Iím going to continue to answer questions from readers, and the next one I hear a lot.
It seems like I hit íem hard on my break, but the balls donít do much after impact. How can I get more power? ó J.T.
When I teach the break, I simply put the 1 ball on the foot spot, put the cue ball anywhere on the head string, and say, ďLet me see you hit a stop shot.Ē Ninety percent of the time, they cannot shoot a stop shot from that distance. If you canít hit the 1 ball dead-on, what makes you think you can hit a rack effectively?
You have to learn how to hit the head ball squarely. Try an exercise in which you hit the stop shot above 10 times (see Diagram 1). For those not entirely familiar with stop shots: You stroke the cue ball right at its center, or just slightly below, and hit the 1 ball fully. With a perfect hit, the cue ball will stop right in its tracks.
A trick that I learned from former womenís pro Nesli OíHare is to treat the break shot just like any other ó meaning that you should line it up (with your back foot in line with the cue ball and object ball) and step into it like you would any other shot. And for this exercise, stay down and still through the entire shot ó which means youíre just using arm power, and not moving your body forward.
Stay loose. When we try to smash the rack, we tend to tense up and tighten our grip, which can inhibit arm speed and jerk your stroke off target. So keep a loose grip and follow through on your stroke to the center of the table.
Also, donít rush your back stroke. When we try to hit it hard, we usually pull back too fast. The only thing that matters is controlled acceleration on your forward stroke.
In this exercise, pay attention to the cue ball. If it isnít stopping, note which direction it goes. If itís going to the right more often, for example, adjust slightly.
Once youíve mastered the stop shot, use a full rack. Later, you can put more of your body into the break stroke for forward momentum. But remember that you donít need to have a big, full-body, Bustamante-like move to get power. Itís all about hitting the head ball square.
Since 1978, Billiards Digest magazine has been the pool world’s best source for news, tournament coverage, player profiles, bold editorials, and advice on how to play pool. Our instructors include superstars Nick Varner and Jeanette Lee. Every issue features the pool accessories and equipment you love — pool cues, pool tables, instruction aids and more. Columnists Mike Shamos and R.A. Dyer examine legends like Willie Mosconi and Minnesota Fats, and dig deep into the histories of pool games like 8-ball, 9-ball and straight pool.