Brit + Co Guides Logo

How to shoot pool (billiards)

Shoot Pool (Billiards)

232
STEPS
TOOLS

I shoot pool quite a bit and I've helped others learn to shoot. I won't go over the rules of the game here because there are many variations of pool games and rules.

But there are a lot of common mistakes in aiming and controlling the cue ball. So that's what I'm focusing on in this guide. Just the basics of aiming and controlling the cue ball.

The most common mistake is to aim for the wrong spot on the object ball. We understand the strait line to the pocket. But if you aim for the red dot on this image you'd likely miss the shot.

The most common mistake is to aim for the wrong spot on the object ball. We understand the strait line to the pocket. But if you aim for the red dot on this image you'd likely miss the shot.

Because you have to take into consideration that the balls are round and of equal size. If you aim for that center line to the pocket the ball will not hit that spot centered.

As you can see here. If I aim for that center point. The balls will not make contact at that center point because of the mass and shape of the balls.

As you can see here. If I aim for that center point. The balls will not make contact at that center point because of the mass and shape of the balls.

This image illustrates where you should aim. Picture the ball where it needs to be to make contact with that center line to the pocket. And aim for that imaginary ball. Note where the balls contact.

This image illustrates where you should aim. Picture the ball where it needs to be to make contact with that center line to the pocket. And aim for that imaginary ball. Note where the balls contact.

Now let's talk about what's known as "English". English means to put a spin on the cue ball by hitting the ball with your cue stick at different positions.

One way to describe it is this. Have you ever put a back spin on a hula hoop and made it roll back to you?  That's like putting English on the cue ball to make it roll back after hitting another ball.

One way to describe it is this. Have you ever put a back spin on a hula hoop and made it roll back to you? That's like putting English on the cue ball to make it roll back after hitting another ball.

This ball illustrates the different spots you can hit the ball with the stick to cause it to spin in different directions.

This ball illustrates the different spots you can hit the ball with the stick to cause it to spin in different directions.

If you hit the cue ball low the ball will spin back toward you when it hits another ball. If you have a straight in shot to a pocket. Bottom English will prevent the ball from follow into the pocket.

If you hit the cue ball low the ball will spin back toward you when it hits another ball. If you have a straight in shot to a pocket. Bottom English will prevent the ball from follow into the pocket.

Put high English (hit the ball above center) the ball will spin forward and follow the ball you hit after they make contact.

When you hit a ball at an angle with no English. The cue ball will travel at 90 degrees from the contact point. But putting high or low English will cause the cue ball to travel at a different angle.

When you hit a ball at an angle with no English. The cue ball will travel at 90 degrees from the contact point. But putting high or low English will cause the cue ball to travel at a different angle.

Right and left English are a little more complicated. But if you put right English on the cue ball and it hits a rail head on. The ball will bounce to the right off the rail. Same applies for left.

Left and right spin can also alter the direction the object ball travels. For example here left spin is put on the cue ball. It'll alter the path of the object ball slightly because of the friction.

Left and right spin can also alter the direction the object ball travels. For example here left spin is put on the cue ball. It'll alter the path of the object ball slightly because of the friction.

There is a lot more to shooting pool of course. No knowledge can replace hands on practice. But I hope these basics are helpful to someone.

Practice your stroke. Your strokes need to be steady, smooth and level. Don't aim to hit the ball. Aim to push the stick through the cue ball. Your practice strokes are to steady your stroke.

Fallow through. Don't snap the stick back after you shoot. Push that cue stick right through the ball. Stay calm as you shoot. A common mistake is to be to energetic. This causes your body to snap up.

That "snapping up" of the hands and body causes you to miss your aim on the ball because when your body moves the cue stick moves. I sometimes sing in my head to remain calm as I shoot. :)

Try to always think at least one shot ahead. In other words don't just think about making the shot. Also think about where you want the cue ball to end up for your next shot. 2 or 3 shots ahead helps.

Playing pool is a game you can enjoy no matter what your skill level. So have fun. Don't over think it. If you're not having fun you shouldn't be playing. I hope these tips help you enjoy playing pool

The creator of this guide has not included tools