If you’re here, you are interested in becoming a better pool player.
Pool is a great game that is played in pubs and tournaments across the world, so learning how to play it is a great way to bond with people and make some money on the side.
It’s almost a game of pure skill – you only need working hands and eyes to play – and this means anybody can get better with a little training.
While training comes with time and persistence, many tips can help you out when you’re trying to learn pool and the way it is played. Whether you have professional ambitions or want to have bragging rights at your local hangout, our tips will help you out.
We have 51 of them, all of which will help you hone your pool game and become a better player than the average person.
We have covered a lot of information below, as you can imagine, so we have separated the tips into several categories and skill levels. Check them out below!
- Fundamentals For Beginners – Basic pool tips like stance, aiming, and bridge form.
- Fundamentals For Intermediate Players – Advanced tips on ball positioning, banking, and other harder techniques to master.
- How To Play Smart – Tips on treating pool like a chess game, where you anticipate your opponent’s moves and avoid becoming stressed by the competition.
- How To Play Safe – Tips on defensive tactics, like making shots that don’t backfire on you or give your opponent an advantage.
Fundamentals For Beginners
If you are new to playing pool or you haven’t been playing for long, you’ll need to start at the very beginning. This means you need to establish the fundamentals of playing pool, where you can then build on them to become a better player over time.
This first section covers the basics, like how to stand and how to get a decent aim. Without those, you can’t put the rest of our tips into practice!
1. Your Pool Stance
Let’s start with how you stand when you place shots at the pool table.
Your pool table should be comfortable for you to maintain, so you don’t build up any stress in your hamstrings or anywhere else in your legs.
You should also be stable, so somebody lightly pushing you won’t send you over, and your feet should be pointing in the direction of your shot.
To avoid stressing out your legs or falling off balance, you should evenly distribute your weight across both legs, with one leg forward in front of the other.
You will be bent down to line up the cue at the pool table but you shouldn’t place too much weight on your hands, you should be free to get up and down without shifting your weight.
Most people bend a leg while assuming their stance. If you need to bend a leg, you should bend the frontmost one as it gives you more stability.
When entering your stance, step forward into it so you build momentum in the direction of your shot, which helps you shoot straight.
2. Perfecting Your Aim
Next, you need to learn how to aim properly. You may be able to get by with your own eyes but there are many aiming systems out there that can help you out.
Everybody prefers their own systems, so we won’t dictate which one you should use. That said, there are two fundamentals that you need to be familiar with.
First, the point of contact. This is something most of us will naturally figure out – the point at which you want the cue ball to hit the other balls on the table.
Less commonly considered is the shot line, which is a line you should imagine and visualize that starts at your cue ball and ends at the point of contact. It may be straight, it may rely on bouncing off the table, but it helps to visualize the line of your shot in your head.
3. The Ghost Ball Method
One useful aiming method that also involves visualization is the Ghost Ball Method. This is where you aim, then you imagine where your cue ball would need to be at the end of your shot to pull it off.
That’s the so-called “ghost ball” that you’re imagining. Then, for straight shots, you just need to aim at the “ghost ball” that you’re looking at.
Your success with the ghost ball method will vary depending on how well you can imagine things in your head and then “see” them when looking at the real world. That said, everybody should be able to predict where they hope the ball will end up, then aim towards that.
4. Building A Bridge
Before you can aim properly, you need to nail your hand bridge. This is often where many beginner pool players fail. There are several different types of hand bridges but two are popular, open bridges and closed bridges.
For those that don’t know, the hand bridge is your frontmost hand when you are in your pool stance. It stabilizes and aims your pool cue, which should slot through a “V” shape that you make with your thumb and middle fingers, with the index finger pointed downward to get out of the way.
The cue should easily slide forward and back on the bridge. That’s an open bridge.
A closed bridge is where the cue goes over your thumb and rests on your middle finger, but your index finger instead wraps around the cue for enhanced stability.
It’s better for certain types of shots, as long as you’re not squeezing it tight enough to inhibit movement.
5. Your Pool Stroke
Having mentioned how your cue moves across your hand bridge, that brings us to your stroke. This is how your cueing arm moves when you are preparing to make contact with the cue ball, where you then follow through to smack the ball.
A great pool stroke separates bad players from good players (and good players from great ones).
The best pool stroke is often called the pendulum stroke, where the cueing arm elbow swings back and forth seamlessly.
