Kicking 1-rail with English

Written by Chad Moore

This article is somewhat large, and will be a lot to take in at one time. I have inserted *** PRACTICE NOW BEFORE CONTINUING *** where I think you should stop and master the topics up to that point before learning more; you may need to read that section again a few times. Each of these sections build on top of the previous one.

The following techniques are what I use to "gauge" my kicks. I do not guess how to kick a ball, and neither should you. I am no pro and I encourage you to be skeptical.

I have read technique after technique on kicking, tried nearly everything, and I am only writing about what I have found to be the most useful. Remember, ANY 1-rail kicking system can be used for this. So many times I overhear someone teaching a beginner to kick (more commonly to bank) by imagining a line from the object ball to the rail and then from the rail to the cue-ball and then more lines from the rails to the other balls (or pocket) and then imagine where they cross and then follow that to the rail and THAT is where you shoot the ball. I laugh every time I hear it, while it certainly does work, you do not have to do all of that. I am going to keep it simple, I promise.

Here is the single-rail kicking system that I use:

  1. Place the tip of your cue at the rail (the one that you wish to kick off of) straight across from the object ball (or pocket).
  2. Find the midpoint between the cue-ball and the object ball and move the cue over this point, while keeping the tip at the rail from step 1.

    You cue is now showing the angle that you will shoot into the rail, but you are not done yet. You will be shooting the cue-ball PARALLEL to this.
  3. Carefully slide the entire cue (as not to loose the angle) overtop of the cue-ball.

That's it, shoot the cue-ball down the path that you are holding your cue above.

Here are the precautions that you must take using this system. This kick is shown at a soft-medium speed with center. Shooting this harder or with English will alter the path of the ball--how much is what I will tell you later.

Also, when the kick is over a large distance it is very difficult to move the cue parallel without loosing the angle. To assist with this, once you complete step 2, look at the diamonds at both ends of the cue and step down-table one diamond at a time until you are closer to the cue-ball.

Practice this simple kick, and it will become 2nd nature. I find it in seconds, and I no longer waste my time placing my finger down or holding the cue's tip in place; I just hold out my cue, slide it over, and shoot! This way no one will figure out your little system.

*** PRACTICE NOW BEFORE CONTINUING ***

Not everyone's English reacts the same, so you must first calibrate or gauge what your stroke does for you.

Here is how to gauge your English:

Place the cue-ball at the head-spot and shoot the cue-ball directly down the center of the table into the middle diamond on the short-rail with high-right. The cue-ball will rebound off to the right. Do this a few times and see where it heads in relation to the corner pocket that is on your immediate right. Do this a few times, and be sure to get some consistency. I medium stroke, causes my cue-ball to hit the long-rail right before the pocket. I expect that your results will be similar, but not the same.

Measure the distance (in diamonds) from the middle diamond on the short-rail that you are shooting from to the where the cue-ball would be if it continued on to make it straight across from those same diamonds. If your cue-ball goes into the corner pocket without hitting the long-rail, then this measurement should be just under 2 diamonds. Mine, for example, heads straight at a point that is two diamonds to the right of the middle diamond; that is why it hits the long-rail just before the corner pocket.

*** PRACTICE NOW BEFORE CONTINUING ***

To summarize the last section, we have learned that shooting straight into the rail with high-right causes the cue-ball to rebound with an angle that causes the cue-ball to move to the right x diamonds for every 8 diamonds that it travels. In my case, x happens to be 2, which works out really nice. Whatever x is for you, will work fine; it does not have to be the same as mine.

This concept is huge. You probably do not realize it yet, but you are now gauged. Let me explain:

  • We now know that shooting the cue-ball straight into the rail with high-right will send the cue-ball to the right x/2 diamonds over the course of 4 diamonds (8/2)! For example, my x = 2, so the cue-ball is 1 diamond (2/2) to the right while passing the side-pockets (8/2 = 4 diamonds).
  • The math is not what is important here, but if you ever forget, you can simply divide them by 2's again to figure this information out again.
  • How far would the cue-ball move to the right if it has rebounded 2 diamonds from the rail? In my case, it would be 1/2 a diamond.

*** PRACTICE NOW BEFORE CONTINUING ***

Now, back to the single-rail kick. This kick and the previous section's information can be combined. If you would like to kick a ball 4 diamonds from the rail using high-right, begin the kicking system (x/2; 1 in my case) diamonds short of the object ball and kick with the high-right.

This technique will eliminate the guess work when the is a ball in the way of a center kick. Or perhaps you would like to kick a ball that is hung in a corner pocket with high-right to get down table after kicking the ball in. The possibilities are endless!

You may be thinking, "What happens if I use straight-right?" Which, in my case, doubles x. You can gauge your straight-English by shooting down the center of the table just like before.

*** PRACTICE NOW BEFORE CONTINUING ***

I am not going to walk you through gauging hard kicks or reverse English, experiment on your own. For my stroke, kicking hard comes short 1/2 a diamond over 4 diamonds. Most people find it unusual that I line up for a bank and then drill it home, they just don't realize that I am adjusting for it.

Remember that you can chain this knowledge together in one shot, if you so desire.

Guesswork should only be a last resort.

Kick shot with English Video

Video courtesy of Dr. Dave and The Illustrated Principles of Pool and Billiards at www.engr.colostate.edu/pool/

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