How To Rack Pool Balls Tightly

Before They Crack The Rack, Tighten The Screws

how to rack pool balls, pool ball rack, racking pool balls, billiards etiquette
How to rack pool balls and 200 other things about pool here at About.com. Photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Racking Pool Balls Skillfully, A Lost Art

"How to rack pool balls better?" sounds elementary, yet a few secrets to racking balls is shared in today's feature. And racking well is simply good billiards etiquette.

Now, the very best defense in pool against the incoming player's break is a tight, well-formed rack. In a pro tournament, if a pro busts in the nine too often someone comes looking for the racker!

A tight rack prevents the nine-ball from moving much at all in that game.

Here's how to rack pool balls and "make it so":

1. Place the balls in the triangle (or diamond or special shape) rack, fingers and thumbs behind the balls as you move the whole assembly to its resting place.

Ensure the balls slide, not roll, along the cloth. This is done by placing your fingers behind the balls in the space surrounding them in the wooden or plastic (or composite) rack.

2. The extra space will now be used to your advantage. Nudge the rack forward so the extra space is equidistant around the sides of the balls.

3. Now that there is space surrounding the balls, the rack may be safely lifted up and away without disturbing the pack.

Twirl the rack around your hand, like a Western gunslinger twirls his Colt, for an added flourish before putting the rack away. I like a good spin and flip into the air followed by a one-handed catch.

And now you know how to rack pool balls the very best way possible.

Patterns In Racking Pool Balls

In Eight Ball, only a few balls matter, with the 8-ball itself, of course, going into the middle of the rack. But you'll want a stripe on one back corner of the rack and a solid on the other, as those two balls tend to sit near the bottom corner pockets following the break.

I also often do two more things. First, I post the 1-ball up front as a courtesy to players used to seeing it there in Nine Ball and other rotation games like Chicago. Second, I go around the rack alternating stripes and solids so that they scatter a bit more evenly following the break.

In Nine Ball for practice (or to make the balls look pretty during the game) you of course put the 1-ball up front and the 9-ball in the middle to make it difficult to break in, but you can also set the remaining balls in number order from the front to the back of the rack (so that the 8-ball is at the bottom of the rack). Thus in practice you can take a look to see how all nine balls are breaking and where they tend to come to rest, to adjust your breaks.

In actual competition, however, other than the one- and nine-balls the rest are to be placed at random.

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