While I was at the Marietta Billiards Club, I had a lesson with a long time student. He was having problems shooting long shots with top spin and wanted to see if I had any ideas on how to help him.
Here is the situation he presented:
He thought that he needed to hit extra high on the cue ball to get enough top spin to carry it 3 rails but that is not the case. In this article I will explain why it doesn't make sense to go for "extra top spin" to increase the amount of follow and I'll help you be more accurate on these types of long shots.
First, the idea of top spin is really a myth! The cue ball has 3 basic phases of motion; backspin, slide and roll. Backspin is draw, slide is a stun shot, and roll is a follow shot. Hitting higher on the cue ball gets the cue ball rolling sooner, but doesn’t put any over spin on the cue ball.So hitting really high is a bad idea because we never really have our cue stick perfectly level and most of the time we are hitting slightly down into the cue ball. On most shots where the cue ball is reasonably close to the object ball, we can get away with this slight down hit, but over 3 or 4 diamonds, a slight error may haunt us.
The next cause of error is not being perfect on the vertical axis. Any slight error in hitting the vertical axis and we have a compound force slightly pushing the cue ball into the table. You can think of this effect as a mini-full masse effect. So what happens to the cue ball is that it doesn’t travel exactly down the line your cue stick is pointing on. The answer to this problem of ‘how do we accurately hit the cue ball and have follow on the cue ball after it hits the object ball’, raises a key point about using spin. The important point isn’t what spin you put on the cue ball, but rather what spin is still on the cue ball when it hits the object ball. As Tom Simpson says, “It is the moment of impact that is the key.” I’m sure you all have heard someone say I hit the cue ball low, but it didn’t draw back. Well, if you don’t hit it hard enough, the back spin will wear off and the cue ball will roll forward.
To be more accurate on these long shots, and have the cue ball rolling at the moment of impact, we don’t need to use a high shot on the cue ball at all.
Here is about where I hit the cue ball for these long shots. By the time the cue ball gets to the object ball it is rolling, and with my close to the center on the vertical axis hit, my cue ball is traveling in the same direction that my cue stick is pointing.Try hitting your long follow shots a bit lower on the cue ball and you will see an increase in accuracy. I think the general rule is that the closer to the center you hit the cue ball, the more accurate you will be.
See you on the road!