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BD House Pro
Tony Robles
A longtime teaching pro at Amsterdam Billiard Club in New York City, Tony has dozens of regional and national titles to his name, including the 2004 BCA Open Championships.

Instruction Articles:
• November 2019
Frozen Solid

• October 2019
It’s A Thin Line

• September 2019
Joy in Repetition

• August 2019
Soft Touch

• June 2019
Thin To Win

• May 2019
Perfection Not Required

• April 2019
Shake ’n’ Break

• March 2019

• February 2019
Correct Easy Errors

• January 2019
Weight Problems

• December 2018
Position, Everyone!

• November 2018
Be a Chairman

• October 2018
Never Stop Learning

• September 2018
Carom Corner II

• August 2018
Carom Corner

• July 2018
Slump Dog

• June 2018
Stopping Is Power

• May 2018
Professional Help

• April 2018
Break Dance

• March 2018
A Safe Path

• February 2018
Stunning Results

• January 2018
Know Your Rails

• November 2017
The Straight Dope

• October 2017
Confidence Boosters

• September 2017
The One-Armed Man

• August 2017
Making a Check List

• July 2017
Trust Issues

• June 2017
Rails Away!

• May 2017
Weight Watchers

• April 2017
Opposites Attract

• March 2017
Reach For It!

• February 2017
Adapting to New Rules

• December 2016
It Happens to the Best

• November 2016
Maintaining Focus

• October 2016
Riding the ‘L’

• September 2016
Tips on Tips

• August 2016
The Art of Deflection

• July 2016
Note To Self

• June 2016
Object of Safety Play

• May 2016
Speed Zone

• April 2016
Frozen Ball Shots

• March 2016
Hide and Go Seek

• February 2016
Two-Rail Kicks

• January 2016
Staying Down

• December 2015
One-Rail Kicks

• November 2015
Breaking Bad

• October 2015
Call Shot, Call Safety

• September 2015
Own the Shot

• August 2015
Patterns - Part II

• July 2015
I Notice A Pattern

• June 2015
Two-Way Prt. 2

• May 2015
Two-Way Shots

• April 2015
The Fine Line

• March 2015
Straight Break

• February 2015
The 'Walkaway'

• January 2015
Pushing Your Luck

• October 2014
Walk This Way

• August 2014
Attitude Adjustments

• May 2014
Adapt to the Equipment

• Mar 2014
Turn The Beat Around

• Feb 2014
Straight Is Great

• Sept 2013
Cover the Basics

• June 2013
Getting It Right

• May 2013
Strength Training

• April 2013
Rust Proof?

• March 2013
Not So Fast

• February 2013
Two-Step Jump

• January 2013
Open Your Eyes

• December 2012
Feeling Good?

• November 2012
Hang In There

• October 2012
Back on Track

• September 2012
Straighten Up

• August 2012
On the Rail

• July 2012
Mental Checklists

• June 2012
Respect & Fear

• May 2012
Chin Music

• April 2012
On the Line

• March 2012
Balancing Act

• February 2012
Creative Drilling

• January 2012
Power Outage

• December 2011
Jumping In Line

• November 2011
Soft on Soft Breaking

• October 2011
Find Your Stroke

• September 2011
The Path Off the Rail

• August 2011
Short Position

• July 2011
Inch Along

• June 2011
Into the Unknown

• May 2011
Sharpened Focus

• April 2011
Never Flatline

• March 2011
Stop For A Review

• February 2011
One To Watch

• January 2011
The Straight Answer

• December 2010
Shoot The Lights Out

• November 2010
Never Overmatched

• October 2010
Drawing Conclusions

• September 2010
Through & Through

• August 2010
Along the Rail

• July 2010
The Small Stuff

• June 2010
Three in One

• May 2010
One Ball At a Time

• April 2010
Going Thin to Win

• March 2010
Know Your Game

• February 2010
14.1 For 8-Ballers

• January 2010
Setting It Straight

• December 2009
Hanging Out, Part II

• November 2009
Hanging Out

• October 2009
Control Your Speed

• September 2009
Busting Out of a Slump

• August 2009
Easy Errors, Part III

• July 2009
Easy Errors, Part II

• June 2009
Easy Errors, Part I

• May 2009
Body Language & Breaking

• April 2009
The Break: Body Language

• March 2009
Must-Reads from Robles

• February 2009
Position: Four Square

• January 2009
Romancing the Stance

• October 2008
Look Out for Boingy Rails

• September 2008
Build a Better Break

• August 2008
Q&A: Ask the Pro

• July 2008
'Buzz' Kill: Stay Down

• June 2008
Stop Shots Safeties III

• May 2008
Stop Shots Part II

• April 2008
STOP-SHOT Safeties

• March 2008
How to Keep Winning

• February 2008
The Dreaded Straight-In Shot

• January 2008
Trying the Soft Break

• December 2007
The Hard Way Makes It Easier

• November 2007
How to Sight the Cue

• October 2007
Win from Your Chair

Systems vs Feel
January 2017

I’ve tried a ton of aiming systems throughout the years. Many of them work well for the most part, but I’ve found each of them to be flawed in the sense that there are always shots that I refer to as “in betweeners” that seem to cause uncertainty. By “in betweeners,” I mean shots on which you ask yourself, “Do I aim to the left edge of the tip to the edge of the ball, or the right edge of the tip to the edge of the ball?” The most popular system is the Ghost Ball system, which I’ve used since I was 13 years old. The ghost ball is when you mentally put the cue ball against the object ball in a direct line to the intended pocket. Now, the cue ball is 2 ¼ inches wide, so the center of the cue ball is 1 1/8 inches from the edge. The system tells you to aim the cue ball directly at the ghost ball, which means aim the center of the actual cue ball to the center of the ghost cue ball. The biggest mistake I see with players trying to use that system is that they put the tip of the cue ball at the edge of the object ball and they swing the cue around over the center of the cue ball. By doing that, you are now aiming the center of the cue ball to what is supposed to be the contact point on the object ball. The only time that is correct is when it is a straight-in shot.

The proper way to aim that shot is to put the tip of the cue 1 1/8 inches from that contact point, aiming directly at the pocket, and, holding the tip in place, swing the back end of the cue over the center of the cue ball. Now, aim the center of the cue ball to the spot where the tip was rested, which is the center of the ghost ball. How do you know the spot where you rested your tip is exactly 1 1/8 inches from the contact point? The truth is you don’t have to be that exact. Most pockets are at least twice the width of the object ball, so if you are off by a hair, it won’t matter. I used to put a ruler next to the ball to get an idea of what 1 1/8 inches looks like.

I’ve talked to a lot of top players about systems and they all say the same thing: On certain shots, a system is helpful and serves as a security blanket. But they all also say practice is the best teacher. It’s all about repetition. The more you hit the same shots, the more comfortable you are with simply eyeballing how to hit it. The ghost ball helps confirm your choice.

I tell amateurs to use the ghost ball at the beginning. After a while, you won’t need to be that exact. You will know how to hit the shot. I believe that the ghost ball system still comes into play, but it is more subconscious. You will notice that the more you play, the system that works best for you will win out in the end. It all depends on how often you practice it and how strongly you feel about it.