There is only one rule in position pocket play. It is: Never make a losing hazard before you have decided where you wish the object ball to stop, and never make a winning hazard before you have decided where you wish the cue ball to stop.
To correct and improve your aim and manner of addressing and striking the ball, practise winning hazards in preference to losing hazards and cannons. Whenever you intentionally pot a ball your aim has been practically true, whereas you can score losing hazard or cannons with very imperfect aiming.
When the balls are out of position don’t attempt miracles or a scattering shot. Rely rather upon the next stroke or safety play. For instance, when the red and white are near the spot, but not favourably placed for the winner-cannon movement, make a gentle cannon, guiding one of the balls to the side cushion and the other for a gentle losing hazard into the pocket. The ensuing drop cannon from baulk should restore the position.
Play as many strokes as possible with dead central striking, reserving side and other compensations for position purposes. Practise these compensations by placing the object ball in a given position and making it travel in a number of different directions while the cue ball always pursues the same direction, and vice-versa.
Reserve force for exceptional occasions. Substitute fuller contact for force in screwing and slow side for forcing whenever position can be gained of retained in that way.
A gentle swing of the cue sends the cue ball two lengths of the table, or, if the object ball is struck nearly full on the journey, makes that ball complete the distance. Why, therefore, when playing, use greater strength in order to cover even lesser distances?
The next time you see professionals play, spend a few minutes without watching the balls at all. Watch how the cue is held, how the feet are positioned, how the body is aligned, how the ball is addressed, and how the swing and stroke are delivered. Choose, preferably, for this purpose the professional whose style seems to you to be the most easy and graceful.
When aiming from some distance up the table a quarter-ball losing hazard or cannon can be converted into a halfball by playing a slow stroke with plenty of check side. Down the table the side must be reversed, but the aim is still half-ball.
A point that cannot be too carefully remembered in billiard playing is that the cue ball (when there is no miscue) always travels exactly in the direction in which the cue is pointing at the moment of contact, whether such contact be central, high, side, or bottom. Consequently, when side is employed, if the cue is not moved bodily and then swung parallel to the central line, the ball will travel on a different course from that intended. When the cue is properly aligned for side strokes it is as easy to aim at an object ball with side on the cue ball as it is to make a plain stroke, and all that is needed is the confidence that comes with success.