by John Cheese
I don't care how boring a sport is, if you add a trick shot element to it, I'm instantly hooked. If there was a way to work trick shots into a game of chess, I'd watch in mouth-gaped awe, like a middle school kid seeing his first porno.
Pool tricks are my favorite, by far, and I have six shots that I can teach you, even if you have minimal experience with the game. If you know how to shoot the cue ball into an object ball, you can do these. Here are the ones I'll be teaching you, going from the easiest to the most difficult -- don't let the last one scare you. It's not as complicated as it looks:
Two-Ball Spot Split
In my opinion, this is the easiest trick shot of all time. You don't need to know cue ball speed or English. The setup takes two seconds. You don't even have to be very precise when you shoot it. If you can make the cue ball contact the object ball, this is going in.
I'm only showing you this shot because it's a great trainer for more complicated tricks. This is the foundation we'll use to make a 4-ball shot in a bit. So just do the shot before I slap you straight in the face.
Place two balls directly on the spot. Make sure they're touching, right over the center of it:
If you were to draw a line directly through the center of both balls, they should be pointing directly into the corner pocket (it doesn't matter which one).
Place the cue ball in the middle of the table. The whole shot looks like this:
Now, all you have to do is shoot the cue ball directly at where the two object balls are touching. Or if you prefer, shoot at the center dot on the far end of the table:
If we're going to get through this article, you're going to have to stop giggling every time I say the word "balls".
This is a little harder than the first shot, but only because you'll need to have a truer aim. You'll have to be able to hit a shot dead-on with no English. If you can do that, though, you're good to knock this one down and then laugh at it's crying mother.
The first half of the setup is the exact same trick we just shot. So, like ... do that.
The second half is pretty easy, too. With the cue ball in the middle of the table, slightly behind the middle pockets, place one ball against it -- make sure they're touching (no giggling) -- and aim it directly into the side pocket.
Do the same thing with the other side.
The whole setup looks like this:
The shot is done the same exact way as the 2-ball version. Ignore the balls that the cue ball is touching. When you shoot, try to hit the cue ball dead center, and push it right through them. You don't have to shoot it hard. It may take a couple of tries if you're not used to playing pool, but it'll fall. If it doesn't, just claim that the pool table isn't regulation and demand a free beer from the bartender for your mental anguish.
This isn't exactly what I'd call a "trick shot," but it's a great training tool to help you learn both English and shot speed. This will likely take you several tries, because all kinds of variables can alter the path of the cue ball.
- The quality of the rails
- The quality and cleanliness of balls (stop)
- The hardness or softness of the cue tip
- The type of felt on the table
- How hard or soft you hit the cue ball
- Whether or not you suck
Put a ball in one corner and the cue ball in the other. I'm not showing pictures of that, because ... come on.
Using left English, aim for the dot beyond the side pocket and hit it pretty solid.
And that's it. Keep practicing, because you'll need to have it down for the next shot. Also, you'll be surprised how often this situation comes up in an actual game of pool.
The "Railroad" Shot
There are all kinds of variations of this shot, but this is the simplest. We're going to do the same 3-rail kick that you just learned, except this time, we're not going to have a ball in the corner. We're going to have 3 pool cues set up in a way that makes the cue ball travel up and down them like a set of tracks. Yelling, "WHEEEEEE!" while it happens is totally optional.
Place the butts of three pool cues in one corner and a single ball in front of the side pocket (mentally Photoshop me out of this image ... leave the Deadpool hat alone, though):
There are some notes on the placement of the sticks. First, you'll want to make sure the middle stick sits further back in the pocket than the other two:
Second, try to get as wide of a gap as possible between your first stick and the other two that form the set of "tracks". If you have different sized cues, use the shortest one here.
Place the cue ball in the same position as the first image. Now, just perform the 3-rail kick. Speed is everything here. If you don't hit the ball hard enough, it won't make it up the ramp. If you hit it too hard, it'll shoot right off of the table and possibly explode something. You'll likely have to fiddle around with your power until you find the exact right stroke, but it's worth the practice. Shot speed is an integral part of regular pool, and this can help you hone that skill.
4 Balls, 4 Pockets
This is a classic shot, but if you make it on your first attempt, I'm driving to your house and punching you right in the neck. Right exactly in it.
The hardest part is getting the third ball in the line to bank correctly. To do that, we need to have both precision in the shot, a nice spin on the cue ball and a solid stroke. It takes practice, but when you master it, it looks cool as hell. Like, seriously, people will think you're the literal Devil.
The setup is finicky, because not only do you have to have all of the balls touching (no gaps at all), but they need to be in a perfectly straight line. Line them up just off center of the side pocket, with the first ball slightly hanging over the edge (about 1/4 to 1/2 of the ball):
Make sure they're all pointing straight at the center of the opposite side pocket.
Place the cue ball behind the first dot, roughly the same distance from the rail as the last ball in your line.
Using left English, shoot (don't blast it, but give it a nice solid stroke) directly between the two center balls. Try to contact them at the same exact time. This will cause the cue ball to bank back into the rail and bounce out of the way. If you want some extra flair, give it the finger as it passes by.
Be patient with this trick, because it may take some adjustments in order to make them all fall. But you'll need to master its required English and stroke in order to pull off this last one.
Man, that last sentence sounded dirty. I'm starting to think pool was invented by perverts.
"Just Showin' Off" (6-Ball Shot)
"Just Showin' Off" is not a beginner's level trick shot, but if you were able to pull off the last five, there's no reason you can't do this one. It requires every skill you've mastered so far: precision in the setup, knowledge of cue ball English, shot speed/power, patience and just the slightest touch of devil worship.
Remember the setup for the last trick? Start out doing that. Place the 1 and 2 balls in a straight line, aiming into the opposite side. Make sure the 1 ball is hanging slightly over the edge of the side pocket, and they're both to the left of center. Next, place the 3 ball, touching the 2 so that they make a straight line to the right tip of the corner pocket:
Place the 4 and 5 balls about half a ball's width from the side pocket, and aim them straight across to the same area on the opposite side. Place the 6 in the corner, as illustrated above. From the top, down, the meat of the setup should look like this:
I personally find that I have better luck if I place the cue ball just over a thumb's width from the rail, behind the dot next to the side pocket:
Now comes the hard part. Using left English, shoot pretty solid into the outside 1/3 of the 5 ball:
Then just stand back and watch the fireworks. I guarantee that you'll have to make adjustments. Watch where the 3 ball goes. If it misses the pocket on the right, adjust the setup on your next attempt, aiming it more to the left. Is the cue ball bouncing off of the first rail but not making it to the second one? You're probably catching too much of the 5 ball. Did you break your stick and rage-fling it at a nearby patron? You probably forgot the patience step.
Regardless, keep practicing, because the first time all six of those balls drop, you will feel like a pool god.
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