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Understanding Cue Ball Deflection and English

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Playing billiards at a high level requires more than just buying the best pool cue. What really separate the "bangers" from the top players is the ability to control where the cue ball goes.

True cue ball control is more than just making the shot you're going for. It allows you to set yourself up in a position to make a string of shots and hopefully run out the rack to win the game. Getting “shape” (a pool term meaning good position) often requires the player to manipulate the cue ball’s path by applying side spin and to do this accurately you absolutely MUST understand cue ball deflection and how to adjust for it.

Deflection is a billiard term used to describe what happens when a pool player strikes the cue ball outside of the vertical axis in order to create left or right spin. To help you understand this concept we got some help from one of the greatest spinners of the cue ball, Florian "Venom" Kohler, to break it down for us.

Transcript:

Hey, I'm Florian Venom Kohler and today I wanted to tell you about deflection. I know it's a big word, but it's really not that hard to explain, actually.

So deflection is basically when you hit the cue ball not on a vertical axis. That means, you know, left or right. So, if you hit it on the left side, your ball is going to squirt on the right side, and if you hit it on the right side it's going to squirt on the left side.

Basically you use left and right spin to kind of move the cue ball around, so you can play better position. Very important thing and you really have to know how much your cue deflects to play better pool.

To help you understand the concept, we're going to show you in super slow motion what deflection really looks like.

So what you're going to see is the cue ball squirt off the tip at a slight angle. The angle depends on the tip offset from the center and the equipment. So, specifically the tip and the shaft. The better quality, usually the lower deflection and the less angle difference you're going to get. The cool thing is speed is not a factor in the squirt angle.

Squirt Factors
Squirt is an angle change in the cue ball path caused by hitting off the vertical center. The angle depends on the amount of tip offset and the pool cue.

Speed does affect the way spin brings the cue ball back to the stick line. Slower speed will allow spin to grab the cloth more, and faster speed will not come back as much.

Swerve Factors
Swerve describes how to rotation brings the cue ball back to the stick line. This effect is influenced by stroke speed, stick elevation, stick angle, and cloth/ball conditions.
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Here is a comparison of deflection for three different shafts. The first is a professional quality low deflection shaft. The second one is a "medium deflection" shaft which is essentially a nice two piece cue with a solid maple shaft in at standard 13mm tip size. The "high deflection" shaft is a special cue that has extra front end mass to amplify the deflection effect.

Deflection Comparison

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