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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:
• 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

• 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

Control Your Speed
October 2009
WHENEVER PLAYERS ask for my advice on controlling the speed of the cue ball, I always tell them the same thing: Slow down. I’d guess many more shots are hit with too much speed, rather than not enough. So, the best thing to do to give a better feel for speed is to slow your arm down when you’re coming forward into and through the cue ball.

But more than just slowing everything down, the real key to getting a good feel for your speed is having a smooth stroke. You really want to slow down at the moment you start moving the cue forward toward the cue ball. This allows you to evenly accelerate through the ball, which is critical if you want to keep your arm moving in a fluid, controlled motion.

Often, players struggle with speed control on shots where they don’t feel all that comfortable. In these situations, the natural tendency is to overcompensate with more power when you are a little lacking in confidence.

One exercise that I have students try is shown in Diagram 1. You want to pocket the 1 ball in the corner, while drawing the cue ball back just six inches or so. Some players tend to poke at this shot, because you only want to cue ball to draw back a short distance. But this is exactly where you need to use that smooth, controlled stroke.

If you slow yourself down and accelerate into the cue ball, you’ll be much more successful — and much more consistent — than if you use a jerky stroke that pokes at the cue ball.

Another helpful tip for speed control is getting to know what “soft” and “medium” speeds really mean. I learned a system from Robert Byrne’s “New Standard Book of Pool and Billiards” that is a great way to measure shots. He said that a ball hit one table length is considered a soft shot. One hit down and back (equivalent to a lag) is medium soft. Three lengths is medium, and it goes all the way up to five lengths for a hard shot.

Practice with just the cue ball. You’ll get an idea of how much force is needed to hit the cue ball three table lengths. This will give you an idea of what really creates a “medium” hit, which can be a rather vague term “medium” hit.