Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Road Skills: Adjusting to Different Cue Balls and How they React

By: Erik Hjorleifson 

Good  day everyone I hope all of your year end tournaments are treating you well and for those in play-off's competing for Las Vegas, Cue Sport Nation wishes you the best of luck. Every Tuesday I offer instructional help at a local league here in Toronto. Recently after a major rent increase by the landlords the room owners decided to look for a new location and we are completing the remainder of our season at a new room. The playing conditions in the new room are fairly adequate but the one thing they are missing are pro quality cue balls. The ones we are using are probably 20 years old, they are an undistinguishable brand and are smaller than the object balls. Even my intermediate level league players immediately noticed a difference in how the cue balls reacted. For this article I will try to convey what my knowledge is about using different types of cue balls.

I would first like to state that the following is based on my opinion of the feel that I have received from different cue balls. It is very hard to find factual literature about what I am talking about, if anyone has opinions about anything stated, feel free to share them in the comments section.

The two biggest factors that contribute to how a cue ball plays are the size and the weight. The heavier a cue ball is the harder it is to draw (this one is pretty obvious), more implicitly the heavier the cue ball is the less it will deflect towards the object ball. The weight of the cue ball is also relative to its size, generally if the cue ball is heavier or bigger than the object balls they will cut less than the natural angle. When we played bonus ball however the cue balls were bigger than the object balls and the object balls seems to cut more, this one still baffles me to this day. I think it had something to do with the overall make up of the material used in the bonus ball sets. That being said the cut angle is not as big of a factor as the amount that the cue ball will deflect towards the object ball, again the lighter the cue ball is the more it will deflect.

Another factor that also is often overlooked is the colour of the cue balls, this one is very deceiving because you can have the same make of ball playing differently relative to its colour. Cue balls that are more yellowish in colour are usually newer and more dense, these cue balls draw and deflect less than cue balls that are lighter in colour. I have noticed that you tend to see difference in colour most often with Super Aramith Pro Cup cue balls.

Here are the four most commonly used cue balls that can be found in competitive scenarios

#1 The Super Aramith Pro Cup cue ball (The measles ball)

Out of the four that I am listing I believe this is the heaviest and also the largest in diameter. I believe that it plays the truest as to the proper reaction it should display.

#2 The Aramith Red Circle Cue Ball

You will find these most commonly used on diamond bar tables or in rooms that have diamond tables. I find this cue ball to be a little lighter than the Super Aramith Pro Cup, it is also in my opinion closest in size to the size of the object balls.

#3 Aramith Pro Cue Ball (Has an Aramith symbol)

Of the cue balls listed this ball is the lightest, For a number of years it was the #1 ball on the market but has been overtaken by the measles ball, of the three listed it deflects the most an will draw the easiest.

#4 Cyclops Balls

These are new on the market, they are made in china and it would be very rare to see them in a North American pool room. However they are used in all events that are promoted by Mark Griffin and CSI International including the Derby city Classic and the B.C.A.P.L championships in Las Vegas. I have limited experience with these cue balls but I would say that they play somewhere in between a measles ball and a red circle cue ball.

There are also many other types of balls that you will come across in your competitive travels, including different qualities of object balls, which will affect play as well. My best advice is to keep a mental note of how they all react and develop a feel for them that you can recall at any time. The fact is you cant be thinking about everything in this article when you're down on a ball, you have to make it all a part of your subconscious feel which is the most important thing in billiards.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Big Red Instructional: Breaking Down a Run Out Drill

By: Erik Hjorleifson

Good day Cue Sport Nation readers. I found this drill on Facebook a few weeks back and although I am not personally a huge fan of drills, I do think they can be beneficial especially when the shots that you have to execute in the drills are applicable to real game situations. I like this drill because most of the shots deal with balls that are very near a rail which is very common in the rotation games, particularly 9 ball. It also involves going up and down table on each shot which adds a nice level of difficulty in the drill. I don't know the player shooting in the video but he looks like a strong semi pro caliber player, and it is nice to see someone execute it with good quality.

                                            Video from

For your interest I am going to give some insight into how he executed the shots in the drill.

Balls 1 to 3 

-The 1 ball is fairly straight forward because he starts with ball in hand, I think there are two ways you could try to play position on the 2. You could take the wider track like he did or you could try to get straighter on the 2, I like the way he played the shot because this way you take out the variable of landing to straight on the 2.

-The 2 to the 3 is a nice shot, usually this type of shot is played drawing the ball past the side pocket not before it but because of the angle of this particular shot he executes it correctly. Notice that instead of floating the cue ball one rail he uses 2 rails for better control.
-the 2 to the 3 is pretty straight forward, using the rail to pay into the angle of the 4.

Balls 4 to 6

-The 4 to the 5 is a classic straight back power draw, watch how he lengthens his backstroke and follow through on the shot to create more power.

-On the 5 to the 6 I think I would have used a closed bridge, because the speed of the shot is pretty high. I would like to note as well that on shots like the 2 to the 3 and the 5 to the 6 he could also go 3 rails forward but the positioning of the balls in this drill dictate him to draw the ball two rails.

-The 6 to the 7 is a little tricky because I believe he over hit the position on the previous shot, he wanted to play more to the middle of the table. Kind of odd that he over hit it by so much but if he wasn't trying to play it to the middle I would definitely recommend to do that. I cant tell if he had the angle to go forward from the 6 to the 7 but if he did that is the right shot, if he chooses to draw it like he did I would have tried to draw the cue ball all the way back to the side rail and back into the angle for the 7.

Balls 7 to 9

- The 7 to the 8 is a simple one rail but notice the he chooses to play the natural angle instead of drawing the ball which some players might have done. He makes the right choice here, whenever you can move the cue ball naturally, or naturally with a tip of spin it is almost always the right choice.

-The 8 to the 9 is also a natural 1 rail follow

-the 9 to the 10 is one of the shots I'm not going to say what he did was wrong but personally I would draw the cue ball 4 rails to try and get underneath the 10 creating a more natural angle to get back on the 11. Notice that he ends up over hitting the shot from the 10 to the 11 which left him in his toughest spot in the run out.

Balls 10 to 12

-From the 10 to the 11 I would've followed the cue ball 1 rail to try and get more angle on the 11. The max draw angle on that shot was always going to leave him with a straighter shot coming off the third rail.

-From the 11 to 12 he executes a nice closed bridge on the rail shot this is a very tough bridge to execute and I would never suggest it unless you are powering a ball like he was here, you could also hit this with an elevated open bridge. It
 was a tough shot all around and he got a little lucky with the cue ball, almost scratching but all around a very nice out.

I recommend that you watch the video 3 shots at a time to better follow the instructional analysis. Good luck hope this helps.