Ask The Master - Having some issues with my 8 and 9 ball break. Where is the best place to break from to be more consistent in making a ball on each of the above breaks. Also, where should the cue ball be struck. I am an APA level 5 player in both 8 and 9 ball.

The break is a special shot. Top players spend a lot of time on it, and serious players typically have their own break cue.

There is no magic spot for breaking, as conditions change from table to table and day to day. You can "read" the white skid marks on the cloth and see where most of the breaking has been from, but that doesn't mean it will be successful for you, today.

For 9-Ball, most players break from the side rail, with the cueball about 2 to 3 ball widths from the cushion. They generally try to hit dead square on the 1-ball, from wherever they are coming from. This makes it possible to roughly control the cueball's end position, as it can bounce back to center table if all goes properly. This break often makes the "wing ball," the corner ball in the rack. The "cut break" is a break aimed slightly less full on the 1, with the intention of making the 1 in the side pocket.

For 8-Ball, players break from a variety of places. In many APA venues, conditions are not ideal. Balls are dirty and may be out of round or worn out. The cueball may be oversize/overweight. Generally, most 8-ballers try to hit square on the head ball at a tip height that bounces the cueball back to the center area of the table. If the CB is coming back to you, hit a little higher. If it's going forward, hit a little lower.

The other break that's common in 8-Ball aims to hit full on the second ball in the rack, breaking from the side rail. The hope is to make the 8 on the break. All too often, the reality is your cueball is stuck behind some balls near the foot of the table.

Then we have to consider table size. The rack is in a slightly different place relative to the pockets on each table size, so what works on one size table is not likely to give you the same results on another size.

Your tip height should be the height that controls the cueball, as mentioned above. You don't want to hit high and try to bang into the rack a second time. Better not to waste energy spinning the cueball.

Try to get as much energy as you can accurately control into the rack and out of the cueball. Most high-level players break at about 3/4ths of their maximum power, as the accuracy loss for a little extra power is not worth it.

Observe closely. Make small adjustments to control the cueball. Try to repeat whatever is working.