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The Basic Skills to Win at Pool


The Basic Skills to Win at Pool

What are the basics that any player should consider in trying to win a game of pool?

I often find that i am out of tactical ideas and end up giving the game away to anyone who plays with their head.

I have some potting ability but sometimes i look at the the table and wonder what i should do to strengthen my position and the go on to win the game.

The Basic Skills to Win at Pool

Replies & Comments

  1. SLEMBOMitch Alsup on 10/20/2010 3:02:06 PM

    In order to develop a mental model that leads to long runs, you must approach the tactics differently.

    A) Playing position - this means that when you pot a ball, you want to position the CB for another rather easy pot on the subsequent ball. But dig deeper, here! What you really want and need is to get position on the correct side of the subsequent ball so that you have an easy way to get position on the correct side of the next ball.

    B) Built-In Coach - When you are contemplating what ball to pot, and how to get correct subsequent position, you need to develop an inner conversation that goes something like: (S=shooter, C=coach)

    • S: "I am going to pot the 7-ball in the left side of the corner pocket, use a little high right to maneuver the CB around the 9-ball and bring it back up table for a shot on the 6-ball in that other corner"
    • C: "Did yo consider using low left off the near rail and just backing the CB up for the same shot--the CB travels less distance and overall is less risky"
    • S: "I see what you are saying, but I feel my original shot will fill my chest with glory"
    • C: "suit yourself, I will see you back at the chair"
    • S: "Maybe you're right"

    C) Safety Play - this is where you pick off the lesserlings. A great safety leads to BIH which leads to well conceived long runs. Safety play is (by and large) about touch and finesse, and requires you to have the ability to roll the CB table length plus or minus 1/2 inch. This is finer than most player can muster, and finer than required fro making long runs. Yet when developed, is masterful at delivering wins to your side of the table. Just remember, CB hits a legal ball, some ball hits a rail after contact, and the shot is LEGAL--don't give in to those who think its dirty play. It is perfectly legal, that they don't use this legal technique is NOT YOUR PROBLEM.

    D) Jaberwoky - You are allowed 30 seconds to shoot your shot; That is 30 seconds of QUIET. So if you opponent is standing by the table talking smack or to a buddy, just stand their and don't bother to shoot until he shuts up. Don't say anything while you are standing and he is jaberwoking about. When he asks "is it my turn" just say no, when he asks "why you are not shooting" or to "get on with the game" inform him that you are allowed 30 seconds of QUIET to perform your shot. I held out 5 minutes on one guy once. Afterwards, he never jabered again while we played. It also gets under their skin. But do not jaber back and degrade yourself to his level.

  2. SLEMBOFenwick on 10/22/2010 2:03:32 PM

    "What are the basics that any player should consider in trying to win a game of pool?"

    I'm guessing you're playing 8 or 9 ball. They each have their own strategy.

    "I often find that I am out of tactical ideas and end up giving the game away to anyone who plays with their head."

    That's because they see a pattern on the table 3 to 5 balls ahead. They control the cue balls path or at least know where it's going.

    "I have some potting ability but sometimes I look at the table and wonder what I should do to strengthen my position and the go on to win the game."

    You're what is known as a shot maker. Not a bad thing but not good either. You can make shots but have no idea what you plan on doing next or where the cue ball well end up.

    Here's what I would do. Roll the 7, 8, and 9 balls on the table and take ball in hand and make them in order; 7,8,9. The reason I suggest these balls is they are the money balls and solids are harder to make. If you can do this ten times in a row add another ball.

    Next find someone who is willing to take you under their wing and give you some sound advice. Then find a second and then a third.

    If or when you can find a good instructor who's main forte is teaching sound fundamentals for a reasonable price take a lesson or two. I had one offer to help me for free just for asking.

    Please come back and give us a update!

  3. SLEMBOSLEMBO on 10/23/2010 12:52:08 AM

    its 8-ball, i play in england where the pockets are tighter, but this advice is still helping!

    ive been playing for a while, but i just cant see angles when playing shots. any tips on how to learn where the cue ball will go after making a certain shot?

  4. SLEMBOFenwick on 10/23/2010 8:34:21 AM

    Play the 3 ball drill over and over and you will start to learn where the cue ball goes in time. The Tangent line.

  5. SLEMBOgibson on 10/24/2010 10:00:21 AM

    Playing position in 8 ball requires an accurate shot with the right speed and the ability to know what situations will present themselves on the next shot for yourself and your opponent. The biggest fault in 8 ball is selling out on a missed shot ie giving a chance to the opponent to run out the next turn. You are always keeping in mind that you have to allow yourself to be able to run out and prevent your opponent from doing the same. I surmise that you are attempting low percentage shots and selling out when you miss. Try adopting a defensive strategy and see if it helps. Try to position yourself that in case of a miss your opponent has no easy shot. When you practice your shots try to guess where your cueball will stop after the shot and see if you are missing the area on the table where it should go. This may not be the best advice for everyone but it worked well with my game.

  6. SLEMBOFenwick on 10/24/2010 1:04:41 PM

    gibson, I agree with everything you said in your post. The problem it seems is the O. P. has no idea where the cue ball is going to travel after any given shot.

