Pool Trick Shot: Cut Shot
How to plan and execute such a 'cut shot' in pool or billiards.
Some pool players in the sport all have a particular strategy in mind while playing- place the cueball as straight with the object ball as you can, this has its benefits and disadvantages. If you are straight, you can only go back or forward with the cue ball, if you give a nice angle, you can get the cue ball anywhere on the table with relative ease. If you don't have a high-percentage shot, then try to leave your opponent in an impossible position. Players at that level are constantly thinking several shots ahead, and use english and other techniques to leave the next shot as straight as possible. But despite your best efforts, you may find yourself looking at a shot that forces you to consider 'cutting' the object ball. A 'cut shot' is the term used in billiards to describe a shot where the cueball strikes the object ball at some sort of angle, usually a glancing blow. The desired result is having the object ball move at the desired angle directly into a pocket, while the cueball moves into position for the next shot. After the straight shot, a 'cut shot' is probably the most common type of shot you're likely to see a professional player use, so it is a critical shot for beginners to learn. Here's how to plan and execute a cut shot in pool.
First of all, you must visualize the situation at hand before you pick up your stick and attempt the shot. Assess the positions of the cueball, object ball and the intended pocket. What you are wanting to do with this shot is force the object ball to move in a straight line directly towards the intended pocket. Have an imaginary arrow pointing straight from the object ball to the pocket firmly fixed in your mind. Next, consider what the cueball must do in order to create a reaction that will put the object ball on that straight course. Are you already anticipating a solid hit or a glancing nick? In most situations, but certainly not all, you are imagining the two balls splitting down two sides of an imaginary triangle, with one side pointed directly at the intended pocket.
A good cut shot depends on a solid grasp of the physics involved. The cueball's speed and momentum will determine how much speed the object ball will have, but will not determine the angle at which it will move once struck. Power is determined between the stick and the cueball only. The object ball will only have as much momentum as you give the cueball, so determine your speed at the 'stick level'. Cut shots are usually finesse shots, which require much more accuracy than raw power for their success. Only hit the ball as hard as you need, and no more.
Hitting the right spot on the object ball is the crucial step with a cut shot. Obviously, an object ball struck precisely in the middle by the cueball will move in a straight line at the same speed and direction of the hit. Once you start moving your target away from dead center, the angle must change according to the laws of physics. One such law states that an object struck at an angle will be deflected from its intended course at exactly the opposite of that angle. What you want the cueball to do is strike the object ball so that its new angle will be directly in the path of a pocket. In order to do this, you start adjusting your aim on the cueball until you are satisfied that the cueball will strike the object at the proper angle. Remember that the cueball will move in a straight angle from the cuestick, even with english applied, so the cuestick itself is your first indicator of angle.
Use your cuestick as a rough guide to determine equal and opposite angles. In this cut shot scenario, you may want to imagine 'driving through' the contact with the object ball. You want to visualize the cueball as if the object ball was only a distraction on its journey. Judge the angle of the cueball, and the object ball should naturally follow the opposite path into the pocket. This visualization should work for most cut situations, except for extreme cases where you must barely nick the object ball.
Once you have a fix on where the cueball should go after the contact, concentrate on the object ball. The farther from the center you strike the ball, the more extreme its angle will be. For most cut shots, where the object ball is at a relative 45 degrees or so from the pocket, you will want to aim the cueball to strike the object ball about halfway between the dead center and missing it completely. The closer a cueball comes to the outer edge of the object ball, the more likely it will be that the ball will go sideways, not at an angle. Use a 45 degree angle as your basic measurement when trying to cut the ball. If your angle is less than 45 degrees, aim closer to the center of the ball. If you need a more extreme cut, aim closer to the outside edge. Remember, this is a finesse shot, so do not overpower the ball. Tap the cueball firmly with the stick, and follow through. The cueball should strike with just enough force to get the ball over the edge of the pocket. If you are playing for position, don't forget to use some english to leave yourself better prepared for the next shot. This is not a stunt shot, so you are not merely poking and praying. A good cut shot should be seen as a viable alternative to a riskier bank shot, or as a way to get better positioning for a run. It is an essential shot for any pool player, and one that needs a great deal of practice to become comfortable with. Players intent on improving their game should develop a sense of 'touch' when it comes to the all-important cut shot