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

Patrick Johnson

Fish of the Day
Silver Member
On harder shots, the ball will compress the rail. Because the ball is travelling along the rail, the momentum is pushing the ball into the side of the depression in front of the cue ball and that side of the depression is likewise pushing back on the cue, stiffening up the bank angle.
Bob Jewett and Dr. Dave did a video demonstrating that a sliding ball actually rebounds a little longer when hit harder. Stiffening is due to sliding, not speed - hitting harder gives the ball less chance to pick up forward roll, and less forward roll means less lengthening of the rebound angle.

pj
chgo
 

Bob Jewett

AZB Osmium Member
Staff member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Bob Jewett and Dr. Dave did a video demonstrating that a sliding ball actually rebounds a little longer when hit harder. ....
This depends a little on the exact cushion. In general fast vs. slow for a sliding ball is within half a ball after it gets to the other side of the table. Sometimes it's a little longer and sometimes a little shorter, but they are much closer than most people think.
 

tomatoshooter

Well-known member
sliding ball actually rebounds a little longer when hit harder.

hitting harder gives the ball less chance to pick up forward roll, and less forward roll means less lengthening of the rebound angle.

pj
chgo
These seem to be contradictory.

I'm assuming the sliding ball is an object ball a couple of inches from the cushion? Is there a good way I can test this? Maybe I'm unaware of a different factor but I've had cross table banks hit a half diamond shorter than they would if I hit them softly.

In addition to the forward roll lengthening the rebound, the lateral spin picked up off the rail is comes from a reduction in the velocity parallel to the rail, shortening the rebound angle. I seems like this would be consistent for most ball speeds though.
 

Patrick Johnson

Fish of the Day
Silver Member

Chili Palmer

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
There are two problems with that approach. The first is that the center of the ball, which defines its position and path, is not reflected from the nose of the cushion -- it is reflected at the rail groove. The second problem, which is much larger for all multi-rail kicks and banks, is that the reflection angle is often nothing like what a mirror does.

In general the 3-rail kick shot to the corner pocket gives a much larger target than you would calculate from mirrors. It is as if the spot on the wall target is much larger than one ball wide at the distance given by simple reflections of the table.

You can find your own spot on the wall for the corner-5 system on your own table by playing first from a cue ball position of about 3 1/2 on the long rail. Don't do it by the system -- use your own normal stroke and shoot where you need to for the shot. Note the direction of your aiming line. Do the same from 6 on the short rail. Those two lines will cross at a point. That is your "spot on the wall" for the pocket you were shooting to. If the cushions are any good, there will be three other points placed symmetrically around the table that are the three other corner pockets.

Here is the simple reflection method, which gives the wrong answer:
View attachment 620499

Thanks for the explanation, that makes sense. In all reality, I know very little about the diamond "system", I just know where to hit the ball and what happens when that changes :)

This will probably screw me up now, thanks :)
 

KissedOut

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Interesting that snooker players seem much more likely to use 2-rail kicks to escape snookers than 3-railers. Any snooker players out there know why that is?
 

Bob Jewett

AZB Osmium Member
Staff member
Gold Member
Silver Member
There are two problems with that approach. The first is that the center of the ball, which defines its position and path, is not reflected from the nose of the cushion -- it is reflected at the rail groove. The second problem, which is much larger for all multi-rail kicks and banks, is that the reflection angle is often nothing like what a mirror does. ...
Let me clarify that with a diagram.

Here is what a ball simply rolling into a cushion does. This is without side spin. Successive positions of the cue ball are shown.

The ball goes in a straight path until it meets the cushion. That happens when its center gets to the rail groove. Ignoring penetration into the cushion, the ball is reflected from the rail groove but not at the same angle it came in on. It is a little "shorter" or more straight away from the cushion. The ball then curves some due to the follow it kept during rail contact. Finally, it travels in a straight line after that "masse follow" has dissipated. The curve is somewhat exaggerated to make it visible, but several inches of curve are possible at higher speeds and on new cloth.

CropperCapture[829].png


Note that if you take the straight portion of the outbound path and extend it back towards the cushion, it crosses the inbound path even farther from the cushion than the rail groove. (In the diagram, that's roughly in the middle of the inbound arrowhead or a full ball from the cushion.)

One conclusion from this is that if a diagram of the ball path is straight lines touching the cushions, it is needlessly inaccurate. The paths are better shown going only to the rail groove. The curved part is less important. Most pool authors make lousy diagrams.
 

Chili Palmer

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Let me clarify that with a diagram.

Here is what a ball simply rolling into a cushion does. This is without side spin. Successive positions of the cue ball are shown.

