Book 1 - BASICS PLUS SIGHTING

(Excerpts from Book 1 of the Six Pack Encyclopedia of Billiards Knowledge by D.W. "Diamond Dave" Thayer)


BOOK 1 SUMMATION

We are now ready to begin the sections that reveal the importance of diamond and rail point knowledge that allows perfection on kick and bank shots.

You must bring your knowledge from this section with you as you enter the following section in order to thoroughly learn and play the playing field around you.

The field around you being, of course, the rails ( banks, bumpers, cushions), diamonds (real and visualized) and visualized rail points.

The sighting, aim techniques taught in this book to shoot an object ball into a specific pocket, will also assist you at shooting cue ball into exact rail aim points for accurate kick shots .The sighting and stroking ability to send balls to these precise points is a necessity that you have, by now, mastered.

Stand behind object ball and visualize imaginary cue ball frozen against it on exact line to pocket (ghost ball).

Visualize object ball as being less than four inches from center of an IMAGE POCKET that is three inches wide. .Maintain the vision of GHOST CUE BALL contact position as you move behind actual cue ball.

Line up DIAMOND/FRACTION sightline through object ball to rail point in order to determine fractional aim at object ball. Assure yourself that this alignment coincides with CUE BALL REPLACEMENT visualization.

Fill yourself with ”can’t miss confidence. “ Exhale and MAKE THE SHOT!

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CUE BALL CENTER HIT

Believe it or not, one of the difficult things to do in pool is to make the cue tip strike the cue ball dead center and/or on the vertical center line.  

Even the top pros admit on occasion that they were off dead center on a shot requiring a center strike, causing their shot to go awry. Two things cause an off center cue tip strike when we want to be at cue ball center. One is of course that we look away from cue ball and at object ball as we shoot, which is what we should do. (The only shots requiring you to look at cue ball and not object ball during the shot stroke will be covered later and is most important).

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DIAMOND FRACTION SIGHTING cont

When object ball is very close to a rail, whereby it’s travel distance to target pocket is too space confining to allow object ball to clear rail edge (pocket corner projection) prior to pocket, you must move aim point an extra 1/8 or 1/16th away from center to create necessary angle.  The other option on a space limited shot is to maintain half ball aim only but strike cue ball well out side of center to create a spin throw effect on target ball.

I am giving little space and time to cue ball replacement, parallel sighting and image pocket sighting, as they have their drawbacks and weaknesses until and unless the player understands the effects of push and throw.  Eventually, when mastered, you will prefer the author’s Diamond/fraction sighting technique which calls for straight on, center cue ball hits on object ball ninety nine point nine percent of your shots.  However, for confidence and exact accuracy on difficult shots, any of these sighting methods can be blended in very smoothly with your diamond/fraction sighting technique.  (See summation at end of this section.)  

Please forgive the author for redundancy on the following diagrams, because I believe constant repetition to be the best way to teach less experienced players to become excellent players.

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DIAMOND FRACTION SIGHTING

No matter where your object ball lies on the table, its distance from the desired pocket can always be measured in diamonds and diamond fractions (portions of diamonds). A straight line visualized directly through the cue ball and object ball to a point on the rail will reveal where the object ball lies from the target pocket because obviously, a straight center ball hit on object ball will drive it to that rail point and you have only to determine the fraction aim to either side of object ball for required movement toward pocket entrance.   

It may be helpful to you if you develop the ability to visualize the object ball as a square or oblong block, or only a partially constructed ball, as an aid in the aim point determination.   

For simplification, this book teaches the Diamond/Fraction Sighting System by lining up direct center ball aim and then moving line of aim by fractions to the left or right of center, i.e., ¼ ball right of center, ¼ plus 1/8 (or 3/8) right of center.  

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SHOOTING POOL - SIGHTING METHODS cont (2)

We will first cover the most widely accepted method of cue ball replacement, or some times referred to as ghost cue ball. Next will be the Parallel sighting method, made popular by the great Willie Mosconi. Thirdly will be a method the author makes use of on some quite difficult, thin cut shots, the Image pocket approach and lastly, but more intensely we will cover my Diamond/fraction technique, that should open all doors to you to successful shooting. Diamond/fraction sighting takes most of the guess work if not all of it out of successful shooting.   

Always know that except when aiming cue ball at object ball’s dead center, that the point of aim and the contact point are never the same. The cue ball replacement, parallel and image pocket methods, all must take into consideration the exact contact point between cue ball and object ball. Diamond/fraction involves only point of aim and the contact point takes care of itself.

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SHOOTING POOL - SIGHTING METHODS cont

There are three basic elements of proper sighting. These abilities are a must! Learn them and apply them!        

1.  Imagination
2.  Visualization
3.  Concentration

Combine these three factors and you are on your way to pocketing seemingly impossible shots.  

The sighting techniques are:        

1. Cue ball replacement (ghost cue ball).
2. Parallel aiming.
3. Image pocket aiming.
4. Diamond/fraction aiming.

You should by now, have the importance of the precise center hit on the cue ball firmly entrenched in your mind.

The next procedure is to correlate this with proper lines of sight from cue ball, through object ball to target pocket or target banking point on rail.  

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SHOOTING POOL - SIGHTING METHODS

The author would like you to build your game around not only the center cue ball hit but also on the object ball half ball hit. Pool players with some understanding of the diamonds, base the majority of their shots on first noting visually, where a head on center to center hit will send the object ball. Secondly, where a half ball hit will send object ball and finally, what fraction inside or outside the half ball to aim cue ball at.   

