Pool Ball Drills - Killer Safeties To Win Billiards Games

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Pool Ball Drills - Killer Shots To Win Billiards Games

Pro Skill Drills
The Drill Instructor--he's ready to drill you again!. Illustration courtesy of TheDrillInstructor.us

These double-sided pool ball drills develop intense safety skills to win games.

Practice Drills To Develop Safety Skills

From Dominic Esposito, The Drill Instructor

Now pay attention, student! It is not required to make a ball every time you shoot to win a game. It is required that you control the table.

You want to enjoy a balanced pool game. That means you decide when to shoot an offensive or a defensive shot (or both, usually called a two-way shot based on which choice will best control the table.

Take a few moments to consider your own play. The professionals do, and they shoot safeties to devastate their opponents often. TV is edited and teaches us that billiards pros run tables often. They play safe a lot and running multiple racks from the break comes less often than many think.

So when should you play safe? I'll have Matt Sherman, your Guide to Pool and Billiards at About.com, detail some odds for you here.--The Drill Instructor

Matt: Have you used all five of these tactics at the table?

1. Shoot offense and try to run the table. The calculation is balls remaining X % of success for each ball. If you choose to go for the 6- through 9-ball in a rack of Nine Ball, and you can make the 6, 7 and 8 as they lie 80% of the time and you're 50/50 on a tricky 9-ball far away from the eight, your odds are 0.8 * 0.8 * 0.8 * 0.5 = 0.256 or just about a 25% chance of running out. A poor choice since every ball taken off helps your opponent when your inning ends short of the nine.

2. Shoot safe and "hope for the best". A limited option unless you anticipate how your opponent will respond to the safety. Remember shooting a "good safe" in Eight Ball before they left you a worse position and won ball-in-hand on the eight?

3. Shoot a "two-way" shot with offense, using an eye to defense as well. For example, slowly rolling a solid in Eight Ball so that if it fails to pocket it will come to rest inside or near the pocket opening, blocking stripes. That's why "table speed" or "pro speed" in Eight Ball is often soft and in Nine Ball, hard enough to sink the ball rather than leave it for the incoming player. (Still not an excuse to bang the balls hard, though.)

4. Shoot a safety they have trouble returning, while setting up for the final kill.

5. Missing in purpose, such as a) being "on the lemon" (squeezing an opponent by disguising your ability) b) missing a pocket but playing to block balls against your opponent c) missing to setup a teammate or ally in a ring or shake pool game.

Note that ALL five choices above include intending to miss, play safe or accounting for the probability of misses. Thinking about defense continually sounds "weak" to many, but actually translates to top performance on offense.

Examples include bearing down harder on a loose ball when breaking a pack of balls in Straight Pool so my opponent doesn't get a free pass and choosing whether to cut or bank winning 8- or 9-balls in those games. Let's return to this look at #4 and a killer play with The Drill Instructor on the next page--Matt Sherman

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Awesome 9-Ball Play - Good For Other Games Also

Awesome 9-Ball Play
Awesome 9-Ball play. Illustration courtesy of Dominic Esposito, The Drill Instructor

Dom: Time for an awesome 9-Ball play. Most players shoot defensive shots in 9-Ball because they don't see any ball they can make with confidence.

That kind of thinking has to be averted if you're ever going to shoot pool at a high skill level. Trying to bank or kick the ball in this diagram for the immediate win is a bad idea that likely sells out the game and match. (Click on the illustration to see it larger on your screen.)

Our 9-Ball Scenario:

1. The game is 9-Ball although this safety I'm presenting can be used effectively for other games.

2. The 9-ball is not frozen onto the rail.

3. There is no easy shot to pocket the 9-ball for the win.

Our 9-Ball Strategy:

1. Play a legal safe but do not leave a simple shot for your opponent.

2. Using a medium stroke, send the cue ball at an angle into the 9-ball.

3. Leave the cue ball and 9-ball frozen on opposite ends of table along the short rails.

Drill Instructor's Drill No. 1:

Send the 9-ball downtown and leave the cue ball near where it started... Bam!

Drill Instructor's Drill No. 2:

Send the cue ball on a mission and leave the 9-ball on the bottom rail... Pow!

This double-sided drill will skewer your opponents in Eight Ball, Nine Ball, One Pocket and Straight Pool over and again. How will you know when you have mastered this vital play?

Work each drill until you can successfully cause the far rolling ball to land within four inches of the rail and inside one diamond from the center of the table.

You're well on your way using my drills to sharpen your pocket billiards skills. 

Pro Skill Drills 1: Rail Finishing Points/Understanding Tips Of English
Pro Skill Drills 2: Finishing Points On The Long Rail
Pro Skill Drills 3: The Double Kick System
Pro Skill Drills 4: Four Ways To Bank Balls
Pro Skill Drills 5: Walk The Line
Pro Skill Drills 6: The Short Jump Shot
Pro Skill Drills OO7: Play Safe, Mr. Bond
Pro Skill Drills 8: "Chalking Time" - Mastering A Shot Routine
Pro Skill Drills 9: Sample 8-Ball Pattern

Notes From A D.I. Workout - Stroke Speeds And Masse Shots
Visit The Drill Instructor's Website