I played in yet another 8-Ball tournament at yet another hall last night, and these speed of strokes are winning plays at the table when your eye is on defense. The top players I jousted with all were careful to never hit the balls harder than they needed, which compared to the average pool player, is quite soft indeed.
Set up at along the length of the table as illustrated somewhere near one end of the table as pictured, with a pool playing pal opposite you near the other short rail.
If you do not take this advantage to play with a billiards partner, shoot the ball to one side rail and back to yourself again as shown.
You don't have to become skilled at playing catch. You could simply lose more billiards games, more often. The best players can put that all-important gentle touch on the cue ball when it is required for gently played defensive strokes.
"Hitting" soft shots is the difference between the amateur and the skilled amateur who wins more than the usual share of games. For the 8-Ball tournament I mentioned, one of my opponents and I traded over 12 gentle safety shots in a row, as neither of us wished to disturb the table as it lay. He stroked a gentle shot too hard, first, opened the packs of balls apart, and gave away the game.
"Playing catch" is one of those things that 1 in 100 pool players thinks of practicing, and I include serious and not casual players in my estimate. Get smart instead.
"Pool soft," play catch and learn the requisite gentle strokes that should be part of every expert billiards player’s arsenal.