practice shots

pool practice shot one This little shot seems simple, but it's not. Just shoot the cue ball straight into the object ball, banking it straight back into the cue ball. That part's fairly easy. The tough part is getting the object ball to hit the cue ball so full that the cue ball banks back off the end rail and hits the object ball again. That's three separate collisions, and it's really tough. I've spent hours at this shot without making it once, and I imagine I'm about 3 for 500 lifetime on it. Of course the secret is to have the balls aligned perfectly perpendicular to the rail, and hit the cue ball exactly on its vertical center. If your table isn't perfectly rectangular, and your end rails aren't perfectly parallel, this shot is probably impossible. There are a couple of ways to cheat. To make the second collision more likely, put follow on the cue ball. This brings the point for the second collision closer to the far rail. To make the third collision more likely put draw on the cue ball to bring the potential third collision closer to the near rail. To make this shot as tough as possible, put the object ball on the center spot and shoot the cue ball with stop action. I'd bet big money on people not being able to get three collisions that way.

pool practice shot three This shot's won me some money, and it's a pretty good practice shot since to make it requires a pretty good stroke and a full follow-through. Shoot the cue ball into the rail just before the second diamond with extreme low right. Stroked correctly, the cue ball will compress the rail and head for the other end of the table, where the right (running) english will send it two rails out of the far corner and back towards where it started from. With minor adjustment of aim, speed, and english, the cue ball can be made to squeeze back between the object ball and the rail, kicking it into the opposite corner, while the cue ball caroms off that ball to pocket the other one. Give yourself 30 tries to make this one. A much harder variation is to shoot the shot with a lot more speed so that the outer ball banks back into the same pocket that the hanging one goes in. watch me shoot this shot

pool practice shot four This is my all time favorite alignment fixer. Making the object ball straight into the corner requires nearly perfect alignment. Once I've found my proper alignment I can make this shot pretty much at will. For more of a challenge try following the object ball into the corner, or drawing the cue ball back to scratch. Try hitting the cue ball with left or right english. Doing anything wth the cue ball except stopping it dead makes this shot one of the toughest there is.

pool practice shot five Fire the object ball into lower right the corner while playing the cue ball off the side rail just below the foot string to the foot rail between the first and second diamonds. With my balls on my table this requires a firm hit with the slightest touch of draw. For some reason this shot has always been a good one for me to use to get a feel for the way a table plays.

pool practice shot seven This shot was shown to me by Bryan Roberts of Rack 66 in Louisville. Shoot a spot shot at the spotted (duh) ball, making it into left-hand corner. Using straight draw, bring the cue ball off the right side rail and play shape to make the other ball in the same pocket. The cue ball can't hit the foot rail, and I doubt too many people that aren't named Efren will hit the head rail on this one either. Very tough and probably impossible with dirty balls or slow cloth. When I shoot this shot if I scratch in the side near the second object ball I'm still happy. watch me shoot this shot

pool practice shot eight A more realistic variation on the previous shot. I'll call this the Earl Strickland shot because I saw Earl make this about 800 times in a row while warming up for a tournament match in Louisville. Just pocket the ball and, using straight draw, get position on the next ball as shown.

pool practice shot nine Just a nifty little one-pocket shot that sometimes works on tight-pocketed tables like my Diamond. My pocket is the one with the X, I need all the balls and my opponent needs one. It's a pretty hopeless situation but there is a shot that's at least worth trying. Using just draw, try to scratch past the jawed ball. If the pockets are tight enough you can sometimes bring the jawed ball out of your opponent's pocket and leave no easy shot. Better than simply giving up. watch me shoot this shot

pool practice drill ten Practice for bank pool. Take ball-in-hand, then bank the balls cross-side in order, shooting the two, three, and four from wherever the cueball stops. I've found it easier to shoot this drill by drawing the cueball back to the side rail and letting it bounce out for position instead of just trying to get position directly. By using the cushion you can use english to make small adjustments to the angle for your next shot. watch me shoot these shots

pool practice drill eleven Good One Pocket practice. Take ball in hand and shoot the object ball into the corner. Try to draw the cueball straight back so that you can spot another object ball and shoot IT into the corner. Repeat. If you get out of line use cushions, rails, and speed as needed to get back into position.

pool practice shot twelve A much tougher version of one of my crucial bank shots on this page. Jack up and strive to hit the cueball low and with a little bit of inside english. Without the inside english the cueball is likely to drift over and interfere with the rebounding object ball, but you can get away without it on some equipment. Also on some equipment the shot can be made using a high-outside hit and hoping you transfer enough spin to the object ball. Put a patch of cloth under the cueball when practicing this shot. watch me shoot this shot

pool practice shot thirteen
pool practice shot fourteen A couple of neat shots when they come up. Feel free to imagine blocking balls that make other options impractical. The 3-bank option is cut slightly more than the 2-bank option. No english is needed, but a little draw can avoid the scratch in the corner. watch me shoot this shot

pool practice shot fifteen This shot would be on the crucial banks page except for two things; the tournament that inspired that page did not feature a lot of these banks, and a pool legend told me that he only expected to make this shot 50% of the time. This shot can be made with follow or draw depending on where other balls are. In an end-game situation I like to use top, trying to get the object ball to just barely make it to the pocket, and leaving the cueball at the other end of the table if I miss. watch me shoot this shot

pool practice shot sixteen My multi-purpose bank practice shot. I use this to get myself in tune with how a table is playing. This shot can be made into either corner with any english and/or speed. The goal is not necessarily to make the shot every time, but rather to get a feel for how much the balls are grabbing, how banks are shortening up or lengthening out, and to just generally get loosened up.

pool practice shot sixteen If you can bank all eight balls here you're doing better than I can. What I recommend is to pick any four balls - the four near the corners, the four near the sides, or whatever, and bank each cross-table. I've found this to be the most difficult with the four balls near the side pockets, but none of these arrangements are as easy as they would first appear to be. Each ball is one ball-width from the cushion and one-half diamond from the pocket. This drill - in all its variations - is very fun but very frustrating. watch me shoot these shots

more structured practice

I've also developed some more structured practice routines, and I've listed them below. Back when I had more free time I'd try to run through them all in order, but would usually end up skipping a step or two. These days I pretty much stick with one theme for any given practice session.

  • The long straight aligmnent checker (shown above, 3rd shot from the top) until I get it 15 times.
  • A shotmaker's workout similar to the one from from Bert Kinnister, There are 10 shots. I shoot each shot until I make it 5 times in a row, then reverse the cut angle and shoot that way until I make it 5 times in a row.
  • Play God straight pool to 50, ball in hand on the first break shot. If I miss I start over and keep trying until I run 50.
  • Play God nine ball race to 5, with breaks not counting and ball in hand after the break. Safety option in effect.
  • Play God eight ball race to 5, breaks don't count, ball in hand after the break. Safety option in effect.
  • Play God short rack bank pool, ball in hand after the break, until I win a game by banking 5 in a row.
  • I hesitate to mention this, but I've also started playing bowlliards again, and I've invented a new variation blending bank pool and bowlliards. I hesitate to mention this because my scores are awful and I may stop at any time.

On those rare days when get through all these I usually feel pretty good about myself. If I still feel like playing I'll either work on shots that have been giving me trouble, just goof around, or do some connect the dots practice.