REGARLESS OF skill level, every single player can benefit from reviewing the fundamentals. Even when I’m in the middle of a match, I’ll run through certain things: Am I sticking to my pre-shot routine? Is my backstroke smooth and controlled? Am I staying down on my shots?
So when I say that the stop is the most important shot in pool, it may make sense to revisit it from time to time, right?
Basically, with a stop shot, your goal is to have the cue ball die at the moment of impact with the object ball. In essence, this is the simplest position play you can face, because the cue ball will not move an inch after contact if you execute it correctly. You want to stroke the cue ball so that it is skidding (not rolling forward, not spinning backward) when it strikes the object ball. To do so, you have to adjust your contact point on the cue ball based on the distance and speed of the shot.
In general, as you increase your speed at a given distance, you need to decrease the amount of draw. Also, if your speed remains constant but you increase the distance, you have to use more draw.
Try practicing the shot in Diagram 1. When you can make the shot at C-1 and stop the cue ball directly behind the 1 ball (in the position of the ghost ball), put the cue ball at C-2. By the time you can routinely pocket the 1 ball from C-4, you’ll have strengthened a vital part of your game.
If you’re having trouble with a particular shot, pay special attention to your contact point on the cue ball. If you think you’re using ample draw but the cue ball limps forward after hitting the 1 ball, you may be hitting the cue ball higher than you think. Conversely, if the cue ball is falling backward after contact, you can reduce the amount of draw or speed on the cue ball.
No matter if you’re new to the game or the next Johnny Archer, you can benefit from drilling your ability to use the stop shot. In addition to being an important way to sharpen your position play, this drill also gets you in tune with your stroke, so you know exactly where you’re hitting the cue ball.
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.