I used to hate pool.
The reason was simple: I always lost.
I practiced a lot, but never seemed to improve.
The reason for that was also simple: I practiced the wrong things.
I would look up pool playing tips and practice everything I found.
In hindsight, I now know how pointless that was. Once I began focusing only on the fundamentals my skill level exploded.
And then I was ready for more advanced tips to really stick it to my friends.
Now I enjoy pool. Because I usually win.
Keep reading to learn exactly what you need to work on to master pool yourself.
Table of Contents
- 1 Tips For Mastering Pool
- 2 Fundamental Pool Playing Tips
- 3 Advanced Pool Playing Tips
- 4 Billiards Tips: Final Thoughts
Tips For Mastering Pool
Becoming a master in any sport takes lots of practice. Professional pool players like Efren Reyes have practiced a lot. They have lost many games to become the world champions.
But you need to practice carefully to become a professional player. Bad practices take you nowhere in the pool world. They may even have the opposite effect on your gameplay.
If you know where to start learning, you can move faster toward becoming a professional.
Some beginners begin with the wrong things. They try to learn professional moves first.
Combination shots, powerful breaks, spinning, and draw shots are not things you should practice as a beginner.
Every professional player knows the game’s advanced techniques. But a beginner should start by practicing the fundamentals.
It doesn’t matter what billiard games you’re playing. You need to know the fundamentals first. Practice them to get yourself ready to learn the advanced techniques.
Keep reading for our best fundamental tips. After that, we’ll cover more advanced tips. Make sure you have the fundamentals down, before advancing to the harder stuff.
Fundamental Pool Playing Tips
The first rules of practicing the pool game are about body condition. These factors are very important:
- The way you hold the cue stick
- Move it
- Hit the cue ball
- Your look at the balls and table
They define your playing style. Body conditions are fundamental factors in the journey to become a master. Read the tips below to learn more about the fundamentals.
Gripping The Cue
Most beginning players grip the cue stick too tightly. They think that powerful, precise shots need a tight grip.
A professional pool player grips the cue stick loose and light. Holding the cue too tight may raise its butt when shooting. When it goes up, you can’t shoot accurately.
Tight grips often result in jumping the cue ball. You try to shoot a powerful shot but hit the bottom of the cue ball.
The best way to hold the cue is to rest it on your fingers. The cue even shouldn’t touch your palm. You can rest the pinky finger, too.
It’s ok to sometimes grip the cue stick a bit harder. But you should never grip it so hard that your knuckles turn white.
You want to hold it so it’s secure and not jiggling around in your hand bridge, but not too tight that you feel it skipping and skidding against your skin when you use the pool cue.
It should slide nice and evenly between your hand bridge. Also, if you’re noticing hand sweat, that means you could be squeezing the cue too tight (or you may just have sweaty hands).
Practicing the cue grip is the first thing to do as a beginner. It helps you master everything else faster. The more you work on this, the sooner you will find a balanced grip that gives you better control over the cue stick.
The moving arm is instrumental in how you shoot the cue ball. Most beginners move their shooting arms a lot. It results in inaccurate shots.
When aiming for the cue ball, think of your moving arm as a pendulum. This means the upper part of your arm shouldn’t move while aiming. Professional players only move the lower arm, even on powerful break shots.
Holding the cue stick correctly is vital in practicing your arm motion. Hold the stick in a way that your shooting hand stays directly underneath your elbow.
When shooting the cue ball, the lower arm can move past the elbow. But it should never stop before the vertical elbow line, an imaginary vertical line between your elbow and the earth.
Practicing the pendulum swing is a critical tip for becoming a professional player. You can even do it without holding a stick. But remember to combine it with the last tip when practicing with a stick.
Always move your lower arm slowly back when aiming. Then accelerate the movement when swinging forward.
Practicing The Bridges
The bridge on which you put your cue stick is critical for an accurate shot. If you can’t do a proper bridge, the chance of foul shots increases. Even if you master everything else, without a good bridge you will keep losing.
