Basic Principle Of Using English


English or Sidespin is an advanced technique in billiards. I would advise newer players not to use english until they have a good understanding and enough experience with the basic (no side spin) shots like stop (center ball hit), draw (under spin), and follow (top spin). English makes the process of aiming a little more difficult because of the effects of curve and throw. I will discuss these terms next. First, take a look at the diffirent ways you can hit the cue ball to apply english or sidespin(see illustration below).

As you can see from the illustration above, you can apply english or sidespin in a number of ways. You can hit the cue ball on the left side which is normally called LEFT english or you can hit the cue ball on the right side normally called RIGHT ENGLISH. You can also apply the stop (centerball hit), draw (below center hit) or follow (above center hit) with english. English applied with draw is normally called low english while english applied with follow is called high english.


One of the effects of english or sidespin on the cue ball is what is call Deflection. Basically, the cue ball does not travel the same path that your cue stick is aiming when english is applied to it. Because of the sidespin, the cue ball will tend to slightly travel in the opposite direction of your english. In other words, if you put a left english or left side spin on the cue ball, the cue ball will travel slightly to the right and vice-versa. Refer to illustration below. The white line indicates the path of the cue ball when hit with no english or sidespin, the black line indicates the path of the cue ball when hit with left english. Notice the deflection effect towards the right?.

One thing that makes english difficult is that it is hard to estimate the amount of deflection that you will get on the cue ball. Only with enough experience will you be able to make a good estimate unless you’re a genius at math and you can figure it out using your own mathematical formula 🙂 Anyway, like I said the amount of deflection is dependent on the following:

  • The distance between the cue ball and the target ball. The longer the distance, the more deflection on the cue ball.
  • The amount of spin on the cue ball. Generally, the more spin, the more deflection on the cue ball.
  • The speed of the stroke. Generally, the stronger the stroke, the more deflection on the cue ball.
  • The type of cloth on the table. Again, the issue of friction comes into play. With a rough cloth, more friction therefore more deflection on the cue ball. On a smoother cloth with less friction, the spin on the cue ball does not have as much effect on the cue ball because the cue ball just tends to slide through the cloth.

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