It’s flexible and loose right up until you take the shot, allowing you to place shots with great accuracy.
Your grip needs to be loosened to pull this off – remember that many beginners hold onto their cue too hard.
When practicing your pool stroke, your forearm should be the only thing moving. Don’t move your chest or shoulder.
6. Following Through On Your Shots
When you’re working on your pool stroke, it’s building towards one thing – the follow-through. This is where your stroke reaches far enough to make contact with the ball, where it should hit it with enough force to send it wherever you want the ball to go.
The follow-through should be just as smooth as the stroke itself, so you’re not starting and stopping (which loses shot momentum).
It also reduces the likelihood that your shots will veer to the left or right, which will ruin your shot before it even begins.
7. Lighten Your Grip
As we have alluded to several times, many beginners tend to grip the cue too hard. While it may feel like this gives you more control over the ball, and more force behind your shots, you are better off relying on momentum to keep your shots steady and powerful.
Some strokes demand a tighter grip but, as a beginner, you shouldn’t worry about those yet. Instead, loosen your grip and make sure that the cue is free to move but is kept in control by your bridge and a smooth stroke.
When lining up your pool shots, less is more.
8. Making Long Shots
Any beginner can pull off a short shot, it’s the long shots that separate the good and bad pool players. Long shots can be daunting to beginners too, so there’s a mind-over-matter component here where beginners aren’t confident when placing their shots.
Overcome this by developing your stroke, aiming at the dead center of your cue ball, and practicing long shot drills to get used to how the cue ball moves.
You can practice long shots by setting up an uncomplicated straight, short shot and making it. If you don’t make it, repeat the shot until you do.
Once you do make the shot, move the object ball a few inches behind. Then you should try to make that shot. If you haven’t noticed, you are slowly turning a short shot into a long shot.
By the end of this exercise, you should be making shots across the table, but you need to be patient and work towards pulling off those shots.
9. Hitting The Center
You should hit the center of the cue ball whenever you place your shots. If you hit too far to the left or right, the momentum will wrap around the ball and it’ll spin around.
This drastically reduces the distance that shot can travel, in some cases by not moving the ball at all!
Even when you think you’re hitting the middle of the ball, you may struggle to get close. Hitting even slightly to the left or right will change how the ball bounces off your pool cue and affect how straight it rolls.
While slight, it can be the difference between pocketing the ball or not.
10. Building Confidence
Your physical training will fall short if you’re not confident in the movements you are making.
While it’s harder to train your confidence, it can be done by managing your breathing, taking all the time you need while training, and not beating yourself up when you mess up.
11. Chalk Often
Chalking isn’t a gimmick that keeps your hands busy when your opponent is taking their shot, it’s a great habit that will improve your game.
To guarantee that your shots don’t get miscued, you should chalk before every shot. This is especially true if you’re trying to use side-spin or other more complex shots.
Chalk adds friction to the tip of your pool cue, so it grips onto the cue ball better. This stops the ball from sliding or spinning away from the pool cue’s tip.
With some shots, only part of your cue tip will hit the ball, and so the extra grip goes a long way.
12. Learn Billiards Games
Knowing other billiards games can help when playing pool. Pool isn’t the only game that gets played on the table, with snooker being a famous example that has televised tournaments all across the world.
Carom (or carambole billiards) is another cue sport that is played on the same table. There are also different kinds of pool games, like straight pool, 8-ball pool, and 9-ball pool.
Learning these games will help you become more familiar with the billiards table, which can then help you when playing pool. It also sharpens the fundamental cue-sport skills that will help you control the cue better and place shots.
If you’re handy with a pool cue, even if it’s not from playing pool, then you’ll be better than somebody who has never touched a pool cue before.
13. Don’t Hit The Balls Hard
When you are a beginner, it can be tempting to smack the cue ball as hard as you can. Unfortunately, power doesn’t equal accuracy, which is just as important when trying to pocket balls.
It’ll harm your accuracy, so you should use force that you have total control over, which allows you to combine both power and accuracy.
Some shots might require more force but, for now, focus on addressing your shots without overdoing them.
14. Leveling Your Stick
Your pool cue should ideally be level when you are placing your shots. It is common for beginners to have their cues angled slightly downwards, which results in lost force when it strikes the cue ball.
The same applies to a cue that tilts upward, where it won’t make central contact with the cue ball.
