Whether you’re playing pool or billiards, playing on the green tables means being in control. Not only do you have to have the right precision to line up your shots, but you also need that control to make sure the pool balls go where you want them to.
That means having the right perception of shooting angles, keeping good hand-eye coordination, and, most of all, being able to control your cue ball. You might already know the basics of getting a cue ball around the table. That’s why we’re going to be looking at more advanced tips to help you maintain precise control.
Study the Tables
There’s a lot of variabilities that come with different kinds of cue sticks and balls. But the most overlooked aspect among them is the tables themselves. Your cue ball will behave differently to your shots, depending on how the table is set up.
In the pool, the optimal way to play is to hit your cue ball, so it can pocket a ball and be in the perfect position to pocket the next. However, there’s always a chance that your ball might not go your desired way and end up in one of the table’s dead spots.
This is why it’s so important to make sure that you know your table inside and out. At an advanced level, making anticipations and small corrections can be the difference between a successful pocket or being a few inches off.
Build Your Internal Speedometer
Playing any sport means having tons of hands-on hours at the game. You reach a point where you’re able to do things without thinking. But a caveat to that is not being able to translate what you’re thinking into your physical actions.
This becomes a big factor when taking control of your cue ball’s speed. Simply thinking of your hits as soft or hard isn’t enough. You need a bigger scale to accurately quantify just how much power your need for a shot.
One of the best ways to do this is by putting a number on the power of your shots. Instead of thinking of it as a soft hit, split it into soft 1, soft 2, and soft 3 hits. This means that 1 is the least powerful, while 3 is the most. This makes it act like a speedometer for your power settings. Do the same for your medium strength and hard shots.
You can put it into practice by hitting your balls and noting how far they roll or collide. Once you’ve decided what to name each hit, you can practice getting them out consistently. This will help you control your speed just by thinking about it when the time comes.
Use the Clock System
To maximize their hits, players often use the clock system to have finesse over their balls. This lets them accurately predict what kind of angle and spin they can expect from their cue ball.
The way this system works is by cordoning off your cue ball’s face into a different section. You can use a clock face to visualize sections on the ball. This means that hitting high is considered 12 o’clock while hitting low is 6 o’clock.
It’s an easy way to remember and keep track of your hits. Once you get comfortable, you can even go further by imagining half-hour positions between two sections, like 12:30 or 5:30 for more accurate shots.
Implement the Ghost Ball in Your Play
Every so often, you have to make your shot in what looks like a bad position. It may feel almost impossible to get the shot down. And even when you try to predict the right path, things don’t go well in practice.
Luckily, you can correct a lot of these errors by using the ghost ball method. Unlike a normal shot, in the ghost ball method, your contact point and aiming points are not the same. That means you’re aiming to direct touch the ball where it would normally pocket.
Instead, the ghost ball technique has you imagine a non-existent ball right next to your targeted ball. This means you’re aiming to hit the ghost ball in a way that would make it hit your targeted ball and pocket it.
The ghost ball concept helps players separate their contact and hit points in tricky spots where shots seem hard to manage. You can correct the bad habit of always shooting directly for the ball, even when a positive outcome isn’t guaranteed. Instead, you’re taking time to analyze the shot and make it more accurate. Implementing this technique in your play means you can use your cue ball more precisely.
Experiment and Document
There are hundreds of different factors that come into play when you’re trying to make shots. Everything from throws, deviations, curves, and spins can affect your predictions in unexpected ways.
The only way you can get ahead and regain control in your play is to try something in practice and study the results. You can end up building a great amount of control if all you do is take the time to try out different outcomes.
A good way to do this is by setting up an easy shot that you’re confident you can make and change some factors. You can do things like moving the ball slightly out of a position of hitting your cue ball at a different spot. Once you take the shot, you’ll notice how the variation affects your play. And you can then document it to help you learn and improve for future shots.
You can always use practice with the right mindset to help you excel at your cue ball control. Try to have an experienced training partner that can help you with practice and give you valuable feedback. You can even document your shots by taking pictures or making videos of your plays that you can later review. At the end of the day, this will be the difference in expert level control.