How to Aim Pool Shots Like a Pro

How to aim at pool

What Is Aiming?

When playing pool, aiming is where we line up the cue ball with the object ball in such a way that the object ball goes into the pocket when the two balls collide correctly.

For those of you that enjoy shooting with a rifle, the back sight is lined up with the front sight and the target. With a rifle, however, the bullet always travels in a straight line from the barrel to the target.

With pool aiming the shot can be straight but usually the shot will be at any number of angles. We aim at the object ball target and not the pocket even though the pocket is the ultimate objective of the shot.

How to aim at pool.

Now, in order to make the cue ball strike the object ball at the precise angle that sends the ball into the desired pocket. If you can play a bit then this will not seem that difficult to do.

However, making two small spheres collide at the exact angle is no mean feat.

Aiming Point To Point- Target Shooting.

If we take the rifle aiming analogy, for example, we would aim the center of the cue ball to the center of the object ball and through to the center of the pocket. The shot from the tip of the cue to the pocket entry would be a straight line.

This works fine for straight shots!

However once we leave the straight in shot and start to look at the angled/cut shot, this same method does not work without aiming and angle adjustments.

So what do we need to do?

Developing the Correct Perception.

On an angled shot, if we aim the center of the cue ball to the center line of the object ball we will miss, usually by a large margin. This is because the pool balls are spherical and three dimensional.

In order to aim correctly we have to take this curvature into account when aiming. Even though the ball may appear to be “flat” as we look at them from our stance, we need to adjust for the curves.


Professionals Aiming.

Professionals and top amateur players make it look easy but they have hit their share of balls on the practice table.

If you ask many professional pool players how they aim, you will usually get one of two replies:

I don’t really know.
I don’t aim.
Usually, they are not joking!

It is not these players trying to hide their secrets, some of them genuinely don’t know. Even worse if you are ever in a position to get some help from a pro player you will soon find out that some of them are terrible at explaining the process.

So what is a New Player to Do?

Pool and billiard aiming systems, which is the best for a new player? If you have just started playing and are having difficulty with aiming, try the ghost system first. You can find many systems to help out with alignment.

Some systems do require a basic understanding of stance and visual alignment before you can try them out successfully.

Don’t forget the pool fundamentals. Perhaps you are aiming right already but are not able to deliver your stroke accurately down the shot line.

What is an Aiming system?

An aiming system is a practical method to assist alignment with the object ball. It is an aid to help with cue ball object ball alignment. There are a number of good systems available to assist with aiming or teaching others to aim.

The main aiming systems are listed at the bottom of this post. There are links to specific systems that I have tried.

What is the HAMBS System?

This is the system that involves trial and error. Take a shot, if you make it that’s great, if you don’t make an adjustment and try again. Eventually you will start to make the shot and the shot will be locked into your subconscious memory along with associated muscle memory required for the shot execution.

It is a recognition process that will require many, many repetitions and hours of hard work to achieve success. HAMBS stands for “Hit a Million Balls.”

I don’t think that it takes a million balls for everyone but it gives you some idea of the task ahead.

Do I Need an Aiming system?

The short answer is no, many people including professional players have never used an aiming system but play at a world-class level.

These players learned the angles from hitting millions of balls and using trial and error.

It really depends on the individual and how much time that they have to spare

Do Aiming Systems help?

Yes, aiming systems can help.

Some systems are used to help illustrate the aiming line in coaching situations. In particular, the ghost ball system is very useful when coaching students.

Aiming systems can help to shortcut the learning process, not everyone has the time to practice 8 hours a day.

Some popular aiming systems.