If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. -Isaac Newton
I don’t want to scare you with any science but for this article I have combined two ideas, one from Jerry Briesath and the other from Ralph Eckert to give you a practical approach to playing position. I’m not that smart, but rather I took ideas from two giants in the game to come up with this positional concept.
Jerry’s idea is that with the same shot, you can play various kinds of position by just controlling the speed. Let’s make this simple and use three speeds, soft (lag speed), medium (3 table lengths) and hard (4 table lengths). Your speeds may vary so you will have to adjust accordingly.
Here is how that would look on the table.
We are shooting at the one and with a soft stroke we will go two rails and fall on the 2 ball. At a medium speed we will go further down the track line and get on the 3. A harder shot brings us either 3 or 4 rails to get on the four. As you can see, we don’t have to do anything special to play position here but just use the natural angle and speed to fall on the next ball.
Ralph Eckert’s idea is that there are some standard shot reference lines that we should know. The track we are looking at here is reference line number 2. This reference line idea says that when the cue ball and the object ball are within the red X’s, and the cue ball starts on the head string, making the object ball in the corner pocket brings the cue ball right back to where it started. Here is what that looks like:
The seven ball is on the spot and the cue ball is on the head string. Let’s combine this reference line with Jerry Briesath’s idea on position and speed to play position. By using soft, medium and hard speeds, we can play position on different balls.
As we can see from this diagram, by just controlling the speed of the cue ball, we can play position on balls just about anywhere on the table.
There is one final trick for us to look at. As long as the object ball and the cue ball are within the red x’s, we have a way to accurately know the track line of the cue ball without guessing. The cue ball will cross the head string where the cue stick crosses it. Or in other words, the cue ball will cross the spot on the head string where the line of the shot crosses it.
Here is the diagram
Here we have the one ball inside the red x’s from the previous diagram. We project the shot line to where it crosses the head string and have the circle about a diamond in diameter. We know that with a rolling cue ball and enough speed, the cue ball will cross this point. So to play position on the 4 ball we use a medium speed, and for the 6 we use a hard speed.
Your table might play faster or slower, but the idea is the same. Combine Ralph’s reference line with Jerry’s speed idea and you will really be playing some top drawer position.
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