Aspiring pool players are always on the lookout for different ways to practice their shot making and their cue ball control. One of the best things I learned to do, taken from an old game called ‘Target Pool’, is to make up target practice drills. This very flexible method of practicing your position play will help you tremendously, teaching you quite a bit about how to play pool for beginners.
So what, exactly, is required for target practice? Well, don’t fear. You won’t have to go out and purchase that game, or anything else really. All you need is a pool table to practice on and some thin 4?x4? squares (or circles, if that’s your thing) of paper. Now, the whole deal with practicing your cue ball control is that you need to have a clear idea of where you need the cue ball to go after each kind of shot, you need to know what to do to get the cue there, and then you need to know how to do it. Of course, it is also necessary to note that you need to know what the cue ball cannot do, or cannot do easily, so that you save yourself some aggravation trying to get it to defy physics.
The physics part is pretty easy: there is a tangent line that runs off the contact point between the cue (read the Tell Me Best Review on Best Pool Cues guide) and the object ball, it is perpendicular to the line that runs through the center of the object ball towards its intended destination. When the cue strikes the contact point, it then will travel along the tangent line in some manner, according to how much draw or follow it might retain. Learning how much center, draw, or follow to use is your task for these target practice drills. Your goal is to become familiar with different speeds of hit, and different levels of spin to use for all kinds of shots.
Lets start with some basic shots. I want you set up the cue ball and an object ball pointing in a straight line between both side pockets. The first drill will involve placing your target underneath the object ball so that the center of the target designates the spot the cue ball will come to rest upon if you shoot a stop shot. Now, you guessed it, shoot some stop shots! You goal, of course, is to make sure that the cue ball stops dead center of that target every time without rolling forward or backward, and without sliding off to either side of the tangent line. Shoot 10x, 20x, whatever you think it takes to become comfortable with this shot.
Don’t be deceived by this shot’s simplicity. This is ground zero. Shooting a stop shot might seem simple, yet many beginner players have difficulty shooting a stop shot consistently.
For shot #2, place the target dead center between both balls. From here, you want to shoot in the object with a draw shot, trying to get the cue ball to land as close to center of the target as possible each time. Again, choose 10x, 20x, whatever you think you need to become familiar with the shot. There are many different levels of draw and speeds of hit you can use to attain the same result. For the purposes of these exercises why don’t you use one tip below (or above, for the follow shots) a center-ball hit. Whatever you choose, stay consistent with your efforts, and analyze your results carefully.
For shot #3, place the target directly underneath the cue ball, and draw back to it.
For shot #4, place the target behind the cue, just at the edge of the side pocket. Again, draw back to it. At this point you might need to hit with a little more draw, say a tip and a half of draw instead of just a tip below center-ball.
Shot #5 switches the target to just behind the object ball. Now use one tip above center-ball for follow.
Shot #6 moves the target right to the edge of the pocket behind the object ball. Again, you might need to increase the follow to one and a half tips about center-ball.
Once you have gotten comfortable, and probably bored, with these target shots, You can begin getting creative. Begin by only using one half of the table. Set up straight shots and small angles and experiment with variations of center, draw and follow. Diligently analyze your results and try to develop consistency. When you get bored again, change things up start using one or two-rail position, try landing on the target when it is the whole table length away. It doesn’t matter if you are practicing on a beat up and tiny coin operated pool table, or on a snazzy Mizerak pool table. These practice drills will work anywhere, and are vital to improving your skills and cue ball control.