The Ghost Ball
In today’s post, I introduce a method of aiming commonly referred to as the Ghost Ball method. Suppose you are faced with the shot illustrated in Figure 1. The question is, “Where do I need to aim the cue ball in order hit the object ball into the pocket?” The exercise I share with you below will help you determine the precise aiming point.
The first step is to locate the correct contact point on the object ball. The contact point is the point where the cue ball will come into contact with the object ball. In order to locate this point, take a look at Figure 2. To find the contact point, you will first need to locate the “pocket aiming point”, which is identified as a red dot located right in front of the pocket. From this red dot, draw a line through the center of the object ball. The place where this line exits the object ball is the contact point. In essence, the contact point is the point on the object ball exactly opposite from the mouth of the pocket.
The second step, for visualization purposes, is to place an extra ball up against the object ball so that it touches the object ball at the contact point. (See Figure 3) This is exactly where the cue ball needs to be in order to strike the object ball at the contact point. Get into your shooting stance behind the cue ball and take look at this extra ball. Remember, this is where the cue ball needs to end up.
The third step is to remove the extra ball. Now get down into your shooting stance again, and pretend the extra ball is still there. (See Figure 4) In your mind, the extra ball has now become the “Ghost Ball.” The objective is to aim through the center of the cue ball and shoot directly at the center of the ghost ball. If you shoot the cue ball directly at the center of the ghost ball, the object ball will go into the pocket.
Now you need to perform this exercise several times. (See Figure 5) As with any skill, it will take many repetitions before you get really good at it. As you practice, you will get better and better at seeing the ghost ball, and your shot making percentages will go up. To enhance your shooting skills, you can also change the angle of the shot, just keep in mind that the same steps above always apply. Does the ghost ball aiming method always give the correct aiming point? No, it is not. In certain situations, such as shots that require extremely thin cuts, adjustments will need to be made to the aiming point; however, for the majority of shots that you take, this is a very good aiming method.
If you’d like to see a ‘live’ demonstration of the ghost ball aiming method, I’ve located a video clip from the Colorado State Mechanical Engineering Department that illustrates the method . If you are interested, take a look. Tomorrow, I will share a drill with you that will pave the foundation for improving the most neglected pool playing skill, to ability to control the distance the cue ball travels after a shot. Until then, practice the ghost ball aiming method, and happy shooting!