Here are two more principles that you can use as guidelines when playing for position.
LEAVE AN ANGLE FOR YOUR SHOT
What this simply means is that it is always a good idea to have some angle on your shot. Having a little cut shot allows for better control of the cue ball as opposed to a straight-in shot where the cue ball can only go forward or backwards on the same line. It is always ideal to have some angle on your shot because this generally gives you a lot more flexibility to position the cue ball in virtually any spot on the table. Let’s look at an example in Figure 1.
In the above illustration, the ideal position of the cue ball after pocketing the 8 balls is indicated by the greyed-out area. In order to achieve this position for the cue ball, you mush have an angle on your shot for the 8 balls. If you have a straight-in shot on the 8 balls then there’s virtually no way to position the cue ball on the ideal spot.
Using your knowledge of where the cue ball goes after hitting the object ball (discussed in previous lessons), you can determine how much of an angle you need to position the cue ball for your next shot. As you gain more experience you should be able to calculate the approximate angle you need and this process will become automatic and second nature.
Keep in mind that these principles serve only as guidelines and that there are exceptions to these so-called guideline rules. In the above example, you will notice that you have a straight-in shot on the 9 ball. That is okay; as a matter of fact this is ideal because the 9 ball is the last ball you need to pocket to win the game.
PROPER DISTANCE BETWEEN CUE BALL AND OBJECT BALL
If the distance between the cue ball and the object ball is too far, then the chances of missing the shot are increased. Long shots are generally more difficult because it decreases you shooting accuracy. First of all, for long shots, you need more speed on your stroke which generally makes it more difficult to hit the cue ball with the tip of your cue accurately. Second, using english on long shots is also more difficult.
If the distance between the cue ball and the object ball is too close, some players find it more difficult to aim while other players find it more difficult to control the speed of the cue ball.
To free yourself from the above mentioned problems, you should leave enough distance between your cue ball and object ball. The distance should be ideal for you to feel comfortable shooting the ball. This is generally a matter of “feel” and in time, you will automatically know how much distance you need for each shot.
To summarize this lesson, you should leave enough angle and enough distance to create an ideal shot to play good position on your next object ball.
The next lesson will discuss a couple more principles of playing position. Until then, practice what you have learned today and be ready for the next set of principles.