Avoiding the Scratch

     For a lot of pool players, their technique for avoiding a scratch consists of yelling “Don’t scratch” at the cue ball after it has made contact with the object ball. Have you ever done this? What is your success rate with this approach? I can tell you it is likely zero! How do I know? experience and knowledge. This article will help you with the knowledge part.

     Recognize when the scratch is “on”. Dead straight in on a hanger is the most common (and easily avoidable) type of scratch shot. If you hit the object ball straight on with a rolling cue ball the scratch is inevitable. There are many ways to avoid or “beat” the scratch on this shot but cue ball speed is not one of them. No matter how soft you hit the cue ball, if it’s rolling at the point of impact it will continue to roll a short distance farther after contact. Even if you can put the brakes on to avoid the scratch, who wants to shoot a cue ball out of the jaws of a pocket on their next shot? The easiest solution here is to change the shot. The beauty of an object ball sitting in the jaws of a pocket is that it can be hit almost anywhere you can see and it still goes in. What does vary greatly is the direction of your cue ball after contact with the object ball based on how thick or thin you’ve cut the ball.

     Object balls that sit close to a rail are much more deceptive. Be aware that if your cue ball makes contact off of the rail on or near the back side of the object ball, your cue ball will likely find the closest pocket. This type of shot is most frequent where you have to kick at an object ball to avoid giving up a ball in hand to your opponent. Choose a different kick route, or shoot a jump or masse’ shot instead.

     Now there are probably about a million other shots that come up that are scratch shots. Learning the 30 degree rule and 90 degree rule can help you identify the problem and plan accordingly.