Making a good break shot is all about form, concentration, and finesse. Truth be told, this is a great way for a newbie to embarrass themselves for the rest of their pool career. So how does one get the snap, crackle, and pop of a pro billiards player?
A pool match starts before the game even begins. In order to rack properly, make sure that all balls are touching each other. If the balls aren’t touching, it will be impossible to make a good break. The space in between the balls will diffuse the energy of the incoming cue ball. This is why it’s important to purchase a quality pool rack that keeps everything close together.
You also need to have the right set of billiards balls. Aramith is currently the gold standard. Just like a poor quality cue stick, the wrong set of balls can make it frustrating when trying to master the game. Read this to learn how to distinguish a quality set of billiards balls.
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Cue Ball Placement
Position the cue ball as close as you can to the head strip, the imaginary line behind which you have to place your cue ball. You can either place the cue ball directly in front of the head ball or off to the side on the head string. The reason that you see professional players do this is because it can offer a better chance of landing the one ball in the side pocket. Play around with this technique by placing your cue ball on the head string to the left or right by 4-6 inches.
Many advanced players use a special Break Cue for the opening shot. It’s a good idea to invest in one of these if you plan on getting serious. You have to have the right tools in your bag to play with the big boys!
There are a variation of pool bridges that you can use. Some people even like to make up their own! Here are some the pros and cons of some of the most basic pool table bridges.
- Closed Bridge- Make a loop with your thumb and your index finger. This will guide your break stick through your fingers and help improve accuracy. You should be able to slide you cue stick between your fingers with ease.
- Open bridge – Place you palm flat on the table. Raise your thumb slightly to create a groove in your hand where your break stick will slide. The open bridge offers increased visibility and minimal resistance.
- Rail bridge- Place your Index finger goes over the top of your cue stick. The rail bridge offers increased visibility and the highest level of stability. Try this if you’re having trouble controlling the path of your back swing and follow through.
Tip: The tip of your cue should be approximately 1” away from your cue ball when you make a break shot.
You’re your dominate arm that is holding your cue stick should be cocked back, making a 90 degree angle. Advanced players can adjust this angle to create more power during their break shot (more on this later). Your grip should be relaxed as to avoid any jerking motions that could lead to wild shots. And we say wild we don’t mean anything like these incredible trick shots by Venom! Mind-boggling!
Posture & Back Swing
Stand up straighter than you normally would when taking a shot but it’s important to keep a bend in your knees. Slide your cue stick back and forth a few times to get a feel for the break. You can experiment with the length of your back swing also. Some people like to take a longer pull on their back swing while other like a shorter swing for a quick pop. Use the technique that feels natural for you.
Eyes on the Prize
You can either place you attention on the head ball or on the cue ball. Some people like to keep their eyes on the head ball but others may have a harder time focusing on the cue ball with peripheral vision. For all intents and purposes, you should try to keep your eyes on the cue ball. This will make it easier for advanced techniques like the spin shot.
TIP: The key to making a fast break is accuracy upon impact of the cue ball.
When you go to make your shot, remember to stay relaxed. Everything should feel natural! Tensing up your muscles will decrease accuracy and could also lead to overpowered shots. Hit the cue ball as hard as you can while maintaining control of your body. Move your hips and torso forward for more power and follow through for more power. As with anything, practice makes perfect!
It doesn’t go without saying that power and accuracy are directly related when you make a break shot. If you fail to strike the cue ball in the right location, the momentum from your cue stick won’t transfer all of its energy to the cue ball. Once you get the basics down, you can proceed to experiment with some of these advanced level breaking techniques.
Cue Ball Control
You can control where your cue ball lends after all the smoke settles. To do this, you have to place a slight top spin on the ball. To create this spin, hit the cue ball slightly above the center. This will make your cue ball stop in the center of the table and set up a nice follow up shot!
Lengthen your grip to add more power to your break shot. To do this, move your non-dominant arm closer to you so that your stoke is longer. If you’re right-handed, this will mean moving your left hand further away from the cue ball.
Another trick to create more power is adjusting your back hand grip. Choke up on your grip and move it forward a few inches to break the orthodox perpendicular bend. This will place your arms closer together to enable a more powerful break shot. Bang! Once you learn how to make a fast break shot, you can move onto more advanced pool techniques like the jump shot.
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