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How To Shoot Off the Rail

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Shooting Off The Winger

I got myself into a tough spot the other day, and thought it would be a good to explain how I dug myself out. I was playing 9 ball and wanted to fall straight on the 8. Well, I over hit the shot and went a little further than I wanted, getting stuck on the rail.

Now this doesn't look all that bad (See Below), but, when your cue ball is frozen on the rail, you can easily miss this shot. I'm sure a lot of you get a little antsy when you have to shoot one of these shots and really have to make the ball. I didn't like my chances of winning this game if I missed the 8.


Table Shot Scenerio

Setting Up The Shot

Here are the things to do that will help you pocket more of these difficult shots. First make sure your cue tip is groomed and the edges are chalked. Take a bit of extra time to help settle yourself and get this right. Now as you get into your stance, you want to make sure your cue stick is really level. Hitting down on the cue ball will cause it to bounce and curve and you won't be very accurate.


Cue Position

Now the next thing to help us hit these shots better is choking up a little on our cue stick. We want to hold the grip forward of where we normally do. The reason for this is that our bridge hand is closer to the cue ball than normal, so to keep our back arm perpendicular to the cue ball on contact, we need to move our grip up a bit.

Cue Position
Notice how forward my grip hand is on the butt of my cue stick. The next key point is to make sure you are hitting the vertical axis of the cue ball. You find this spot on the cue ball by matching up the top curve of the cue ball with the top curve of the cue stick.

Taking The Shot

Now once you have done all of this you are ready to swing. There are three keys to swinging at these shots. One is keeping your head still. You can do this by keeping your eyes on the cue ball when you swing or locking them on the object ball for at least a second before you swing. Either way, don't move your eyes during the swing as this will cause your head to move and you will miss.

Cue Position

Now all we do is pull back SLOWLY, slightly pause, and start our stick forward SLOWLY. A key point here is to make doubly sure that the tension in your grip hand does not change.

Slow and soft, letting the weight of the cue stick pocket the ball. If you follow this recipe, I think you will start pocketing more of these difficult shots.

Good luck and see you on the road.