The Basics – Hitting Softly I A Pool Odyssey

How to Hit a Cue Ball

Sorry to say, this is not Mark climbing a cliff. Maybe metaphorically but not in real life. You can, however, catch Mike continuing his climb in the Billiards world. Image courtesy Wikimedia

I remember climbing Mount Fuji in Japan. You kept your head bent down looking at the ground so you wouldn’t slip, trying hard to breathe and finally you make it to the next station. Imagine the joy that you were one station closer to the top. And then you realized that the number on this station was the same as the number on the station before! Ugh, You had thought you arrived, but in fact, you still had a long way to go.

And that my friends is how your journey in pool will feel like. Once you think you have it, you will realize that you are just starting out. With that in mind, let’s get started on our trip the right way.

Having strong fundamentals in pool is the key to a solid pool game. Let’s look at what these fundamentals are and how to incorporate them into your pool game.

How to Hit a Cue Ball … the Right Way

How to Hit a Cue Ball Straight
First is making sure to hit the cue ball with a level cue stick. By level I mean that the cue stick really needs to be parallel to the bed of the table, or as close as possible, when you strike the cue ball. The reason for this is that the table is hard, and if you hit down into the cue ball, it will bounce and curve if your hit is not exactly on the vertical axis. Now a cue ball that is bouncing and curving will not be as accurate as one that is just rolling! Make sure that you get your stick as level as you can on every shot.

How to Hit a Cue Ball Softly

Next is hitting the cue ball softly. This goes against our human instinct to hit things, but your pool game will improve dramatically if we just roll the balls. Here is why. First, the harder you hit an object ball, the smaller the pocket will play. Shots that will fall in when rolling softly, will rattle around the pocket when hit hard.

How to Hit a Cue Ball Straight in Pool

Nice and slow. Pool is a game of finesse, not pure brawn and strength. Image via Wikimedia

Cue Ball Control

Next is cue ball control. A slowly rolling cue ball makes it easier to predict where it will stop. A cue ball running around the table at break neck speed is hard to predict where it will stop. Your position play will improve dramatically when you start rolling the cue ball.

Finally, the harder you swing at the cue ball, the more your fundamentals break down. With a break down in fundamentals, your accuracy decreases and you miss more.

So, by hitting the cue ball softly the pockets play bigger, your cue ball control improves, and and your ball pocketing skill increases. Sounds like your game just got better and all you did is start to hit the cue ball softer.

This will help you get a better feel for what softly really feels like. When you pocket an object ball, it should just fall off the ledge into the pocket. Balls that bang into the back of the pocket are hit too hard.

Good luck and keep climbing.

More from Mark Finkelstein:

  1. Getting Better at Pool – A Pool Odyssey I
  2. The Basics – Hitting Softly I A Pool Odyssey II
  3. Keeping It Simple – Stay on the Vertical Axis I A Pool Odyssey III
  4. 3 Drills to Keep Your Cue Stick Level I A Pool Odyssey IV
  5. How to Stand at the Table: 5 Steps to the Perfect Pool Stance V
  6. What Do We Look At? – A Pool Odyssey with Mark Finkelstein VI
  7. Controlling Our Cue Stick I BCA Instructor Mark Finkelstein VII

About the Author
Mark Finkelstein is a professional pool player, a BCA Master instructor, anAmerican Cue Sports (ACS) Level 4 instructor, and House Pro at Slate Billiards in New York. He is also a former UPA Touring Pro and has played on the Joss 9-Ball Tour. Mark is leading instructor and can be found at other sites including Easy Pool Tutor and Inside Pool Magazine. Mark has also authored a book with McNally Jackson aptly titled, “Pool Ramblings.”