The 7 Kinds Of English - And When To Use Them Or Not
Did I say seven? There are more than seven, but I want to discuss seven of the basic ways I teach pool and billiards players english, and when to use and avoid each kind. That's my "spin" on the subject. Pun intended...
We start by defining english as applying sidespin to the cue ball by striking it "anywhere not along its vertical axis".
I'm also going to speak in this article in lay terms, keeping physical explanations and some of the details minimal. The average pool player (and strong players too) need some simple terms defined more so that infrequent exceptions and tiny degrees of geometric detail, in my honest opinion.
1. Parallel English
Think of a parallel strike like this. Imagine where both hands will rest when playing center ball on the cue ball. Now if both your stroke and bridge hands were moved the same distance to one side, you'd have a cue parallel to center ball.
Problems: "Parallel english" is not really true billiards english but is rather striking a straight line shot not through the vertical axis, providing less mass for the cue stick to against and yielding more squirt, deflection, etc. than is desirable. In lay terms, the cue ball doesn't do what you aim it to do.
Possibilities: Think of a parallel stick as an aid contrivance. A good player wants to avoid thin hits and make thick hits as much as possible. A player can stand with their head and arms near the full line as much as possible and then push their stick over a bit and still pocket a ball. When a ball needs to be manipulated a short distance off the aim line, fine. At longer distances of left or right travel, parallel english is a poor choice.
The other possibility I like for a parallel cue is for a faraway thin cut shot when you want to hook the cue ball by intentionally squirting it into place. Think of the cue ball roll like a bowling ball that hooks late in its path near its target and you'll realize the object ball is no longer sliced thin but is it a bit more full in the face. This is a rare move, however, and fancy tricks are not always required for thin shots along the rail. We're talking about very thin shots and very specific stroke or shot training needs.
2. Pivot English
You are aimed center ball and you'd like to add a little right english, so you pivot the cue stick off line by moving your stroke hand a small distance to your left and the cue tip goes right. Now you take a few practice strokes and shoot.
Problems: I want to win every game I play and I want to reduce variables by shooting straight forward with the stick as much as possible. Now with right english a pivoted cue stick is running left to right across the mass of the vertical axis of the cue ball-a recipe for trouble.
Possibilities: You can really make the cue ball dance with a good pivot stroke. I mean a lot of fancy, pretty english. A few tips of english and pivot is a good choice when the object ball is quite close to the pocket with the cue ball nearby also and there is a need for an extreme cue ball route or simply to show off for fun.
Otherwise it's a matter of 1/4 or 1/3 of a tip (a very small amount) or english for a good player to work the ball, even for challenging shots in 9-Ball. A 1/3 of a tip of english and I could all but care less if I'm parallel or pivoting the cue stick.
3. Backhand English
Problems: Backhand english offers the chance to strictly reduce deflection error and lets the player take an unusual view to adjusting aim. The view is "fuhgeddaboudit!" In other words, your days of "Right english makes the cue ball squirt left so I need to aim more to the right" go the way of the dinosaur. Aim where you would without english, shoot and score.
The sole problems I have with backhand english include how players who "get it" and can employ it start shooting everything with english because they can. I'll play Eight or Nine Ball for two hours and not use backhand once because I don't need that much english in the first place. Backhand is an extreme solution for an extreme need.
The other problem is that it can be tricky for a player to feel how much to move on the final stroke to get the english they want. Some players enjoy it and get it and some don't.
Possibilities: Shoot your regular speed shots without adjusting for english changes to the cue ball. Aim center ball at the object ball target and practice stroke then final stroke center ball except for the final forward stroke, when you move your stroke hand left a tiny bit for some right hand english and so on.
Want to add some draw spin to the right english? Move the back hand, the stroking hand, up and to the left.
In Part II of this article, you'll encounter:
4. Reverse Backhand English
5. Body English
6. Twisted Pivot English
7. Inner English
Stick around for Part II, it gets wild!