Practice Halfball Shots Using Fractional Aiming With a Road Map

BC21

https://www.playpoolbetter.com
Gold Member
Silver Member
It's been said here and on a few of my youtube videos that the Poolology system involves "complicated math" or "too much math". But that's simply not true, and I want to show it with an example...

Screenshot_20220802-110145_Gallery.jpg


This is a halfball shot. The ob is positioned on 60. Think of it as sitting on the 60-yard line of a football field. Now, looking straight through the centerline of the balls (cb center through ob center), we see that a full hit would send the ob to the 3rd diamond on the side rail. That diamond has a value of 30.

Ok...here comes the "complicated" math....

30 is half of 60, so it's a halfball shot.

How many brain cells did that fry? 😆

Notice that I marked the rail spots that correspond to the basic quarters. This means if the centerline of the balls leads to 15, it would be a 3/4 ball shot. Or if it leads to 45 it would be a 1/4 ball shot. The system works because of math, but it's implementation is more visual than mathematical.

This is not a sales pitch or advertising ploy. It's just an example to show how the Poolology system works and how it can be used in practice.

Feel free to set up your own shots using the diagram numbers. The system is useful for shots that are about 60° or thicker.

A great way to practice your stroke, and also to help develop a good eye for probably the most common shot angle, is to set up and shoot halfball aim shots like this. If your body is aligned properly and you stroke the cue accurately, you won't miss the shots. The added benefit is that you'll be developing a good eye for determining whether or not any particular shot looks thicker or thinner than a 1/2 ball hit.
 

SpiderWebComm

HelpImBeingOppressed
Silver Member
It's been said here and on a few of my youtube videos that the Poolology system involves "complicated math" or "too much math". But that's simply not true, and I want to show it with an example...

View attachment 654052

This is a halfball shot. The ob is positioned on 60. Think of it as sitting on the 60-yard line of a football field. Now, looking straight through the centerline of the balls (cb center through ob center), we see that a full hit would send the ob to the 3rd diamond on the side rail. That diamond has a value of 30.

Ok...here comes the "complicated" math....

30 is half of 60, so it's a halfball shot.

How many brain cells did that fry? 😆

Notice that I marked the rail spots that correspond to the basic quarters. This means if the centerline of the balls leads to 15, it would be a 3/4 ball shot. Or if it leads to 45 it would be a 1/4 ball shot. The system works because of math, but it's implementation is more visual than mathematical.

This is not a sales pitch or advertising ploy. It's just an example to show how the Poolology system works and how it can be used in practice.

Feel free to set up your own shots using the diagram numbers. The system is useful for shots that are about 60° or thicker.

A great way to practice your stroke, and also to help develop a good eye for probably the most common shot angle, is to set up and shoot halfball aim shots like this. If your body is aligned properly and you stroke the cue accurately, you won't miss the shots. The added benefit is that you'll be developing a good eye for determining whether or not any particular shot looks thicker or thinner than a 1/2 ball hit.
So, what's your "go to aiming system" when you don't use this because you've said a number of times that you play by "feel"?

Explain. What are you seeing and calculating for aiming when this isn't the primary focus since years of playing prior to developing this had you doing something else? IOW, what's the "something else" that's more accurate and tops poolology?
 
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BC21

https://www.playpoolbetter.com
Gold Member
Silver Member
So, what's your "go to aiming system" when you don't use this because you've said a number of times that you play by "feel"?

Explain. What are you seeing and calculating for aiming when this isn't the primary focus since years of playing prior to developing this had you doing something else? IOW, what's the "something else" that's more accurate and tops poolology?

The "something else" is called visual experience. The more you play, the more balls you hit, the better equipped your mind becomes at recognizing the shots when you see them. That's my goto for most shots. But I haven't hit every shot thousands of times, some I have some shots where I simply don't have solid aiming experience.

