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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.
Going Thin to Win
ONE OF the most problematic shots for developing players, a thin cut on a ball along the rail can be an effective way to play safe. But a lot of players are afraid to approach this shot, mostly because they lack confidence.
First of all, donít make things too hard on yourself. Start with the cue ball very close to the object ball, perhaps just a foot away as shown in Diagram 1. The goal here is to hit the left side of the 2 ball as thinly as possible, so the cue ball heads down to the opposite short rail, while minimizing the object ballís movement.
When starting out, you may notice you have a tendency to hit too much of the 2 ball. Youíre doing this because youíre afraid of missing the ball completely. With a little work, though, you should be able to venture farther toward the edge of the object ball.
It is very important for you to maintain a loose wrist in your grip hand throughout your stroke. When you tighten your wrist, you may pull the cue off line and hit the cue ball off-center. Also, with a relaxed wrist, you will avoid poking at the cue ball. Itís crucial that the cue accelerate into the cue ball, just as it would on any other shot. So by keeping your wrist loose and focusing on a smooth stroke, you can deliver a consistent hit and develop a feel for the shot.
Also, you will be better off if you stick to center-ball hits only. Become comfortable with the shot without adding the variables of spin and deflection. Once you master the shot, you can incorporate English, but build up to that point. Similarly, itís imperative that you keep your cue as level as possible during your stroke. An elevated cue can cause the cue ball to veer off its intended line, which can lead to hitting too much of the object ball or missing it completely.
When youíve mastered the shot from a short distance, move the cue ball farther away from the object ball. But remember: Donít move the cue ball back until you can hit this shot every single time you try, and not just pull it off a few times here and there. You want to reach the point where you know you can successfully hit this shot, so you arenít just hoping for a good result.
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