: PoolDawg Staff
Oh, defense... we chant its name in basketball arenas and everyone loved Matlock, so why when pool is involved is it labeled as “dirty?” Keeping your opponent from scoring is a huge part of most sports and it's also a strategic element of competitive pool. Leaving your opponent without a shot, or playing safe, allows you to stay in control even when your opponent is at the table. This short guide will show you how to incorporate defense into your game to ensure that you make your opponent beat you instead of giving it all away.
1. Start early.
More balls on the table equals more balls that can serve as blockers. Get in control right out of the gate by attempting to get ball-in-hand - it'll make running out easier and not allow your opponent to come up for air.
2. Control the cue ball.
Send the cue ball behind one ball, or into an area that is clogged with blockers. The general rule of safeties is to try to control only one ball, either the cue ball or the object ball, but not both. Put your entire focus into the speed and direction of the cue ball to get the best results. 3. Control the object ball In 9-ball, both you and your opponent are shooting at the same ball. If you can't pocket it, send it behind some blockers so you opponent can't either. In 8-ball, place your ball in front of your opponent's balls making them unplayable.
4. Go the distance.
Even if you can't block the shot entirely, try to get as much green between the cue ball and your opponent's ball. Distance makes controlling any shot much harder.
5. Don't get too cute.
Placing the cue ball or object ball in a general area, say behind a wall of two or three potential blockers, is much easier that trying to generate a riskier pin-point safety behind one ball.
6. Play a safety, gasp, even with ball-in-hand!
Use ball-in-hand to send your object ball crashing into a cluster or problem ball while simultaneously hiding the cue ball. Next time you get ball-in-hand you'll have a better shot at running out.
7. Go for three.
9-ball has a nifty little rule that if a player commits a foul on three consecutive shots, it results in lose of game. Use this to your advantage when the table is FUBAR by playing safe repeatedly. Just make sure to warm your opponent after two fouls or it won't count.
8. Build defense into your offense.
The two-way shot is a beautiful thing - going for it while simultaneously putting your opponent in a bad position. In 9-ball, try a risky bank on the two if you can see the three but your opponent won't be able to see the two if you miss. In 8-ball, build a little insurance into a tough shot by leaving your opponent in the worst possible location.
9. If defense and offense are equally hard, choose offense.
If you're faced with a situation where both options are tough, choose to be aggressive to give yourself a chance to win the game.
10. Let your game evolve.
As time goes on, both your offensive and defensive skills will develop. The balance between playing safe or going for a shot may change as you progress, so keep an open mind.