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Top and Bottom English for Beginners

A tutorial by Jonathan Loder for pool players interested in learning how to apply top english and bottom english to their shot-making skill set.

Top and Bottom English for Beginners

There are three basic laws for playing pool:

  1. Make your shot
  2. Don't scratch
  3. Get your leave

English can have a large affect on all three.

When one starts playing billiards they are usually awed by what some people can do with a cue ball. They watch someone make a shot and then the cue ball defies perception and reverses direction without hitting a rail. Most people will attempt to copy the act with little success to start. They can get the ball to stop and sometimes bring it back a few inches. Every once in a while, they will get some real spin on the ball and it will do what they've been hoping to accomplish, only to be unable to replicate the action. Here is what I've had work for me and I hope it will help you progress to the next level.

There is a variety of english that can be applied from top, bottom, left, and right, and a mixture of these. At a beginners level, I highly recommend sticking with top and bottom english, also known as follow and draw or high and low. Incorporating left and right english into your play is diving into a whole other can of worms that I will not get into. This is due to the fact that trying to introduce multiple aspects of learning at once can lead to frustration and failure. With practice, top and bottom will be your best of friends when it comes to position play, and will open the door to incorporating left and right english.

Top and Bottom English for Beginners

I recommend getting the "basics for cue ball english" down before judging your progress on draw or follow shots. I'm definitely not saying don't try, it's good to have some fun and experiment with your skills as they increase.

Bottom English

I'll start with bottom english, also referred to as draw, low, or backspin, as this is usually one of the first things that people want to learn. It's as simple as the term makes it sound. Hitting the cue below center ball will cause the cue ball to spin opposite the direction it is traveling resulting in a draw shot. The lower you hit the ball, the more english you impart and the further the ball will draw back. With proper stroke and grip, you will be able to back a cue ball up from contact, just as easily as hitting the ball dead center.

There are factors one must consider such as, distance and cut (a cut is any shot that has angle to it). The greater the distance from cue ball to object ball, the more friction between the cue ball and felt will remove bottom english. Eventually the english will wear off and the ball will start to gain what is called natural roll. With this in mind, the harder you hit the ball, the farther it moves before the friction starts affecting the cue ball. These are factors I have found to be adjusted for with practice and knowledge of yourself. I can't say hit a ball with one tip of low and expect you to get the same result I get. Choosing how hard and how low to hit the cue ball, to get the desired outcome, will become more familiar as you practice.

When using bottom english on a shot that has angle to it you will not be able to bring it straight back. The more angle in the cut, the less you will be able to bring a ball back. This does not mean that the english is ineffective, it will still change the natural trajectory of the cue ball after contact and is extremely useful when avoiding a scratch or needing to get a specific action to get to your next shot.

Top English

Okay, top english, also known as high or follow. Again, as simple as the term makes it sound. Hitting the ball above center will cause the ball to spin faster than it would just rolling along. Follow is an under appreciated tool, it is a must for proper cue ball control. If you hit a ball dead center, you will notice that it tends to roll past the point of contact with the object ball. This is what is known as natural roll, the cue ball is spinning just as fast as its moving. Adding top spin to this will cause it to travel farther past the point of contact with the object ball. Again, this will be affected by cut angles, but with practice is an invaluable tool.

When you begin applying english to a cut shot you must take into consideration the tangent line. A tangent is the line perpendicular to the contact point of the cue ball and object ball. The cue ball will follow this line, however it is not stuck in that direction of travel. If you cut a ball with follow or draw, the cue will travel along the tangent until the english you have used starts to gain traction. Now, keep in mind that just like with top spin, the harder you hit, the farther the ball will travel before friction becomes a factor. This means that if you go max power on a shot, the cue ball will travel much further along the tangent line before english takes affect. You will need to take this into account when using top or bottom spin with increasing force.

Top and Bottom English for Beginners

  • Title: Top and Bottom English for Beginners
  • Author:
  • Published: 11/1/2016 11:01:03 AM
  • Last Updated: 11/1/2016 11:09:34 AM
  • Last Updated By: billiardsforum (Billiards Forum)

Top and Bottom English for Beginners

The Top and Bottom English for Beginners article belongs to the Billiard Fundamentals and Basics category. Pool playing tips for the beginner. Get started with these fundamental billiard drills

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