It never fails: You’re running a rack of 9-ball, and you end up leaving yourself behind another ball. You need to shoot the 6-ball, which is sitting in the jaws of the side pocket, and the cue-ball is blocked by the 9-ball. It seems your only option is to shoot a kick-shot, but the 8-ball is blocking the path on the opposite rail. Now what?
If you’re like me, you’ll shoot to the right or the left of the 8-ball, using english to adjust the path of the cue-ball, right?
The question is, how much to the right or left should you shoot, and how much spin should you use?
If you’re Corey Deuel or Shane Van Boening, then you’ll probably make that shot 9 times out of 10 because you have ten thousand practice hours at the table. I’m going to guess that Corey and Shane are not looking to my column for advice, so let’s talk about how to consistently make kick shots using english.
First off, I want you to practice your straight kicks (no english). If you have trouble judging a simple kick shot, this article might not help you much. Get good at kicking the ball into the side pocket from almost any spot on the table.
Have you become fairly decent at kicks? Awesome. Let’s get started.
Start by placing the cue ball on the head spot. Aim at the second diamond along long rail. In other words, you are not shooting toward the rack, but instead directly at the side rail. If you use no english, the ball should roll directly back into the tip of your cue-stick.
Now, chalk up the tip of your cue, and do the same shot using a half-tip of right-hand english. To apply a half-tip of english, move the tip of your cue from center toward the right side of the ball, so that the left edge of your shaft is lined up with the exact center of the cue-ball. This is a half-tip of english.
Half Tip of Right English
Using a medium stroke, shoot at the same diamond on the side (long) rail, and observe that the cue-ball will deflect to the right. Note where it touches the opposite side rail (near you).
When I do this shot with my cue, the cue-ball ends up one diamond to the right of where it would be if I hit it with center ball. This happens fairly consistently, although it will vary a bit depending on the accuracy of the half-tip of english, and the speed of my stroke. Try to be as consistent as possible. This is very important.
Let’s say your deflection distance is the same as mine–one diamond. Here’s what I’d like you to do. From the same position on the head string, aim the cue so that a kick shot will end up one diamond to the left of the side pocket. You might try shooting the cue with center english to ensure your aim is true. Once your aim is true, make the same shot, but apply a half-tip of english to your shot using the same speed as before.
If the stars are all aligned correctly, the cue ball should deposit itself directly into the side pocket!
Try this again, but this time aim the cue-ball so that a center-ball stroke will make the cue-ball rebound into the rail one diamond to the right of the side pocket. Now shoot again, using a half-tip of left hand english, and the cue should again drop into the side pocket.
There are a couple of things to remember here:
- One diamond is the result I get. The distance the cue-ball deflects for you will depend on many factors, including the speed of your stroke, a properly chalked tip, and the deflection of your shaft. This is why you test until you are consistent, using the same speed every time.
- Other factors will come into play, such as the friction coefficient of the rail, dirtiness of the balls, etc. When doing your warmups before a match, you might want to do a few calibration shots to determine these factors.
- You can’t control all of the variables. This is not a shot you will do often, and you may have other options. You may even be more comfortable with a massé shot in some cases.
Add this weapon to your arsenal, even if you don’t think you’ll use it. One day, you may need it, and it could be the difference between moving up the ladder or packing up your sticks and going home.
Please feel free to drop me a line any time to clear up any questions you might have. Shoot straight, and shoot well!