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View Full Version : How to start learning to use english?


PKM
05-10-2007, 08:28 PM
Besides setting up some fairly easy cut shots and varying tip position, any other ideas/advice?

ShootingArts
05-10-2007, 09:31 PM
They are a little expensive in terms of the range of material covered for dollars spent but Little Joe Villalpando's DVD's, both for about seventy dollars total, will give you a huge jump in this area and get you started off right. Far far easier and faster than trial and error. Most of us spent years learning what is on these DVD's, with the DVD's you can learn what you need to know in weeks. A plus, the production quality is excellent, something not always true of instructional pool DVD's.

Hu

Bob Jewett
05-10-2007, 10:54 PM
Besides setting up some fairly easy cut shots and varying tip position, any other ideas/advice?
Try for very specific position. Not general area. Keep it short at first.

CreeDo
05-10-2007, 11:03 PM
A good way to get started for very little is to buy one of the great books out there also. I learned from Ray Martin's "The 99 Critical Shots in Pool" which I recommend to anyone. It goes in a very logical order from stop shots to follow to draw, then to how sidespin changes the path from a rail, and finally to sidespin nuances like throw etc.

Some small things that I think are important to understand when learning and practicing english:

- Maximum english (whether top, bottom, left, right, or some mixture) is gotten when the cue tip hits halfway between the center of the cueball and its edge. Hitting even further to the side makes the shot more difficult, increases the chances of a miscue, and doesn't increase the spin at all - so don't do it. Hitting closer to center is OK, it will still have some effect... it just won't be as strong.

- Top (follow) and bottom (draw) are the most important and should be learned before any kind of sidespin. When you're playing correctly, most of your shots can be done without sidespin, because sidespin has a variety of weird effects that make the shot harder. Learn to control the cueball with follow and draw, and then get into sidespin once you can do those at will.

- Sidespin is used (most of the time) to control what happens to the cueball AFTER it hits a rail. You don't apply sidespin to move the cueball in a certain direction. The direction it moves at first is mostly determined by how it cuts the other ball. Only once it touches a rail will sidespin make a big difference in the path the cueball takes. So if you have a straight in shot, don't smack the cueball with left english thinking you can make the cueball move to the left. It should just spin in place if your cueball hit the dead center of the object ball, even if you put extreme sidespin.

- All english (but especially sidespin, especially when the ball is coming off a rail) 'takes' better at slower speeds. But sometimes you need to put some speed on a shot to get a position. So sometimes it's a tradeoff. Try softer shots during practice so you can really see the english kick in.

- Shoot follow, draw, and sidespin shots all the same way, with a flat cue and a smooth follow through. Do not get tricked into thinking you need to do some special extra movement to make english take. You don't need to snap the tip downward or shoot at an angle to make draw work. You don't get extra spin by swinging the cue tip sideways when you hit with sidespin. You don't need to do a short choppy stroke or snapping motion to make the cueball stop dead. Just shoot the same way every time, and simply alter your bridge so that the cue tip is pointing at different places when you shoot. The rest is just speed control and a smooth stroke.

I don't wanna bury you in writing so I'll leave it at this, but if you want to know more or want drill suggestions I can go on. And on and on and on :D

yally
05-10-2007, 11:15 PM
Follow Through! :)

Hail Mary Shot
05-10-2007, 11:36 PM
I've learned it the old skool way, "TRIAL and ERROR" ! it's quite a feat really by learning it by your own means. the application of physics action and reaction. though it wasn't one of my fave subjects before, I've learned to appreciate a great deal of how interesting and fun it was to manipulate the laws of physics.

Caromsoft
05-11-2007, 12:55 AM
A good way to get started for very little is to buy one of the great books out there also. I learned from Ray Martin's "The 99 Critical Shots in Pool" which I recommend to anyone. It goes in a very logical order from stop shots to follow to draw, then to how sidespin changes the path from a rail, and finally to sidespin nuances like throw etc.

This book really helped me understand english much better as well. Highly recommended.

poolplayer2093
05-11-2007, 01:03 AM
in my opinion you should play a lot of 8 ball and not worry about winning or not just see what you can do and learn the limitations. especially when trying to break balls up. if you get the pro series dvds ( i saw someone here selling a set) it'll give you a good reffrence point with solid base shots

matcase
05-11-2007, 08:20 AM
Along with follow through, be careful to move the cue straight. Alot of players seem to line the cue tip up off center to produce english and then, when pulling the trigger, they end up angling the cue tip toward the center of the cue ball. This produces a bad stroke and very little english..Move the cue straight.

