Anyone beginning to play billiards or snooker will attest that shot making, and more specifically billiard shot aiming technique, is one of the more difficult skills for a beginner to master. This article is written for the beginner who knows nothing about billiard shot aiming, and has simply played a few games in the past for fun without any real thought about technique. The goal is to become consistent with your shot, and to master your shot aiming techniques so that you can make conscious shot decisions with some degree of accuracy. It is one thing to have a great game, but it takes a special skill to have great games consistently. It is said that consistency and shot aiming are two of the most important skills to master. To help you with these, we will discuss three important aspects of improving your aim:
Billiard Shot Aiming Technique
imagining the shot paths and points of contact
aiming the billiard shot with your dominant eye
proper shooting posture
Once you have assessed the table and made your shot decision, you need to analyze it and aim the shot properly. To begin, imagine the straight line from the object ball to the middle of the opening to the pocket and extend that line through the object ball to the side opposite the pocket. Where this line intersects the edge of the object ball is where you must hit the ball in order to make it go in that exact direction. (See diagram 1)
Next, you must determine the exact point on the cue ball to match up with the point you have identified on the object ball. It may not be visible to you since you will be standing behind the cue ball, but you will learn to visualize it. The key point you must imagine is the cue ball contacting the object ball at such a point that during the exact moment of contact, the two balls will be perfectly lined up toward the pocket. Note that this should match the imaginary line that you visualized earlier.
Notice in the diagram that once the cue ball travels to the object ball, the cue ball and the object ball will be perfectly aligned with the pocket at the exact time they come in contact. Once you wrap your head around this concept, only practice at the table can help you get better. You can try our aiming billiard drill for practice on this billiard shot aiming technique.
To determine which points should meet, you will have to make sure that you are aiming the shot with your dominant eye. Estimates show that 95% of humans have a dominant eye, meaning that one is stronger than the other. You need to ensure that you are using your dominant eye to aim all of your shots or else your practice sessions may prove frustrating. See our finding your dominant eye for billiards article for determining which eye you should be using to aim your shots. Once you have determined which is your stronger eye, you should align your body position in such a way that your dominant eye is perfectly aligned with the shot. With that, your body posture is instrumental in getting your dominant eye as low as possible and aligned with your shot. Many pro players including Bata Reyes, Bustamante, and Archer shoot with their chin practically resting on the cue so that they can aim properly. A final note on this billiard shot aiming tutorial; don't give up before you have a chance to become enlightened with this information. You can read it over and over, but one day when you are at a table it will just click and you will finally get it, as though you were born with this skill. Once you reach this point, consistency will start to set in and you'll do better in competitive billiard matches.
If you have read this beginner article and you still believe you are missing shots that are hit properly, you may want to investigate the possibility of "throw" and whether or not it is affecting your shots. We have an article called throw in billiard shots to help explain this and how to deal with it when perfecting your billiard shot aiming technique.
I just wanted to say something about concentration and shooting straight in pool. I have seen many articles and watched many games and talked to many people and have never heard this tip before. I use this mantra to get my mind set:
When looking over the pool table, I say to myself...
SHOT, SIGHT, SPEED, STROKE, STOP, FOLLOW.
Then I am ready. It has a great effect of keeping my focus and on building mental consistency.
For example; you say that "your eye is perfectly aligned with the shot" and that archer goes down low on his shot making". Even so, I understand that when Archer goes down low on his shot, he is in a cross- dominant position with left eye dominance and the stick vertically positioned slightly to the right of the bridge of his nose.
Also; consciously visualizing the contact point on the opposite non-seen side of the object ball is apparently not done by many players who use a fractional aiming system. The initial alignment is done first, then the player intuitively fine tunes intuitively without conscious visualization.
Well just some thoughts.
Cecchini from Londrina, Parana on 7/9/2011 6:24:10 AM
The article said:
Next, you must determine the exact point on the cue ball to match up with the point you have identified on the object ball. It may not be visible to you since you will be standing behind the cue ball, but you will learn to visualize it.
Question; How can I learn to visualize this point on the cue ball? Is there some drill I can do, or is it just a matter of practice?
This is a good article on shot aiming techniques in billiards. Thanks.
Tony Smith from Virginia Beach, VA on 11/5/2011 11:29:34 AM
I am a CPA and have developed a method of aiming which I feel is the best way for most shots and for most players.
It recognizes that we shoot the same shots over and over again, we just are not consistent with making the shots as evidenced by the fact that we miss the same shots we have made before. It includes simple calculations as to inside and outside english, short shots and long shots.
In my narrow mind it is the only method apart from God given skill.
I would like to submit the method to be posted on the site, and will do so after contacting someone there.
Thank you for the tech on aiming for straight-in shots and straight-in long shots.
I will need to make sure that I am lined up center-to-center-to-center - cue ball, object ball, center on pocket.
Gerry Wks from MN, United States on 5/9/2012 6:41:18 PM
There is a lot of merit to shooting with your dominant eye in line, on fairly straight in shots. But this is not the best way for a majority of shots.
If your left eye dominant and cutting to the left, then the shot is very difficult with your aiming technique.
Now, If you put your your left eye on the cut line, visually, the shot is easier. Plus you can see pass other balls. So when cutting to the right, put your right eye on the cut line. Both eyes need to be used on every shot, for the best consistency.
Butch from FL, United States on 9/19/2015 9:18:31 AM
How do you line up the shot when being right handed with a dominant left eye?
Enigma from FL, United States on 1/21/2016 12:42:19 AM
One other thing that I like to take into account when aiming a pool shot is the understanding that the apparent size of the cue ball is going to shrink as it travels to the object ball. So I like to try and envision it to be the same size as the object ball when it contacts the object ball. It appears some degree larger prior to stroking at the cue ball.
In addition I then try to assess just how much the cue ball and object ball will appear to overlap at contact.
All these things together help me envision the proper position of the cue ball at contact on each shot. The overlap is a sine function of the shot angle, i.e. if you shoot the cue ball directly at the edge of the object ball (overlap of 50% or .5), that is a 30 degree cut shot not a 45 degree shot. A 45 degree shot would overlap by 0.7, which is a thinner cut.