Improving Your Potting Skills


Perhaps rather obviously, the fundamental skill required for pool success is the ability to pot the balls. As with the acquisition of any skill, practice is crucial. However, the following provides some pointers as to the correct method for potting a ball:

1. Always chalk the cue tip before a shot to avoid a miscue or imparting unintentional side spin on the cue ball.
2. Sight along the line formed by the pocket with the ball to be potted (the object ball). Establish and remember the spot on the object ball that is formed by that line.
3. Keep that point in view and align the cue with the desired point on the cue ball and the target point on the object ball.
4. Strike the shot, following through and keeping as still as possible until completing the stroke.

Potting from the Break
The rules of some versions of 8-ball pool decree that a game is won immediately if the 8-ball (black) is potted from the break. The initial key to success is placing the cue ball correctly. The “head string” is a line running across the pool table, similar to the balk line in snooker. Place the cue ball on the head string, about 2″ from the side cushion. Striking the cue ball a little below center, hit the second ball, on either side of the leading ball of the triangle. The 8-ball should go into the corner pocket.

In 9-ball pool, a “trick” break shot can be accomplished that ensures that a ball is potted from the break-off shot every time. Place the cue-ball about 4 inches from the right hand cushion. Strike the shot with pace, to hit the left hand cushion about 3 inches below the middle pocket. The second ball on the left side of the diamond of racked balls will “double” across the table into the opposite middle pocket. This type of break shot, with plenty of practice, not only ensures a pot from the break, but spreads the balls widely, making their subsequent potting that much easier.

Laying Snookers
There are so many ways in which to lay a snooker that a discussion of them all would be impractical. The simplest form of snooker is the gentle tap behind one of a player’s “own” balls. However, many novices make a foul stroke by failing to reach the object ball. However, this shot can be simplified by playing the cue ball sideways, allowing it to be struck more forcefully. The essence of a good snooker is to make the escape as difficult as possible. This may be achieved by leaving the cue ball as close as possible to the snookering ball and the object ball away from a cushion, removing any simple escape route and making it far more difficult for an opponent to judge the escape angle(s).

Escaping from Snookers
Many players find playing the shot “in reverse,” i.e. object ball onto cue ball, an effective method of calculating angles to escape from snookers. It is easy to impart unintentional side spin on the cue ball when playing down, thus ruining the shot. Ensure the center of the tip strikes the highest part of the cue ball.

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