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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.
The Break: Body Language
THIS MONTH, let’s revisit the break shot.
Back in September ’08, I detailed the importance of accuracy on the break. Before you even think about upping the power of your shot, you need to be able to hit a simple stop shot. With the 1 ball on the foot spot and the cue ball at any point on the head string, work on hitting the center of the object ball with the center of the cue ball. Moving only your arm, try to consistently hit a stop shot.
This is not an easy task if you’ve never tried, believe me. But learning an accurate break, which in turn leads to a controlled cue ball, then allows you to focus on putting more power behind the shot. Often, a player tries to throw his whole body into the shot, all before knowing how to make the cue ball sit in the middle of the table.
When you’ve mastered the arm-only version of the break, then — and only then — are you ready to incorporate a little bit of body movement. First, study how far you can follow through when you move only your back arm. You’ll notice the cue tip will reach, at the most, two feet past the cue ball. Then, with your cue fully extended forward, lift up your back leg and slowly shift your body forward. You will notice that cue stick will suddenly reach farther — almost to the center of the table.
The key is incorporating this type of body movement, while still placing a premium on an accurate, controlled stroke. Start with a small shift of your weight forward as you hit the cue ball. If you are still hitting the center of the object ball with the center of the object ball, add a little more body movement. But remember, you can only incorporate more of a weight transfer when you’re able to consistently control the cue ball.
You can even play a game to track your progress. Every time the cue ball hits a rail, rolls forward toward the bottom rail or scratches (the red zones in the diagram), give your “opponent” a point. If you hit the rack and the cue ball sits in the middle of the table without hiting a rail, you get one point. You’ll be on your way to an powerfully accurate break when you can win a race to 10.
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