Have you ever been in a game of billiards and your object ball is sitting deep inside the pocket just hanging there waiting to be knocked in? These shots look so easy, yet you always seem to scratch on them.
When a ball is left hanging inside the pocket, take a minute to think about what you need to achieve in the shot, take in to account for where you need the cue ball to go afterwards. If you just shoot straight at the ball you will most likely just follow the object ball into the pocket. In order to not scratch on these shots, you need to apply draw action on the cue ball. Depending on how deep in the pocket the ball is, you may be able to graze the side of it and be able to knock it in.
You must be careful with these shots, but don’t worry, in this article I will explain to you why these shots can be tricky and how to shoot them without scratching.
What Makes These Shots Difficult?
You’re probably wondering why this shot would be difficult if it is hanging in the pocket. And the difficulty of the shot does not apply to making the ball, what makes it difficult is controlling the cue ball afterwards. When the object ball is so close to the pocket you are risking a scratch every time you shoot at it if you do not know these tips I’m going to give you in the next section.
When you are shooting a hanging ball, if the cue ball has any forward spin on the ball whether you applied it intentionally or it has picked it up from the friction from the cloth, you are very likely to follow the ball into the pocket. So for starters you will need to understand the fundamentals of your stance and stroke to be sure you are hitting the cue ball where you are aiming. As well as understand how spin works on the cue ball and how over the distance the cue ball travels it will wear off and pick up spin from friction from the cloth.
So for example, you see your object ball hanging inside the pocket, you decide to put a little backspin on the ball to prevent the scratch. But you are on the opposite side of the table so about halfway across the table that backspin you put on the cue ball has worn off and because of the friction from the cloth the cue ball begins to spin forward. Now once it contacts the object ball the forward spin will keep the cue ball rolling forward and most likely because of how close it is to the pocket will follow it in.
That is what makes this shot difficult, mostly because players underestimate the difficulty of the shot, thinking all they have to do is touch the ball. Not realizing that by doing so they are putting the cue ball a couple centimeters from the pocket risking a scratch.
How To Avoid A Scratch?
There are a few ways to approach this shot, depending on the angle you have with the object ball as well as where you are needing the cue ball to go afterwards. How comfortable you feel with using English or spin on the cue ball is also another factor every player will need to consider when addressing how to approach this shot.
Lets break this shot down by considering few different setups that you may have such as straight-in on long rail, straight-in on short rail, or with a slight angle. There are more than one way to play each one of these shots, but the ways that I explain have been very helpful to me over the years, and I believe they will help you.
Straight-In On Long Rail
Being straight-in on a ball that is hanging in the pocket on the long rail can be a little tricky because depending on the table, some have really deep pockets that can almost hide the whole ball from you. I’m going to break down two different scenarios with two different ways to approach this shot.
If the table you are playing on has really deep pockets and you can only see a sliver of the ball and that is all, that is okay, this actually makes the shot easier in my opinion. Although this may make the target smaller it makes it harder for the cue ball to follow the object ball in because it will go off the side of the object ball.
Depending on how much of the object ball is visible and you can most likely just hit the cue ball with a little draw action, and because of the angle off the side of the object ball combined with the draw action will cause the cue ball to not follow the object ball in. Keep in mid the distance between the cue ball and object ball as the greater the distance the harder the ball will need to struck or the lower the cue ball will need to be struck to apply more back spin so it doesn’t wear out over the distance the ball must travel.
If the table you are playing on does not have deep pockets and you can see the full object ball sitting in the pocket, you have a few different options.
- You could draw the shot straight back to avoid following the ball in.
- You could try to go off the side of the object ball.
- You could use a combination of draw and sidespin to spin the cue ball off the object ball.
Never just hit the center of the cue ball or worse apply top spin intentionally on this shot as you are most likely going to scratch.
Straight-In On Short Rail
Being straight-in on the short rail on this shot makes it a lot easier because the distance factor goes away with the draw shot. Make sure you actually put draw on the ball and not follow or you will likely scratch.
Being on the short rail has an advantage over the long rail in that the pocket is never hiding any of the ball from you so you have several options.
- You could draw the ball back.
- You could go off the side of the object ball.
- My favorite tip if you are needing to get the cue ball off of the rail for position is to elevate you cue like 30 degrees and when you strike through the ball it will pop up and go away from the rail, can come in handy very often.
Short rail shots on hanging balls is normally pretty easy, its when distance becomes a factor when more problems arise.
With An Angle
Having an angle on the object ball that is hanging in the pocket is ideal as it gives you the most possibilities for positioning the cue ball afterwards by being able to take advantage of using the rails. When you have an angle, you can use whatever English you need as long as you make sure to hit the right side of the object ball.
So I’ve broken down the common pitfalls that cause you to scratch on these shots and why to never underestimate them. I have given you some tips on how to make these shots and avoid scratching. Now in order to feel more comfortable with them, you must practice. Only by practicing these shots will they truly become as easy as they look.