Ask The Master - How much english is too much? I feel as though I'm missing the nuances of small amounts of english to accomplish my leave. Do you have any tips or general rules to help keep me from using more english than needed?

First advice: Master the vertical axis of the cue ball. Most position play is accomplished through good planning and good speed control. Use sidespin in small amounts, and only as needed, making all the necessary aim adjustments for squirt, swerve, throw, etc.

The Big Myth: Most players believe sidespin changes the angle the cue ball leaves the collision with the object ball. Nope. Cue ball always leaves at 90 degrees relative to the line of ball centers. Sidespin mostly stays in the CB, and can then alter the path of the CB once the CB changes direction.

How much sidespin to use? The answer is surprising. You get the most spin-induced throw effect when your tip strikes the CB at about half of maximum offset. You can touch the CB up to 9/16" from the vertical axis without miscuing. So this means spin-induced throw is at maximum when your tip hits the ball about 1/4" from the vertical axis (not the center of your tip – rather, where it actually touches the cue ball).

To learn about the four ways we use sidespin, send me an email requesting my article "Forgive Me, For I Have Spinned." To learn more about maximum spin-induced throw, request my recent column entitled "Real It In."

To contact Tom directly about receiving the "Forgive Me, For I Have Spinned." or "Real It In." columns, you can email him at