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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:
• February 2023
Incremental Growth

• January 2023
Getting Pushy

• December 2022
Follow Me Home

• November 2022
Playing Off the Rail

• October 2022
Hanging by a Thread

• September 2022
Off On A Tangent

• August 2022
Going Straight

• July 2022
Take A Break

• June 2022
A Cut Above

• May 2022
Keep Your Chin Up

• April 2022
Wheres the Fire?

• March 2022
Be A Soft Touch

• February 2022
Focus on Task

• January 2022
A Cut Above

• December 2021
Sit and Win

• November 2021
Ready or Not

• October 2021
A Most Important Time

• September 2021
Never Stop Learning

• July 2021
Stay the Course

• June 2021
Not As Easy As It Looks

• May 2021
Watch Your Speed

• April 2021
Speed Kills

• March 2021
Uncomfortable? Good

• February 2021
Watch and Learn

• January 2021
Angles Off The Rail

• December 2020
When You Slip

• November 2020
The Inside Track

• October 2020
The Inside Dope

• September 2020

• August 2020
Challenge Yourself

• July 2020
Drill Sergeants

• June 2020
No Table Required

• May 2020
Opening Eyes

• April 2020
Three birds, one stone

• March 2020
Red Alert

• February 2020
Endless Possibilities

• January 2020
Starting position

• December 2019
Advanced Safeties

• November 2019
Frozen Solid

• October 2019
Its 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

• January 2017
Systems vs Feel

• 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

• 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

The Break: Body Language
April 2009
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.
// LAST MONTH we discussed the first step toward incorporating body movement into your break. Once you feel confident hitting the center of the head ball with the center of the cue ball moving only your back arm, you are ready to experiment with a few movements that might up your power.

Before we start, though, it is absolutely imperative that you continue to control the cue ball on your break. A thundering break is useless if you can't control it. So if you ever begin to lose accuracy, slow down and make sure any new movements are not knocking you off line.

Once you are locked in with the arm-only break, there are several ways to throw your body - which one you prefer is more of a personal preference than one being "right" and one being "wrong."

Johnny Archer and Francisco Bustamante are two of the game's greatest players, but they break using completely different styles. Look at a guy like Archer, who will throw his arm so far forward that it looks like he is about to touch the 1 ball. He lifts his back leg, pushing his whole body toward the cue ball. After cue-ball impact, the cue flies out of his bridge hand, so he finishes with his grip hand holding the cue high in the air (like in the photo on the left).

But then there's a break like Bustamante's. He creates a powerful break without letting his cue out of either hand. He still uses his back leg to push his body forward, but Bustamante uses more of a hip movement. He is almost like a boxer throwing a punch. He stays compact during his break, throwing his hips into the cue ball. He keeps his cue on the table, and follows through in such a straight line, it's unbelievable.

Try both methods, you'll find out which one works best for you. It might even be a combination of both. Just remember: Accuracy first, then power.