TheBook
05-11-2007, 08:21 AM
Experiment with set up shots. Shoot the ball into a rail and see how the CB reacts with different hits and speed on it. The main thing is consistency. Set up a straight in corner to corner shot with about 3 ft between the CB and OB using different hits trying to make the OB. You will see how english affects your shot.

After doing that you may want to forget about using spin on the ball and concentrate on using only center ball and top and bottom for draw and follow. Learn to get the angle on a ball to get position for the next ball. English causes too many missed shots and it is better if you shoot without it. If you can shoot center ball you will be better than most players because they don't know where the center of the ball is, that is why Joe Tucker devised his 3rd Eye Trainer. Keep it simple. When you can start running racks with just the center ball, draw and follow you may than want to start using english but why would you need it?

3andstop
05-11-2007, 08:41 AM
When I try to help someone who has the basic stance and stroke ability down to at least slightly beyond the beginners stage, I like to ask them to try something specific. I'll share it with you, and you may get at least "a feel" for your generic ability to apply english.

Take your cue ball and stand behind the footrail or head rail. Place the cue ball on the table just in front of either the headspot or footspot (depending of course where you are standing.)

Shoot medium to soft having the cue ball cross the other spot and bounce off the end rail with as much side spin as you can comfortably put on the ball.

The idea is to see if you can make the cue ball bounce off the side rail before the side pocket. Soft to medium stroke, spinning and follow through. See if you even have the stroke to apply enough sidespin to accomplish this.

If you don't, you need to practice till its second nature even before you start attempting making shots with "what you think is sidespin"

IMO a player should have this benchmark knowledge of what they can apply to a cue ball with consistancy. Dont forget, don't shoot at an angle to the end rail. Shoot straight from one spot across the other. You may surprise yourself, depending on ability, that you may not have enough control to use english yet. If you don't, then you won't have to be thinking and wondering why the shots you attempt are missing.

PKM
05-11-2007, 09:04 AM
Shoot medium to soft having the cue ball cross the other spot and bounce off the end rail with as much side spin as you can comfortably put on the ball.

The idea is to see if you can make the cue ball bounce off the side rail before the side pocket. Soft to medium stroke, spinning and follow through. See if you even have the stroke to apply enough sidespin to accomplish this.

Thanks, do you mean coming past the side pocket after hitting the end rail?

That reminds me of something I read from Tom Rossman (or Tom Ross?). To see if you can deliver a consistent one tip of English, hit from the head spot to the middle of the end rail with a half-tip above center and try to hit the side rail just past the side pocket (with enough speed to rebound back to the end rail and bounce no more than a few feet). I couldn't find a link to the article, it was a short piece about two-rail kicks.

What do you guys think about calibrating a tip of english using that method? Obviously table conditions might differ, but is it consistent enough?

CreeDo
05-11-2007, 10:09 AM
I wouldn't trust a specific method to 'calibrate' because as you said table conditions might differ. You might end up pulling out your hair because your english doesn't seem good enough, only to find out the rail conditions are the reason the shot keeps behaving weirdly.

3andstop has it right. If you hit with true sidespin from one spot towards the other spot, then the sidespin should take well enough that the cueball hits on the far side of the side pocket. Here's a little diagram.
http://www.jessescornerpocket.com/sidespintest.jpg

If you look closely at the line you can see that it curves a tiny bit between the spot and the end rail. Good sidespin will do this over a long distance, and at slower speeds it becomes more obvious. I dunno what this is officially called, everyone I know calls it curve. Be aware of it if you ever try to use sidespin over long distances, or even at medium distances if you're shooting without much speed.

Oh yeah, remember again to keep your cue level. If you've ever seen trickshots where someone uses masse to make a cueball move in a crazy curve, you'll notice they always bring the butt end of the stick way up. That's necessary to get the path of the cueball to curve so much. When you accidentally jack up the butt end of your stick even a little bit, you exaggerate that curve effect I mentioned. In the diagram the ball is curving so little that you can hardly see it, it might end up 1 inch to the left of center by the time it hits the first fail. But if you did the exact same english with the same speed and then angled the butt of the stick upward, you would curve it a lot more, maybe 3-6 inches (though more is definitely possible).

English is hard enough without having to worry about curving the path a lot, so be sure you hit with a level cue (the same way you should be with almost all other shots).

Luxury
05-11-2007, 10:48 AM
Don't start by trying shots with english at high speeds. Practice medium speed english shots so you don't get disheartened.

Practice low outside english with shots a few inches away from the side rail. Shooting the object ball into the near corner pocket. This shot is so common and you will love the way the cueball holds.

