In pool there are many things that will entice a feeling of accomplishment, A difficult shot, a great safety play, or a thundering break. Not much compares to the feeling received after running an entire rack of 9-Ball or finishing out a rack with a perfectly planned strategy. In order to play pool at the highest level you must take many things into consideration. It is not to look and hit the ball toward a pocket. In order to play excellent pool you must not just think of one shot at a time, you want to take into account the next shot and the one after that before you even shoot. Before shooting a shot, analyze it and think of what you want to happen after the ball is hit, approach the table with a firm stance lining up your shot and finally when all looks perfect, stroke the cue ball. Only if it were this simple, these are the basic steps you would take before shooting a shot, but in order to fully understand the process you must look much deeper into what must be done.

Before actually getting into the shooting process there are some key things that should be explained. First of all, In the game of 9-ball, balls 1-9 are racked in a diamond shape at one end of the table with the 9-ball in the middle and 1-ball in the front. In 9-ball the object is to hit the lowest numbered ball first. As long as the lowest numbered ball on the table is hit first, whatever goes in after that will count and the shooter will shoot again. First person to sink the 9-ball wins. Failure to hit the lowest numbered ball first results in a foul which means your opponent shoots with ball in hand, the same results after a scratch. When a player has ball in hand they may place the cue ball wherever they want on the table. While playing pool you shoot at the cue ball, and shoot at it with the cue stick, sometimes referred to simply as a cue. There is chalk around the table, which is applied to the cue tip in order to provide better contact when striking the cue ball. A lack of chalk could result in a miscue which is when the cue slides off the side of the ball and goes off course.

When analyzing the table, look at what the best shot would be. Do you have a clear shot at the lowest numbered ball? Can it be made? If you have a clear shot, think of where the cue ball should be after the shot is made. The prime spot to have the cue ball after a shot is made is in line with the next lowest numbered ball and in a spot to easily do the same for the following shot, this is called playing position. So, basically plan three shots ahead, the one youre shooting, the one your going to shoot and the one after that. The reason you look ahead at the third shot is because if you just take into account your next shot you may have the cue ball exactly where you want but it may be difficult to make that ball and play position on the next ball. In order to make the cue ball go to the correct spot english may have to be applied. English is spin put on the cue ball due to hitting the cue ball off center. High english is known as follow, and low english is draw. English is applied to throw balls to the left or right, if a ball is hit with left english it will through the ball hit to the right. Once you decide exactly where to hit the ball to make it go where you want, chalk your cue and get ready to shoot.
Many difficulties may be experienced while looking at what to do. For instance an object ball, which is just any ball besides the cue ball, may be obstructing your path toward the lowest numbered ball. In a case like this the best thing to do is just try and hit the ball so your opponent doesnt get ball in hand. Another problem that exists is being able to see the ball but it is not possible to make it easily. The best thing to do here is play a safe. The object of a safe is to hit the object ball and make it so your opponent has no shot, hopefully causing him to foul, giving you ball in hand. A good way of playing safe would be try and hide the object ball your shooting in front of another object ball and have the cue ball go behind yet another object ball, ultimately leaving your opponent to shoot through two balls. Another good time to play a safe is when you can tell that your next shot is going to be tough even though you have a shot at a pocket currently.

When getting ready shoot, approach the table and relax. Create a firm stance lining up the shot with your body perpendicular to the direction you are striking the cue ball. Next, lean over the table, legs spread, with the left hand placed behind the cue ball. The cue stick should be comfortably secured in a bridge formed with your left hand. A bridge is a support made by the hand for the cue stick in order to provide an accurate stroke. Your right hand should be firmly wrapped around the butt end of the cue about a hand length behind the balancing point. To find the balancing point of the cue place the cue on two fingers until it stays there without falling to either side. Now your cue should be in line with the exact direction that you want to hit the cue ball. The cue should be easily sliding through your bridge with your right arm stroking the cue smoothly and strait. A good way to practice stroking the cue strait is to lie an empty coke bottle on the table and repeatedly stroke the tip in and out of the bottle. Make sure the tip of the stick is going to hit the correct spot on the cue ball to apply the desired english, if any. If no english is wanted be sure to hit the dead center of the cue ball because any english can throw a shot off. After you take a few practice strokes to make sure all is smooth your ready to strike.

Several different problems may arise at this point. One may be that the cue ball cant be reached easily. If this is the case you can try to stretch over the table or you can use the mechanical bridge, which is just a stick with a plastic bridge at the end, which you can use instead of your hand. Another problem is stroking strait threw the cue ball at the point you want. A good way to practice stoking the cue ball would be to hit the cue ball the long way down the table and have it come back and hit the tip which you keep in the same spot after contact. Your basically just trying to hit it strait up and have it bounce off the rail and come strait back as accurately as possible. Another problem that may arise is the formation of the bridge. A bridge is formed by placing your hand flat with your fingers spread. Your thumb is placed against your index finger by the knuckle forming a V shaped channel for your shaft to rest on. Another, more stable way is to make a loop by placing your index fingertip on the middle joint of the middle finger and joining it with your thumb, the shaft is then slid in the loop.
In the final step you just want to execute the shot properly. It seams easy enough yet this can be quite difficult. This can be difficult because failure to hit the ball strait and exactly where you want it can throw your entire shot off completely. In order for the shot to work stroke strait through the cue ball leaving the tip 6-8 inches in front of where the cue ball was. One difficulty you may have is that the cue ball is too close to an object ball and you can’t follow strait through. In a case like this you will have to jerk the stick so you dont cause a double hit. After you make your shot the next thing to do is to repeat the process until the 9-ball is no longer left on the table.

These steps on shooting can be applied to any game of pool. The hardest part of following this process is being able to do it perfectly without error. Just like any other game the more you practice the better you will get, and the more consistent you will become. When shooting pool remember to never just walk up to the table and shoot. Look at the possibilities, take your time, and remember pool is a relaxing game, theres no rush. Approach the table, make sure that everything is set up exactly, and finally execute. Performing these things in addition to practice and you will be well on your way to playing excellent pool.


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