Tips on Safety Play

Written by Joe D'Aguanno

Good safety play will win you more pool games than any other technique that you will learn. I make this statement with the assumption that you are capable of running at least 3 or 4 balls when you have ball in hand or an open shot. Good safeties frustrate your opponent and often results in ball in hand for you. Probably the most important tip I can give you on playing a good safety is to try to precisely control where either the cue ball or the object ball ends up but not both. You do need to be aware of general direction where the ball that you are not trying to control is going. It doesn't do any good to hide the cue ball and have the object ball roll around the table and end up where your opponent can easily hit it and play a better safety on you. About 90% of the safeties I play involve controlling where the cue ball ends up rather than the object ball.

When the object ball is on or close to the rail mostly centered between pockets with the cue ball at a steep acute angle (90 to 60 degrees) to the shot a thin soft cut with english usually works best. Inside english on the cue ball will keep the object ball from moving very far after it strikes the rail. Outside english will make the object ball roll farther. As the object ball is stationary in this type of shot it will not move very far as there is very little transfer of energy from the cue ball to the object ball. The cue ball on the other hand will travel quite a distance because it retains most of the energy gained from the impact of the cue. As you are shooting the shot soft you will have much greater control of the cue ball and where it ends up.

Thin cuts often work when the object ball is not close to the rail. Just shoot softly and use english if necessary to change the direction of the cue ball to bury it behind a cluster of balls or leave it on the other end of the table.

If you have a straight on shot where the object ball is close to another ball shoot a stop shot to keep the cue ball behind the second ball. Of course you don't want to shoot the stop shot hard because the object ball will probably roll around the table and make itself visible to the cue ball. In this case shoot soft draw just hard enough where the cue ball will quit spinning backwards when it strikes the object ball. The end result is the same as a stop shot using center ball with no english.

If you are playing a weaker player in a handicap match that where they are under rated and you have to give them a game or 2 on the wire there are 2 methods that will help you win. In this case we are talking about a 5 or 6 rated player that actually shoots 6 or 7 speed (Arizona ratings that goes from 4 to 10) and you are either a 7, 8 or 9. The first method is very simple. Play as many safeties as you have to until you get to a point where you can comfortably run out the table. The other method is to simply give this player a shot they can make early in the game. The huge majority of underrated 6 or even 7 rated players can't run out the table with either ball in hand or an open shot. After they make 3 or 4 balls you should have no problem finishing the rack.

Of course the best safety of all is to break and run the rack.

About The Author: Contents, concepts and images Copyright 2004, Joe D'Aguanno. This information may be shared freely so long as the Copyright notice is included. If any contents or images are used in any commercial way, permission must be obtained from Joe D'Aguanno. Email Joe D'Aguanno at joedaguanno<at sign>hotmail.com

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