentum is mostly taken forward with a little momentum out to the side. This reduces if not eliminates aim adjustment--the cue ball will still propel forward right at the target.

Only rarely, if ever, should you shoot english with a pivot stroke, where the cue stick is swiveled to one side through your bridge hand before you stroke back and through. Wrong!

The third technique for shooting pool with english, and nearly as safe as carabao, is a parallel english stroke, with a stroke parallel to the line of aim but with both hands moved to shoot english to the side. For one tip's width of right english, you'd move both hands one-half a cue tip's distance to the right (players say "one tip" when they mean the tip center is aimed where the tip's edge used to rest at center ball) after settling in your center ball stance.

Parallel Is Still Wrong If Right

The problem, however, is that shooting english with a parallel aim line off center really isn't english at all, it's just sending force off center through the cue ball which leads to dangerous issues.

So away you go, but keep the cue butt low and level, not more than 6 inches above the table (just above the table's rail height) so the cue ball will curve or squirt off the aim line minimally. And bear in mind that parallel english is not true english at all but simply a convenience aid for reorienting the cue stick while looking straight ahead along the line of aim.

Efren Reyes, Carabao English Master:

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