How to Aim and Control the Cue Ball

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Hi, my name is Florian Kohler, also known as Venom. Here with me is Jamillette. As you remember last month we covered all the basics of pool including the stance, the bridge. Today we're going to push you even further and I'm going to show you guys how to aim.

How To Aim When Shooting Pool

So, as you know, there are many, many aiming systems. Some of them are really complex, but I'm going to go over one right now that to me, in my opinion, is the best one and probably the easiest one to get right away. It's what is called the Ghost Ball Method.

Ghost Ball Aiming Method

Let’s take this ball here, we're going to take the five ball and just put it in the middle. When you get a straight shot, it's pretty easy. Think about the cue ball, and imagine your cue ball replacing the one ball right here. If you put a line from the middle of the pocket, from the five, to the one, to the cue ball, you’re basically in a straight line. So if you hit that straight line and imagine your cue ball in place of the one ball, you're going to make the five ball. I can't miss that. There's no way, this is easy.

So straight shots are not usually a big problem for people, especially when they're a close distance like that, this however is a lot more difficult. People always look and try to find a line or whatever, but really it's the same easy thing. So to make the one ball here, I'm going to imagine the two ball in a straight line from the one, to the two, and in to the center of the pocket. Technically, if my cue ball replaces the two ball, I'm going to make the one ball. So, I'm going to remove the two ball, put it here. Shoot the one ball, and boom! Same thing.

This system works pretty much from everywhere. As long as you're at the right degree, you'll be okay. So let's try a really hard cut this time. We're going to do the same thing, let's put my white ball here. Now this is getting to be a very difficult shot, but if you look at the line to make this eight ball in the pocket, we're going to put the two ball here, straight line, right here, just like that. Look at your cue ball, and imagine your cue ball replacing the two ball. Now once you imagine that, you're going to remove the two ball and I'm going to shoot it. Same thing, you can't really miss. So of course it takes some getting used to, but really the method is very simple.

(More examples of the Ghost Ball Aiming Method…) And basically the system works everywhere. So let's say I got this ball and here cue ball here. This is not an easy shot. So I'm going to use the same system and find my line to make the two. Here we go. Here's a three ball and I'm going to go back to my cue ball, replace the cue ball with the three ball. Remove it. And yeah, basically you really can't miss using this system.

Now many of the big mistakes are because people think of a ball as a square or a flat plane. Which is basically the reason you have to replace it. If you look at the point of contact, it is not the same because it's a circle. So depending on your angle it's going to be a little bit different. That's why you have to use the ghost ball to actually visualize a better point of contact. It’s not the perfect method, and there are a lot of different ways, but that is definitely the easiest one.

Cue Ball Control

You know the difference between a professional and an amateur is the professional just simply controls the cue ball better. There are a few different spins you can put on a ball. We're going to start right here with the ball straight in and the cue ball little bit away. This is what we call a stop shot.

For stop shots you're going to go one tip below center. So you know you take the center of your ball just a little bit below, right here. As you can see the white ball just stayed in place it's what we call a stop shot. It's a very important shot in pool. Also very easy. You can't really mess up too bad.

The next big thing is what we call a follow shot. You're going to go a little bit above the center, push through it, and the white ball is just going to follow. Just like that. Now obviously it's better if you try stay in line.

That was a little follow, now let's cover draw. Draw is basically the reverse of the follow, it's just going to draw back, come back to you. So instead of going up, you're going to be a little bit under the center by a tip or two and the white ball comes back to you.

It would be easy if it were only those, but unfortunately there are a few more. So next is left spin and right spin. Left spin is exactly the same thing, but you're going to go towards 9:00 on the cue ball somewhere like here. If you look at it, it's going to cause the white ball to spin. Now the same thing is possible on the other side. So we're going to do right spin at 3:00, just like that. As you see the ball is spinning. At this moment you might not realize what it does. But, the big thing is you can combine all these spins.

So let's say I have a very typical situation here. I have this angle, and I want to go play position for the eight ball. There are several ways to get there, but you need to combine spins.

If I played only top, I'll show you what it does. It's not bad, but it's not great. I'm a little far and I would like an easier shot on the eight ball, so I'm going to do another one. To help you, put top and a little bit of right english, top right. Look at what the white ball does. It's going to open the angles, and it's going to come a lot closer. And I have perfect shape for the next ball.

Let’s say you're going to hit straight. If you hit straight into the diamond here, center ball, the white ball comes back straight to you, right. If you aim with a lot of left spin, straight into the diamond, the ball is going to go to the left. If you do the same thing with the right spin, it's going to go to the right. As you can imagine, there are many combinations that are possible. So it goes from right, top left, and the same thing works below center. You can do the exact same thing. Bottom left will help me go around the table. You can see the ball gets a lot of momentum and drives around the table. If you had a ball here, it would be perfect position.

Throw (Deviation)

So if you put follow or draw on the cue ball, your line is going to stay the same so your ghost ball system is going to work. It's not going to be a problem it's going to work perfectly. But if you start to put spin on the ball, the ghost ball system is not going to work the same for one simple reason. When I put spin on the ball, let’s say left spin, that ball is mechanically going to spin this way. Then it's going to provoke the opposite spin on this ball, which is going to spin this way slightly.

You might not see it with your eyes, but it does that to the ball. That means that if you have a straight shot and you place a lot of left spin, look at what it does to the fourteen ball. See, I missed it. And you think I just missed it because I didn't aim right, but I aimed at the exact right point. When you use a lot of spin, you have to compensate, so I have to aim a little more here, simply because the spin is going to drive me on the other side of the pocket.

At this moment, if you are just starting to learn pool and if you're a beginner and you try to get used to the table and get used to play position. Try to limit the side spin as much as possible, because it's going to be very difficult for you to aim. But if you play with follow, draw, and a little bit of spin, it should not affect your game too much.


Okay, so if you really want to push into more details for the ghost ball system, PoolDawg has this great tool, it's called the Ghost Ball Aim Trainer. It’s going to help you visualize what I was telling you. You put that ball here just like that, and I'm going to put my white ball, and there's literally a circle that's drawn here, and I can see the entire thing that I was explaining to you. Now, you can turn this thing here, but obviously you've got to line up with the pocket. Let's say we do it here. Line it up with the pocket, my white ball is here, so I should make it same way.It works like a charm, and it's pretty cheap, too. I recommend that if you can't visualize the ghost ball method by yourself.
Now as far as the cue ball control goes, it's a little more complex. So the first drill I'd suggest for people is this one. We start again from where we said, and you're just going to have to try to follow the cue ball into the 9, and into the pocket, so that both balls go in the same pocket. Just like that. Then you can do the same thing with a draw shot. Line them up, and pocket both balls. Now you're pretty good here, and now you can start to add the spin to the equation.

So what I do is I'm going to go here, and I'm just going to go in this zone here first, just to follow here. Stay in my zone. So I'm going to do the same thing here, but try go in that zone so I'm going to have to use a little bit of spin. It's a little short, but I'm still in my zone. Then I'm going to try to go here, same position again. So now I'm going to start to put a little more spin again. There you go. See I'm right there, it’s pretty good.

And you can invent your own drills too. It really is up to you to control how much spin you're going to put on the ball and how much maximum and little and medium. And you know everybody is different. Just practice and you'll get it.

All right guys I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. It's a very important part of pool so please practice that. Don't forget to check out for all of your pool supplies. And make sure to stay tuned for our next episode where we will cover Kicks and Banks.

* Video transcript has been modified for the reader