Ask The Master - “I have good players in my league that are consistently stopping the cue ball on a dime after hitting the ball they shot at. They can do it from different distances and with different speeds. If I hit the cue ball low and hard I can do it sometimes but other times it will just draw or roll forward still. How can I get that stop on a dime shot?”

This is a great question, Andy. I'll give you the key exercise.

We spend a lot of time at pool school working up to this vital skill. First we have to develop good enough fundamentals to consistently deliver the cueball well. That means where we want, at the speed we want, having been struck at the right tip height so that the cueball is in the desired "phase of motion" when it hits the target object ball.

Then we begin to learn that what matters in position play is understanding and controlling what the cueball is doing when it gets where it's going. I don't care what you did on the back of the cueball. I care what it's doing when it hits something. Is it rolling, skidding, back-spinning, or in-between? How fast is it moving and how much rotation does it have and in which direction? There's more, but these are the main concerns.

As we begin to work toward a clearer understanding of position play, we learn about the Stun Shot – the most important shot in pool. A stun shot is any shot where the cueball arrives at the moment of impact with the object ball and the cueball is skidding. It's sliding on the cloth, with no backspin or forward roll. With stun, the cueball always leaves the impact moment at 90 degrees (perpendicular) to the line of centers of the two balls when they are touching. This is our first approximation for most position play. We learn how to see this line and how to adjust forward or back from it.

The Stop Shot is a Stun Shot that happens to be straight in. Because there is no cut angle, and because all the linear force in the cueball goes directly into the OB, the CB stops. Since the CB is sliding (stunned), there is no rotation left in the ball to move it forward or back. In other words, we get a stop shot on a straight shot when the cueball is skidding at impact. Period.

For the cueball to be skidding, you must strike it with an appropriate combination of tip height and ball speed. They both matter. Tip height will typically be below center. The ball starts moving with backspin, which wears off to skid.

Note that your fundamentals have to be good so you can deliver the CB to the OB impact consistently, accurately, and in the intended phase of motion. Just knowing how this works is not enough, but knowing will certainly help.

For more detail, and to learn one of the most important exercises we teach in pool school, send me an email requesting a copy of my article "Mastering the Stun Shot." This is powerful stuff.

FYI, if you are playing on barboxes, you may be using an oversize/overweight cueball. If that's the case, your cueball is heavy, and a stun shot will not take all the linear force out of the ball. That means, at impact, you actually need a touch of backspin to stop the ball. If you're playing on Diamond Smart Tables, your cueball is the same as the other balls and the physics is as above. Otherwise, you likely have a heavy ball and must adjust accordingly.