English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : November, 1911

The Billiard Monthly : November, 1911

Practising Strokes and Strength

Let us endeavour to set out a few definite facts which
the student should endeavour to remember and apply at
the outset of his practice. Later on he will do the correct
thing instinctively.

1.—When an object ball is 24in. above the central baulk
spot, and the cue ball is on an end baulk spot, the shot is
a plain half-ball one into the middle pocket. If this shot
be practised, with central striking and moderate strength,
and if the object ball return down the exact centre of the
table, the true half-ball angle as it appears to the eve at
the range practised has been ascertained, and the stroke can
be repeated with confidence at similar range at other parts
of the table and into all pockets.

2.—With the object and cue ball in the same positions,
place a third, or cannon ball, midway between the object
ball and the pocket in a perfectly straight line. Repeat
the former stroke, with the same care as to the direction to
be taken by the object ball, and the cannon ball should be
driven into the middle pocket. In other words, a perfect
half-ball cannon should result and should serve as a guide
to all other cannons of similar sort and range in any part
of the table.

3.—When the red ball is on the billiard spot, and the cue
ball is on an imaginary line drawn from the upper shoulder
of a middle pocket to the centre of the red ball, the stroke
is a plain half-ball stroke into the further corner pocket. If
this shot be practised with central striking and moderate
strength, and if the object ball return down the exact centre
of the table, the true half-ball angle, as it appears to the
eve at this range, has been ascertained, and if the stroke be
reversed and the cue ball be placed on the upper shoulder
of the top pocket the middle pocket half-ball in-off will be
made.

4.—With the object ball still on the billiard spot, and the
cue ball on an imaginary line drawn from the upper shoulder
of a corner pocket to the centre of the red ball, the stroke
is a plain half-ball stroke into the opposite corner pocket,
and will, if accurately played, result in the red ball striking
the side cushion fifteen inches above the middle pocket and
coming nicely into position for middle pocket play.

5.—Finally, with the object ball on the pyramid spot, and
the cue ball on a baulk end spot, there is an exact half-ball
shot into a top corner pocket, and, if this stroke be played
accurately and with proper strength, the object ball will
strike the top and side cushions and come to rest a little
below the middle pocket and some fifteen inches away from
it.

One of the most important points to which attention has
to be paid in billiards is what is known as “strength.” After
a while this becomes almost instinctive, as it does in bowls,
golf, croquet, and other games played with a stationary ball,
but at the outset there are certain definite strengths to be
learned and practised, and these correspond, roughly, with
table lengths.

Place the object ball on the baulk line and tap it crisply in
its exact centre with a gentle stroke, using no more strength
than will just carry it to the top of the table. Repeat the
stroke in succession three times with increasing strength
each time, and adding a table length to the run of the ball
at each stroke. If the four lengths cannot be obtained with
a free, flowing stroke administered on the exact centre of
the ball, the cushions are dead and should be avoided for
serious practice. A harder stroke than No. 4 is rarely required
in billiards, just as no gentler stroke than No. 1 is
required, except at a very short range.

Having become familiar with those four standard
strengths apply them to actual strokes. Place the object
ball at an easy half-ball angle very near a top pocket, and
play No. 1 stroke (or, better and easier, No. 2 with drag)
from baulk. This should leave another half-ball position
into the opposite corner pocket. Now place the object ball
on the pyramid spot and play the two-length stroke so as
to bring the object ball down to the centre pocket. Next
place the object ball on the centre spot and play the three length
stroke, so as to bring the object ball below the centre
pocket again after it has struck three cushions. Finally
place the object ball a wide half-ball in the pyramid spot
region, and play the four-length or forcing stroke into the
top pocket from baulk, so as to bring the ball in and out
of baulk and nicely into play.

Beginners invariably play all strokes too hard, and when
making forcing strokes deem it necessary literally to “flog”
the balls. The mischief is really in the swing and cue-hold.

The swing should recede from and follow through the cue
ball like a golf swing, and the cue should simply be supported
in a loop formed by the thumb and forefinger as in
a sling.


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