Most pool league matches and tournaments require the competitors to shoot a lag shot to determine who gets the option to break. In a winner breaks format (which is still the most common format) the lag may be your only opportunity at the table. The importance of the lag is underestimated by most pool players so I thought I would give you some of my input on the subject.
One of the first things you should do (if possible) when you go to play pool on unfamiliar tables is hit a few lag shots to get a feel for the cloth and rail speed. Speed can vary widely from table to table even if they are in the same room. Here are the specifics of my baseline lag stroke.
Cueing on the vertical axis of the ball is critical. If there is side spin on the ball it is likely to collide with my opponent’s or touch a side rail either of these is a loss of the lag. Lagging with a striped ball with the stripe sitting vertically tells a lot about how close to the vertical axis it has been struck. My initial tip position is ½ a tip of top spin, this gets the ball rolling quickly. If I don’t get a good result I adjust my tip position (up if cloth is slow, down if cloth is fast)
My stroke speed is merely the weight of my cue “falling” forward. I don’t add any extra muscle unless the table is so slow that maximum top spin isn’t sufficient for a satisfactory result which is rare. On the other end of the spectrum I don’t “pull up” on my stroke if the table plays really fast. It is easier for me to just lower my tip position versus changing my stroke speed.
If you’re having an issue with consistency on your lag shots try these suggestions. With a little practice you should see improvement.
See Y’all at the Pool hall!