Wolf Pack Billiard Tips
By Winston and the rest of the Pack!
1. A solid defense is essential to being a good player. (Watch your top players and take notes!)
2. The best shot you could ever attempt is one in which you have a shot at your next ball but your opponent has no leave on any of his. If you miss it, no problem, your opponent is hooked. If you make it, fantastic! Shoot your next ball. (If you could perform and master this virtually impossible task on every shot, the only way you would ever loose a game is if you didn't get a turn on the table.)
3. If you can't run out.... don't try to.... play safe! Hook 'em and you've got ball in hand. It's the best leave your opponent can give you!
4. Think ahead... Don't wait to play safe when you only have 1 ball and your opponent has 7 balls left! There's not many places left to hide!
5. Know your limits... Don't shoot the impossible shots... let the other guy miss the low percentage shots instead!
6. You should learn to develop a consistent stroke routine to help you stay in the groove.
7. Concentrate on ALL shots. Overconfidence will let even the 'EASY' ones sneak up on you! If you miss your object ball, that great leave on the next shot does you no good at all.
8. Never give anyone anything, make them shoot it. You would be surprised how at how many good players miss shots because of overconfidence. See #7
9. Just before playing, shoot a few easy straight shots to build confidence. Although overconfidence will make you miss shots, having confidence in your game will help you make them.
10. Don't forget the angle.... Unless you need to make a stop, draw, or follow shot, you should leave some type of angle. If a shot is straight on, then most of the cue balls energy is transferred to the object ball leaving none for the cue ball, forcing you to compensate by putting extra spin on the cue which increases the difficulty! If you know you're going to need it, then save some energy for the cue ball!
11. You should always be thinking 'AT LEAST' three balls ahead on position. Of course you should make the ball your shooting at, while playing position on the second ball. But you must look at the position of the third ball to see what type of angle or line you'll need to leave on the second ball make it to the third ball! Whew! Simply repeat the procedure on all subsequent shots to stay 'in line'. It is extremely important that you re-evaluate the table and your direction after every shot. Too many players insist on following their original direction, and miss their shot, when they had an easier shot staring them in the face, just because they believe that a ball has to go into that specific pocket that was part of there original direction.
12. Develop good habits.... this one is real simple folks... Chalk up before EVERY shot!
13. Know your opponent, find their weakness and exploit it. If they have problems with long shots, leave them long... if they can't make a bank, leave them banks... trouble with cuts, leave them cuts, etc....
14. Here's one beginners don't understand but top players do. Developing knowledge is as important as developing skill, whether it's the correct English, shot selection, or most important, strategy. Watch and listen to everyone, even if your opponent is a lesser player, they still might know something you don't. Just weigh what they say, and see if it works for you. Books and tapes are always good, however; practicing with a top player is better. You can never know too much!
15. Play different games... don't just play 8-ball. Snooker can improve your aim, billiards, your 3-rail position, one pocket, your bank shots, straight pool, your consistency for long runs, etc. etc. etc. After all variety is the spice of life!
16. Practice.... Practice.... Practice.... Try playing in a league and some tournaments as soon as possible for the experience.
17. Develop a 'killer' instinct... play every game as a must win game.... then turn it into a habit!
18. NEVER GIVE UP! It doesn't matter how far behind you are, never give up, calm yourself down, relax, take one ball at a time and keep your head. It's never over till it's over.
19. When playing 9-ball; if you see a deadly combination to sink the 9-ball, but you have to make one or two difficult shots before you can get to that combo, then don't give your opponent the opportunity for an easy win with it. Shoot the combo, spot the 9-Ball, give them ball in hand, and if they run out on you, at least you made them work for it.
20. If your stroke is off, or you don't feel confident with it, safety-safety-safety until you get your game on. Patience never does harm.
21. If you know you're hooked and it's almost impossible for you to make contact with your object ball, then try to freeze a couple balls together so that your opponent will have a hard time running out on you. In 8-Ball, if you can... try to use the 8-Ball for this one, if anything, you'll make your opponent nervous by flirting with it.
