How To Draw The Cue Ball With Precision
Ask The Master: What is the best way to learn to draw the cue ball with precision?
The short answer is PRACTICE. The longer answer is PROGRESSIVE PRACTICE. Assuming you've already got your stroke working well, so you actually touch the cueball where you mean to, and you fairly reliably hit at the speed you want, it's time to calibrate your body for precision draw.
Draw is "art," since you have to break the friction with the cloth. I can tell you the factors (science), but how you put it together in your imagination and how you execute it (art) is your dance. Draw is hard to control. Follow (roll) is easy. We say "Draw for show; follow for dough" for good reason.
Draw is caused by hitting below the equator of the cueball. Lower gets you more rpm's of backspin. Hitting harder at that same spot yields even more backspin. Variations in how sticky the cueball is and how fast the cloth is also contribute to the problem by affecting how long it takes for the backspin to wear off of that skidding cueball.
Progressive practice is highly efficient. Set up a straight-in shot with the cueball one foot from the object ball. Draw the CB back to where it started. When you succeed, move the CB to a two-foot distance and again draw back one foot. Continue increasing the distance until you've succeeded with your one-foot draw from one foot to five or six feet.
Now start over with the same setup and draw two feet on every shot. Then do the exercise drawing three feet every time. This is the general idea. You can quickly calibrate yourself to be able to more consistently & precisely shoot the wide variety of speeds, spins, and distances we need to deal with in pool.
Ask The Master: I've started shooting pool again after a long, long leave of absence. I'm not too bad with making the shots, but just cannot put any spin on the ball. I know the procedure and have several CDs that make it look so easy. I keep my cue roughed and chalked, but only occasionally do I get any spin. I have Mikel's[sic] complete set of CDs and use a new Balabushka 20 oz cue(now that I can afford it). I'm playing on a new Brunswick Contender series table, but, have the same problem on standard old pool hall tables.
Can you recommend anything to help?
I have to assume you're talking about backspin here. The problem usually is (and this is gonna sound obvious) you are not hitting low enough on the cueball. If you were, you'd see backspin. Maximum low is lower than most players think. But even more critically important, most players who have not had training drop their stroke elbow during the hit stroke. Yes, this is the natural human move, but it's not the smart move for pool players. If you drop your elbow on the way to the hit, the tip comes up. No draw.
Bottom line: Try starting with your tip on the cloth at the base of the cueball and raise it slightly (rather than lowering from higher on the ball). Most good instructors teach this fundamental stroke motion. I developed a training aid that helps players quickly learn this specific move. It's the Stroke Groover, and is available through PoolDawg or at my school.