How to get better at shooting pool?

Oddly enough, I only learned to shoot pool in college and I’ve played sporadically in bars ever since. I still kinda suck and would like to get good enough to join a bar pool league as soon as I get off this cursed night shift. I used to work at a bar that had a weekly pool league night and it always seemed like fun.

Is it worth it to get my own cue stick and where would I buy one? I usually use the heaviest bar cue that isn’t warped.

Although I occasionally play at a sports bar with quarter tables, I think I’ll look for a place that offers tables for a flat rate per hour and go there during a slow time to practice. Does that sound like a good idea?

I assume there’s got to be YouTube videos demonstrating some shots, anyone know of some good ones?

What else should I be thinking about? I’m not in it for the gambling aspect, I don’t mind betting a pitcher of beer, but I have no desire to play for serious money.

Practice Practice Practice

Nothing like repetition to really understand the angles and speeds needed to make shots. One single player way I’ve used to practice is to rack up all the balls (doesn’t matter which order), then break them and try to sink every ball on the table in the least amount of shots. I used to do this over and over in my parents basement growing up. It’s very difficult to run the entire table of 15 balls without missing a shot, but just shooting that many shots will fine tune your eye to the point that you can almost see the video game type of lines showing the trajectories of where the balls will go after your shot.

I’m sure there are a lot of tips and pointers on youtube, but for me nothing beats just taking a ton of shots to get that internal meter honed in.

Just don’t go hustlin’ people strange to you. Even if you do got a two piece custom made pool cue.

What you want to do is learn cue ball control. How to make it stop in a certain place, which requires a little bit of english. Basically, think aiming just the cue ball all around the table until you can get it to go where you want it and stop where you want it. Or even go backwards!

Then, you can put some more balls on the table and start seeing where they’ll go. It really helps to have your own table. I learned to shoot pool from my cousin, who did have his own table and who could clear the table on the break. Not always, but he could do it sometimes. It was like he had bewitched the cue ball. He spent a lot of time with that table though.

I think having your own table is a lot more helpful than having your own cue stick, but you can really scare the opposition when you show up with your own stick.

If you don’t have your own table, you can still usually run the cue ball around the table and practice your finesse without spending a lot of money, as long as nobody’s waiting on the table.

Practice is good if you are practicing the right things the right way. Find an accredited teacher and take some lessons from a pro – there are plenty of them in your area.

I was playing pool with a buddy of mine who is really good because he grew up with a pool table in the house, I love the game but sadly never had one growing up like he did. He really helped my game by just helping me with my stance while shooting of all things. I was standing really tight and tall when shooting, and he showed me how loosening up and spreading my legs and getting down low, like really low would help my game. I was amazed at what a difference just changing my stance made in my game and he also taught me about really taking my time lining up the stick to both the cue and also to the ball I wanted to sink into the hole, and that helped my game a lot as well, sometimes my buddy would take like a full minute almost lining up his shots. I’m sure you already know about these things if you play a lot, but I guess my point was just learning the basic fundamentals from the beginning will no doubt improve your game if you taught yourself while skipping any of the basics. I never really thought about accredited teachers, didn’t even know they existed for playing pool, that’s pretty cool.

I learned the basics as a kid, but when I was about 12 I got 2 books by Willie Mosconi and 1 by Minnesota Fats; they were both heroes of mine. The information in those books was invaluable, but it was really the hundreds of hours I spent playing and practicing that turned me into a decent pool player.

I thought Airbeck’s post was solid and I thought Hilarity offered some great tips as well; cue control is easily the single most important part of the game. Knowing how to hit the cue so that it hits another ball properly and then positions itself for the next shot is the level of skill you’re wanting to achieve, but it’s gonna take more than a little effort to get there.

You need to practice, which means you need access to a pool table. Don’t just shoot pool like it’s a game. Line up balls on the rail and use them like cue balls to practice your rail shots. Do the same thing and place the cue ball at different places to practice kissing the rail. Do lots of long shots for control. Make the same shots repeatedly to get control over your leave. Practice hitting the cue with different english.

Stick control is very important, and may require someone with experience to watch what you are doing. The stroke needs to be straight, with smooth follow through.

As everyone says, practice. One of my professors in college told me how he became a billiards expert. He played a lot, true, but he would choose a certain kind of shot and play it whenever it was possible, even if it wasn’t the best in a particular circumstance. He just played that shot over and over until it became his favorite. Then he would choose another and make that his favorite. Eventually, every shot was his favorite and he was good.

He was also the best non-oriental go player (4 don) in Philly, but I don’t think you can get good that way.

Getting the cue travelling straight through the object ball at impact is absolutely critical. If you can’t do that with regularity then the cue ball will not be going where you planned and that screws up all your shotmaking. Oh and through the cue ball is key, don’t stab at it, play the cue tip through the cue ball.
That all requires a solid stance, stable bridge and smooth stroke and it needs to be consistent through all types of shot, all speeds and particularly when you impart side on the ball. You need to be sure how that ball will react after impact if you are to retain position. Potting an individual ball on a US-style pool table is fairly easy, ensuring you stay in position for the next one is the real skill.

And as everyone else has said…practice, practice, practice.

First thing i tell anyone that I am trying to teach the game is…look at the ball you are shooting at, not the cue ball(in most cases), followed by grip on the cue and stance, learn these three things and it will improve your game a lot

Thread seems to have run its course, but I’ll just reiterate what several people have said…learn good cue control and ball striking. What I used to do is practice with just the cue ball. Work on speed control. Strike the ball in the top half of the ball and straight, bottom half and straight, left side high, low, right side high, low, and then vary the speed. Then practice with the cue ball and another ball with the above until you have a feel for what the ball is going to do when you strike the cue in various places and various speeds head on and cut at an angle. Once you learn just the above and what the ball you are striking will do you will be able to play a game with at least some competence and get some fun out of it. After that, it’s just experience and controlling the ball position to set up your future shots (i.e. learning what the cue does after you strike a ball, how it rolls and where it ends up).

The “where it ends up” part made the biggest difference to me. Plan your shots, in the sense that you should make each shot in a way that will make the cue ball end up where it needs to be to give you a good chance of sinking your next shot, or failing that, making your opponent’s shot as difficult as possible. To that end, you need to learn how to use draw, follow, and English, and practice a lot to learn how hard to hit the ball in each situation.