If I could only teach you 1 shot
by Joe Tucker
Look over the following 4 shots for a moment and look for a few things that they all might have in common, and then we’ll get on with our lesson.
High inside (high left in this shot)
Low outside (low right in this shot)
High inside (high right in this shot)
Low inside (Rail first)
What do they all have in common?
They all require spin? Yep.
The position shots all have the cue ball entering the position zone properly?
Very good, I’m proud of you for recognizing that.
They all require you to deliver the cue ball to a very precise location on or near the object ball while applying side spin. Very good, who said that?
Delivering the cue ball to a precise location while applying side spin is not only an art but it’s an art that we simply must add to our game. Traditionally we’ve been warned to stay away from side spin until we have a firm handle on center ball; here I go again in my best teacher to student deep voice
“Oh no, you‘re not ready for that fancy stuff yet, lets work on that stance a little longer“.
I say that type of thinking has been holding us back, so this month I’m going to get you to practice the most useful shot you may never use, Stop shots with side spin. Most people that try this shot or see someone else trying it usually come up with just about the same expression, crunched eyebrows & same words, “why, what’s the use“?
The use is this, if you can’t deliver it accurately here, what makes you think you can deliver it accurately anywhere else? At least while we’re straight in we can all pretty much agree we know where to aim. If we miss here, we can not only blame our technique of applying side spin or our feel for estimating the effects the side spin had on the cue ball but we can also learn quickly from this shot.
Most people go immediately blind when they miss a shot and they have no real factual clue as to why the shot was missed or even how it was missed. We will not go blind. We will learn from each and every shot, especially the misses and we will do so as fast and as effectively as possible.
Here’s the shot I want you to practice for 1 month but don’t go running to the table till I tell you a few things about shooting it.
The object ball is about 2-3ft out of the corner pocket and the cue ball another 2-3ft away from the object ball set up dead straight in.
A few things you need to know before you go;
Cue ball squirt, (aka deflection)
Cue ball swerve. (aka curve)
Front hand English,
back hand English,
A little of both,
And what about throw? What about throw, yeah it happens but it is definitely one of the most overrated effects or excuses in the game today so don’t worry too much about it right now.
I really wanted to give you a short article this month that also gave you a special skill but I can’t just send you out there unarmed so here are some things you’ll have to know while fighting the fight.
#1 When the cue ball is struck off to one side of center it will squirt off in the opposite direction, so if you hit it with left it’ll squirt to the right. After it squirts out it’ll start to swerve back in, it looks just like a mini masse’ shot that forces the cb out to one side and then curves back in. But in this case you don’t get to physically see it squirt out or curve back in, you must simply know its going to happen so you can plan ahead for it and you must plan ahead for it!
Many players, including myself have referred to cb squirt as cb deflection and sometimes we still do and when it comes to cb swerve we’ll probably be referring to that as cb curve, so when conversing with another player always check to see if you’re both talking about the same thing.
#2 How to apply side spin with front hand english.
Fall on your straight in shot with center cb and line it up the best you can. Once you have it lined up move the tip of the cue stick over to middle right or middle left side of the cue ball but do so by pivoting your bridge hand only, keep everything else still, just pivot or roll your bridge hand over to the desired tip position.
What has happened here is you have changed your aim slightly in the direction of the spin you’ve chosen but when you strike the cb in that spot you will cause it to squirt back in towards your original aim line. How hard you strike the cb will determine where it will go and when it‘ll start to swerve back in. The softer you hit the cb the quicker it’ll start to swerve back in, the harder you hit it the less it’ll swerve back in. I want you to practice at all speeds with one major goal in mind and that goal is to watch the shot happen. Feel the cb squirt in, watch it curve back in (at slow speeds) and then change these effects by changing your speed.
This is very tough exercise with most players because our minds are so attached to pocketing the ball, pocket the ball, pocket the ball, pocket the ball. Can you imagine how many times your subconscious has had that thought? Your mind is not going to give up that thought easily, you might have to tell it to take a break and shut for a bit while we experiment with squirt and swerve.