22. Play safe, play safe, play safe! Too many players want to make a ball every time they get to the table.... if you like to make balls.... try to get ball in hand as often as you can.... you'll get to make more balls if you do!
23. Be careful with your trouble balls! It is ideal to kick your trouble balls out during the course of your run, however, too many players insist that they be freed as soon as possible, and lose because they free up the table for there opponent to run out on them. Remember, if youíre stuck balls include your opponentís balls, then there just as stuck as yours are and you may want to wait for them to free your trouble ball for you.
24. A lot of average players seem to have a problem with either cuts or banks. They either can cut like crazy, or bank like a madman, but never both. Some of the more advanced players sometimes have days when one is off and the other is on. If you are in competition, and notice that one is working and the other is not, if you have a choice, stick with the one thatís working, wait till you have practice time after your game to bring the other back up to speed.
25. When playing 8-Ball; if your 7 balls ahead, DON'T DO ANYTHING STUPID!
26. Don't be a "SLAMMER" it's never good to over stroke your shots.
27. When your object ball is an inch from the pocket, you only need to hit the cue ball hard enough to make the object ball move an inch. This is also true when your object ball is 2 feet from the pocket, stroke the cue ball just hard enough for the object ball to crawl into the pocket.
28. When making a thin cut, remember that the more you cut the ball, the less deflection you will have on the cue ball after contact with the object ball. Because of this reaction, the cue ball will travel farther than you might expect and closer to the cue balls original path.
29. Golfers call it the yips. You're down over a simple shot, one that you could normally make blindfolded, and yet you know it is crucial. Execute it correctly and the game is yours. Yet all of a sudden your heart is pounding.... and you have a feeling that you might miss the shot. Now if this were a tough cut or a long shot, you'd probably get back up and start over with no problem. But because it's such a basic shot, you figure you'd practically have to have a coronary in mid-stroke to miss. Maybe you're a little embarrassed to take extra time over such an easy shot. If this happens, you absolutely must make yourself get up off the shot. Take a deep breath, go through your routine again, and don't shoot until you're sure you'll succeed. Missing this type of shot can be psychologically devastating; so don't let it happen to you!
30. English is not just for making the cue ball react after striking your object ball. Remember that putting English on the cue ball and striking rail works too. Most people see this when they try to "kick" the cue ball off of a rail and into an object ball and there is unwanted English on the cue ball. This can be used intentionally to move the cue ball in a different direction when the straight kick shot is blocked by another ball.
31. Know your table and environment. Tables can vary greatly. Everything from the felt, to the bumpers, to how much play a table gets can make a difference. Lets start with felt, Somonis felt for example, unlike standard cloth which is made of cotton, is a nylon weave, it's known for being very fast felt but also very true. Mercury felt is a blend of cotton and nylon, with the same weave as Somonis but the cotton makes it a little slower and not quite as true as Somonis. Most tables are the cotton felt, and cotton reacts to the weather, humidity can cause the felt to roll slower than normal. Not all tables are perfectly straight and level either. Try running a slow ball down a rail or from corner pocket to corner pocket.... Does the ball drift to one side or the other? Sometimes you might have to "Play the table roll" The balls can also be a problem; older ones can become lopsided and will roll one way, then another. Are the bumpers good, or are they dead? Check the back rail bumper! Most novice players will grab the back bumper and lean backward putting pressure on the bumper when they bend down and get the balls out before they rack, and again when they get up. This causes the back rail bumper to be pull away and banks will not react as they should.
32. The tip... The most overlooked piece of equipment by most novice players. The tip is the most important piece of the entire cue... It is where your cue meets the cue ball... it comes in different shapes and sizes, and has been made from just about every type of leather you can think of including buffalo and elk, as well as other materials such as plastic, phenolic resin, and even rubber. The tip is the one thing most likely to make or break your shot. I would rather have a good tip than a straight cue. Now everyone usually has there own preference in tips. Some like it hard, some soft. Here is the standard rule of thumb. A softer tip will give you more English, a harder tip will help your long shots, but that's not all, a flatter tip will also help in the those long shots, and a rounder tip will also help your English. So what to do???? Well, some pro's believe that you should use a harder flatter tip on a big table and softer rounder tip on a smaller coin-op table because the smaller table forces you to use more English and ball control in tight areas... but what ever you are told, it all comes down to your personal preference, and one things for sure, whatever type of tip you choose, make sure you groom and shape it regularly, especially softer tips because they are more likely to mushroom after time.