Nevertheless, I play more consistent today than I did a year ago because I started using my system on certain shots, instead of listening to my ego and firing away. In other words, every now and then a shot will come up that we haven't hit thousands of times, because it's just not that common. The ego thinks every shot is well known and can't be missed. But that's just not realistic for most amateur pool players. So it's good to be honest with yourself and pay attention when aiming. If it feels like guesswork, then that's what you're doing - guessing. Of course, the ego will chime in every time and say, "I got this...trust me!"

Anyway, learning to admit when we don't really know how to aim for a certain shot is a valuable lesson.
That's when I believe it's time to pull a system tool out to assist. It's a smarter move than just letting your ego fire away at a guess or a hunch.
 

SpiderWebComm

HelpImBeingOppressed
Silver Member
The "something else" is called visual experience. The more you play, the more balls you hit, the better equipped your mind becomes at recognizing the shots when you see them. That's my goto for most shots. But I haven't hit every shot thousands of times, some I have some shots where I simply don't have solid aiming experience.

Nevertheless, I play more consistent today than I did a year ago because I started using my system on certain shots, instead of listening to my ego and firing away. In other words, every now and then a shot will come up that we haven't hit thousands of times, because it's just not that common. The ego thinks every shot is well known and can't be missed. But that's just not realistic for most amateur pool players. So it's good to be honest with yourself and pay attention when aiming. If it feels like guesswork, then that's what you're doing - guessing. Of course, the ego will chime in every time and say, "I got this...trust me!"

Anyway, learning to admit when we don't really know how to aim for a certain shot is a valuable lesson.
That's when I believe it's time to pull a system tool out to assist. It's a smarter move than just letting your ego fire away at a guess or a hunch.
The "something else" being called visual experience still doesn't answer the question and is mumbo-jumbo. What does the visual experience tell you to do for linking the CB to the OB to make it go in the direction of the pocket for whatever the cut angle is from small to extreme and everything in between. What part of CB to OB and where on OB? What IS the VISUAL?
Does the tip of the cue or cue angle come into play and if so, where and how is it determined?
 

JoeyInCali

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
The "something else" is called visual experience. The more you play, the more balls you hit, the better equipped your mind becomes at recognizing the shots when you see them. That's my goto for most shots. But I haven't hit every shot thousands of times, some I have some shots where I simply don't have solid aiming experience.

Nevertheless, I play more consistent today than I did a year ago because I started using my system on certain shots, instead of listening to my ego and firing away. In other words, every now and then a shot will come up that we haven't hit thousands of times, because it's just not that common. The ego thinks every shot is well known and can't be missed. But that's just not realistic for most amateur pool players. So it's good to be honest with yourself and pay attention when aiming. If it feels like guesswork, then that's what you're doing - guessing. Of course, the ego will chime in every time and say, "I got this...trust me!"

Anyway, learning to admit when we don't really know how to aim for a certain shot is a valuable lesson.
That's when I believe it's time to pull a system tool out to assist. It's a smarter move than just letting your ego fire away at a guess or a hunch.
The mind's eye.
 

Wolven

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
The "something else" being called visual experience still doesn't answer the question and is mumbo-jumbo. What does the visual experience tell you to do for linking the CB to the OB to make it go in the direction of the pocket for whatever the cut angle is from small to extreme and everything in between. What part of CB to OB and where on OB? What IS the VISUAL?
Does the tip of the cue or cue angle come into play and if so, where and how is it determined?
I cannot explain how I make extreme cut shots, but I love those shots, and Im great at them. I truly can't explain. My mind takes into account ob distance from rail and distance to pocket, and somehow calculates it.

On less extreme cut shots, I visualize the path of the object ball to part of the pocket and path of cb to ob. The relation of balls with the rails creates a shot picture. I can actually bend the entire angle in my mind and somehow align to it.

I'm incapable of being more precise in my aiming. And I don't need to as balls just go where they should.

I tried to learn various aiming systems but all seem too difficult or complicated.

As for determination how much to cut, it is always a little more or a little less but I'm not sure from what, I guess from whatever I'm aligned to.
 

sixpack

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Thanks for sharing this again. I have just picked up my cue again for the first time in a couple of years and was also reviewing poolology because sometimes my eyes can't find the right shot memory and it's a great tool to get back to 'seeing' shots correctly.

