Spin and the Tangent Line

Written by David Baranski

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Article Index
The Tangent Line (page 1)
Cue Ball Path (page 2)
Cue Ball Path - Continued (page 3)
Determining Correct Spin (page 4)

English is a necessary evil in the world of pool. English allows the cueist to alter the natural path of the cue ball (CB). Sometimes, the natural path of the object ball (OB) can be affected also, but that’s a topic I’m not covering in this article. I term english a "necessary evil" because sidespin can cause numerous problems as well as rewards, many of which have been expounded in the "Understanding English" lesson. This particular lesson will deal with using english and various other spin techniques to control the CB.

Before I continue, let's define a few terms. The term "english" refers to sidespin only. "Draw" is produced by striking somewhere on the bottom half of the CB. "Follow" is created by striking somewhere on the top half of the CB. "Center ball" is just that, striking the dead center of the CB. If you imagine a clock face, draw would be at 6 o'clock, and follow would be at 12 o'clock. Left would be 9 o'clock, and right would be 3 o'clock. Draw, center ball, and follow are not english as they are on the vertical axis of the CB and therefore create no sidespin. Left and right sidespin are english. Hitting the CB off the vertical axis creates sidespin. The distinction between english, draw, and follow is important because they affect the path of the CB in different ways. I'll get into that shortly. The "tangent line" is the line perpendicular to the line to the pocket (see Diagram 1).


Diagram 1

In this diagram, Line A is the line to the pocket, Line B is the tangent line. Line B is perpendicular (makes a right angle) with Line A. If we use a medium pace stroke with a center ball hit on the CB, the CB will travel more or less along this line.

Before learning to use english, it is extremely important to understand the tangent line. The tangent line tells us where the CB is going to travel if we don't use any english, draw, or follow. Once we understand where the CB will go without any spin, then we can use spin to alter that path. We can use the tangent line as a reference to determine the natural path, and then use our knowledge of spin to change that path.

Follow and draw will alter the path of the CB after it contacts the OB. Follow will cause the CB to roll forward of the tangent line, draw will cause the CB to come back from the tangent line (see Diagram 2).


Diagram 2

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About The Author: David Baranski is an instructor and pool player from Raleigh, North Carolina.

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