How To Aim Cut Shots In Pool And Billiards

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Aim Primer 6: Fraction Aim And Ghost Ball Aim

Quarter Ball Cut Shot
Aiming a quarter ball cut shot. Illustration (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Continuing our multi-article aim primer, detailing every method top players use to play cut shots successfully in pool and billiards. Part of a multi-article series.

Need a refresher? Catch up on the primer so far in:

Aim Primer 1: How To Use The Aim Manual
Aim Primer 4: Instinct Vs. Fraction Aim
Aim Primer 5: Contact Point And Half Ball Line

A Quarter Ball Hit

Other convenient fractions for aim include hitting "quarter ball" as in the illustration above. Again the blue box and the red spot show the difference between center ball aim and actual contact point. The cue ball will eclipse one-quarter of the object ball's surface from the player's point of view.

The diagram can be flipped to show a three-quarters hit. Imagine the white ball covering three-quarters of the yellow ball and not one quarter, that is, a half hit plus an additional quarter of the object ball overlapped.

CAUTION: Pool players also use the terms thin and thick (or full) to describe varying degrees of hit. The ¾ hit is ​full or thick than the ¼ hit, while the ¼ hit is a far thinner hit than a ½ or ¾ ball hit. Thick hits absorb more of the cue ball's momentum into the object ball and are easier to aim than thin hits.

**Next page: Fraction Aim, "Perfect Aim", Edge-To-Edge Aim and Ghost Ball Aim**

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Limitations Of Fraction Aim

Limitation Aim System Pool Billiards
The "half-ball aim line" is shown. Illustration (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to About.com, Inc.

What are the limitations of the fraction aim system and how can they be overcome?

A Fraction System Refinement

Gene Albrecht's "Perfect Aim Billiards" enhances typical fraction methods by placing the "inside" edge of the cue ball with its overlap on the object ball, and the player's eye nearest the object ball directly over this alignment. For example, for a half ball hit sending the object ball to the player's left, as shown in Diagram 10, focus from the cue ball's left edge to the base of the object ball for aim, while positioning the left eye above that line.

A quarter ball hit to the left would require sighting with the left eye from the cue ball's left edge to the point ½ radius from the object ball's left edge. Straight shots (full hits) would require ball edges to be sighted with either eye.

Limitations of Fraction Aim

1. A half ball hit describes a cut shot angled at a bit less than 30 degrees, and a quarter-ball hit has a cut shot cue ball/object ball angle of 48.6 degrees. But pool is astounding in its complexity with millions of shots offered and at all angles between 0 and 90 degrees. How should a 53½ degree shot be measured, or a 75¾ degree shot? With what fractions of balls eclipsed?

2. Most players have trouble with sighting small fractions of hit. Even those players with sharper than normal eyesight have trouble aiming at one-eighth to one-sixteenth of a ball or less across the length of the table.

Refining Fraction Aim - "Edge to Edge Aim"

Some billiards pros visualize the specific portions of the balls that will eclipse (or overlap) without naming them as real fractions, knowing that quite subtle degrees of shot are possible. They then "shoot this piece of the cue ball" directly into "that piece of the object ball" rather than worry over discerning ball edges or vanishing points. This method of "piece brushes piece" is called edge to edge aim for cut shots.

Limitation of Edge to Edge Aim

Just one limitation here. Pros use this method because it works effectively. A high degree of creative visualization skill is needed, however, to be consistent. Other systems amateurs can employ more simply are presented in subsequent pages and articles.

**Next page: Ghost Ball Systems**

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Aim Diagram - Ghost Ball Systems And Beyond

Aim Diagrams
This aim diagram shows ghost ball impact along the half-ball line. Illustration (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Ghost Ball Systems

Again, if the cue ball and object ball impact along the aim line, as in Diagram 13, the object ball will be driven into the pocket. "Ghost ball" aim is a simple way to imagine the cue ball's arrival on the geometric aim line. Ghost ball is the method most often taught to beginners despite its flaws.

The ghost ball system has long been praised for its simplicity:

1. Plot the aim line, visualizing the ghosted cue ball on that line at impact.

2. Extend a line from the ghost ball's base to the cue ball's base.

3. Position the cue stick on this shot line behind the cue ball and stroke. The cue ball replaces the ghost ball as the player watches to assess their accuracy of aim.

CAUTION: The shot lines of ghost ball aim (Diagram 13) and half ball aim (Diagram 10) are indeed the same line. Marking the cloth or using measuring aids other than a cue stick are illegal in pool so aim systems aid the player in discerning invisible lines.

**Next time: Ghost Ball Aim Limitations And New, Better Systems**

Aim Primer: How To Use The Aim Manual
Aim Primer: Instinct Vs. Fraction Aim
Aim Primer: Contact Point And Half Ball Line
Aim Primer: Ghost Ball Vs. Contact Point Aim
Aim Primer: Parallel And Pivot Aim