I only have the first edition and I remember there was an adjustment for shots where the OB is on the 20/20 point. I can't find it in the book and a quick search on AZB didn't yield it. It was something like adding 4 to the position and 2 to the alignment but I can't recall...

I have another quick question about that though. If a ball is on the boundary line between A & B (i.e. 10/10, 20/20, 30/30 etc...) and the CB is such that the alignment line is the same as the position line for the OB.

I.e. OB is at 20 and the alignment is pointed at 20.

Obviously it's not a 1/1 hit. Does the adjustment for when the OB is on the 20/20 point work for all those shots or is there some other type of adjustment we can do.

This shot seems to come up for me all the time and unfortunately I'm struggling with it after the layoff.
 

BC21

https://www.playpoolbetter.com
Gold Member
Silver Member
The "something else" being called visual experience still doesn't answer the question and is mumbo-jumbo. What does the visual experience tell you to do for linking the CB to the OB to make it go in the direction of the pocket for whatever the cut angle is from small to extreme and everything in between. What part of CB to OB and where on OB? What IS the VISUAL?
Does the tip of the cue or cue angle come into play and if so, where and how is it determined?

The body and cue are aligned and aimed at a specific visual spot/point/slice on the ob or just outside the edge of the ob, and lined straight through ccb to that point.

If the shot is thinner than a 1/8 hit, and I have no better option than pocketing the ball, I will use the edge of the cb, aiming to cut a sliver of the ob. But, honestly, I feel like 70° cut shots involve too much guesswork for me.

Seriously, I believe anyone that shoots a 70° or 80° cut shot perfectly (with any distance between the balls or pocket) does so by guesswork, unless they've spent countless hours training their mind to recognize the difference between a 75° shot and a 78° shot or whatever. Thin cut angles bunch up so close that it's tricky to be consistent with them. The aiming difference on the ob end between a 75° shot and a 78° shot is only 0.7mm. That's 4 shot angles with that 7mm aiming difference.
 
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BC21

https://www.playpoolbetter.com
Gold Member
Silver Member
Thanks for sharing this again. I have just picked up my cue again for the first time in a couple of years and was also reviewing poolology because sometimes my eyes can't find the right shot memory and it's a great tool to get back to 'seeing' shots correctly.

I only have the first edition and I remember there was an adjustment for shots where the OB is on the 20/20 point. I can't find it in the book and a quick search on AZB didn't yield it. It was something like adding 4 to the position and 2 to the alignment but I can't recall...

I have another quick question about that though. If a ball is on the boundary line between A & B (i.e. 10/10, 20/20, 30/30 etc...) and the CB is such that the alignment line is the same as the position line for the OB.

I.e. OB is at 20 and the alignment is pointed at 20.

Obviously it's not a 1/1 hit. Does the adjustment for when the OB is on the 20/20 point work for all those shots or is there some other type of adjustment we can do.

This shot seems to come up for me all the time and unfortunately I'm struggling with it after the layoff.

That's a weakness in the system, when the alignment value is equal to the ob position value. These shots fall out of the working parameters of the system. Of course, that doesn't mean they are too thin. Most of the time a 1/8 aim works. It just means the numbers can't be used to give an accurate aim line.

As Bob Jewett has said before, no aiming system is perfect. They are tools to be used when needed.
 

bbb

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
For me the visual is
I can see/visualize where I have have to hit the object ball to make it go in the pocket and then I aim the cue ball to hit that spot
It’s sort of like Tucker‘s aiming but I don’t think of it that way
It’s more contact point to contact point
Now I also at the same time will depending on the cut see that
this is a three-quarter ball / half ball hit or a 7/8 ball
And use the fractional aiming lines to am at
 
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phreaticus

Well-known member
Hi Brian,

I think Poology is a super interesting system, and not that it matters - but its also definitely the coolest name of any of the aiming systems!

I'm one who has played with it (I have original rev of your book, 2014) and while it's fascinating to see how you have mapped out a relatively simple pool/diamond math system for fractional aiming, I'm one who still finds it overly complex. Obviously the math itself is 1st grade level arithmetic, but what I found hard to keep straight was the differences in how OB position values are used among the 3 different A/B/C table zones. This is also not overly complicated per se - just requires memorization and lots of practice.

