Understanding position play, also known as shaping the cue ball for your next shot, is crucial for improving your pool game. Once you have mastered the basic skills like stroke, sidespin, draw, and follow, it’s time to focus on positioning the cue ball effectively. Positioning is all about creating a triangular area on the table where you want the cue ball to end up.
Contrary to popular belief, not all shots should be straight or easy. While straight shots may seem convenient, they often limit your options for positioning the cue ball for the next shot or shots. In fact, aiming for straight position can make it incredibly challenging to achieve the desired shape on the next shot.
For most shots, there is a broad area where the cue ball can be positioned to execute the shot successfully. The key to success lies in choosing the optimal spot within this area. The following diagrams illustrate examples of these position areas, represented by triangular shapes on the table. You will significantly increase your chances of success by aiming for the larger areas within these triangles.
Let’s take a look at Diagram 3, a common scenario observed in many games. The width of the position area near the striped ball differs significantly from the width of the area up table. This demonstrates that being closer to the ball does not necessarily result in better position play. Your chances of achieving favorable position up table are approximately ten times greater than near the striped ball. The most common path players attempt, shown in yellow, is less desirable.
On the other hand, the cue ball path depicted in blue is a far better choice. Not only does it offer a wider shape area, but the path of the cue ball also covers a larger portion of the triangular region. Many shots present similar position challenges, and the key to each shot is to identify the position triangle and select the area within that triangle that provides the highest likelihood of success. You’ll be amazed at how clear the optimal path becomes once you locate the triangle for every shot.