For the best results, your cue should be level with the billiards table as much as humanly possible. A parallel cue is more likely to make the shot you have planned, allowing for momentum and accuracy to send your cue ball wherever you want it.
15. Stop Or Stun Shots
One of those alternative shot types is the stop shot, also called the stun shot. It is one of the more useful shots that you can employ when playing pool against an opponent, but it must be a straight-in shot to get the best results, or you risk the cue ball veering in other directions.
Stop shots can be performed in three ways:
- Hit the center of the cue ball and follow through.
- Hit slightly below dead center and follow through.
- Hitting below center with less energy.
16. Aim High And Follow Through
Having mentioned follow-through shots several times, let’s go into more detail about what they entail.
Following-through is where you apply more force and move your stroke further than usual, putting more power behind the cue ball. This sends the cue ball further, where you can then reposition for follow-up shots.
Unless you’re trying a stop shot, follow-through shots should be aimed above the cue ball’s dead center.
Following through doesn’t mean just hitting them harder, it also means your stroke needs to continue past contact with the ball. Imagine you are shooting through the cue ball, not merely hitting it.
17. The Backspin Shot
In some circumstances, you’ll need to pull off a backspin shot. Not only does this look cool, but it can also be used to send the cue ball in unorthodox directions so that you can reposition.
This is great when you’re up against the side of the table and have nowhere else to go, which happens to beginners often.
To backspin, you should aim low on the cue ball and follow through. Make sure you chalk your shot beforehand and keep the cue as level as possible.
18. Defend Yourself
While it may not be obvious, pool is a game that has a defensive element. It isn’t just about attacking the object balls with the cue ball when it’s your turn, you need to strategize and play defensively sometimes.
First, question if you can run the rack out. That’s where you clear all the object balls without giving your opponent a chance to hop in.
If you can’t do that, play defense instead. To play defensively, you should check if there are any balls nearby to hide your cue ball behind, making your opponent’s next shot harder.
It helps to keep a watchful eye on your opponent to see which shots they struggle with, so you can create those scenarios and ruin their game.
For example, if your opponent is untrained in long shots, you can set them up for one of those.
19. The Pre-Shot Routine
For our final tip for beginner pool players, you should work on getting a pre-shot routine. These are useful for establishing muscle memory and getting your mind into the zone, where you’ll be at your most confident and play best.
Here’s a basic pre-shot routine that can work for beginners:
- Sight up your shot, remembering the shot line and where you want the ball to go.
- Assume your pool stance, moving forward into the shot.
- Practice your stroke three times, moving your cue forward and backward.
- On the third, push forward and make the shot.
- Stay down for a few seconds to survey how your shot moves and where it ends up.
Fundamentals For Intermediate Players
So, those are the tips you should practice if you’re a beginner pool player. Once you have grasped those, you should consider leveling up your pool game by checking out the following tips for intermediate players.
If you are experienced but want to learn more, check out the twenty tips below.
20. The 30-Degree Rule
Don’t get intimidated by the introduction of numbers and angles into this guide, they will be easy to grasp when you’re at the billiards table.
First, let’s tackle the 30-degree rule. This is where a cue ball, after a rolling cue ball shot, will move at a 30-degree angle most of the time.
Are you having trouble figuring out what a 30-degree angle looks like? Make the peace sign with your fingers, that’s a roughly 30-degree angle.
By anticipating this, you can pocket a ball and anticipate the cue ball’s direction when it bounces off the object ball. This can help you plan out your next shot and avoid accidentally pocketing the cue ball.
21. The 90-Degree Rule
Along with the 30-degree rule, there is also the 90-degree rule. You know what a 90-degree angle is already, it’s a right angle, like where you make an “L” with your index finger and your thumb.
So, what is the 90-degree rule? This is where you pull off a stun shot and the ball deflects at a 90-degree angle. This happens in most cases, the exception being where the shot was a straight-in shot, otherwise, the cue ball will deflect or separate at 90 degrees.
Like with the 30-degree rule, you can be confident where the cue ball is going when you bounce off the object ball from a stun shot.
You can do this by making the “L” shape and placing your thumb in line with the shot line to the object ball. The direction your finger is pointing is where you can expect the cue ball to travel.
Fortunately, the 30-degree and 90-degree rules are the main ones you need to know, so you don’t need to memorize any more numbers or angles.