Overall, what I found is that both basic CTE and TOI's style of using CTC/CTE references & inside tip fractions just sort of makes your math superfluous. In no way do I mean any disrespect to Poology!

Huge caveat, what I'm about to say here is certainly NOT endorsed by the official CTE heads, and I really have no idea what CJ thinks of my interpretation of his TOI aiming concepts, but I have spent serious time learning & testing these systems, including all vids & books. I’ve benefited greatly from them all. Basically, here's my thinking for how simple it all can get.

As I've mentioned in previous discussions, I think all these fractional, CTE, TOI, and shaft aiming systems are very closely related and actually all boil down to essentially different ways to visualize 1/8b fractions.

It's very easy & quick for anyone to recognize & classify all pool shots into a small number of "categories"; thick, thin, very thin, razor thin. Much to what I assume will be the chagrin of the vocal CTE guys, Hal Houle himself said this in his infamous original 3-angle document. Directly quoting Mr. Houle, speaking of CTE's primary 3 aiming points (15, 30, 45 deg, aka 1/4b fractions): "Your only requirement is to recognize whether your shot is a 15, 30, or 45° angle. Recognizing those 3 angles can be accomplished in an instant by aiming the edge of the cue ball to one of the spots on the object ball. It will be obvious which object ball spot is correct."

This is literally the very definition of so called "feel". Its super bizarre that for some reason most CTE guys (at least the ones around here) are so violently allergic to this concept, when the founder himself described a subjective assessment process, albeit a very easy one. This is a feature, not a bug!

I completely concur with Hal's statement, and as we know CTE really actually has 4 primary aimpoints, Thick = A (15°), Thin = B (30°), Very thin = C (45°), and the Razor Thin (1/8b!?) cut ref for 60+° angles (For some reason they don't name it "D", never understood that…) Over time, the concept of inside & outside pivots was introduced, so essentially they have 4 primary aiming refs, each with 2 modifiers, meaning 4x2 = 8 effective aimpoints or angles are actually used. The mapping to 1/8b fractions is rather obvious, when seen from this perspective, yes? Again, all of this is decided subjectively by the shooter, and most of us understand that all this happens via feel & progressive experience. [insert violent apoplectic response & attack from Spiderboy or Cookieman here...]

From a mental processing perspective, in the CTE system you essentially have what may be considered in mathematical terms as a 4x2 matrix representing a subjective visual shot selection decision tree, ie a narrowing down of options. First, you decide whether the shot is an A, B, C or 60°. As Hal said - this actually obvious and a great feature of the system. Then you decide whether it needs thinned or thickened by using inside or outside pivots. No diamond or angle math required, and a very simple 2 tier decision matrix; 1) choose among 4 obvious choices, 2) choose inside vs outside, done. All based on one's perception of how steep the cut angle is. I think this is why CTE guys find CTE to be far more efficient than Poology, they never really think of angles, fractions, or do math

In my interpretation of CJ's TOI aiming system, it's actually a very similar mental process to CTE but is essentially a 2x3 matrix that uses only 2 super obvious primary refs which only use true centers & edges of the balls (no fractions, no mid ball aimpoints), and can reuse the same 3 secondary refs which is our own cue tip totally under our control. This reduces choices and is much simpler & more efficient, among other things. Really no selection needed, if needed, one can simply step through all 3 tip fractions and pick one that looks best, it will be obvious and one calibrates to it since its our own cue tip, always in our consistent near field vision.

In this TOI system, first you decide whether the shot is CTC (thick) or CTE (thin) - again, super, super obvious, much more so than CTE's first aimpoint selection process. Then you visualize & decide roughly how much of an inside tip fraction you need to make the shot; 1/4, 1/2, or full tip. Done.

