Straight cue delivery is assisted by getting well down to the stroke so that a good deal of cue is seen as well as the ball.
In middle pocket play from baulk side should rarely be used. Accurate contacts and fairly high cueing are the prime essentials.
All practice should be on the “slow” side. Try what is the maximum effect to be gained by gentle strokes, combined with light cueing and proper contacts, instead of by “flogging” the balls.
The jump stroke is not often played in a game, but is occasionally useful and by no means difficult. Aim gently on the cloth an inch in front of the ball or lay the cue perfectly flat on the table.
Remember that billiards is the only game played with a ball in which the stroke cannot be spoiled if properly played. Everything is mathematically perfect and this consideration should beget confidence.
The more acutely a ball laden with side strikes a cushion the greater is the deflection. Consequently, when an object ball intervenes, the contact should be thick to ensure due advantage from the side. It is useless to use side when the cushion is reached very obliquely.
Regard every stroke finer than half-ball and every stroke fuller than half-ball as a driving stroke. When a cutting stroke would send the object ball into an unsuitable position play the same distance inside the edge with requisite strength and vice-versa. In nine cases out of ten this is the true specific.
When an object ball is struck half-ball both balls travel the same distance. When it is struck quarter-ball it travels half the distance of the other, and when it is struck three-quarter ball it travels twice the distance. With fuller, finer, and intermediate contacts the relative lengths of travel are proportionate.
A good knowledge of the number of cushions struck by an object ball in the upper half of the table when playing from baulk is to be obtained by placing the object ball about mid-way between centre and pyramid spot, when both balls will probably disappear into the top pockets.
Obviously, therefore, a placing of the object ball nearer to the centre spot would mean a three cushion contact and farther from it a two-cushion contact.
Here are three good practice strokes for gentle and light cueing with proper contacts and compensation: (1) Screw into baulk pocket from ball just above baulk corner spot, leaving object ball for middle pocket play; (2) Put object ball against top cushion a foot away from pocket, and play through it with top into farther top pocket leaving object ball for baulk play into same pocket; (3) With red on spot and cue ball tucked under top cushion a foot away from corner pocket, play with a gentle swerve stroke into farther top pocket, leaving object ball over middle pocket.