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Break Shots - Here's Correct Ball Placement For Break Shots

In Pool, It's Knowing Where To Put It As Much As Hitting It Hard

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break shots, break shot, pool shot, billiards shots

This GuideSite contains numerous tips for open and closed break shots

Billiards photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to About.com
We just reviewed technique for break shots with the cue ball close to the rail. Let’s consider some of my keys to a better break from along the head string.

Many players are cowed by the longer bridge distance demanded by breaking with the cue ball close to the rack along the string. If you miscue more than once or twice while practicing this break stroke, shortent the distance between your bridging hand and the cue ball. Remember to also bring your rear or shooting hand forward also. For most shots, your two hands should move the same distance forward or back on speed adjusted strokes such as the break stroke.

An easy way to beat 90% of players is to actually practice the break stroke. Take the full stroke without bothering to set a rack of balls on the table. Use the cue ball only, then whack it hard a few times as if you are hitting break strokes. In ten minutes, you can strike 20 or 30 break strokes this way. And if the ball comes back at you too fast on the rebound, smack it into a corner pocket instead.

Speaking of the corner pocket, players who are shy about smashing the ball hard (usually due to fear about injury to themselves or others on a powerful stroke) use the correct fundamentals when hitting the ball to a corner pocket. They tend to bear down harder and really let their stroke out, taking a large, slow backstroke, gathering momentum like a bowman tightening the pull on a bow, and coming forward again with snap and power.

Shoot the ball a few times hard for practice into a corner pocket and then try to employ the same stroke on an actual break. Go all the way to visualize the lead ball of the rack as a corner pocket instead, and enjoy the results.

Fast Hand, Fast Break

As I mentioned in the earlier page on breaking close to the head rail, here with the cue ball further down table, a fast moving hand will provide a tremendous break stroke. No part of the arm need move quickly or much at all save the shooting hand.

Hit The Rock Low

To excel at a billiards open break, you’ll need an excellent reason if you ever want to disobey this rule—strike the cue ball below center. A tad below center, perhaps, but still below center. Topspin will cause the cue ball to fly into the air and often, off the table and onto the floor, following the ball’s collision with a rail after impact.

Knock the cue ball a hair below center or more and it dies following collision with the front ball of the rack to come to rest near the center of the table, from where you can reach a wide variety of shots easily for your next stroke.

More hot tips follow for your best break shot.

Accuracy Trumps Speed

No matter where you place the ball along the head string, you’ll want to come straight into the head ball of the rack in most breaks of 8-Ball, 9-Ball, 7-Ball, 10-Ball and other billiards games. An accurate, solid hit on the lead ball is far more important than great speed on the stroke, as anyone who has scratched off the rack into the corner pocket on can attest to. I have not scratched off the break into the corner for several years.

Hit the head ball and hit it squarely (or nearly so, see my article on sinking the 1-ball in 9-Ball, for example) for best results.

Control And Predict Your Results

This word on accuracy underscores the need to control the break, even a very forcible break shot. We pool rock stars think of sinking a ball on the break and do not count for “lucky rolls” or “destiny” on the break stroke.

I watch the results of the break over the course of several games and look for patterns. Am I sinking two balls in the bottom corner pockets at 8-Ball? Am I consistently driving the 1-ball in the side pocket with a 9-Ball break?

Each break stroke should have a clear, measurable outcome in your mind to assess and consider before and after the shot is taken.

Go Forward Or Back To Adjust

Have you ever watched me or another player adjust the cue ball’s position from break to break to get better results? The best players move the cue ball a half-inch or so backward or forward from its typical spot between breaks if we need to experiment to get more action on a particular table. The amateur moves the ball side-to-side. Why this difference?

A break stroke sends the cue ball into the air and back to the “felt” again during its travels. Don’t believe me? A jumping break stroke is a natural physical outcome of a non-level cue stick. The stick could not possibly be level when the cue ball begins on the head string, as the rail interferes with a perfectly level cue.

A good player is taking the same break stroke as before but adjusting the time the cue ball spends aloft by moving the ball back or forward a bit in place (not passing the head string for placement, of course, as that would be cheating and punishable by a foul). The goal is to have the cue ball back on the table at break impact time with the rack.

Ideally, the cue ball would come to meet the table cloth at the exact same time it strikes the rack, dispersing the maximum possible energy into the rack, scattering the balls, and also providing a maximal duration of contact with the head ball, “killing” cue ball movement and retaining the cue ball almost in place.

Practice these tips on the table and improve your power and style for your 9-Ball and other break shots. Bam!

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