33. Choose wisely grasshopper. When playing 8-ball, on an open table be careful which color you choose. Just because one or two balls may have fallen already, it doesn't make that color the right choice. Look at the stuck balls; you may have a clearer run out of the other color.
34. Choose wisely grasshopper (Part II) When given ball in hand, make sure you give the table a good evaluation. Some people believe that you should always shoot your most stuck ball when given a ball in hand. This works as a rule of thumb, but given the table layout, it may be wiser to choose a different direction. It's usually never a real good choice to take a duck or ball that's free and clear out in the middle of the table unless you have an obvious run out or a defensive shot mapped out and planned for your second shot after the ball in hand.
35. Don't over think the table. Sometimes your first instinct is the best choice.
36. When playing 8-Ball, if you're opponent runs all his balls down to the 8. Don't be discouraged. You should use it to your advantage. With 7 balls on the table, it makes it very easy to hide the cue ball. Just take one ball at a time and then hide the cue ball. "Hit & Hide" Do this shot after shot until your have a nice run out. Before you know it, you will be on the 8-ball yourself. You will also find that even a pro may scratch on the 8-ball trying to make contact with it if you keep him hooked well enough.
37. Don't be a "Dent Master"! One of the most annoying things about racking the balls is when the balls won't stay put after you remove the rack. The reason for this lies with players that take one ball from the rack or the cue ball and tap or sometimes even HAMMER! the balls into the felt. This process causes dents in the felt. These dents can cause balls to roll strangely during the course of the game, and when repeated these dents make it harder to rack with each subsequent rack.
38. NEVER put three solids or three stripes in each corner of the rack. Most Leagues and Tournaments don't have any rules for racking 8-ball other than making sure that the 8-ball is in the center of the rack. It is to the racking players advantage to alternate the balls throughout the rack, however, having all solids or stripes in all three corners make it much easier for the person breaking to pocket multiple balls of the same color. It is also recommended that the 2 ball, 6 ball and either the 10 or 14 balls be used for the top 3 balls in the rack. This is because the blue and green colors are very similar which make it difficult for the breaking player to focus on them. Similarly in 9-ball, the only rule is the 1 ball in the top position and 9 ball in the middle. The 3 ball & 4 ball are the closest in color to the 1 ball and work well for the top 3 balls.
39. Don't rush your shots! Slow down and take your time. If you don't take your time, you can't concentrate. See #7
40. Team Play. Be a team player! Team spirit can be a driving force before, during and after a team match. Encouragement during a match will help your teammates perform better, and make for a much more enjoyable time for all. Team spirit is not only beneficial to your team, but can also intimidate your opponents. Here's a couple of suggestions.... Team shirts. Arriving together as a team to a match. Complimenting your teammates on a nice shot. Encouragement when a shot is missed. Sticking around to give encouragement to your teammates until the entire match is over.
41. When playing 8-Ball leave an "out" door. It's sometimes advantages to leave a couple of balls in the middle of the table or even at the opposite end of the table as emergency balls for a defensive or even offensive shot if you find yourself hooked on all the balls at the other end of the table.
42. Spin It. If you have a shot that needs to be cut a little to the left, but you would like to stop the cue ball for position on your next shot. Try a "throw" shot. Shoot straight at it but apply right or low-right English. Conversely if you need to cut right, use left or low-left English.
43. Keep a small hand towel with the rest of your equipment, every pro keeps a towel on the side table, but amateurs seldom do. Get in the habit of frequently drying your hands and cleaning your shaft, for a nice smooth stroke.
44. Top of the Ball BABY! Most players have difficulty with shots where the cue ball is up against a rail or another ball. Simply stroke through the top of the cue ball. Remember, the cue ball will follow; this shot is essentially the same as any other in which you use top English on the cue ball!
