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.


  1. A larger, or for that matter smaller, cue-ball will always overcut. Imagine the thinnest possible cut with a correctly sized cue-ball. The left tangent-line of the cue-ball is coincident with the right tangent-line of the object-ball (i.e. they're the same line). Same shot with a larger or smaller cue-ball results in the left edge of the cue-ball passing over or under the right edge of the object-ball. You have to aim for overlap in order to just make contact (i.e. aim for a thicker cut, get a thinner cut).

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