22. Learning How To Bank
Next, let’s cover banking. This is where you hit an object ball against the rails of the billiards table and then into a pocket.
The shot line will look like a triangle, where you hit the object ball with the cue ball, bounce it off the side of the table, and then send it into the pocket that you are targeting.
In pool, banking often happens where you can’t make any straight shots. They can also be useful for pocketing a ball while making your opponent’s future shots more difficult for them.
There are many ways you can bank in pool. First, with regulation pool tables, there should be small diamonds or markers along the side of the billiards table that you can use to coordinate your shot.
Assign each one a number (traditionally 1-5 along the foot rail and 1-9 along the side rail).
Then, when making the shot, you should target an object ball and figure out where it is, based on the diamonds. Let’s say you target an object ball at diamond 4 while your cue ball is at diamond 1, you should make a 4-1 calculation to arrive at 3.
Then divide that in half to figure out the halfway point between the balls. Then you should target the diamond that corresponds to that position, which should create a mirror angle that hits the object ball.
23. Learning Rail Shots
Another shot you should learn is the rail shot. This is where your cue ball needs to hit an object ball that is flush against one of the rails. Usually, you’re trying to hit the object ball so it rides along the rail and goes into the pocket.
You should know that it’s almost impossible to send the ball riding it. This is because many billiards sets have the cue ball be slightly smaller than the object ball, so it isn’t cleanly displaced by the cue ball.
As a result, the object ball bounces in the opposite direction of the pocket. If you’re close, you may still make it if the corners around the pocket guide it in.
However, it’s common for the ball to bounce between the corners and then return to the center of the table, which is frustrating!
So, how do you place a rail shot that makes it into the pocket? First, you should approach them lightly. The harder you hit the object ball, the more likely it’ll bounce between the two jaws of the pocket and not go in.
With a softer touch, you can hit the ball and send it softly careening into the pocket after bouncing off just one jaw.
There are other ways to play rail shots too, like hitting the rail cushion first with your cue ball. Then, as your cue ball passes by the object ball on the way out, it sends force through the ball in the direction of the rail.
This helps the object ball stick to the rail as it makes its way to the pocket.
You can achieve this effect by hitting the cue ball on one of its sides, too. Applying spin to your cue ball like this is difficult if you don’t know how – we have more on sidespin/English below.
24. Lowering Ball Speed
When you hit the ball too hard or too soft, you may find that you get left in a bad position for your next shot. You can fix this by managing the ball speed, which is the speed at which your ball travels after being hit.
There’s a very simple drill you can do to lower your ball speed, which helps get your cue ball in control for both hard and soft shots. All you need is a piece of paper, nothing fancy, and then you should try the following steps:
- Place the paper in the first third of your billiards table, against the side rail.
- Place the cue ball onto the paper.
- Hit the cue ball at the opposite rail and try to make it come back and stop at the paper.
- Repeat until you can do it five times.
- Then, move the paper into the middle of the table (avoiding the middle pocket, obviously).
- After hitting that five times, move the paper to the last third of the billiards table, now up against the opposite side rail as where you had started.
25. Positioning Tactics
Let’s go into some more detail about positioning and how you need to use it to your advantage to become a better pool player. You need to work on this along with your ball speed to maintain proper control of the cue ball when it’s in your hands.
Start slowly, hitting soft shots and analyzing how the ball reacts to the impact and where it moves. In time, you’ll get a sense of how cue balls roll, allowing you to better anticipate their behavior.
Just like with controlling your ball speed, you can try a simple drill to learn how to position your ball even better. Once again, you’re going to need that sheet of paper.
- Place the paper against the short rail.
- Place an object ball in front of an adjacent pocket.
- Try to pocket the object ball, with a focus of landing on the paper.
- Do this five times.
- Next, move the paper further into the table, roughly where you’d put it for the second part of the ball speed drill.
- Try to deflect the ball onto the new position.
- Afterward, you can move the paper to other difficult spots and try them out.
26. Shooting Elevated Shots
You won’t always have the space to bridge properly. In that case, you need to pull off a high shot, where you come at the cue ball from the top. If you’ve ever seen a pool player try this, it looks awkward – that’s because it is!
Learning how to shoot elevated shots is essential when you’re caught in one of these situations. Remember to strike downwards, it’s common for people to strike too high when the pool cue is raised.
If you hit the ball in front of your cue ball, you’ll make an illegal shot, so you need to be very accurate and careful.
