How to Aim - Contact Points and Ghost Ball

In another article about "The Pool Stroke" I discussed the ground rules for a solid and reliable stroke. All the good players have a combination of a solid stroke and an exceptional sense of aim. Having learned the fundamentals of a superior stroke, you are now ready to learn the proper technique for aiming and you'll be on your way to becoming a good pool player.

Contact Point

The biggest question that a new player always asks is "Where do I hit the object ball to make it go into the pocket?". The answer is simple... you need to find the "point of contact" on the object ball. In other words, figure out the area on the object ball that needs to be hit by the cue ball. In Figure 1 below, imagine a line of aim indicated by line "a, b". This is a line that goes thru the center of the object ball towards the pocket. The "point of contact" or "contact point" is indicated by "cp". This is the spot on the object ball where the cueball needs to come in contact with to pocket the object ball.

Figure 1: Contact Point
Figure 1: Contact Point

Cue Ball Contact

Figure 2 displays where the cue ball should be when it makes contact with the object ball. Notice how the cue ball makes contact with the object ball... this is the "point of contact" that I am talking about. Let's say for example that you have a straight in shot at the one-ball, the "point of contact" will then be at the center of the "one" ball. For a straight in shot, you simply aim straight towards the center of the object ball to make the shot.

Figure 2: Cue Ball Contact
Figure 2: Cue Ball Contact

Contact Point versus Aim Point

Aiming for a straight-in shot is fairly simple because the contact point would be the center of the object ball. However, aiming for cut shots or angle shots are a little more difficult. Look at the Figure 3 below... as you'll notice the "point of contact" (cp) is no longer at the center of the object ball, instead it is located a little bit on the left of center. One of the most common mistakes that a newer player makes on cut shots is aiming at the "point of contact" (cp) on the object ball instead of aiming at the "aim point" (ap) as shown. Aim Point is the spot where you aim the center of the cue ball at to pocket the object ball. In the illustration below, line "x, y" is your aiming line. Along the aiming line is the center of the ghost ball and the Aim Point.

Figure 3: Contact Point vs Aim Point
Figure 3: Contact Point vs Aim Point

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