Let’s imagine for a moment that you are in a match with a very skilled opponent, and she has just scratched. You have one ball left to make, but the 8 ball is at the other end of the table, and her balls are just sitting ducks, waiting for you to make a mistake:
Advanced players, I am sure you know what you would do, and there are about 14 different ways to play this, for sure.
Many beginners would place the cue ball directly behind the 1 ball, shooting it into the upper left corner and hoping to draw it back far enough for a decent shot on the 8 ball. Not a bad choice, but more difficult than it needs to be.
Some beginners (and hopefully, my students) might remember that they should create an angle, so that it’s easier to control where the cue ball goes. Unfortunately, most beginners (and even some intermediate and advanced players) will create too shallow of an angle because they fear missing the shot. Then they have to slam the ball in to get the cue to move, decreasing their chance of making the shot and/or putting the cue ball where they want.
Add to that the pressure of a tournament or league match, and it’s a recipe for potential disappointment.
What if I told you I can help you make the cut shot with near certainty? And have enough of an angle to control the cue ball? Read on!
Here’s what I want you to do: Create a half-ball shot. That’s it. The question, dear beginner, is how do you do that? Like this:
- First, imagine an invisible ball in the exact position the cue ball needs to strike the 1 ball in order to make it in the pocket. In the diagram below, this is represented by the “ball” at the end of the arrow. You may know this as the “ghost” ball.
- While you have this imaginary ball in your mind, look “through” this imaginary ball to the right edge of the 1 ball, so that the edge of the 1 ball is in the exact middle of the ghostball.
- Draw a line (in your head, please — the pool room manager would not be happy with me if you drew on his cloth) back from the edge of the 1 ball, though the middle of the ghost ball. This is represented by the line in the diagram below.
- Place the cue ball on this imaginary line. This is represented by the cue ball in the diagram. Duh.
Now, aim the cue ball at the right edge of the 1 ball, and shoot! The 1 ball should go into the center of the corner pocket, and the cue will travel into the side rail. Try this a few times until you get the hang of setting it up.
Once you have the hang of this shot, try playing the cue ball to travel to the other end of the table. Shoot with medium speed, with a touch of follow and running (in this case, right) English. The path you are aiming for is as such:
Because you have something concrete to aim at (the edge of the 1 ball), all you have to do is focus on your speed and cue ball position. As long as the cue ball ends up somewhere in the bottom right quadrant of the table, you should be able to make the 8 ball with no problem!
For extra credit: When lined up correctly for a half-ball hit, what is the angle (in degrees) of the cut shot (the difference between the line the 1 ball travels and the aiming line)?
For extra-extra credit: Can you prove your answer?