- Games, Toys, and Hobbies
Fancy Jump Shot Billiard Trick
by Kathy Batesel
Even serious contenders must have fun with their sport. When it comes to playing pool, the best players have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours doing boring drills to learn how to control the cue ball and calculate angles in order to take command and control the table. Sometimes they have to just cut loose and have fun, and trick shots are one fun way to show what they've learned.
I recently asked Mike Lacy, one of the top pool players in the midwest, to demonstrate a four-ball trick shot that I've been working on mastering. (I still have some work to do on this one!) He, however, was able to provide clear directions that made the shot easy. Afterward, he showed me the elaborate trick shot featured in the video above.
"I'll send at least three of the balls on this wall into the corner pocket to make the cue jump over the second line of balls. Its spin will send it to the side bank, where it will deflect to hit the rack and drop the far corner ball."
"Really?" I thought.
Really. He made it look way too easy! Afterward, I asked him to describe exactly how he completed this impressive shot.
Setting Up the Shot
Six balls are "frozen" to each other and to the rail along the short side of the table, meaning they're touching the balls adjacent to them, and they're touching the side rail. The cue ball is placed at the tail of the line, also frozen.
This trick works best on an eight-foot table, but for the purpose of showing me, Mike used the seven-foot Valley pool table where our league competitions take place.
The second line of balls is placed a few inches away. They may be frozen to each other, as Mike placed them, but it's not necessary. They're simply providing a barrier that must be jumped by the cue ball.
Finally, a target ball is placed in the opposite corner, diagonal from the corner pocket closest to the cue ball's beginning position. The rack is placed on the table, with one of its angles touching the ball that was placed there.
Watch the video carefully to notice that there are a couple of angles that are important to making this shot. Unlike most shots, where the player wants the cue stick to be almost parallel to the table, in this shot the cue stick is at about a forty-five degree angle, as shown in this picture.
Besides having the right height on the cue stick, the shooter has to aim at the right point on the cue ball. In this case, if the center of the cue ball was the "pinhole" of the protractor (the point from which both red lines begin), the ten degree line reveals where to aim. If looking down the line of the cue stick, it should be pointing about halfway between the corner pocket and the first diamond to its right.
The shooter will want to strike the cue ball "low outside," meaning that if you drew a horizontal line through the cue ball right before striking it, the cue would hit it about one cue-tip width below that line, and to the right of a vertical imaginary line through the cue ball.
Reasons to Learn Trick Shots
Trick shots can be a fun way to impress friends. People who want to compete at a more serious level can learn how to control the cue ball and win games when they understand the geometry and physics of the game.
You noticed that we described two types of angles used for making this elaborate shot. The physics of the shot come into play because the spin of the cue ball is what makes it do its fancy little dance to strike the rail opposite the wooden rack and drive it into it. If the right spin isn't used, the ball will go in the other direction, not jump the balls as intended, or fall short of its aim.
While trick shots can be fun and educational, they won't teach a player how to be competitive against high level players. To become a skilled player, it's necessary to practice, practice, practice.
I've recently started learning drills to improve my game. Although I've enjoyed playing billiards for many years now, I started playing competitively just a year ago. I've discovered that having a good cue stick and taking time to work on those boring old drills has been making a huge difference in my game. Just last night, I broke the balls and made all but one of my balls in within a single turn - quite an accomplishment for me!
If you're interested in improving your own game, here are some products I recommend, with a description of the reason why I recommend them for hobbyists like me.
Maple is a great material for beginning and intermediate pool cue sticks. Cue stick quality affects how much deflection takes place when striking the cue ball. A maple stick gives adequate control for most players, but doesn't cost many hundreds of dollars for the precision sought by experts.