At the stop shot speed you are not going to get much swerve at all, most of you are going to miss because of the squirt, meaning when you hit it firm with right spin you’ll end up hitting the object on the left side. That is if you STUCK TO YOUR GUNS and actually hit the cb in the spot you chose, many of you will chicken out unknowingly and swing you tip back in towards the center and you may make the shot but just look at the cue ball, it’ll have little or no spin on it. That was your subconscious, PTB, PTB, PTB thought, have another chat with it. I want you to look at your tip prior to shooting the shot and imagine the cb is not going to move and your tip is going to simply put a big hole right thru it and hold your bridge steady and look at your tip as soon as the shot is over and make sure it’s still on that chosen line.
#3 Back hand English. Very similar to front hand English but now we keep everything still except the back hand. If you want right side spin on the cb you pull your back hand a little to the left, when you want left spin you pull your back hand to the right and this moves the tip over automatically.
You get all the same effects as front hand English but I find that back hand English changes your aim a little more so it can give the appearance of causing less cb squirt. What we’re looking for is for the amount of aim change to equal the amount cb squirt. We all play with different bridge lengths and different cues so we’ll all get different results. Here’s what you should keep in mind, all sticks cause different amounts of squirt, a shorter bridge will cause more of an aim change and a longer bridge will cause less aim change. Your job will be to find to perfect pivot point and that’s what we’ll talk about now.
#4 Using a little of both, a little front hand and a little back hand together. This is how I generally play and this is where most pros end up. Just use a little front hand and a little back hand. I find these two minor adjustments make applying side spin a little bit easier and a little easier for our subconscious to deal with.
Most professionals don’t go thru the steps we’re going thru here but that’s because they have enough experience to feel their aim while falling on the shot with the side spin already applied. You may end up walking into the shot as they do with the English already applied and your stick angled off properly and there is noting wrong with that but learning these steps first will help to get you to that point faster.
#5 Parallel english, this means to slide your entire cue stick over parallel to the center ball aim line. In the past this has been the most recommended method of applying side spin to the cue ball and in my opinion it’s the absolute worst advice we could have been receiving. I can only guess that the reason we’ve received this advice is because the people giving it to us weren’t quite qualified enough to be giving us advice in the first place or perhaps it was because it’s so easy to tell someone to simply slide the entire stick over. The reason I believe parallel english is the absolute worst method of applying side spin to the cue ball is because it causes way too much cb squirt, no matter what type of cue stick you’re using and it requires too much of an initial guess of aim. If you were to aim our straight in stop shot with parallel english you would have to initially aim the shot at about a half ball hit with a low squirt shaft. Now that may not sound bad to some of you, you say hey if you know it’s coming in a half ball then what’s the problem? The problem is not just on our straight in shot, the problem is taking this initial guess with all of our other shots. If you use front hand and back hand english your initially aim is going to be very close or exactly where you actually want the cb to hit. If you use parallel you’re going to be guessing a half ball to a balls width off the target area most of the time. I play with a Predator Z2 shaft because it minimizes cb squirt better than anything I‘ve ever seen or used and if I were to use parallel English I might as well be using a broom stick because no stick can protect you from the squirt of parallel English.
Now I wish I could be there to help you with this exercise because I know we would not only be sure to learn from each shot as fast as possible, how & why did I miss that shot? Was it too much squirt, was it too much aim change or did I hit it too soft and it swerved back in? Each shot has something to offer you, do not simply become frustrated or blind when you miss and do not become frustrated at all! Rather look at the shot with soft eyes and take that shot as a learning opportunity, an opportunity to improve your feel, speed up you’re learning process by basing your results (error or not) on facts not fiction. As for the shots you make, cherish them and replay them in your head for a second, recall how you aimed it, how it felt and how you enjoyed it.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and if that’s the case a video might be worth a million so that’s why I’ve posted a free video of “How to apply side spin to the cue ball & its effects” on www.HowCast.com It’s a 30 minute 3 part playlist that covers everything we’re talking about here.
Properly applying side spin to the cue ball and becoming proficient at it is one of the biggest hurdles an amateur player faces, I encourage you to embrace the challenge and add these skills to your game so you to can enjoy the game you love at higher levels. Now go spin your rock!