Keeping It Simple – Staying on the Vertical Axis I A Pool Odyssey

K.I.S.S. is something we hear about all the time. No not that one for you lounge lizards out there!! Keep it simple silly!! (Remember we don’t like to say bad things about ourselves!!).

Simple Pool Tips


In a previous article we talked about how difficult pool really is. We are hitting a round ball, with a stick with a round tip, trying to precisely hit another ball into a pocket. A millimeter error in hitting the cue ball means a 5 millimeter error on the object ball, and about a 4 inch error at the pocket, more than enough to miss by a lot. That means we need an awful lot of precision in hitting the cue ball.

Play Better Pool; Stay on the Vertical Axis

One of the tricks to help us play a lot better is staying much closer to the center of the cue ball and on the vertical axis as much as possible. The reason we do this is that the closer to the center we are when hitting the cue ball, the less the cue ball is pushed off our line of aim. In fact, the only time the cue ball goes in the direction the cue stick is pointing is when you strike the cue ball on the vertical axis!!

To help you visualize this, hitting the cue ball off the vertical axis causes the cue ball to be pushed slightly to the side of the line of aim. Another effect is that when you hit the cue ball off center and with a slightly downward stroke, at some point in the cue ball path it will curve. Now it is a lot harder to be precise with a cue ball that is squirting off to the side and curving than with a plain rolling ball.

3 Ways to Find the Vertical Axis

Here are three ways to find the vertical axis of the cue ball. (1) First is to hold your stick really level and match the top curve of the cue ball with the top curve of the cue stick. (2) Next is to put the cue stick tip on the cloth and align the top curve of the cue stick with the bottom curve of the cue ball.

3 Exercised to Find the Vertical Axis of a Billiards Ball

3 Exercises to Help You Find the Vertical Axis on a Billiards Ball

The final way is pretty neat. (3) You put the cue tip on the cloth right near the base of the cue ball and look for the reflection of your cue stick in the cue ball. When the reflection is coming straight back at you, that means you are on the vertical axis.

So far in our journey we have covered some simple ideas that will greatly improve your pool game: stay on the vertical, axis; stroke the cue ball slowly; and say nice things to yourself. You will find that these simple ideas will put you miles ahead of most of your pool competition. KISS.

-Good luck and see you on the road.

More Tips 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
  8. A Different Source of Practice Routine

About the AuthorMark Finkelstein BCA Instructor
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 like NYC Grind, Easy Pool Tutor, and Inside Pool Magazine. Mark has also authored a book with McNally Jackson aptly titled, “Pool Ramblings.”