Three Tips For Your Defense

November 2010 is the one year anniversary of PoolSynergy, and founder John Biddle is the host of this month’s PoolSynergy topic.  This month, John asked the following question to the poolsynergy authors: “If you could share only 3 tips related to pool, what 3 tips would you share?”  I’ve been working a lot on my defensive game lately, so I decided to write about three simple but devastating safeties that any beginning, intermediate, or advanced player can use to win more games.  The three safeties are: (1) The half ball hit safety, (2) the one ball safety, and (3) the stop shot safety.  If you want to see tips shared by other PoolSynergy authors, visit John’s blog here.  Hope you enjoy!

(1) The Half Ball Hit Safety
The situation: The game is 9 ball. You broke and ran, but lost cue ball position on the 9.  Now what?  Do you play for a tough bank shot to the corner pocket and hope for the best?  Are you kidding me?  Just play a half ball safe and let your opponent take the risky shot.  To make the shot, just aim the center of the cue ball at the right most edge of the 9 ball.  You may even put a half tip of right spin on the cue ball.  Hit the shot with speed to put the object ball in the center of the left side rail.  Now your opponent has to make a very tough shot.  Sure, he MIGHT make the bank, but 80% or more of the time he will sell out and give you the win.  Those are pretty good odds in your favor!

The Half Ball Hit Safety

(2) The One Ball Safety
The situation: The game is 8ball. Your opponent broke and ran but jawed the 8 in the corner. You ran down to your last solid but lost cue ball position.  Now what? Do you play a tough bank shot to the side pocket and hope for the best?  Don’t take a risk like that!  Just play a one ball safe and get ball in hand for an easy win!  To make the shot, just stroke the cue ball gently with center follow and hit the object ball so that it comes softly off the rail and the cue ball does the same.  Now the object ball is between the cue ball and the 8.  Your opponent will be required to hit a tough 1 or 2 rail kick.  If he misses, you get ball in hand and an easy win!   

The One Ball Safety

(3) The stop shot safety
The situation: The game is 8ball. Your opponent broke and ran but jawed the 8 in the corner. You ran down to your last two solids, but can’t figure out how to run the last two balls.  Now what? Do you play the seven ball in the side pocket and hope for position on the 1 ball?  Why take that chance?  Just play a stop shot safe and get ball in hand for an easy run out!  To make the shot, just stroke the cue ball gently into the one ball by hitting the cue ball a half tip below center.  The one ball will bounce off the rail and stop in front of the corner pocket.  The cue ball will now be hiding directly behind the 7 ball.  Now  it’s your opponent’s turn, but he must attempt a tough 1 or 2 rail kick.  If he misses, you get ball in hand for an easy run out and the win!   

The Stop Shot Safety

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10 responses to “Three Tips For Your Defense

    • Thanks! Now if I could just do this myself…! 😉

      • To para-quote Morpheus: There’s a difference between knowing the safeties and executing the safeties. heh. So, it’s *essential* that you practice each of these shots so that you understand exactly how they work.

        I would also add the stun-through safety. I first read about it in Byrnes book of 300 pool shots. It’s an incredibly useful shot, even outside of safety play. It’s a stop shot – except the cue ball rolls forward about one ball width after contact.

      • You are correct in that there’s a huge difference between “book knowledge” and “muscle memory.” Several options that I considered (and some that were suggested in comments) are all valid options, but I wasn’t comfortable executing most of them.

  1. Good defense is a powerful tool in helping you win more games. It’s underused by most players. Hopefully some of those people learn from this post and make a big improvement to their games quickly. Thanks.

  2. I am soooo guilty about not paying enough attention to defensive opportunities! If I keep reading posts like this, maybe it’ll sink in one of these days… maybe.

  3. These are strong tips. I would add a few things.

    1. Set up problems and practice them. I set up situations where these shots would come up in different positions and practice them. Sometimes even though you know what to do in principle that extra half and inch of positional difference will be enough to throw you off if you don’t know how to adjust.

    2. Go find Mike Page’s YouTube video on the half-ball hit. It’s gold. Basically he shows you that on a half-ball hit both the cueball and the object ball will travel roughly the same distance. This knowledge is priceless as it comes up a lot where players fail to play safe because they misjudged where the cueball and object balls will go. Having the half-ball hit speed/distance pegged as a baseline is HUGE in being able to adjust correctly.

    • Hi John, thanks for the comments. I agree, understanding the half ball hit and the fact that it impacts equal speed to both balls is golden knowledge that can drastically improve both safety and position play. Another golden nugget: the half ball hit is the most robust hit (least affected by errors in aim) and the angle of deflection is very predictable ~33 degrees. This really helps you predict the cue ball path after collision.

  4. THERE IS NO DENYING THE FACT THAT DEFENSE IS VITAL KNOWLEDGE IN ANY POOL GAME.

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