There are two types of bridges: “open” and “closed.” The former is an excellent option for beginners. The latter is specifically for professional players. A “closed” bridge is perfect for spin shots and powerful breaks.
You should practice your bridge before shooting. Creating a perfect bridge for the cue stick is very easy. Follow the steps below for an open bridge:
- Place your hand firmly on the pool table.
- Make a cup with your fingers while pressing your thumb against your forefinger.
- Form a “V” shape with your fingers and place the cue on it.
- Raise the bridge by pulling fingers towards each other. Lower it by pushing them away.
There are other types of hand bridges that professional players use. The “rail bridge” and “over the ball bridge” are two of the most famous ones. Practice the open bridge first. Then try the other ones.
Your stance has a direct impact on your playing style and shot accuracy. You should practice a balanced standing position.
Without a good stance, you can’t hold the cue where you need it and you’re not going to have dexterity and purpose in your shots. This is extremely important.
Follow these tips to learn the standard standing position at the table. This stance help you get full control over the table and the stick.
- Place your front foot at a distance of at least a shoulder width ahead of the rear one.
- Put the back foot on a 45-degree angle.
- Point the front foot straight forward.
You should feel as comfortable as possible when aiming the cue stick. Balance your weight on both of your feet. Keep your head low and level when aiming over the stick.
Put some of your weight on the bridge hand to make it firm. Your body should form a tripod with your two feet and one hand.
Practice this tip by moving around the table and trying to find the best position for aiming in various locations. In real games, you’ll experience various positions when shooting.
It is important to always (no matter the position around the table) find a stance that allows you to make an excellent shot, but doesn’t completely restrict your mobility or cause back pain.
Vision center is one of the essential terms of pool games. Professional players have a perfect alignment when aiming for an object ball.
Their cue, head, eyes, and stroking arm stay lined up toward the object ball. It shapes a vision center.
The best way to practice body alignment is to keep the head low when aiming. It helps you to focus more on the aiming line. Concentrating your power is easier this way.
Another aspect of alignment is the eyes. They should be level when aiming. There should be perfect angles between the stroking arm, eyes, and the cue stick.
Move the cue tip near the cue ball’s vertical center-line. Place the forearm in such a way that it stays in line and perpendicular to the stick.
After finding the perfect alignment, practice it. The best practice is shooting the cue ball with no object ball. Just try to aim accurately when hitting the cue ball. Try to put it in a far corner pocket.
The goal is to hit the ball with your cue right on the nose, and make sure that when it hits the adjacent ball, it also hits the center to give you the best possible chance of it going straight.
You can only determine so much of the angle with your eyes, but hitting the ball center will send it forward in an almost perfect line.
What this means is that even if you’re trying to land in a corner pocket and the cue ball is not lined up perfectly, you still need to aim for the middle of the ball from the angle you’re trying to hit it from. Tapping the edge of the ball could send it into a spin and actually not send it where you want it.
Billiard games are about principles of dynamics. Putting a ball into a pocket is never done by chance.
You should know where to hit the object ball with the cue ball to send it toward the desired pocket.
There is a simple pool playing tip to find the best shooting point. You should draw an imaginary aiming line before shooting the cue ball. Follow the steps below to draw the aiming line.
- Draw an imaginary line from the center of the desired pocket to the object ball.
- Continue the line from the center of the object ball to its rear (the side opposite the target pocket).
- Draw a line from that point to the center of the cue ball.
- Continue the line to the rear of the cue ball.
- This is the point that you should target with the cue stick.
You can practice the aiming line by pointing the cue stick (you’ve probably seen amateur players do this). But try to learn the imaginary drawing, without having to use the stick, to become more professional.
Never Miss The Chalk
Ever wonder why chalk is so important for pool? You might notice skilled players using it before every single shot. There is some merit in doing this.
Your pool cue isn’t going to perfectly, flatly land against the cue ball. I’m sure you’re aware that the end of your pool cue has a domed surface, not a flat one. The contact point with the ball could be anywhere on this dome.
