The various types of shots in pool (Part 2)

In Part 1 I talked about some of the various shots in pool, now let’s talk about a few more, including some exotic ones.

Kick Shot
Usefulness: 2
Difficulty: 8
My Score: 3

The kick shot is when the cue ball hits a rail first then strikes the object ball. It’s generally a very difficult shot and you rarely actually pocket the object ball; usually if you’re desperate enough to try a kick shot you’re happy just to hit the object ball and not scratch. There is one exception though: if the object ball is right in front of the pocket it is often useful to kick off the nearby rail rather than hit the object ball directly since you can use the angle to put the cue ball in a more favorable position afterwards. This is a pretty handy positional trick and some people find it easier to sink the object ball that way. But this only works when it’s a gimme type shot anyway; if either ball has to travel any distance the chances of making it are pretty slim.

Jump Shot
Usefulness: 1
Difficulty: ?
My Score: n/a

Ah the jump shot. Hard for me to come up with any numbers for this one because I’ve never been able to do one. Not once, ever. And I’ve tried, I’ve practiced to no avail. Realize though that there are two ways to jump the cue ball: one legal and the other not. The illegal way is to “dig” the cue under the cue ball and send it flying that way. The legal way to do it is to elevate the cue at a 45 degree angle and hit sharply downward on the cue ball, which causes it to bounce off the table and go flying. I’ve never gotten it to work. Part of the problem is I’ve never tried it with a jump cue, which is a specially made, shorter cue used for jump shots. Fortunately the jump shot is rarely if ever needed and is done more just for the sake of doing it. As you can imagine even if you can successfully get the cue ball to jump it’s not a real precise shot, and actually sinking a ball with it is pretty tough. And if those grapes smell a little sour, well…they probably are 😉

Semi-Masse Shot
Usefulness: 2
Difficulty: 5
My Score: 7

You can think of the semi-masse as a “curve” shot. It’s used when you want to send the cue ball a long distance down the table but there is a ball on the path that you don’t want to hit. By raising your cue stick at about a 45 degree angle and hitting the cue ball on the same side as the direction you want it to curve (i.e. hit it on the right side to make it curve to the right) you can put a slight curve in the cue ball’s path and have it miss the ball in the way. It’s really not a hard shot; anybody can do it after a couple tries. It is a hard shot to judge though. It’s not too difficult to get the cue ball to curve and hit the intended object ball, but getting enough accuracy to actually sink it takes some practice. This is more of a “trick” shot in that you don’t really need it very often in a game but it comes in handy when you do. People tend to be impressed when you pull it off though.

Masse Shot
Usefulness: 1
Difficulty: 9
My Score: 6

The full masse shot is one of the most impressive shots in pool, although it’s not something that comes up very often. With a full masse you elevate the cue to an almost vertical position and strike down on one side of the cue ball with a lot of force. Instead of a gentle curve like a semi-masse the cue ball will move in almost a circle, letting you go around a nearby ball. This is definitely a trick shot that you could never learn at all and be just fine. It’s very impressive when it works though!

I have a funny story about this one. Back when I was living with my friend S and I had a pool table I decided one day that I was going to learn how to do a masse. So I practiced a bit and got pretty decent at it. Shortly thereafter S and I were playing and a perfect masse opportunity came up. I was shooting at the 8-ball and it was right in front of the pocket with the cue ball just a short distance away from it, but one of his balls was directly in the path. So I elevated my cue to go for a masse and he was all, “Yeah right, you’re going to break your cue, you’re going to rip the felt” (both real dangers when attempting a masse, that’s why you’ll often see “No masse shots” signs at billiard tables). I just took a few practice strokes and BAM! hit a perfect masse, with the cue ball going right around his ball and sinking the 8-ball. His jaw dropped a little bit then he looked at me; “You’ve been practicing that!” he said with an accusatory tone. I just laughed and told him to rack ’em up. 😛

So that about covers the basic (and a couple not so basic) shots in pool. The last thing I would like to mention is that when you are playing pool with the real rules (and not the abomination known as “bar rules”) you don’t have to say how you’re going to sink the ball. All that matters is ball and pocket. Ball. And. Pocket. If you call the 7-ball in the side pocket it doesn’t matter if it banks, caroms off two other balls, hits the cue ball twice, or whatever. All that matters is the 7-ball gets into the pocket you called. People get confused on that because they think it’s “slop” but it’s not. Ball and pocket. (Slop is where you don’t call your shots, you just count whatever goes in. Slop never counts in 8-ball but it does count in 9-ball).

Thanks for reading. Now rack ’em up!



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2 responses to “The various types of shots in pool (Part 2)

  1. I had to come back here and reread jump shot so I could see what you meant on the video. 😀

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