While it may seem counterintuitive, you should focus on the cue ball and follow through as much as possible. This takes your cue past the obstacle ball, so it doesn’t stray and accidentally knock it.
Then, once the shot is done, remove your cue carefully by angling it upwards so you don’t nudge the ball again.
27. Test Different Pool Cues
So far, we have assumed you’re using the right pool cue. The fact is that there are different pool cues out there and you need to find the right one for you.
To do that, you need to try different pool cues. Once you find the right one for you, you may find yourself using it for years!
Cue tips come in plastic, steel, and brass varieties, which should all be topped by a rough leather pad that makes contact with the ball.
As for the rest of the stick, some are made in one piece while others are made from multiple pieces that slot together. There’s also a difference between so-called English pool cues and American pool cues.
English ones are traditionally made from ash wood while American ones are typically made from maple wood. Some shafts will encourage less deflection than others, so check those out if that’s a problem for you.
28. Test Different Break Cues
You should also do the same with break cues, testing them until you find one that works best for you.
While many people use the same cue to break, others prefer to get a dedicated pool cue that will break better. Break cues often have a phenolic tip that generates more speed, making them more useful for breaking.
29. Consider Joining A Pool League
While not necessary to hone your skills, playing against other players is a surefire way to gain experience as a player. There are many pool leagues out there, so you should be able to find one that will take you under their wing.
One of the biggest pool leagues – the APA (American Poolplayers Association) – allows members to meet and play against one another, learning all the while.
There may also be prizes up for grabs, presenting an opportunity to make money and engage in some healthy competition.
Other pool leagues include the Billiard Congress of America (BCA) and the United States Professional Poolplayers Association (UPA).
30. Find A Pool Forum
If joining a pool league is too much commitment for you, then maybe you will be more comfortable with a pool forum instead. Online, many pool forums allow users to exchange information and tips about pool and other cue sports.
Consider joining a larger billiards forum like azbilliards.com, though there are many websites out there that allow their communities to interact.
31. Memorize The Rules
You’re already playing pool, so you should have some idea of the rules. That said, it helps to pick a type of pool and memorize the rules, so you never need to break out the rulebook.
The rules between 8-ball and 9-ball pool vary wildly, so you are better off choosing one and dedicating yourself to it.
If you’re joining a playing league or a tournament, they should have somewhere where the rules can be read. Before stepping up to the table, make sure you have read and understood these rules so you can stay on the good side of them.
32. Practice Pool Etiquette
You should also learn the etiquette that surrounds pool. In many cases, etiquette seems like pomp that isn’t necessary for the activities that you are doing. In sports (and cue sports like pool) it helps to maintain good sportsmanship between players and it can stop you from getting reprimanded.
Here are some general rules that you should follow unless told otherwise:
- Stay away from the table when the opponent player is shooting, even if you’re going to grab something. It can wait.
- Be quiet, especially when the opponent player is taking their shot.
- Don’t move in the opponent player’s line of sight when they are shooting, if you can help it.
- Be polite by shaking your opponent’s hand before and after the game.
- Don’t drink or smoke over the table to avoid staining it.
- Similarly, don’t touch the table with chalk on your hands.
- Verbally confirm rules with the opponent beforehand, along with a third-party authority if present.
- Take losses with dignity and don’t break the pool cue.
Like with pool game rules, certain venues may have their own etiquette. In those cases, follow their etiquette to fit in and play properly with them.
33. Consider Getting A Coach
Many sports are best taught through mentoring, where skilled professionals use their valuable one-to-one time to train a new athlete.
Even the most self-taught athletes had somebody along the way who introduced them to the sport, taught them certain things, and inspired them on their journey.
This happens in other sports too, including pool, and so finding a coach for yourself is a great way to level up your pool skills.
Try to find a coach in your area that you can afford. Through the magic of the Internet, you should have no trouble finding somebody to coach you.
You will need to pay for them in most cases, so you’ll need to consider your budget before bringing a coach in.
One of your friends can act as a coach if they embarrass you at the pool table often, it doesn’t need to be a registered professional, and they’ll be cheaper than a stranger.
34. Only Try Side Spin When You Are Ready
We have mentioned side spin, or English, several times on this page already. This is where you hit anywhere that isn’t the center of the cue ball, such as its left or right side, to make the ball spin. By spinning, it’ll slightly change direction.
