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Break It Open

By Darren Appleton

A convert to American pool in the middle of last decade, Dynamite Daz won the 2008 World 10-Ball Championship, in addition to back-to-back U.S. Opens and the World 9-Ball Championship.

HERE ARE a few tips to maximize the effectiveness of your break:


Cue Ball Location: I generally like to break from C-1. But if you're having trouble, move the cue ball to the right a bit, near C-2. You want to pay attention to the second row (the 5 and 7 in Diagram 1) and see where they're going in relation to the side pocket.

If the 5 ball stays below the side pocket, try moving the cue ball to the left a bit. If it's going high, take a bit of power off your stroke.

While players prefer to be near the long rail in 9-ball, breaking from the box is an advantage in 10-ball. If you go outside the box, it changes the break pattern for the object balls. The 5 and the 7 will stay below the side pockets. The 1 ball will head toward to side pocket, rather than the top corner.

Controlling the Cue Ball: Like 9-ball, you want to sit the cue ball in the middle of the table, near the gray box. Hit the 1 ball fully and with as much power as you can without sacrificing accuracy. Emphasize control over power.

You're going to get unlucky and the cue ball will be kicked around from time to time. But if you can make a ball, control the cue ball and understand how the object balls react, you're in good shape.

Controlling the 1 Ball: When the top players are breaking, they're looking to get the 1 ball in the top right corner, as you can see in the diagram. With a full, firm strike on the 1, it should track toward the top corner pocket, somewhere near the blue box in Diagram 1.

If you move the cue ball closer to the side rail, near C-3, the 1 ball is more likely to hit the long rail. Similarly, if you break from straight on, it will track straight back to you. Unless it gets kicked, the 1 ball can be controlled - in which case, you're improving your chances of controlling the table.


Controlling Other Object Balls: The back middle balls will bank one rail toward the top corner pockets, as you can see in Diagram 2. The 8 ball is most likely to be made, while the 6 is more likely to hit the top rail.

The back wing balls can be made off four rails, as shown, though there's more opportunity for them to get kicked.

If you really study the break, you have an idea where five balls will generally head. If you know how to make specific balls, whether they be behind the head ball or the back balls, you can then adjust accordingly.

Racking: A lot of players worry about gaps up front. But a lot of action comes from the back. It's very important to get the back four balls touching. A little gap near the top isn't the end of the world. But if the back four balls aren't touching, you'll get a slug rack. These four balls are really active so it's important you transfer as much energy to them as you can.


Pattern Racking: Generally, the 2 and 3 have to go on the wings, but if not, Fig. 3 is your best bet. Even if the 2 and 3 have to be in the corners, you can still put the 4 and 5 in back so they'll head up-table by the 1. Then, if the 2 or 3 gets kicked in traffic, you could have four of the five lowest numbered balls on the same side of the table.

The 9, 10 and 8 should stay on the bottom half of the table, so you can have some control over the rack.

If you're not breaking well, don't blame bad luck. You've got to keep trying new things to see what works for your particular situation.

[Special thanks to Runout Media, which produced the instructional DVD special, "Break & Run," available at]

10-Ball Home Page
Bob Jewett: Know the Rules
Darren Appleton: Break It Open
Kelly Fisher: The Pro's Game
Mika Immonen: A Walk Through