Reference Lines: Taking It to the Bank

Let’s talk about banks. A scary subject for some, I know, but I am going to try to demystify them for you, and make you a better banker. Are you ready? Awesome!

Some of these descriptions may be a bit pedantic for you higher level players, but bear with me. We’ve got to let the rest of the class catch up, right? You guys can go take a quick coffee break. Just come back soon, it’s gonna get good in a couple of minutes, I promise!

For this discussion, I want you to consider this table:

I have marked all of the diamonds along the top rail 1 through 9, and the bottom rail A through J. Please note a couple of things:

  1. Diamonds 1, 5, and 9 (and A, E, J) exist, even though there isn’t an actual diamond on the table.
  2. For 5 and E, the “diamond” is located in the middle of the back of the pocket.
  3. For 1/9 and A/J, however, the diamond is located on the rail parallel to the bumper. It is NOT the back of the corner pocket.

Note the green X’s in this diagram. They are the location of the “invisible” diamonds. You must understand this before we move on. Got it? Super! You guys are so smart!

Now, in order to understand how to aim your banks, we’re going to do some fairly simple geometry. On your table, draw a line from diamond 4 to diamond C. Don’t actually draw the line—try placing a cue stick over both of those diamonds.

Note that diamond 4 is one diamond away from the upper side pocket, and the C diamond is 2 diamonds away from the lower side pocket. Why is this important? If your object ball is on that line, and you aim it at the 4 diamond with pocket (soft) speed, the ball should rebound off of the rail and head straight for diamond E. This should make sense to most of you if you have been playing pool for any length of time now.

Of course, diamond E is the pocket, which means you made the bank!

OK, I know what you’re thinking… most of the time, the ball is not going to be on the path between two diamonds like that. Then what?

Consider this shot here:

It’s not quite on the 4-C line, is it? So how do we determine what the line is? A little bit of fiddling, that’s how! With the 2 ball on the table, find the diamond-to-diamond line that is closest to the ball. In our case, it’s the 4-C line. Now, with your cue on that line, parallel-shift your cue until it’s over the 2 ball. In our scenario, you shifted about a quarter-diamond to the left.

Notice that the tip of the cue, near diamond 4, is the same distance from the diamond as the butt is from diamond C. Now, here comes the neat part. Pay attention!

Keeping the cue stick over the 2-ball, pivot the cue stick clockwise until the butt is twice the distance from diamond C as the tip is from diamond 4. Done correctly, your cue stick should be on this line:

You now have the path the 2-ball should take to reach the pocket at diamond E. Note spot at 1.2 diamonds, where your cue tip is? That is your aiming point for the 2-ball. Put a little bit of outside English on the ball (left in this case), and shoot it in!

That’s pretty cool, isn’t it? Practice makes perfect, of course, but you should be making balls left and right in no time!

But you want to really impress your friends with your newfound banking ability, don’t you? You want to slam the ball in with authority! Or, better yet, you need to do so in order to get the proper position with the cue ball. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered!

Let’s take the same shot on the 2-ball. Use your new-found skills to find your aiming point on the rail for the bank. Got it? Now… shift that point over to the right about ¼ of a diamond. Using the same outside English, shoot the shot, but this time shoot it hard. That ball should rocket into the center of the side pocket!

As I always teach, practice makes perfect. There is a bit of an art to banking balls, so if this technique isn’t working for you, try adjusting your aim just a bit to the right or left. Once you have made that adjustment, you should make most of your shots, one after another.

What’s that? You want more? Check out this video by Ralph Eckert, where he covers these concepts and demonstrates how to make them:

As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask! You can email me if you like, but if you ask in the comments section, everyone can see your question and my response.

Good Luck!

Special Thanks to ♥ for their pool diagramming software.

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