My take on the 3 rail shot and why, in my opinion, it's one of the most important shots in pool...

Chili Palmer

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First, how I became to love shooting 3 railer's:

Back in the late 80's or early 90's, late at night after getting home from the pool hall, me and a buddy would see a commercial on TV (don't remember if it was a product ad, a sponsorship commercial (Miller, Bud, etc.) or some guy selling a VHS tape) that showed some guy taking 10 balls and lining them up (touching each other) on the long rail near a corner pocket and shooting all 10 via 3 rail (typical corner to corner shot). Me being me I said "I'm doing that someday" (keep in mind my bowlliards average was definitely less than 100 when this started. For a year or two me and a couple of buddies would try this almost every night then one night - BAM - I nailed all 10. We all did high fives and went home. Sometime within the next week or so I saw that commercial again and realized the shooter was using a bar cue tucked into the rail on the opposite side to help guide the balls if he missed short - I was flabbergasted and we all just chuckled. I continued practicing that shot for YEARS and have done it 100's if not 1000's of times.

Fast forward to 2018 when I get back into pool and actually start practicing and I realized how that shot had improved my general play and here's how I look at it now:

Forget 1 rail kicks, forget 2 rail kicks, forget 4 rail kicks - shoot EVERYTHING as a 3 rail kick. If a ball is in the middle of the table and you're locked up on a side rail by a side pocket start walking around the table going from corner to corner thinking 3 railer and eventually the ball you're trying to hit will come into the path of the CB ;)

To practice these on different tables I start in one corner and just start shooting whitey 3 rails corner to corner until I have the rails and speed down. From there I will start changing up the english or speed (I'm a lefty and prefer left english so I start in a pocket that allows for running top-left english - about 3/4 or a full tip off center at medium speed) and I start watching where the ball is hitting the end rail. From there I will start focusing on hitting it hard or soft (depending on mood) to start incorporating more/less english speed to start makin the ball.

After that, I will start putting a ball in the pocket and try making it and leaving the CB in front of pocket (sometimes I try following it in also).

Next I will start placing the OB up the rail a few inches or along the end rail a few inches (the latter begins the 4 rail portion of training) and I start figuring out how to hit that ball with the right speed (relative what I'm messing around with - hard, soft, etc).

Eventually, you will learn how to shorten or extend a 3 rail shot to suit whatever the situation requires, and maybe someday you'll be able to hit, or even make, the 5 rail shot Willie Mosconi made to win a tournament on the day his child was born (I'll let you look that one up :))

From there, start moving the CB up and down the side/end rail and continue the speed and english adjustments until you start pocketing it on a regular basis. Once you get that figured out, start putting a ball in front of the pocket again and continue from there - i.e. after you're comfortable with that shot start moving the OB up/down the rail - eventually you will be shooting 3 rail shots that your friends are envious of (ask me how I know ;))

Now, take that information and parlay it into 2 rail, 4 rail, and 5 rail kicks. Once you know the patterns you will start opening your eyes to a myriad of different solutions that may seem impossible yet, they're very simple as long as you have put the work in.

Now, the backstory of why I posted this.

My son recently started playing pool within the last year or so. He's currently an APA 5 and should be a 6 soon, he's getting there but he's me and doesn't practice. He does enjoy playing ALL billiards games so that's a good thing. He's asked for help, and we start but again, he's me...wait, I just saw a squirrel...if you get my point. Needless to say I continually hound him to practice 3 rail shots.

Fast forward to a month ago and he has joined a local 1P tournament. However, it's not a normal tournament - this tournament has been going on for a couple of months. I don't know the details but basically the players are given a pre-determined amount of time to play their matches, I'm guessing a month because his next match was scheduled for late December but it was recently moved up to next week. Well 3 or 4 weeks ago he played his first match with one of the old schoolers (old guy :)) and he walked in my door after that match and said "You're right, I need to learn 3 railers" ;). I looked him in the eye and said "If we do this, we do it my way", and he agreed.

His match is Monday and he's playing a lower 500 FargoRated player (I'd put my son at a solid 450, he gets it, just not quite yet) who has been playing for quite a while and has some knowledge of the game.

We are going to work on three things to keep it simple:

Corey Duel's Mighty X for stroke: There are plenty of ways to practice stroking straight (in bed doesn't count, perverts :)) but I grew up watching Corey play and I respect his game.


Max Eberle's 15 shot zig-zag drill: There are a million ways to practice this but for some reason I absolutely love this drill because it's BRUTAL and I have never finished it ;) Most importantly, this drill encompasses about 60-75% of the cut shots you're going to shoot in pool - IMHO.


And then my 3 rail system.

And in case you were wondering - I'll be using bowlliards to track his progress ;)



I'm hoping to get one good session in on Sunday before his match Monday or Tuesday. I'll post up the results when it happens, whenever it happens.

If anyone tries this post up the results, I would love to hear if it helps or hinders your play.
 

bbb

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great post and thank you for linking the drills
you mention at the end
And then my 3 rail system.
do you mean what you explained in the beginning of your post or the system in the billiard books?
or something else?
 

Chili Palmer

AzB Gold Member
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great post and thank you for linking the drills
you mention at the end
And then my 3 rail system.
do you mean what you explained in the beginning of your post or the system in the billiard books?
or something else?

Yeah, what I was explaining. Honestly, that was probably the first time I called it a "system", generally speaking, I just do what I do and that's the first time I've put "pen to paper" so to speak.
 
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bbb

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Yeah, what I was explaining. Honestly, that was probably the first time I called it a "system", generally speaking, I just do what I do and that's the first time I've put "pen to paper" so to speak.
Thanks for the reply
I hope your son does well and continues to listen to you 👍
 
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