All of this is done during PSR in less than 1-3 seconds. It's worth pointing out that the vast majority of shots we shoot on the table including all banks are dealing with angles < 40°. Of course we have no hard data on the true distribution of angles that all pool players see on average, but I'd hazard a guess that for anyone except total noobs, for most of us with any modicum of CB control, probably 80-90% of all our shots are < 40°, which narrows down the mental shotline selection process process considerably.

I know you Brian know all this stuff and probably most others will think we're nutjob nerds with a math fetish, but below I've included a table that roughly illustrates the points I've tried to make above.

One of the reasons why the TOI system gets simpler, is that we recognize that basic CTC covers 0-3.5° cuts and are so obvious that any child can see & shoot them purely intuitively. Also extreme cuts > 60° are rare & also pretty obvious and effectively such a thin slice that we just use ETE and a bunch of feel to make them (I completely agree with Brian’s comments on those issues above). That really narrows down our 1/8b system to 6 angles, vs 8. You'll further notice that I've also omitted the 5/8 fraction from the table. This is because I've personally found this angle between 3/4 and 1/2 ball to be almost indiscernible due to 3D curvature distortion from most angles & distances, and thus can also be ignored (ie a very slightly thickened 1/2b CTE shot does it).

There is a lot more that could be said about how to see & implement TOI's tip fractions at the CB, or vanilla 1/8b fractions. I believe this is essentially also a form of "parallel shaft aiming". In the table, I use the terms .25, .50 and 1 full inside tip fractions, as seen by looking at the center or edge of one's tip (1/2 tip), or 1/2 way between the two (1/4 tip) - set against either the center or edge of the CB/OB visual, when looking at CTC or CTE alignment. Essentially these are micro pivots, but since they have distinct shaft visuals on both CB & OB - I think they are much more effective than thinking about pivoting, which I think opens the door to all sort of messy & unnecessary stuff with stance & stroke. I'm definitely a proponent of fully visualizing the shot in PSR and then coming down directly onto it - this is another area where I completely depart from mainstream CTE. The TOI tip offsets can be thought of as just a few minor "wedge" offsets from basic CTC/CTE alignments - in practice these offsets are tiny shifts away from CTC/CTE in stance & alignment. The beauty is that they are the same 3-4 basic cueing positions for CTC and CTE, and in practice one is always just hovering within 1/2 a tip of inside for 80% of most shots. I think this is really hard to describe, and I'm butchering it, and I'm certainly not any blessed, certified TOI master, this is just how I've digested and integrated CJ's concepts into my own game.

The point of this post is not to bash any of these aiming systems, but rather to better explain a point I've made in several of these chats - which is that all these systems can essentially be thought of as derivatives of 1/8b fractions, and of course our visual-proprioceptive systems fine tune the rest, including all the standard micro adjustments required for speed & spin.

I think the main topic that Brian introduced is really "how much mental processing" is required for Poology's approach to fractional aiming? I suggest that over time, a student of the game using any one of Poology, CTE, TOI, Shaft Aiming or vanilla fractions - will develop a natural, very efficient method of classifying & down selecting all the possible shot angles into a much smaller pool of just a few basic choices, then our natural cognitive systems make them work. Over time this all becomes very intuitive, pressed down into our subconscious like breathing & blinking, and is essentially just short cutting the path to where some folks get to with HAMB. The advantage of course over 100% feel - is that this creates a fairly objective, consistent framework to lean into under external & internal adverse physical & mental conditions.

By the way, in computer science & control system theory, highly efficient, tiered, progressive down-selection algorithms are used to achieve first level solutions, such as coarse/initial alignment using known references, then work from there to achieve fined tuned accuracy. The simplest one that is widely used is called binary search, and it's essentially what I've described above, a progressive bifurcation of value ranges until the answer is reached - its widely used because its super efficient & super easy to implement. I think this logic applies to our aiming process in pool.

I'm open to the idea that all this might just be pure gibberish from a total nutjob. Flame away!

Peace & love ✌️
 

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SpiderWebComm

HelpImBeingOppressed
Silver Member
I cannot explain how I make extreme cut shots, but I love those shots, and Im great at them. I truly can't explain. My mind takes into account ob distance from rail and distance to pocket, and somehow calculates it.

