July 28, 2009


Billiards instruction and Billiard tips should ideally begin with learning the basic fundamentals to improve your accuracy. By practicing your accuracy you will begin to see noticeable benefits.

I want to discuss the effect of “side” when you are playing a billiards game.

Place the red ball on the centre-spot of the table. Put the cue-ball about a foot behind the red and dead in line with the centre of the middle pocket facing you. I want you to pot the red in the middle pocket, a perfectly straight shot, first with as much right-hand side on your ball as you can put on it, and then with as much left-hand side as you can impart.

This particular shot is merely to prove something to you, how difficult it is to pot the red with strong side on your ball as directed.

Do not practice the stroke after you have made it once or twice-I have only asked you to do it to show you that the moment you put side on your ball you find it harder to hit the object-ball correctly than when you strike your ball centrally.

Cue Line and Stroke Line
The reason for this is two-fold, but only one aspect matters in the stroke you have played. This is that when you pot the red by striking your ball in its centre, the line of your cue and the line of the stroke are the same. They must be, because the line of every stroke is taken from the centre of the cue-ball.

But when you put side on your ball in a billiards game, you must move your cue to the right or left of the centre of your ball, which means that the line of your cue and the line of the stroke are no longer identical. In effect, you are estimating your stroke along one line and swinging your cue on another parallel to it. You must do this every time you put side on a ball, and your stroke, especially if it is a winning hazard, becomes automatically more difficult than it would be if you struck your ball centrally.

Ball “Turn” and its Effect
In addition, there is the important fact that side makes a ball turn if it has any distance to travel before striking the object-ball. This turning tendency is of no practical account if your ball is moving quickly, but if you play a slow or slowish ball with strong side on a woollen cloth, the ball will turn in the direction of the side when running with the nap, and in the contrary direction when running against the nap. On a napless cloth, the ball always turns in the direction of the side it carries.

This makes a lot of difference when your ball has a long way to go, and an appreciable difference at what may be called medium ranges. To prove this, put the red ball almost touching the top cushion and four or five inches from the left-hand top pocket.

If you aim to hit the red a ” full ball,” and put as much left side on your ball as you can, you actually see your ball turn as it travels slowly up the billiard table, and finishes by just clipping the red beautifully, and leaving it in good position as the cue-ball darts into the pocket.

Quite a pretty shot, and a good one when you want it, but at the moment I wish you to study it to learn how much you have to allow for your ball departing from a straight line owing to the influence of side.

Only use Side when Necessary
Consequently, whenever you use side, you have to swing your cue parallel to the true line of the stroke, and to allow for your ball “running off” if you play at all slowly at such a range that your ball has room in which to “spin away.” You can do all this, but you do not want to volunteer for it. Therefore, never use side if you can possibly do without it.

Repetition is key to improving your game so keep practicing your technique to master the game of billiards!

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