Here is a layout that came up right after the break-in a recent 9 ball game I was playing in.
This layout is instructive because it has a key position route that a lot of players avoid because they are afraid of scratching in the side pocket. This rack was a race to the 5 with getting from the 3 to the 4 being the most difficult path.
Here is how I played it. Center ball stop shot to the center of the table off the one (note that the cue ball picks up a little english from the angle hit on the one), and then a center ball draw shot off the 3 to get to the long rail just below the side pocket and come down the line towards the 4. I like to use a center ball on these shots and draw as it gives me more accuracy on the shot and I can control the direction of the cue ball better.
This drill from Bert Kinister is a great way to practice this route. Knowing where the side pocket is and how to avoid it is a key skill in moving your cue ball around. For this drill, you can’t use the short rails to move the cue ball around.
I like to be on the center vertical axis of the cue ball as much as possible. The only variable then is speed which simplifies the shot a little. This drill forces you to keep good angles on your next shot, and be accurate in hitting the rails. Practice this drill and see how easy this shot then looks!
Good Luck and see you on the road.