If done correctly, you can make the cue ball spin toward the object ball that you’re trying to hit. It’s also common for pulling off rail shots where you need to send a ball skirting along the side of the billiards table.
Remember that the spin acts differently on the cue ball and the object ball. For example, applying left English to the cue ball will make it spin to the left.
That makes sense. The object ball, however, will veer to the right after getting hit by a cue ball with left English. This is because the cue ball’s spin is transferred to the object ball in the opposite direction.
35. Care For Your Equipment
As a dedicated pool player, you should get your own equipment and keep it in good condition. This equipment will serve you well, instead of the soggy old cues that you’d find at the local bar.
First, clean your cue routinely. A dirty cue won’t be easy to hold onto and it might not impact the cue ball properly. Check the tip of your cue too, so that it has a mushroom-like shape and hasn’t become too flat.
When storing pool cues, they should be kept away from very hot or cold weather. Extreme weather will warp and degrade the wood in pool cues, causing them to become faulty.
How To Play Smart
A game of pool is much more than knocking a few balls around. You need to play smart, which is why we have several tips here that cover the mental games that happen at the billiards table.
By mastering these, you can outthink your opponent and force them into unpleasant circumstances by making moves one step ahead of them.
These tips will also help you avoid tilting, where you get stressed and intimidated, and so your game drastically suffers as a result.
By being resilient to the stress that can come with a pool game, especially if there’s money on the line, then you should do a better job and have more chances of winning.
36. Recognize Valuable Balls
First, let’s start with focusing on the ball values. You should know a valuable ball when you see one. Unlike snooker, pool balls carry the same number of points, so it’s not about aiming for the balls that carry more points if you pocket them.
Instead, you should focus on where certain balls are positioned. It’s common for players to notice a so-called problem ball at the very start of the game, only to leave it to address it later or hope the opponent shakes it loose.
Instead, try to shake loose a problem ball as part of a different shot, securing that valuable ball for your next shot.
37. Note What You Miss
Keep notes on your phone or a stray piece of paper. If you miss a shot, make a note of how the shot was set up and how you failed it.
Then you can work on those shots later as part of your training. Improving as a pool player is all about finding your weaknesses and working on them.
38. Play Creatively
On this page, there’s a lot of dos and don’ts. While many are useful for starting as a beginner and then advancing your pool skills, you also need to play creatively.
If every pool player in the world read the same webpage, everybody’s strategy would be the same and most games would come down to a bitter stalemate.
Even after learning how to play pool, every player will have their quirks and creative tactics that separate them. You should embrace these and bend them to your advantage.
Some creative plays will take practice to master. For example, bouncing the cue ball off of other balls to hit your object ball is an unexpected move that can pay dividends if you execute it properly.
39. Don’t Waste Your Ball In Hand
During the average pool game, you’ll get a ball-in-hand shot. This is where you get to place the cue ball anywhere on the table, giving you a huge advantage over how your next shot is positioned.
Many players, especially beginners, waste these shots on easy opportunities that they could have made from anywhere else on the table.
Your ball-in-hand shots are best used to shake loose the hardest ball that you can identify, because now you have full control over how you approach it, and so you’re at an advantage.
It’s also common to waste the ball-in-hand on a ball that is hanging in the pocket. Once again, you can make those shots from anywhere else on the table, so look somewhere else. If you can break out another ball by sinking the pocket-adjacent one, then you can do it.
40. Angle Your Next Shot
We have already told you how to turn angles to your advantage. If you want to play smart, you should think in angles and constantly apply them to your analysis of the table.
When you’re not making straight shots, you’ll be forming angles that bounce off the side rails and other cushions.
Once you’re familiar with pool angles, you should be able to visualize them, to “see” them on the table as you’re picking your target and lining up your shot.
41. Take Practice Time Seriously
If you’re serious about playing pool, you should take your practice time seriously. You can only learn so much in a raucous pub, playing with friends over a few drinks.
In those cases, you’re not going to learn any of the advanced tips that we have detailed on this page.
Nothing is stopping you from having fun at the local bar with a pool table, of course, but training time should be more focused.
There shouldn’t be alcohol involved and it’ll involve drills – 10 to 20-minute exercises that teach you certain ways to plan and execute your shots.
42. Play Against Worthy Opponents
Following on from that last point, you should also remember that your drunk friend is not a worthy opponent.
