Short Angle Position Shots
THE ELITE BILLIARD Players of the world have long known that short-angle shots aren't all that they're cracked up to be. When it comes
to playing position, this seemingly simple group of shots can be a little tricky. For one thing, the mere fact that you might miss
what is considered such an easy shot would be threatening to players of all levels.
What makes these little shots so troublesome is (1), your speed has to be perfect to land on the correct side of the third object ball, especially if that ball is located in the middle of the table rather than close to a long cushion or corner; and (2), in most cases, you will be banking the first ball across the width of the table to a zone along the long rail or, again, the corner. The other standard approach would be to bank the ball to the long rail and back down to the other end rail or, better, the corner; here, you usually have to make some kind of adjustment of the hit on the first ball in order to transfer English to the first ball or not. Whew! It seems like a lot and it is.
Let's consider some examples of the problems involved with our subject in this chapter. In our first shot (Diagram 1), we have a typical short-angle shot across the width of the table. The problem with this position is that we have to hit the first ball half full, with only maximum 12 o'clock English, to achieve the correct placement of the first object ball in its optimal final resting place, the corner. Many players are afraid of this approach; they have a tendency to hit the first ball thin, because the third ball is located close to the opposite corner. But the right speed and a perfect stroke, slow and smooth, will let us go through the first ball to make the carom, as opposed to going off the first ball thin. Last, we must land on the second object ball as indicated in the diagram to get the best results.
Diagram 2 gives us a look at an extended short-angle shot, where many players envision the correct approach, but not the right technique and speed the problem here is that you need to know what happens to the object ball, in relation to the first cushion it strikes, when the cue ball is hit with different strokes. When you hit that first ball half-full or less, with a long slow stroke, the ball has a tendency not to take as much English off the first rail; this means the ball will go shorter.
For this shot we need the first ball to break, or take more English, off the first rail in order for that ball to make the second cushion, the left end rail. As you might have guessed, a short stroke will give the opposite effect of a long one, which is what we need to achieve the proper results as shown in our diagram. Hit the first ball half-full with 4 o'clock English and, obviously, a short stroke.
In Diagram 3, we have a short-angle shot where the first ball strikes the end rail first, and we have the tiresome task of finding a way to have this ball home in on a high percentage area. What most players I've seen do with this position is hit the first ball half-full or less, and the ball should wind up somewhere in the middle of the table close to the opposite long cushion with no chance of a second shot. This type of shot appears to be an easy task, so they don't bother to examine the possibility of position any further.
I'm sure the reason for this, as in most cases, is they don't envision going through the first ball. You must strike the first ball here three-quarters-full, using 10 o'clock English and a slow stroke on the cue ball. It will help the cue ball go through the first ball better and help transfer the English to the first ball in order to send it up to the corner as diagrammed. Landing on either side of the second object ball here is acceptable, because you'll have a relitively shot around the table 5 or 6 cushions.
Diagram 4 gives a reverse look at what most players again see as the right way; because of the obvious angle of the cue ball facing the first ball, they have a tendency to hit this shot fuller, as opposed to the thinner hit of the last diagram. Well, the opposite applies here: if we hit this shot more than half-full, the first ball will be sent somewhere near the middle of the end rail and doom. We need to strike that first ball half-full, no more, in order to send the ball back past perpendicular to the short rail and thence a high percentage lane on the long rail. Use minimal 11 o'clock English to give the cue ball some action, but not so much as to affect the first object ball. Try to land on the second object ball short, so as not to get stuck behind the ball with no shot.
If what appear to be some of the game's simplest shots is this entire chapter, how do the world's top players make the game look so easy? It's all a matter of correct knowledge, teaching and practice built into their games. The focus of these diagrams is to afford you the first two of those, the insights and advantages of some of the knowledge I've acquired over the past 25 years from playing with the best competition the world has to offer.
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