Bob Jewett
05-11-2007, 11:46 AM
Besides setting up some fairly easy cut shots and varying tip position, any other ideas/advice?
Some other suggestions briefly:

While watching better players, note specific shots where they get position with side spin. Try to duplicate those shots. You may have to start with easier versions than the players' shots.

Calibrate your spin and find its limits. Shooting straight across the table, try to come back 1 diamond, 2 diamonds, and so on to the right and left. Put up targets on the second rail to hit as if you were kicking at a ball. Also, try to bring the cue ball straight back across the table from steeper and steeper angles (the opposite path to the first exercise). See how combining draw or follow with side changes the angles. This is illustrated in the article Side Spin with a Kick (http://www.sfbilliards.com/articles/1998-04.pdf)

Spend most of your time with the two most common side spin shots: inside follow and outside draw.

Here are some other articles:

The Perils of English http://www.onthebreaknews.com/Jewett1.htm#June03

Backhand English http://www.onthebreaknews.com/Jewett2.htm#February04

3-Rail Position http://www.onthebreaknews.com/Jewett4.htm#September06

(drills and theory) http://www.sfbilliards.com/articles/1998-05.pdf

Inside spin drills http://www.sfbilliards.com/articles/2003-11.pdf

Outside spin drills http://www.sfbilliards.com/articles/2003-12.pdf

Precision 1-cushion drill http://www.sfbilliards.com/articles/2006-09.pdf

DoomCue
05-11-2007, 12:48 PM
Here's (http://easypooltutor.com/article62.html) an article I wrote a few years ago for easypooltutor.com.

-djb

Scaramouche
05-11-2007, 01:22 PM
To quote Willie Mosconi from his little red book:

...I cannot overemphasize the value of center-ball stroking. In pocket billiards, my experience has taught me that more than 85 percent of the shots can be accomplished by stroking the cue ball in the center of its vertical axis.

A good rule to remember in pocket billiards is use center-ball stroking on every shot unless English is absolutely required for position of to make a shot that is not "on" without English.

Complete mastery of the game depends to some exxtent on English, but unless the player understands its application, he can get into more trouble with it than he would without it.

My experience in 15 years of world's championship play has convinced me that the "cue-tip-width-from-the-center-of-the-ball" rule is right. If you go to the left or right beyond that point, the danger of miscue increase.

You cannot apply English to the ball in the proper manner unless your stroke is correct. The cue ball will not take English as you plan it if your stroke is a rigid poke. Rather, your stroke must be spring-like; it must be sharp and deliberate, and you must follow through it.

Bob Jewett
05-11-2007, 02:13 PM
(only use side spin if really required for the position) ... The cue ball will not take English as you plan it if your stroke is a rigid poke. Rather, your stroke must be spring-like; it must be sharp and deliberate, and you must follow through it.
I agree with the first part, but you also see some recommendations to use outside spin to cancel throw (and avoid skids).

As for the latter part, one can, in fact, get a lot of side spin on the cue ball with a herky-jerky-pokey stroke and almost no follow through, but it is hard to do it consistently. I think this advice is one of those little green lies told to beginners to try to get them to do the right thing even if it's not really for the stated reason. There are times when you have to get side on the cue ball with a very short stroke and it is good to have the technique before you encounter the shot.

3andstop
05-11-2007, 03:45 PM
First of all, of course avoid english whenever possible. But that's not the question here. The question is how to begin to use it properly when it IS needed.

PKM, what I suggested to you IMO is not only a method to practice your sidespin, but an absolute necessity FOR YOUR OWN KNOWLEDGE to see if you are able to apply sidespin accurately enough to move the cue ball around the table when you are playing in a game, and shooting shots.

What I meant was to try to have the cue ball hit the side rail without passing the side pocket. The higher up you can get it with a slow to medium stroke while passing from one spot to the other will give you a measure of your abiltiy to apply sidespin for later practice with object balls.

This is just something you need to know or you will insist you are applying your english and the cue isn't moving like it should. This will tell you if you are in fact capable of applying the needed stroke in the first place.

In practical application (for example) if you are shooting a shot that requires you to apply high inside english to travel 2 rails after pocketing your shot, you will never know if you hit the shot wrong, or can't hit it yet at all, unless you know if you even have the stroke to put the required amount of sidespin on the cue without the added complication of shooting a shot.

There is absolutely no sense practicing shooting shots with what you think is side spin if you truely cannot apply it yet.

This is SOOOO common in folks I taught at my pool room that I always started them with this simple test. If you don't have a solid beginning for what you want to accomplish, you will take much longer to be successful. Trust me on this and try it.

Its like chicken soup, it can't hurt, and you may benefit and be surprised at what you need to work on.