How To Make Kick and Bank Shots

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Hi my name is Florian Kohler, also known as Venom. Here with me is Jamillette. Last month, if you remember, we covered how to aim. Today we're going to raise the bar a little bit, and we're going to go over to Kicks and Banks in the game of pool.

First off we're going to do a little bit of physics. So, a pool table is two squares of equal size. That means that this distance here, is the same as here, and the same as here. So this big rectangle is actually two squares. All these things here they are not just for being pretty. We call this a diamond because it's usually shaped like a diamond, and basically they're going to mark distances.

Diamond Grid

The distance between two diamonds is the same all the way around the table. It's also the same distance between the diamond and the pocket. If you imagine it makes the whole entire square, it's going to help you guide your ball.

What I’m about to show you is called the Diamond System, or the Mirror Image System. This will help you know how to manage the table and calculate some points. It's a very common shot making system. Before we go further, let’s define some terms.

Difference Between Bank Shots and Kick Shots

Bank Shots Vs Kick Shots
A bank shot is when you hit the cue ball into an object ball, which then hits off a rail and goes into the pocket. A kick shot is when the cue ball is hit into a rail, and then proceeds to pocket an object ball.

So now that we know the difference between a kick and a bank, we're going to go over kick shots first.

Kick Shots

So if the cue ball is right here, imagine that my opponent has played a safety. I need to play the six ball and I can't really make it. It's a very common shot. So what you're going to do is a kick shot. First, I'm going to count the diamonds. Here is my diamond line, right? So count one, two, three, and four diamonds. Now what I'm going to do is use some physics that we talked about earlier. Remember, we call this the mirror image, so I'm going to take the number of diamonds, four, and divide it by two.

Let’s use some cues to visualize this. If we place these cues from the cue ball, to the rail, to the object ball, you can see that we’ve made two triangles by separating a big triangle in half at an equal distance. This is called the Mirror Angle.

If you aim towards that diamond, your cue ball should end up in that corner. So I'm going to go ahead and set a ball right there, and I'm going to shoot the second diamond. The line was so good that I actually scratched.

This system works really well, and it works from anywhere on the table. Let's say the cue ball is here and you have balls blocking your shot. Once again, count the diamonds. One, two, three, four, five, six, and seven. So I'm going to divide seven by two, which is three and a half. It's a little more complex because three and a half is a little harder to visualize.

That worked. It's a little harder because it’s a longer shot and you have half a diamond to deal with, but it still works. The system is not perfect, but it is going to help you and guide you. It is perfect in theory, but sometimes your ball is not going to be exactly on this line. If it’s not, you're going to have to kind of adjust for it. So the same system works but instead of trying to measure the angle from the diamond, you're going to have to try to project it so you make the same triangle as before.

Kicks with Spin

It’s one thing to just shoot straight, but sometimes you can't. If I'm blocked here and I do my calculation on the two diamonds, I can't hit that second diamond because it’s blocked. So that's a problem. We're going to use the previous lesson about cue ball control and add that to it.

So in that case, the best I can do is probably shoot here, closer to the pocket. And if I go here and we visualize that triangle again, we're going to be a little short. So it should be something like that so we can't we can't make the object ball, technically it’s impossible.

The good thing is we can use spin. In this case I know that left spin is going to open the angle. So I'm going to shoot here and put a little bit of left spin, maybe two tips of left, and that should be it.

Now the same thing works in reverse as well. So let's say this time I am blocked entirely on the other side where I still can't aim at the second diamond. I have to aim further. So the same way we can compensate using spin to open the angle, which would put you too short, we can apply right spin to shorten the angle. We're going to reduce the triangle and try to change the angle.

This is basically how banking/kicking works, you've got to find the easiest way to do it. If you can't do it the easy way, apply spin and you should be OK. The basic rule for spin and kick is one tip of spin is going to give you one diamond of distance, usually.

One tip is going to put the cue ball here, one diamond away. Two tips of spin, basically the edge the ball, is going to put the cue ball two diamonds away. And if you put extreme english, a lot of left it doesn't take the cue ball much further. And then you can apply and modify all that.