This three step procedure takes only about four seconds at the most and sends object ball exactly where shooter intends for it to go. (much more on this later).   

Always remember to remain in your stroke. Do not pull off, or up, or out of your stroke until definite shot completion. This means your head and your cue stick. Keep your head directly above the cue.  Eyes on object ball just prior to striking cue ball.  

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SHOT PREPARATION: STROKE

Two things cause lunging forward on the shooting stroke.  One, is not holding the tip still at the cue ball aim point just prior to shot release, and two, not keeping rear leg rigid. All preliminaries can go for naught if these two rules of good shooting are not complied with.   Remember that your shooting arm elbow is the pendulum-the hinge.  All above the elbow and the entire body are frozen during perfect stroking. Throwing the shoulder back on the final stroke is the bad habit of many would-be good players without their realization of this habit. Just keep in mind always, that you never put your body into any stroke and yes, that does include your “power break”.  “Follow through” practice drills are diagrammed in Book Six along with other great practice routines.      

Although you must shoot each shot with some degree of authority, you will do well to follow the advice of the greatest pocket billiard player who ever lived.  Willie Mosconi often said, "There are only two ways to shoot pool - one is to shoot soft and two is to shoot softer."  

Knowledge of the game and of many shots separate the pros from most players.  The primary divider between pro and amateur is the stroke, the stroke, the stroke!  Keep your head DOWN until follow-through comes to a natural stop or all balls stop rolling.  Resist the temptation to raise your chin.  You can watch your target ball go into the pocket from right where you are with your head down.  

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SHOT PREPARATION: GRIP

Only a small amount of instruction can be given to you concerning the position of your stroking hand on the butt end area of the cue stick. The instructions amount basically to ”do’s and don’ts”.  
DO use a ”tea cup” holding grip on the butt end of cue, where it feels balanced to you. Emphasis can be on thumb and one finger, two or three fingers with your little pinky finger out of the way and just going along for the ride. Whatever number of fingers touching the cue stick depends on your own comfort and confidence feeling.

Whatever it takes to make you feel assured and allow a smooth stroke. Even the top pros vary in their use of finger/fingers placement and pressure on the grip. What you must have thoroughly impressed in your mind’s bank of knowledge, is that a tea-cup like, gentle grip can be used on every type of shot including the power break shot. The reason being that, ball speed and power come from the speed of the cue stick rather than from the weight behind it. 

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SHOT PREPARATION: BRIDGE

As the elbow of the shooting arm acts as the fulcrum for the stroke, the forearm, cue stick and the grip hand makes up the force provider. The bridge hand becomes the staging area, the platform for the stroke.

There are two basic types of bridges for the standard on- table stroking shots. Of course, these bridges will vary somewhat for on-rail and off-rail shots.

There is the closed bridge with the forefinger crossed over the cue shaft forming a complete circle enclosure of the cue as it rests in the grove of the v-area at the base of the thumb and forefinger.

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SHOT PREPARATION: STANCE

The pro stands back for a very few seconds, his eyes darting out over the table layout before him. He approaches table, his eyes taking in the entire scene before him. He then assumes his stance, already knowing which shot he will take, the correct shot alignment, the speed necessary and the sequence of the following two or three shots he will follow with.

His bridge hand holding the cue shaft stretches out toward the cue ball, coming to rest approximately eight inches in front of cue ball on the smooth felt surface.

He bends his body forward, comfortably, at the waist. The forward foot almost parallel to his cue stick line, pointing toward the target object ball. His rear foot planted horizontally with the pool table.  Weight evenly distributed on both feet.  Forward knee slightly bent and flexible and the rear knee fairly rigid.

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SHOT PREPARATION IN POOL

FUNDAMENTALS OF THE BIG FOUR

  • STANCE
  • BRIDGE
  • GRIP
  • STROKE

 

SHOT PREPARATION

This book and the game of pocket billiards is based on the fact that once the cue ball is struck by the tip of the cue stick, it is on its own from that point on. Only your pre shot induced preparation will be behind it. The shot will then take care of and control itself. It will do so, on each and every kind of shot you take, providing that you have adhered to some basic fundamentals and soon to be learned fundamentals plus technique in regard to shot preparation. This is all performed by you as the cue ball lies there under your control awaiting your cue tip strike stroke, with your directions behind it.   

If you are a beginner, I wish that I could stand there beside you and guide you through the proper stance, bridge and grip. Not being able to do this in person, I will try to put into words and help draw you a picture of the important aspects you must master.. Hoping that you will draw from these instructional words, a mental image of required stance, bridge, grip and then the stroke itself.   You must feel free to experiment and discover your own comfort and balance levels , but  within the frame work the author outlines for you. Follow the following instructions and you will soon go on to master the Big Three in pool shooting: proper posture, stroke confidence and aim accuracy.

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POOL TABLES AND EQUIPMENT

“Know your playing field and ammunition”

This section will elaborate on the various sized pool tables now in existence, showing formats used on various types of shots.  

Due to the majority of billiard play today taking place on Tavern size tables with playing areas 46” wide by 92” long and a Diamond rail spacing of 11 ½ inches or on a 44” by 88”, table with a diamond spacing of 11” (center diamond to center diamond), the majority of formulas will pertain to these two tables.   

The slightly larger playing area eight foot table is known as the Grand or Super Eight table while the smaller playing area eight foot table is called the Standard Eight.   

There will be additional sections devoted to the minor adjustments required for accuracy on the standard billiard parlor nine foot table with play area of 50” by 100”with 12 ½ inches between diamonds. Also the small recreation room seven foot table, 40” by 80” with only 10” between diamonds.

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