Combination Shot – Part 1

A combination shot is an advanced shot that you will need to learn in order to become a competitive player and win more games. However, you must already have a good grasp of the basic fundamentals before delving into this more advanced technique. Most importantly, your aiming must be fairly accurate already because combination shots require precise aiming.

A combination shot is a shot where an object ball is hit into one or more object ball to pocket the intended object ball. Figure 1 shows you the 5-9 combination shot – the cue ball hits the 5-ball then the 5-ball hits the 9-ball and pockets it.


You can use whatever aiming system you are proficient with to aim a combination shot. The only thing that you need to know is the order of which to aim at what object ball. Basically, you will start by aiming at the ball that you intend to pocket and work your way backwards towards the cue ball. Consider Figure 2. We have a 5-9 combination shot. The first thing we need to do is get our aim point on the 9-ball and use the 5-ball as your cue ball. From this point, you will need to get the aim point on the 5-ball and aim your cue ball towards that point. See the two step process below.

No combination shot is easy. As a matter of fact, combination shots are very difficult and are generally avoided. The reason is because there is very little margin for error on combination shots. Precise aiming is necessary as any error in one of the aiming points is magnified on the next aim spot. For example, in the example above if your aim on the 5 ball is not exact, then it is most likely that the 5 ball will NOT hit the intended aim spot to pocket the 9-ball.


All combinations are tough shots but there are levels of difficulty – some are more difficult than others while some are too hard that it should not even be attempted. Below are some guidelines that will help you determine what is a “makeable” combination and what should be avoided.


The term Intended Object Ball refers to the object ball that will be pocketed.

  1. When the intended object ball is close to the pocket. The closer it is to the intended pocket, the less difficult the shot becomes.
  2. When the object ball that is used to hit the intended object ball is close to the intended object ball. Again, the closer it is to the intended object ball the less difficult the shot becomes.
  3. When the angle between the intended object ball and the object ball used to hit it is closer to straight-in, the shot becomes less difficult. If the shot requires more of a cut then the difficulty level rises.
  4. When the distance between the cue ball and the first object ball is close, the shot becomes less difficult.
  5. A 2 ball combination is always less difficult than a 3 or more ball combination.

I normally define “close” to mean within a diamond’s width.


Naturally, when the conditions for “Combination shots to take” are not met, then it is advisable to play safe instead.

In the next article of this 2 part series, I will talk about frozen object ball combination shots. I will discuss ways to determine if a combination is “on” or makeable or if it is “off” or impossible to make.

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