    SLEMBO "ive been playing for a while, but i just cant see angles when playing shots. any tips on how to learn where the cue ball will go after making a certain shot?"

  7. SLEMBOMitch Alsup on 10/24/2010 5:03:01 PM

    Immediately after making contact, the CB will be sliding on what is known as the tangent line. One can find the tangent line by placing the CB on the contact point of the OB. The OB will head down the line defined by the two centers, while the CB will head down the line perpendicular to the two centers.

    • If the CB had forward or natural roll, the CB will arc forward from this tangent line
    • If the CB has draw, the CB will arc backwards from this tangent line
    • If the CB hits the OB dead (no spin at all) it will slide down the tangent line.

    Understanding dead-ball-roll will allow you to make incredibly precise position plays in tight clusters. Dead-ball-roll is when you make contact with the OB and the CB is not spinning at all, neither forward/back, nor side-to-side. Without any spin in the way, distance is entirely controlled by speed at impact and the angle at impact.

    Mastery of the follow/draw is paramount to understanding the physics of pool.

    • If the CB has outside english the tangent line will appear to be backwards of the geometrical tangent line
    • If the CB has inside english the tangent line will appear to be forwards of the geometrical tangent line

    In both of these cases, the tangent line is the line where conservation of momentum took place and the OB will roll down a line slightly different than the contact point suggests. This phenomenon is known as 'throw' and is very valuable if you understand it (or devastating if you do not). Mastery of side-spin is also extremely valuable.

  8. SLEMBOFenwick on 10/24/2010 6:30:51 PM

    And to add to what Mitch said. Center ball will show you the true tangent line. Top well shorten it and low well lengthen it. Mitch said, " Master of side-spin is also extremely valuable." I agree but you first must master center ball first IMHO.

  9. SLEMBOMitch Alsup on 10/26/2010 10:17:11 AM

    How to master center ball:

    Place the CB on the headspot. Aim at the far end rail at the center diamond. Roll the CB up table leaving your cue extended through the CB, hit the rail at the center diamond and have the CB roll back down table and have it hit your unmoved cue on the tip.

    Do not stop this excersize until you can do this 10 times in a row.

    If the CB does not hit the end rail at the center diamond, it is likely that your back hand (the one holding the cue) moved on the back or fore stroke. You must get to the point you can hit what you aim at--or all is lost.

    If the CB rolls up table and hits the rail at center diamond but does not come back down table, you have hit the CB on the side and imparted side english. You must get to the point you can hit the CB along the vertical point (no side-spin) or you will never get control.

    One thing a lot of beginners think/believe is that you need to hit the CB with the cue-tip. This is absolutely FALSE. What you need to do is to deliver the cue-tip to the cue-ball at a precise point. Watch any player on TV, notice how deliberate they are with the stroke, and notice how deliberate they are with the cue tip. This is not like baseball where you hit the ball with the bat and hope it goes somewhere useful. This is pool where you have to deliver the cue-tip to the cue-ball precisely, deliberately, and with delicasy. Being able to deliver the cue-tip to the cue-ball with speed and delicasy is what separates the good players from the also-rans.

    One other thing beginners (even into intermediates) believe is that you have to hit the CB (or OB) hard. This, too, is absolutely FALSE. You want to develop the "Feel" of the movement on the Cue such that you can roll the CB one diamond, 2 diamonds, 3 diamonds, 1 inch,... Later this will translate into being able to roll the CB down table, pop the OB into the pocket, and leave the CB right where it touched the OB. Thus, without any english, you avoid a scratch. Later on this feel will alow you to manover the CB around table obtaining position or placing the CB where the opponent has no shot.

    And as long as we are on the basic hitting of the cue ball topic:

    One excellent excersize is to place an OB on headspot and place the CB one diamond behind the OB in a straight line to the downtable corner pocket. Hit the CB into the OB and make the shot. When you make 10 in a row, move the OB one diamond down table, but leave CB one diamond from the end rail. Any time yo make 10 in a row, move the OB farther down table. Soon you will see that the hardest straight shot is when the OB and CB are just over 1/2 table distance apart. After a few weeks, you will be able to make any long straight shot and never get nervous again over these (easy) shots.

    Once you have mastered the straight shot at all distances (still using no english (spin)) use the diamonds to place and OB at the intersection of a side rail diamond and an end rail diamond, place the OB at some othe side rail and end rail diamond and shoot that shot until you can make it 10 times in a row. After a week of practiing this excersize, try to roll the OB into the pocket so that if just barely makes it to the pocket and holds for a second on th eedge before dropping in. Stay down on the shot, and watch the CB. This excersize will develop your eye to the angle you need and if you are practicing the delicasy mentioned above, you will realize that the CB moves to the side exactly the same distance seen down the line of aim as the OB moves to the other side. We will use this observation later when we actively try to position the CB for the next shot.

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The Basic Skills to Win at Pool

  • Title: The Basic Skills to Win at Pool
  • Author: (S Lem)
  • Published: 10/20/2010 9:59:59 AM