Find people who take their pool seriously, which is easy when you’re in a league, and then focus on playing and beating them.
By playing against a worthy opponent, you will improve even if you lose against them. You will challenge each other, encouraging you and your opponent to play better over time.
Playing against your coach is a great way to find a worthy opponent who can teach you a lot about the game, even if they trample you most of the time.
43. Keep Calm
When you’re playing against worthy opponents, you will need to stay calm. By staying calm, it will take nerves out of the equation and allow you to play better. It’s like poker, where your performance will suffer if you let your opponent get to you.
Your moves will become easier to predict and they will be made without thinking, which can open you up to difficult shots as the game continues.
Remember that there will always be somebody better than you, so take losses in your stride and work on improving if you want to overcome your opponent in the future.
44. Take The Time You Need
During the minute-to-minute action of a game, you may feel the urge to rush. When your opponent is waiting on you, and sometimes an audience too, then you may be tempted to make your shots in record time.
The reality is that nobody is waiting on you. You should take all the time you need to aim and place your shot in a way that is effective and satisfying to you.
45. Don’t Get Pressured Into Rushing
Following the last tip, you should remember that nobody minds waiting for an impressive shot.
A great way to regulate your patience during a pool game is by counting to three after your shot. You should stay in your pool stance to survey how the ball travels, as we’ve covered, but it also stops you from rushing.
46. Stay Friendly
It’s easy to get stressed when you’re playing against somebody that hates your guts. Maintaining a friendly relationship with your opponent is the cornerstone of sports – there’s a reason it’s called sportsmanship, after all!
You’re going to be friendly to your friends and your mentor, that much is a given, but you should also be friendly to total strangers if you’re playing against them. By being friendly, you might even turn a stranger into a friend.
47. You Are Your Worst Enemy
If you hadn’t already noticed a trend – you can be your own worst enemy in a pool game. Think about it, you don’t clash with your opponent much at the billiards table.
Instead, you are both playing your own games on the same table and laughing at each other’s fumbles if you’re playing with a friend.
48. Don’t Be Afraid To Gamble
Lastly, you can improve your game by gambling. This introduces pressure into the game, which you can do in small doses to build up your nerves.
This helps your practice and, if you have professional ambitions, it can help motivate you to pursue a career if you find it easy to win money.
Naturally, you should stay away from this if you have problems with gambling. You should also keep gambling amounts small, so you’re not burning a hole in your wallet.
How To Play Safe
To finish off our tips on becoming a better pool player, here are some defensive plays that you should learn.
49. Learn Safety Shots
First, you should check out safety shots. This is where you make an easy shot that leaves the cue ball somewhere awkward for your opponent. There are multiple ways to pull off safety shots, all of which will annoy whoever you’re playing against.
When you can’t run the balls out, you should try for a safety shot that inconveniences the person you’re playing against.
You will often need to announce “safety” to the table before making one of these shots – because it is a legal shot.
50. Practice Two-Way Shots
Two-way shots are those that will pocket a ball if you’re successful but, if you aren’t, they’ll leave the cue ball somewhere difficult. It essentially turns into a safety shot if you don’t manage to pocket the ball.
Remember how some of your shots may benefit your opponent. Even if the two-way shot is a difficult one, it’s sometimes worth the effort if failing will still inconvenience them.
51. Leave Balls Hanging, Sometimes
Lastly, you should sometimes leave the ball hanging in front of a pocket.
It’s tempting to sink the ball when you have the opportunity. However, you can leave them there to block your opponent from trying that pocket.
Now there’s something in the way, which the opponent will need to knock out of the way or avoid when making their shot. If they do try the pocket, they’ll probably knock your ball in, and so you have nothing to lose!
At the very least, it’ll make things harder for your opponent, even if they do manage to avoid the blockade you’ve set up. Then, once you’ve exhausted your options, you can return and sink the ball with one of the easiest shots of the game.
That brings us to the end of our 51 tips on improving as a pool player. By learning them and putting them into practice at the billiards table, you should see some improvement as a pool player, and for other cue sports too.
Whether you’re just a hobbyist or you want to become one of the best pool players around, the tips on this page should help you out and set you on the right path.
Learning any skill is a long process, so don’t expect to see results instantly. Instead, you need to have patience and work towards becoming better than you were in the past, not by comparing yourself to your friends, your mentor, or other pros.
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