: Liz Ford
Spin It to Win It – Using English in Pool, Part 2
Last month, I shared with you the basic terminology of side-spin (along with copious analogies about salt.) This month, the focus is on some practical tips for integrating English into your game that revolve (pun intended) around not missing the shot at the expense of the spin. Regardless of the type of cue you use (low-deflection, hybrid, or broom handle,) you’ll need to make adjustments in your aiming - based on deflection, curve and throw - in order to be able to pocket balls with English. I could start a long, lengthy diatribe about some funky aiming system based on the phases of the moon (the secret of pool finally revealed!,) but my philosophy is that the only system you need is experimentation and practice until the adjustments feel natural. As you head down the rabbit hole, here are some tenets to keep in mind:
The farther away from center ball that you hit on the cue ball, the more you'll need to adjust your aim on the object ball. To test this out, take your favorite shot and start applying English. Begin with half a tip of right-hand spin and work your way out to the edge of the cue ball to get a feel for how English affects your aim. Now try left-hand spin. Limiting the degree of spin you use can keep you at the table when you're playing under pressure or acclimating to different equipment.
Longer shots with English typically require more drastic and difficult adjustments than shorter ones. Start the learning process by placing an object ball six inches away from the pocket and the cue ball a foot away from the object ball. Experiment pocketing the ball with different spins and then slowly increase your distances. In game situations, concentrate on applying English to medium length shots and shorter – use English on long shots only when absolutely necessary.
Speed and Stroke
Using a short punch stroke or hitting the cue ball very hard will make it difficult to aim correctly. Keep your stroke level and silky smooth, making sure to follow through and observe the speed limit.
Save it for the Rails
The lion's share of English's usefulness lies in manipulating the angle at which the cue ball leaves the rail after contact. See just how powerful English can be by shooting the cue ball straight at the rail with right or left-hand English and watching the different angles at which it departs. In most cases, if you're pocketing a ball and you won't be hitting a rail, English isn't necessary.
Love your Red-Headed Stepchild
Inside English gets a bad reputation as being more difficult to use than that goody-two-shoes, outside English. One of the basic truths of pool is that if you avoid certain shots because they scare you or give you trouble, you'll never get enough experience with them to learn or improve. Inside English is a vital tool for your arsenal and should be practiced just as much as outside English.