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Hitting Softly

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I’m sure you have all heard to have a loose grip, and hit the balls softly. Yet no matter where I go, I always hear the crash of balls. Let’s look at why we want to roll the balls softly, in the hopes that if you understand the reasons behind this advice, you will follow it more.  And, play better pool in the bargain!
 
The first thing to realize when you roll the object ball slowly is that the pocket plays bigger. Balls that would rattle and be rejected when blasted fall in when rolled slowly. Pocketing more of the shots we take is always a good thing!
 
Next is how far the cue ball travels. When we roll the cue ball, we have a good idea where it will end up. Knowing where the cue ball is going is a big part of playing good patterns and winning pool. Running the cue ball all over the table opens us up to some pretty bad things. We could scratch, bump in to a ball and create a problem, or wind up on the wrong side of a shot with no way to recover. Keeping the cue ball under wraps is another big piece of top drawer pool.
 
Finally is how your fundamentals hold up. The softer you hit the cue ball, the better your fundamentals hold together and the more accurately you hit the cue ball. This means you pocket more balls and win more games! 
 
There is one warning as you start to roll balls more slowly. Throw becomes more important. Make sure that you aim to over cut all your shots a little if you are on the vertical axis of the cue ball, which I highly recommend.
 
So the first measure of how hard you are hitting object balls is how many times in the last week did you miss a shot because the object ball didn’t reach the pocket. If the answer is never, then you are hitting balls way too hard. I saw Johnny Archer miss two shots in one game because the object ball didn’t reach the pocket!
 
Here is a game that I am developing to help you learn how to roll balls slowly. The general idea is to break and spread the balls out all over the table. You start with 15 points. Now take ball in hand and shoot any shot however you want. You lose 1 point if the ball goes in, or you miss the shot and hit the rail. You get one point if the object ball stops rolling with its base on the shelf of the pocket, you get no score and shoot again if you don’t reach the pocket.  
 
This drill takes about 15 minutes, and doing it once or twice a day for a week will quickly ramp up your soft, rolling ball game. A maintenance schedule of once a week after that should keep you sharp.
 
Good luck and see you on the road.