Bank Shots

Kick shots don’t happen all the time, and most of the time people want to know how to bank a ball. Here's a typical bank shot. You have the object ball, in this case the 14, here you want to make it in the side pocket because you have a pocket that's blocked or something like that.

You're going to use the same system. It's a little harder to see, but you're going to use the same mirror image system. Basically, the angle at which you enter is going to be the angle at which you exit. In this case, I have very small angle. So if I measure it a little bit, I can see my entrance angle, and my exit angle should be just fine.

And there you go, that's a classic bank shot. Of course not all bank shots are easy like that. So you know you can have this and try to go in that corner. It's basically the same system, but because it's close to the rail it's a little different. A lot of the time you're going to have this kind of bank shot, one that’s an even tighter angle. Again, the same system applies, so the angle the object ball is going to enter is going to be the angle that it exits. So if I draw a line and I want to make this ball, I try to find the middle, visualize the mirror image system. And there you go.

Notes and Adjustments

Next, is actually a shot that I use when I first approach a table to see how it plays. In this case I want to go 3 rails – I'm going to go long rail, short rail, long rail and into the object ball.

To make this shot you need to use what we call running english. Running english is when you put a little bit of spin towards where you're going to hit the rail. So in this case, the natural english when you hit the rail needs to be right english because that’s the direction you want the ball to go.

If you hit the same shot with left spin, I'm going to show you what it does. You see, it does something very different and the ball slows down. Every time you need to travel more than one rail usually you should try to use running English to help you go around as much as possible because if you play just center ball it's going to be very difficult. A lot of banks and kicks require running English, which again is just a little bit of spin that you use to go the natural way.

How to Use Running English

Running English
Apply side spin to the cue ball in the direction that you want the ball to continue to travel after contacting the rail.

Now back to this shot, I want to go three rails. This is helpful when I’m playing on a new table, because I want to test the table and see if it plays short or long.

If I hit three rails and the table plays long, the cue ball will end up here. And if it plays short it would arrive here. For consistency, I always use the same spots. I'm going to try to aim at the third diamond and I'm going to see what it does. So when I say the third diamond, I'm going to go one, two, three, and just aim for it while using running English, a good stroke, and a good follow-through. This table plays a little bit long. All right.

PoolDawg Frank Frank Says:  When using the diamond system for kick and bank shots make sure you are aiming at where the diamond intersects the point of the bumper. Don’t aim at the diamond itself!"

Now I'm going to do the same thing, but I'm going to aim slightly before the third diamond. And that should be perfect.
This is what I do when I first discover a table because that kind of helps me to judge how the rails are going to play. Aiming systems are great, but nothing replaces your instincts. If I know the table plays long, instead of aiming for the second diamond like before we might have to aim a little differently because the table is going to play long and I know that I need to open the angle.

How Shot Speed Affects Kick and Bank Shots

Running English
Medium speed is the baseline for using the Diamond System. You can reduce the rebound angle off the rail by hitting at faster speeds or increase the rebound angle by hitting at a slower speed.

Another aspect of banking and kicking is how hard you hit every bank and every kick. So basically the harder you hit, the more the cue ball is going to stay in a straight line and the softer you hit the more it's going to open the angle. That's really all you have to know. But let's say I'm shooting at a ball that’s two diamonds away. I'll show you the difference. I'm going hit it really hard. See how short it is? I'm going to do the same thing, but I'm going to shoot it really soft. And it goes long. Most banks and kicks need to be hit at a medium speed in order for it to work.

The good thing about force is you can adjust your angle, so you can apply spin, plus force, plus follow and draw to modify all these angles. But again it's a very complicated topic.


One exercise is to try to make a couple of bank shots in a row. Just one after another. And you can keep going. You can do five, ten, depending on your level and on how comfortable you are. The more you're go around and test the table, the more you’ll know about how it plays and how crazy you can get with the bank shots.

Thanks guys for watching. I hope you understood everything I was telling you. But really it's a lot of practice, so don't get discouraged. Practice as much as you can. I wish you the best of luck with it. But it's going to help your game tremendously once you can manage all that. Don't forget to subscribe to my channel right here and check out for all your pool and billiards supplies.

* Video transcript has been modified for the reader