Improve Your Pool Game With These Billiards Shooting Tips

A young man playing pool.
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Below are some billiards shot basics that will make a real difference for pocket billiards students.

Bank shot techniques for better shape

  1. Use outside English to widen bank rebound angles and inside English for tightening angles (inside is super h
  2. Helpful for shots taken close to the side pockets)
  3. Sight and plot banks using the edge of the ghost cue ball where it will strike the cushion, not its center, and sight the bottom of the cushions for truer calculations

Use your cue ball with a stroke so gentle that impact is barely audible while gliding smoothly through the cue ball rather than poking at it. (Top pros developed this touch playing carom often and you can imitate their practice.)

Advice on Shape and Strategy

  • Consider the eight's position first before choosing hi- or low-balls for 8-Ball
  • Play for 10- to 15-degree shape angles for upcoming billiards shots
  • Use a near level stroke and you can practically forget about adjusting target aim when using English
  • Only four types of balls can shape on any table: 1) easy-to-pocket balls 2) balls made easy when others are cleared first 3) trouble balls and 4) balls handy for clearing trouble balls
  • Related article on four types of balls
  • Learn by competing against not only tough opponents but those who will critique you
  • Shoot mostly soft and medium strokes within a tip's width of center along the vertical axis and you'll continually improve week-to-week and year-to-year
  • Shoot cross-corner banks often to add feel and creativity to your shape skills

Style of Play

Do you shoot better jumping and dancing through your strokes or staying down to the table, committed to stillness from follow through until the balls come to rest? Commit to playing in your best style. Most play better as pool robots with the stroke arm their only moving part than as pool dancers.

The ideal stance resembles a weightlifter's or golfer's bent down to work but balanced and ready for action. Any final stroke tension should feel as though it is released through the cue and cue tip, not the hand or arm.

Fee stroking to create incredibly powerful, straight shots

A stance routine with stroke hand on line—and not trunk or head—while standing to the upcoming billiard shot is recommended. Don't crunch or force over the cue stick any body part as you bend to the shot. Hand on the line equals shot on the line. Chin over the cue stick has nothing to do with whether the ball finds the bottom of the pocket.

Be consistent in how you approach each shot. Create the same precise distance from cue tip to cue ball before bending to your stance for every billiards shot. 

The pendulum strokePool requires a faster forward stroke, freely moving without slavish imitation to your practice strokes, so relaxed you'd drop the stick to the table if your grip was any lighter.

The pendulum pool myth

Commit to cue ball shape from an erect position before bending to your stance. You've heard that often but add that any fidgeting, wiggling or hitching moving the cue tip wrecks your game. If you plan, say, a medium speed stroke with one tip of bottom right English from a standing position, bend down, set the tip where you promised and stroke as you promised.