The Cut Shot In Pool
There are really only three basic types of shots in pool - the cut shot, the bank shot, and the kick shot. The cut shot is used probably 90% - 95% of the time.
It is always preferable to the bank or kick shot, because it removes some of the variables that can go wrong, like cushion inconsistency, angle judgement, and ball deflection. Unless you really have a talent for it, I would suggest using bank or kick shots only when you don't have a decent cut shot to shoot at.
The cut shot is, of course, when you "cut" the object ball into the pocket by hitting it at the correct angle with the cue ball. The trick is to figure out just the right angle, and this is where aiming comes in.
There are several methods of aiming that have been developed by various pool players including ghost ball, point-to-point, and fractional ball aiming. Since this article is geared towards beginners, I will attempt to make things as simple as possible, and use a combination of these methods that is not too complicated.
To make a certain ball go towards a certain pocket, that ball must be hit at just the right spot, so that it travels in the correct direction. If it is hit at any other spot, it will travel in a different direction and miss the pocket. The spot to hit the object ball is exactly opposite from the pocket being aimed at.
This is a key point in aiming - The spot, or point, to hit the object ball is exactly opposite from the pocket being aimed at. An easy way to determine this spot is to mentally draw an imaginery line from the pocket and through the object ball.
The exact spot where this imaginery line exits the ball is the spot you need to hit, to make that ball head towards the pocket. This is the essence of point-to-point aiming.
The other variable to the equation is to determine the exact spot, or point, on the cue ball that should contact the exact spot on the object ball. This spot can be determined by using the ghost ball, or ghost cue ball, method. A graphic depiction of the ghost ball method is shown in the diagrams.
In Aiming 1, the imaginery aim line and the actual aim line are the same. So, if the cue ball is hit along the actual aim line, the green ball will travel into the pocket. In other words, the correct aim spot on the cue ball hits the correct aim spot on the object ball, and the object ball has no choice but to travel to the hole.
In Aiming 2, the actual aim line that the cue ball travels is different from the imaginery aim line. However, notice that the aimspots on both balls remain exactly the same as in Aiming 1, and the ball still travels in the same direction and goes in the pocket.
In Aiming 3, the aim lines indicate that, no matter what what direction the actual aim line is, or in other words, whatever direction the cue ball comes from, the aim spots on the cue ball and object ball remain the same. The cue ball still has to hit the green ball at the correct spot to make in travel towards the pocket.
So, the ghost ball method says that, when you are figuring out how to sink the green ball, imagine the ghost ball being at the correct angle to hit the green ball into the pocket. Your job is to replace the ghost cue ball with the actual cue ball when you shoot the shot. The angle that the cue ball comes to the object ball doesn't matter as much as where the correct spot on the cue ball hits the correct spot on the object ball.
To summarize, when aiming, mentally picture an imaginery line from the pocket through the object ball. Where this line exits the object ball is the spot where you want to hit the object ball with the cue ball.
Figuring out the spot on the cue ball that should hit the spot on the object ball takes a little more imagination. Picture a ghost cue ball hitting the object ball at the correct angle when you are sighting in the shot, and try to send your cue ball to the exact spot on the table where that ghost ball is, so the cue ball hits the object ball at just the right angle.
If you can consistently get these aim spots on the object ball and the cue ball to come together when you shoot, you have mastered the cut shot in pool. Even though you now know the theory behind what it takes to make these shots, it still takes a lot of practice to be able to make them on the table. "Practice makes perfect" is a very appropriate cliche in this game.
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