Chalking your pool cue helps to create friction in your shot. If you’re playing at a local pool hall with used cues, there are going to be scratches and micro fractures on the tip of each cue.
Chalk helps to create a smooth edge on those cues so that there’s no miscue—when the cue ball departs before the full force of the shot is realized.
If you don’t think you can hit the shot, you won’t. Confidence is everything. And when you’re playing pool, it can be hard to come by because you know that everyone is watching you. When it’s your turn, you’re absolutely on display and that can suck.
Instead of stressing out about it, have the same confidence in your ability that you would expect to see in the most prominent pool player in the room. Be confident enough to allow yourself to focus.
If you’re thinking about what everyone else around you is expecting or what they assume about you, your head isn’t in the game. Confidence is key, and it allows you to concentrate without any distractions.
Advanced Pool Playing Tips
After mastering the fundamentals, you are ready to begin practicing some professional tips. There are tons of tips that can help you become a professional faster. We’ve compiled the most important below.
Study The Rules
There are many types of billiard games, each with different rules. Pool and snooker games are the most popular.
They have fundamental differences. Study the rules and the differences to become a better player. This helps open up your scope of understanding of the game.
It can also lead you to think of some creative moves that you might not otherwise conjure up. Plus, when you know everything there is to know about the fouls and guidelines, you can concentrate better on your strategy.
We have a full guide on other billiard games. To start with, playing snooker and carom should be good to diversify your knowledge of the game.
Find The Weaknesses
Practicing may be the only silver bullet when learning. And the best way to practice is to shore up the weaknesses in your game.
You can find your weaknesses by playing games with professional competitors. Even competitors who play at the same level as you can help you find your weaknesses and teach you something.
You can also study your competition to their find mistakes. Find the strategies they need to improve. Look at each competitors’ playing style to learn from them.
Your weaknesses can appear in various aspects of playing style. It could be something in the aiming, gripping, stance, draw shots, etc. After finding the weaknesses, practice shots that specifically make use of the skill you need to work on.
Do it alone on a table. That way you can position the balls at your desired locations. Start with simple shots and make it more challenging gradually.
Practice Pro Shots
Professional players control the movement of the cue ball even after the shot. It means they choose a strategy regarding the cue tip’s impact point, in order to place the cue ball in the desired location after hitting the object ball.
The best strategies to control the cue ball’s movement are draw, follow, and spin shots.
A draw shot is when you hit the cue ball at a low point. It adds backspin, which helps you draw the cue ball back to yourself after hitting the object ball.
Follow shots are the opposite. They make the cue ball follow the object ball after hitting. For a follow shot, hit the cue ball at a higher point.
Spin or English shots are other professional shots. They help you control the cue ball, too.
You hit the cue ball to the left or right of center to make it spin in the desired direction. After hitting the object ball or the table rail, it will veer in the direction of the spin.
Practice these shots by hitting the cue ball without any object ball. Combining draw/follow with spin shots is another professional skill you should learn, once you have each down on its own.
Find Your Perfect Pool Cue
Intermediate pool players have personal cue sticks. They often play with that one. It creates a feeling between them and the stick. The feeling improves the shot accuracy and overall gameplay.
There are lots of different cue sticks in the market. You should find the best one that suits your hand size, playing style, and budget.
Two-piece pool cues are great options for beginning and professional players. We recommend hard rock maple as the best material for all players.
You can buy a beginning pool cue at the start of your pool playing journey. But try to upgrade your stick along the way. Professional pool cues allow you to concentrate more on professional techniques.
Edges Lose Momentum
Sometimes you’ll see a shot where you can bounce the cue ball off the edge of the table, to hit the back end of a solid or stripe, and then sink it in the corner pocket.
That’s all well and good. But you have to realize just how much momentum is lost when you hit the cue ball off of an edge.
Nearly all of it, actually.
The only time that you should do a bounce shot like this is when the target ball is very close to a pocket.
Do not bang off the edge unless you’re close to the shot, or you’ve practiced this often and know how much force to use.
This is very tricky stuff. Which brings us to the next tip. And it’s basically the opposite of this one.
