Practice Drills That Develop Breaking Skills, Part 2
If you're sick and tired of breaking and not pocketing a ball, ending up having no shot or sadly watching the cue ball roll straight into the side pocket, this month's lesson is totally for you.
Sure, everyone wants to make the 9 Ball on the break. It gets you to the winner circle faster, plus it makes running out so much less burdensome. Recently, I snapped three straight 9 Balls in a row during a match. I always yell whenever I snap the 9 Ball on the break. I just love it and anyone who knows me knows I do it often.
Attempts to unlock the secret of snapping the 9 ball on the break has been studied many different ways, by many different people, over many years, using many different techniques. The answers found are no surprise and for as many who have tried, there are as many differing conclusions.
Who is right? What can we learn from them? This has remained an open matter of interpretation for years. But I know how to snap the how to snap the 9 ball on the break and I have created the lesson to teach that to you to do it to with a strong degree of predictability.
First, is there a secret? I don't think so. I'll start by telling you what the vast majority of players have settled on.
Many players like to break from the corner of the box. This is when breaking rules require the player to position the cue ball within a lined off zone. That zone is located on the breaking side, one diamond in from the side rails and two diamonds up to the string line (also called the head string). This two diamond by two diamond measurement forms a perfect box. It's not always marked off and easily seen with lines so you need to know the measurements. This would be called breaking or shooting from "inside the box."
The most commonly seen position for the cue ball on the break is located two diamonds up and about two to four inches off the side rail, also on the head string. This is commonly called breaking from "the side rail." The main reason players like this break is because they are convinced they will pocket the 1 ball into the side pocket on the opposite side rail.
The next big question asked is this, "Where should I put the cue ball for the break? Here comes the big answer most people will tell you. Anywhere you want to, as long as you are inside the correct breaking area for your event. I strongly advise you to always ask before you start playing any match. Don't assume anything. Plus, keep in mind that the cue ball must never exceed more than half way over the head string. Notice how I placed the cue ball off the left side rail above. If fully behind the line is the rule, you just fouled.
A lot of players ask, "How hard should I break?" Here, again you can find many different views that can range from, "Break as hard as you can," all the way to, "Break as hard as you want to". Both answers are common and not very helpful.
So what is the right speed? The right speed is the speed that you have the greatest control over. That's the only way to learn to shoot the break shot like it's a real pool shot-with decisive control.
Take it from me, your first main concern should not be where you place the cue ball or how hard you hit the cue ball. They should be how to learn to control the cue ball for the different types of break shots you can execute. Now that's where your thinking needs to start. Let's start with learning how to control the cue ball on a break shot.
Drill No. 2: Mastering Cue Ball Control for Power Breaks (Including all other hard break shot games)
1. Set the cue ball in the center of the table. Place between 10 balls to a full rack on the break spot (adjust the count based on that pocket's capacity to an entire rack if it has a ball return system). Place the first ball one diamond over from the center spot, creating a dead straight in shot into the corner pocket.
2. Use about one-half tip of English above center. Shoot the 1 ball into the corner pocket, with a medium soft shot, causing the cue ball to follow with a slow roll, directly toward the corner pocket or control it to fall in at a slow speed.
Note: Practice this shot 100 times or until you consistently cause the cue ball to slow roll forward 6 to 8 inches or more directly into the pocket. Pocketing the object ball is important. More importantly is the cue ball following directly toward the same corner pocket. This will develop your skill to hit the 1 ball square every time you break.
3. After every set of ten balls ( or that pocket's capacity) increase the shot speed a little. Your goal is to cause the cue ball to slow roll forward 6 to 8 inches or more directly toward or fall slowly into the pocket.
4. When you have developed a solid command of pocketing the object ball and controlling the cue ball to slow roll toward or into the corner pocket, move the cue ball back one diamond, maintaining a straight in shot into the corner pocket. Repeat steps 1-3 from this location until you can consistently cause the cue ball to slow roll forward 6 to 8 inches or more directly toward or fall slowly into the pocket.
5. When you have developed a solid command from this position, move the cue ball back one diamond, directly on the string line. Repeat steps 1-3 from this location until you can consistently cause the cue ball to slow roll directly toward or fall slowly into the pocket.
Remember, if your cue ball follows toward the corner pocket too fast, adjust your English, causing the cue ball to skid more than roll. Always start at a controlled medium speed, working your speed up at the pace which you can consistently control the cue ball follow. Make sure you're always pocketing the object ball with the cue ball trickling directly behind.
6. Now that you've developed control of the cue ball, rack up a standard 8 or 9 ball rack and place the cue ball directly on the center spot, but behind the line. Step back and visualize a straight line through the head ball. Now imagine a pocket on the rail just like when you were setting up the straight in shots earlier, and watch what the cue ball does after impact. The cue ball should bounce back off the head ball to about the center of the table and come to a quick stop.
What used to be between 1/4 to 1/2 tip of English above center, that caused the cue ball to roll slowly forward into the corner pocket, now becomes the exact forward spin needed to bring the cue ball to a stop at center table, after it was recoiled back by the sheer weight of the rack of balls resisting the cue ball after impact. This small amount of follow English is enough to bring the cue ball to a stop at mid table.
Now then, as for the BIG question, where do I place the cue ball to break from? Feel out the particular table you're using for that match. If you didn't like the response of the balls from your last break, move the cue ball an inch or two until you find a spot where you're pocketing one or more balls on your breaks. When you do, you've found that table's sweet spot for your break for that night. Now stick with it.
By the way, I didn't forgot. You want to know how I snap that 9 Ball on my break, a consistent average of 1 out of 10 breaks? Where I place the cue ball to do this when I break? And what speed do I break with to get all this to happen? The entire lesson, in detail with diagrams is in BOOT CAMP, Volume 7, Drill No. 46, 9 Ball On The Break.