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Rail Nurse - Billiard Term Definition

Welcome to the billiard, pool, and snooker glossary of terms. This is the definition of Rail Nurse as it relates to cue sports. You can also view the entire billiard dictionary

Definition of Rail Nurse

Rail Nurse is a billiards slang term that is a part of Billiard Technique Terminology.

In the game of straight rail, the object of the game is to hit both of the object balls with your cue ball (one player has the white cue ball, the other player has the yellow cue ball). Unlike [3-cushion billiards](/pool-rules/three-cushion-billiard-rules "Rules for the game of three cushion billiards), you do not have to hit any rails.

The rail nurse animation below shows the most important shot in straight rail, the rail nurse. The cue ball hits both object balls, knocking one of them into the rail, resulting in the same position, a few inches down the rail. With the use of the rail nurse, a player can run many points. Professionals have run thousands of points.

video of the rail nurse technique

In reality, a player seldom achieves a perfect rail nurse. Each position may vary. And, when he/she gets out of shape, it may take several shots to get back to the above basic position. Dealing with the corners often takes some creativity, as well. A player can usually maneuver around a corner, or go back the way he/she came, after one or two shots.

When the balls are far apart, the basic task is to get them close together, to gather the balls. Once the balls have been gathered, the basic task is to achieve a rail nurse and start accumulating points.

Note: Older sets of balls have two white cue balls, one of which has a black dot on it (and is sometimes called the black ball). The third ball is a red ball.

The following is a commentary by Jim Loy on his experiences using the Rail Nurse technique in straight rail billiards. Steps are explained in detail below the image.

Here I tried to run a few points at straight rail, using the rail nurse. My cue ball is the yellow ball.

rail nurse technique diagram

  1. I started in a nearly ideal position and shot a rail nurse shot (the red ball went to the rail, and the white ball moved a little to the right in the top frame of the diagram).
  2. In the second frame, the cue ball is a little far outside the other two balls, and I chose a double kiss. I shot the red ball to the rail and back, where it kissed the cue ball into the white ball, moving the white ball to the right, and leaving a similar shot.
  3. I chose the same double kiss, and again left a similar shot.
  4. I chose an interesting multiple kiss. I just shot into the red and nudged the white. The red came back and kissed both balls, knocking them apart slightly. The result looks nice.
  5. This looks like a nice rail nurse, but I think that the white ball will move too far outside (farther from the rail than) the yellow ball. So instead I shot softly between the balls, moving the red to the rail, and the white moved a little farther from the rail.
  6. Here I can use the chuck nurse, which I wanted to shoot relatively hard. My idea was to move the red away from the rail, and have my cue ball glance off the white and end up outside both balls, so that I might be able to get back to a rail nurse position. That's probably dangerous, as I might have moved the white too far away. In this position, if the red ball were farther to the right, I might try something similar by hitting it thin with some right English, and glance off the white ball.
  7. I shot a little soft on that last one, and left another chuck nurse shot. I may now shoot a couple more chuck nurse shots, and see if anything promising develops. I'm not sure that I can get back to a rail nurse position.

One thing that we might learn here is that double kisses can be very useful. Most of the above shots involved double kisses. Even the multiple kiss of shot #4, which may be somewhat unpredictable, can be very valuable.

I only shot one true rail nurse shot here, but the first five shots can be called rail nurse shots, as they are similar, with double kisses thrown in. In Europe, a sequence of several rail nurse shots in succession is called the American series.

See: nurse, rocking cannon, nurse shot, pass nurse, chuck nurse for more on the meaning of "Rail Nurse".

Rail Nurse - Usage

The straight billiards team spent hours trying to perfect the rail nurse.

Billiards - Rail Nurse

  • Title: Rail Nurse
  • Author: (Billiards Forum)
  • Published: 1/1/2018 1:33:36 PM
  • Last Updated: 1/1/2018 2:12:11 PM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum
  • Source: Jim Loy

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