Use The Edges
We just got done talking about how bouncing the cue ball off the edges of the table is a no-no. Well, it’s true. But the edges can be a useful tool, too.
While the ball does lose a lot of momentum when it hits the edge, it doesn’t magically stop in place. It all depends on the angle.
If you hit the edge at a 15 degree angle (a very slight, narrow angle), then you’ll only lose a bit of momentum. A head-on hit is going to cut out a lot more momentum.
Use this to your advantage. Hit the cue so that the solid or stripe you’re trying to sink gently hits the edge. A narrow angle means less bounce, so you can use the edge like a guide to pilot it into the pocket. It’s all situational, so use your head.
Follow The 30 Degree Rule
Nobody is perfect at this game, and that’s okay. Pool has a lot of variables that cannot be controlled. However, you can use the 30 degree rule to try and reduce the amount of variables in your shots.
This rule dictates that when you produce a rolling ball shot, you have a high chance of it falling within 30 degrees of its current position.
Basically, if you can make a peace sign right now with your index and middle finger, that’s a 30 degree angle (for the most part). Make the peace sign and angle your index finger on the direction of the ball to see the variable zone that it can travel.
Don’t Forget About The 90 Degree Rule
More angles. It’s like algebra all over again. This one refers to stun shots. Stun shots are when the cue ball has no spin whatsoever.
It slides across the felt and when it hits the object ball head on, it stops. If it hits at an angle, it follows the 90 degree rule.
This rule states that when you use a stun shot, the cue ball will bounce off at a 90 degree to the direction of travel of the object ball. Of course, if you don’t land your stun shots properly, you’re going to see major deflections in your shots.
Once again, using your hand as a guide, you can make an L shape with your left hand, which should be about a 90 degree angle. Point one finger from the cue ball toward the target pocket. The other finger now shows you the direction the cue ball will bounce off the object ball.
If your stun shots are clear, you can land a 90 and sink your ball into a corner pocket, using the edges to help guide it in slightly. It doesn’t have to be a perfect shot.
Banking is effectively knocking the cue into the desired ball, and having the desired ball bounce off of the edge of the table to then angle into a hole.
Banking is difficult, primarily due to the momentum loss, so this should only be used in expert scenarios.
If you have a table that you can practice on right now, then do so. You’ll find that you need a lot of force to bank. But you don’t want so much force that you end up sending the cue ball in the air. It is a delicate balancing act that requires lots of practice.
I know this is a lot about the pressure of the cue stick, but you have to realize that the small adjustments make the biggest differences in pool. A soft shot is when you control the speed of the cue ball, and use that to control the speed of the target ball.
It sounds simple, but it’s not.
It starts with the speed of your cue and the pressure you apply. Then it continues with how the kinetic energy from the cue transfers to the cue ball, and how the cue ball transitions to the target ball.
To practice soft shots, simply apply gentle pressure to the pool cue and attempt to hit the cue ball with about half force. See how it reacts when it hits the target ball.
Every situation is different because you’re never going to run into the same setup on the table, and the same distance requirements for that target ball. The best advice here is to just practice soft shots as often as possible from multiple locations.
Billiards Tips: Final Thoughts
There are lots of pool playing tips out there and I’m sure your friends have given you plenty. The key is knowing which tips are most useful for your current skill level.
Unless you are an advanced player, try to focus on the fundamental pool playing tips first. Only move on to the professional tips gradually.
Once you have gotten some good practice, ideally at home on a quality portable pool table, play and compete with more experienced players to learn the techniques faster.
Remember that pool is a game of angles, cue pressure, and force. It’s a calculated game that can be learned simply through understanding the rules and how much force is required from the cue to elicit a specific reaction.
You can measure just about everything. It just takes time to master. As they say, you have to put in 10,000 hours before you’re really good at something.
When it comes to pool, all those hours will be spent having fun! Now go and rack ’em up, and try out what you’ve learned. You can always come back here later if you forget a tip or two. Just be sure to put in your practice hours to master them.