We all face that moment on the table. You’re playing 9-ball, and it’s hill-hill. Whoever sinks the 9 wins the match. You have just three balls left to make, but you have left yourself a tough shot on the 7 ball:
At this point, you have a couple of considerations. You can attempt to play safe, leaving your opponent a difficult shot. You can attempt to bank the 7 in the side, which is not a bad option if you have been practicing your bank shots. It naturally leads to a shot on the 8:
Of course, if you miss the shot, you will most likely sell out, leaving an easy three-ball run for your opponent, essentially handing him the match!
I try to teach my students to not only play safe when it will give them a distinct advantage, I teach them to play smart. Whenever possible, play your shots in such a way that a successful pot leaves you another shot, but a miss will leave your opponent safe. Consider this example. I propose that the better shot is an attempted bank on the 7 in the low right corner pocket, positioning the cue ball behind the 8 ball for your next shot:
Notice that if you miss, your opponent will most likely not have an easy shot on the 7 ball. If you make it, you can easily make the 8 and 9, winning the match.
Remember, any shot worth attempting is worth practicing. Don’t just practice making balls. Practice your cue ball control by setting up safeties like this example, and in no time you’ll be playing smart, too!
Special thanks to DrawShot for iOS for the screenshots.