The Zen of Pool’s Stop Shot

Posted by : Liz Ford

Stop the Insanity! - The Zen of Pool's Stop Shot

There's no justice in the pool world. In a game where great players set themselves apart by how they move the cue ball – drawing it back the length of the table or threading it perfectly through traffic to get a shot - stopping the cue ball dead in its tracks should be the easiest thing to do. Sadly, it's not so. There's no simpler yet more complex shot on the table than the “simple” stop shot. Many nerdy, physical factors are at work to keep you from succeeding and like any good relationship, a decent rapport with the wily stop can take a while to build. The good news is that by mastering this game staple, you'll be well on your way to achieving pool nirvana... playing by feel.

Accuracy First

A very short little stopper – the object ball hanging over the side pocket with the cue ball six inches away – is really kind of tough. In order to paralyze the cue you must hit the object ball in the absolute dead center with zero side-spin. By starting small and perfecting your accuracy, you will be setting the stage for success on a grander scale.

Increase the Distance

Quieting the cue ball from five feet away is a much different shot than from one foot. Not only is accuracy more of a challenge, but in order for the cue ball to park itself on contact, it has to be sliding – not rolling as it does when it slows down - at that exact moment of the hit. The farther away the cue ball is from the object ball, the more distance it has to travel while still sliding.

The Life-Cycle of the Cue Ball

As the cue ball travels down the table, friction from the cloth works on slowing down not only speed but spin as well. Take for example a cue ball that is struck with backspin: it will start out spinning backwards while moving forward, then spend a little time sliding without any spin and finally start rolling once it's no longer moving fast enough to slide. Hitting an object ball during each of these phases will have produce a different cue ball effect: drawing back, stopping or rolling forward.

Combining Speed with Backspin

You can definitely keep the cue ball sliding longer by hitting it harder, but as Mr. Wizard just explained, adding backspin to the equation will also buy you time by delaying the onset of the slide. Playing around with the combination of speed and draw will allow you to hit the same stop shot in different ways, bringing the sliding cue ball to the object ball slower with more spin or faster with less.

The Origins of Feel

By perfecting the “simple” stop shot from increasing distances, with different mixtures of speed and backspin – even on different tables with faster and slower cloth - you'll begin to get a sense of timing and feel, things that are essential to the expert pool player. Zen-tastic translation: Enlightenment can't be taught, it must be achieved by experience.