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How To Control the White Ball in Pool – Playing Position.

How to Control The Cue Ball.

The cue ball is controlled by striking the ball at different positions, striking at different speeds and at different distances from the object ball. By changing these strike positions the experienced player can move the white ball around the table.

The cue strokes can be placed into 3 main categories:

  • Center ball stroke.
  • Stun stroke
  • Topspin stroke.
  • Backspin stroke.

Center Ball Stroke.

Sometimes called plain ball, moves the cue ball forward in a natural rolling motion. The ball is struck with a soft stroke slightly above the center.

Generally follows the 30 degree rule when estimating the ball path.

Stun Stroke.

A punchy stroke which will send the cue ball down the tangent line with no spin at impact. The actual angle can be changed to send the cue ball either above or below the 90-degree line.

Topspin Stroke.

A follow-through stroke which impacts a forward spin on the cue ball at a greater rotation than plain ball. After impact, the cue ball will overspin and roll forward taking a sharper angle than the rolling ball.

Backspin Stroke.

Backspin, draw or screw, is a follow-through stroke that imparts backward spin to the cue ball. After impact, the cueball will stop momentarily before coming back due to the spin.

Generally follows the 3 times rule to estimate the path of the ball.

Why Would You Want to Control the White Ball?

The most successful players are the ones who can connect together multiple balls in one visit to the table. For example, breaking the balls at 9 ball and proceeding to make all of the balls in order with your opponent still sat in his chair.

This requires connecting together all of the balls in an easy fashion without difficult shots or “Hail Mary” position. Easy shots and easy positional play take less out of the player mentally.

Conserving mental energy is extremely important in long matches and competition play.

Played this way, the game flows easily from one shot to the other.

Professional players make the game look easy because they are masters of position play and economical with their cue ball movement.

Position Play Principles?

  • Don’t play shape if you already have it.
  • Accepting what you are given.
  • Simple is best.
  • Play down the line where possible.
  • The correct angle beats being close to the ball.
  • Play to your strengths.

Don’t Play Shape If You Already Have It.

This sounds obvious but it requires further explanation.

If you are already in line but further away from the object ball than ideal, just play the shot from there. If you are slightly off the ideal angle but can make the ball from there and get adequate position, just do it.

The idea is that any extra action could cause an error so just take what is already there. Why take the risk of going 30 inches on and off the side rail just to get 12 inches closer to the ball.

Accepting What You Are Given.

Sometimes it is necessary to take what the table gives you. This is especially true after the break when there may be a shot but it is not in prime position.

Simple Position Is Best.

Don’t play shots that are unnecessarily complex or just for show. The simple, easy route is usually the best way to get the job done. Simple won’t get the crowd up on their feet cheering and shooting but simple will certainly win more games.

Play Down The Line Shape Where Possible.

Down the line shape gives a play more room for error by having the cue ball reach its position zone by traveling down the shot line. This usually requires the shot to be played off of two rails. Please click here to read more about down the line shape.

The Correct Angle Trumps Close Proximity To The Ball.

Getting in line for the next shot by having the required angle to easily get position on the next ball is more important than being close to the object ball for an easy shot. Take the long shot even though it may be slightly more difficult if the position will be natural.

Always Play To Your Own Strengths.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you should have played a particular shot another way. Play shots in a way that makes the most sense to you as a player. So long as you follow the general principles it’s ok to use your own shot preferences to achieve similar results.

Staying in Line?

Playing position in such a way that you remain on the correct side of the line. The line is an imaginary straight line between the pocket, the object ball and the rail.

The shot line

Your cue ball can be to the left or to the right of this line and one side will be considered the correct side and the other side not.

Above the line shape

In certain positions, we will also try to be above or below the line.

What Does Playing Shape Mean?

Moving the white ball from one location to another. Having the right position on the 1st ball in order to leave an easy shot on the 2nd ball that will leave an easy shot on the third ball.

This requires always thinking 3 balls ahead at a minimum. I say at a “minimum” because good players can see the whole rack ahead of shooting the 1st ball. However, even great players may have to change plans mid-game if their shots do not work out perfectly.