45. When shooting the 8-ball, and faced with a low percentage shot, consider changing your target to a pocket in an attempt to block your opponent's ball or balls. Shoot just hard enough to get your ball to crawl into the pocket. This may require selecting an even harder shot than you already had, but at least if you miss, you may block your opponent and keep him from running out.
46. When trying a double rail bank, the angle off the second bank has a tendancy to flaten out, and is greatly reduced from the angle off the first bank. Aiming a little wider than what looks right should correct this.
47. When playing 8 ball there is no rush to shoot in a duck that is blocking your opponents balls. Let him/her work with 5 pockets unless you can finish the run.
48. When playing 8-ball if your opponent has one of your balls blocked with a duck hanging in the pocket, something eventually need to be done to eliminate it. Some options are:
1) Shoot your ball, which is more than a few inches away from his blocker, dead center into his to follow it in. You ball will pick up natural follow on the way to his ball.
2) Shoot your ball, which is less than a few inches away from his blocker dead center again, but add reverse (draw) to transfer follow to your object ball to help it follow his ball in.
3) Roll your ball on top of his ball. This will turn his easy shot into a difficult 3 ball combo, carom shot, or break out.
4) Break your ball out or make his duck on a breakout shot.
49. When the cue ball and object ball are frozen to the cushion, use of draw will cause the cue to rise into the edge of the cushion it is under, which causes it to veer away from the rail for a miss. Outside English will drive (due to squirt) the cue into the rail for a miss. Use top or running rail side English to make these. Remember not to shoot hard enough to follow the object ball in for a scratch.
50. When shooting a power kick shot close to the rail, draw will prevent the cue from leaving the table. Draw makes the cue ball dig under the rail point for a clean rebound without air. Remember that the draw will combine with deep rail compression to cause the cue ball's exit angle to be tighter than if you used a soft or follow hit.
51. NEVER under estimate your opponent! Even a blind squirrel will occasionally find a nut!
52. The Waggle: Watch just about any great golfer, and you will see him "waggle" his club back and forth, just before he makes his shot, or when you see a baseball player swing his bat just before the pitch. A pool player does the same thing when he strokes the cue back and forth prior to his shot. Practice stokes are important because it gives you a good feel for the shot. Try gentle practice strokes for softer shots and more authoritative practice strokes for shots that require more ball speed. One warning: Beware the "double clutch" always be careful not to touch the cue ball when practice stroking, in most instances it's a foul!
53. Scratch this! Have you ever been stuck with a guaranteed scratch shot? You know... when you find yourself with the object ball in the center of the table and the cue ball is in a position where if either corner pocket is chosen, you will scratch in the opposite corner pocket. When shooting this shot, remember this: Go right - top right, Go left - top left! In other words, if you choose to cut the ball in the right corner pocket, use top right English to avoid the scratch in the left corner pocket. Conversely, use top left English when cutting toward the left corner pocket. The use of this type of English will cause less deflection on the cue ball causing it to travel closer toward its original direction, avoiding the scratch.
54. Game pace: Watch your opponent. Some players like to play fast. They get into a groove. If you see this, slow your game down. After he misses, take your time walking up to the table, take a drink. Walk around the table and look. Also do this between shots. This will frustrate a fast player. The same is true when you are playing a slow player. Push the tempo up a little. Never play to your opponents pace.
55. Clear you mind, see the ball... BE the ball! Have you ever lined up your shot, gotten ready to stroke the ball, then in the back of you mind your thinking "dang, after this shot I have to do something about that stuck ball" or "I wish I would have gotten the leave I wanted on that last shot", and/or the ever popular, "if I don't run out or hook him, he has an easy out!" and all this over thinking caused you to miss your shot! The tip here is simple. Before shooting your shot, after going through all these tips in your mind; choose your shot, know where you want the cue ball to go and leave, and then... STOP THINKING! Clear you mind of everything but the shot at hand. Background noises should disappear due to your concentration... Be one with the shot... See the ball... BE the ball... and make the shot!
Contributors: Winston Taylor, Liza Gazmen, Robert Wong, Jack Saine, Jeff Teas, Fred Throssel, Dan White and others.
If you have anything to add to this list feel free to send mail to the WebMaster
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