The ball goes in a straight path until it meets the cushion. That happens when its center gets to the rail groove. Ignoring penetration into the cushion, the ball is reflected from the rail groove but not at the same angle it came in on. It is a little "shorter" or more straight away from the cushion. The ball then curves some due to the follow it kept during rail contact. Finally, it travels in a straight line after that "masse follow" has dissipated. The curve is somewhat exaggerated to make it visible, but several inches of curve are possible at higher speeds and on new cloth.

View attachment 620568

Note that if you take the straight portion of the outbound path and extend it back towards the cushion, it crosses the inbound path even farther from the cushion than the rail groove. (In the diagram, that's roughly in the middle of the inbound arrowhead or a full ball from the cushion.)

One conclusion from this is that if a diagram of the ball path is straight lines touching the cushions, it is needlessly inaccurate. The paths are better shown going only to the rail groove. The curved part is less important. Most pool authors make lousy diagrams.

Learning how to use follow, draw, left, and right to change that angle is good thing to know also. That's what I'm doing when I describe "shortening or lengthening" the line.
 

9andout

Gunnin' for a 2 pack!!
Gold Member
Silver Member
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.
Let's not forget to credit Bert Kinister for the "Mighty X"! I love it. Niels recently reminded me of it in a video. If only I had been practicing it since I bought the VHS tape many moons ago!
 

Bob Jewett

AZB Osmium Member
Staff member
Gold Member
Silver Member
Here is an old proposition bet that can be used as a practice routine for three-cushion kick shots. Put an object ball on the spot. The goal is to kick the ball into a foot pocket using at least three cushions on each shot. Leave the ball where you knock it to and take the cue ball in hand for another kick. Repeat until you pocket the object ball. Count your total number of shots as your score.

This has several advantages as a practice drill. Each shot except for the break shot is different. You have to have speed control or you will be knocking the ball away from the pocket instead of towards it. This is a good drill to learn spot-on-the-wall methods. The "opposite three" system is easy to learn and practice with this. It can be a good competition if you are tired of the usual games. You will also learn which areas are nearly impossible to hit with a normal three-cushion kick so you will have to find other paths, such as the plus-2 extended.
 

Chili Palmer

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Here is an old proposition bet that can be used as a practice routine for three-cushion kick shots. Put an object ball on the spot. The goal is to kick the ball into a foot pocket using at least three cushions on each shot. Leave the ball where you knock it to and take the cue ball in hand for another kick. Repeat until you pocket the object ball. Count your total number of shots as your score.

This has several advantages as a practice drill. Each shot except for the break shot is different. You have to have speed control or you will be knocking the ball away from the pocket instead of towards it. This is a good drill to learn spot-on-the-wall methods. The "opposite three" system is easy to learn and practice with this. It can be a good competition if you are tired of the usual games. You will also learn which areas are nearly impossible to hit with a normal three-cushion kick so you will have to find other paths, such as the plus-2 extended.

I can't say I've ever done that but when I'm just banging balls and start practicing kicks/banks, I usually just leave one ball on the table and do something similar - basically, it's hero practice but if I find an interesting shot I will practice it for a while then move onto something else.

I've learned more about kicking when doing that than 3 rail shots, that's for sure.
 

dr_dave

Instructional Author
Gold Member
Silver Member
Bob Jewett and Dr. Dave did a video demonstrating that a sliding ball actually rebounds a little longer when hit harder. Stiffening is due to sliding, not speed - hitting harder gives the ball less chance to pick up forward roll, and less forward roll means less lengthening of the rebound angle.
This depends a little on the exact cushion. In general fast vs. slow for a sliding ball is within half a ball after it gets to the other side of the table. Sometimes it's a little longer and sometimes a little shorter, but they are much closer than most people think.

For those interested, here are the pertinent videos:



And many more videos and info relating to all kick and bank effects can be found here:

 

rikdee

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Here is an old proposition bet that can be used as a practice routine for three-cushion kick shots. Put an object ball on the spot. The goal is to kick the ball into a foot pocket using at least three cushions on each shot. Leave the ball where you knock it to and take the cue ball in hand for another kick. Repeat until you pocket the object ball. Count your total number of shots as your score.

This has several advantages as a practice drill. Each shot except for the break shot is different. You have to have speed control or you will be knocking the ball away from the pocket instead of towards it. This is a good drill to learn spot-on-the-wall methods. The "opposite three" system is easy to learn and practice with this. It can be a good competition if you are tired of the usual games. You will also learn which areas are nearly impossible to hit with a normal three-cushion kick so you will have to find other paths, such as the plus-2 extended.
Bob, if the OB is placed on the foot spot, what is the starting point fo the CB?
 

Chili Palmer

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
when i played it you started in a corner opposite of your called pocket

I actually prefer to do it that way and then leave it as is if I miss. Was assuming BIH because the second shot, and any subsequent shots, is also BIH.
 
Top