: Liz Ford
Return to your center. Great, calming advice from your life coach, yoga instructor or parole officer on how to cope with challenges. Real life intrudes on pool once again as this mantra is also a go to for good position play. Getting the cueball to the center of the table, pocketing shots from the center, and getting the cueball to the center once again is an ebb and flow that can enhance your mastery of 8-Ball, 9-Ball and Straight Pool. Here are the key principles in understanding how to make the center of the table work for you:
Most shots can be made from the center of the table.
Assuming that the object ball and/or pocket isn't blocked by another ball, pretty much any ball is pocketable from the center of the table (without banking). The major exceptions are: balls very close to the cueball, balls close to the middle of the end rail and balls close to the rail on either side of the side pockets. Get comfortable with cutting balls in from the center position.
There are many routes to the center of the table.
One rail. Two rails. English. No english. Draw. Follow. There can be an unlimited number of ways to get back to the center from one shot alone. You might rely on one that works best for you if the table is open, but keep in mind that you'll constantly be required to discover new routes and tweak old ones in order to navigate around traffic on the table.
Banish indecision and keep your options open at the same time.
If you're having trouble coming up with a plan for the rack, check to see if the center is a viable option. If you're playing 8-Ball or Straight Pool, it's likely the center of the table will yield multiple options for your next shot. By having a safe, pinpoint target for the cueball, you can free your mind to execute without worrying about the shot that's coming next. In 9-Ball you'll learn to play so many shots to and from the center that it'll become a pleasantly automatic place to land. The bonus is that the center of the table is the farthest point from any pocket that might tempt a scratch.
The cheapest training tool in the world.
A circular piece of paper laid in the middle of the table can help you in your quest to find center. You can either take a shot over and over and work on different routes or play a more dynamic scenario with a multi-ball run out, but the goal is always the same - the cueball must always come to rest on the paper. The better you get, the smaller you can make your target.
Learning to find the center is a bench mark for adjusting to table speed.
Conditions change from day to day and from table to table. If you've trained yourself on routes to the center of the table, you'll quickly find out if you're overhitting or underhitting shots under today's conditions. If you get time to warm up before you play – focus your energy on the finding the center, this will help you adjust the speed of all your positions and give you confidence to tackle the game.