Billiard Trick Shots You Can Do
by Kathy Batesel
Fascinating Pool Trick Shots
Billiard trick shots are fascinating. It seems most highly skilled pool players know at least one or two, but most players I've known haven't made it an art form like world champion Mike Massey. Serious pool players know his name, but even if you've never heard of him, you've probably been exposed to samples of his talents. His shots have appeared in numerous movies and television.
I recently had an opportunity to watch Massey up close and personal. He performed a demonstration for the American Pool Association league that my husband and I play in, and as it happened, I was able to talk to him briefly after the show when he signed the cue stick my husband and I won in the raffle.
Keep reading and watching to learn how to do some of Massey's tricks (the ones that don't involve special skill!) and discover more about the fascinating man who taught them.
Easy Pool Trick Shot Taught by Mike Massey
Massey Billiards Equipment
Beginning players can get a fiberglass cue stick, case, and Massey's instructional DVD for a very reasonable price. Cue stick cases typically retail for about $35, and basic cue sticks range start about $25, so it's like getting personal instruction for free.
In this video, you hear Mike ask Kathleen about her skill level, which she says is a 3. The American Pool Association (APA) league has a handicap system ranging from skill level 2 (beginner) through skill level 7 (very advanced). Kathleen is a novice player who understands basic principles and rules of the game, but has had little or no exposure to advanced techniques.
Mike positions the balls for her and with nothing more than a simple "Aim at my finger," she makes all four in a single shot.
Tips for making this shot:
- Place the balls at the same approximate locations as shown on the diagram. It may take some practice to get it "just right." Notice the way the balls going to the corners travel along lines that are perpendicular to each other. Pay attention to this if you miss the shot to fine tune the ball placement.
- The balls that go to the side pocket will be barely touched by the cue ball. Placing them too close to each other will send them toward the corner target balls. Placing them too far will keep them from moving. If the cue ball hits just one of them, it won't contact the far two balls properly.
- Aim your cue stick at the exact center of the cue ball. Use a firm stroke that's not too soft, but also not too hard.
Because I was forced to rely on a cell phone to record footage, I decided to focus on a shot I could explain to readers instead of capturing his mind-boggling tricks. I figured I'd be able to find at least a couple of examples of his fancier shots, and sure enough, I found this terrific video to give you a small idea of the kinds of shots Massey's able to take on.
Will you try this trick shot?
Tips from Mike Massey
Mike gives private lessons and public exhibitions. He says he has two tips that he always reminds players about when he's teaching:
Keep your cue stick tip chalked well.
Never listen to an opponent when playing in tournaments.
Massey says of all the movies he's done, this one was his favorite. It's the touching story of a man who mentors a young pool hustler to legitimize what they boy's doing, never suspecting that the boy will come to mean more to him.
About Mike Massey
Massey's skill level is undoubtedly the best I've seen in my twenty or so years of watching and playing pool. Having played on a team with Mike Banks, Jr., a 23-year old whiz kid who has gained national recognition, I expected Massey to make his shots look easy like my former team-mate, but he far surpassed my expectations! I found myself awed by the fact that his mind could conceive such complex shots, then make them happen, and to consistently perform them while holding casual conversation with his audience.
One thing that surprised me was the inscription he wrote on my cue stick and this photo: "Jesus love us," followed by his autograph. "It's something I always write," he told me.
I told him his signature caught me off guard. I didn't want to pry, even though I felt curious, so instead, I explained why I was taken aback: most people think of drunken nights at the bar and drug abuse when they think of pool players. This is disappointing to me, because I'm a firm believer that billiards games of all types could be a valuable addition to the high school curriculum. Understanding how to play pool means mastering concepts of geometry and physics, so it would certainly be more interesting to students than calculating the height of a telephone pole!
"Some colleges are starting to introduce pool," he told me. He encouraged me to visit GospelTrickShot.Org, a website operated by his friend and fellow missionary Steve Lillis. Massey, Lillis, and other expert pool players like trick shot pro Tom Rossman have formed the GTS/RACK team to incorporate Bible lessons into their demonstrations. The GTS/RACK team recently returned from a missionary trip to the Philippines.
He told me he'd recently missed out on an opportunity to visit Iraq in early 2013, a place he's wanted to serve, because he'd scheduled an exhibition too far in advance and it conflicts with the dates he'd have been out of the country.
Although I didn't ask, I was curious about this dichotomy and wanted to learn more. Massey's a Tennessee gent who was born in 1947 and first picked up a cue stick when he was just a boy. The skill came naturally to him, and he became a pool hustler until the night he thought he was going to get killed. He says he turned his life over to Jesus right then.
His spirituality never hampered his rise to fame in billiards. He's won dozens of titles and appeared in five movies, including "The Baron and the Kid," which starred Johnny Cash, and "The Color of Money" with Tom Cruise and Paul Newman. He has been declared World Champion in eleven different categories related to billiards and pool. He endorses billiards equipment like the beginner cue set featured on this page, and has written an instructional book about how to perform the trick shots he has mastered. Be sure to check it out if you'd like to astound your friends or support his mission!