On less extreme cut shots, I visualize the path of the object ball to part of the pocket and path of cb to ob. The relation of balls with the rails creates a shot picture. I can actually bend the entire angle in my mind and somehow align to it.
This is all fine and dandy. The only thing I want to know is after your mind does all of this work, what are your EYES SEEING milliseconds before you pull the cue back? And in order to help the mind get to where it magically gets, WHAT ARE YOUR EYES SEEING DURING THE PROCESS TO LINK THE CB TO OB BASED ON CUT ANGLE?

Are you a pro player that has over a 90% shot rate?
 

SpiderWebComm

HelpImBeingOppressed
Silver Member
The mind's eye.
The mind's eye tells the real eyes what to see at the end. What are the real eyes seeing? Ray Charles had a "mind's eye" but didn't need his real eyes to play the piano. That was done by FEEL in his fingers like typing on the keyboard.
Word out is that Ray Charles couldn't play pool for shit using his mind's eye. Do you wonder why?
 
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SpiderWebComm

HelpImBeingOppressed
Silver Member
That's a weakness in the system, when the alignment value is equal to the ob position value. These shots fall out of the working parameters of the system. Of course, that doesn't mean they are too thin. Most of the time a 1/8 aim works. It just means the numbers can't be used to give an accurate aim line.

As Bob Jewett has said before, no aiming system is perfect. They are tools to be used when needed.
And I have to keep going back to my original question(s). What visual tool or picture is telling the eyes/brain to line up anything?

We who use any of Hal Houle's systems can verbalize exactly what we're seeing whether it's CTE or Shiskabob. They are 100%
visual methods. The success of them is based on seeing exactly what needs to be seen for a given cut or cut angles. If the visuals are off, so is the shot. Also called a miss. AND WE GET BLISTERED FOR IT OVER 25 YEARS BY HACK PLAYERS THAT CLAIM A BALL CAN'T GO IN IF SEEN THAT WAY!
 

SpiderWebComm

HelpImBeingOppressed
Silver Member
The body and cue are aligned and aimed at a specific visual spot/point/slice on the ob or just outside the edge of the ob, and lined straight through ccb to that point.
That's fine and what the system is supposed to do. But what you're saying and doing isn't this.
If the shot is thinner than a 1/8 hit, and I have no better option than pocketing the ball, I will use the edge of the cb, aiming to cut a sliver of the ob. But, honestly, I feel like 70° cut shots involve too much guesswork for me.
That's obvious to even a beginner.
Seriously, I believe anyone that shoots a 70° or 80° cut shot perfectly (with any distance between the balls or pocket) does so by guesswork, unless they've spent countless hours training their mind to recognize the difference between a 75° shot and a 78° shot or whatever. Thin cut angles bunch up so close that it's tricky to be consistent with them. The aiming difference on the ob end between a 75° shot and a 78° shot is only 0.7mm. That's 4 shot angles with that 7mm aiming difference.
This doesn't matter and is what it is. It's about all of the OTHER shots that fall within this extreme. Too many words
and explanation for something that might be better off played as a safety and not enough words for shots that go from straight in all the way up to 3/4 ball cuts and a little over. What do the eyes see and tell you what to do for linking CB to OB and how is it carried out?
 
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SpiderWebComm

HelpImBeingOppressed
Silver Member
For me the visual is
I can see/visualize where I have have to hit the object ball to make it go in the pocket and then I am the cue ball to hit that spot
It’s sort of like Tucker‘s aiming but I don’t think of it that way
It’s more contact point to contact point
Contact point to contact point IS Joe Tucker's aiming system.
 

SpiderWebComm

HelpImBeingOppressed
Silver Member
I cannot explain how I make extreme cut shots, but I love those shots, and Im great at them. I truly can't explain. My mind takes into account ob distance from rail and distance to pocket, and somehow calculates it.

On less extreme cut shots, I visualize the path of the object ball to part of the pocket and path of cb to ob. The relation of balls with the rails creates a shot picture. I can actually bend the entire angle in my mind and somehow align to it.

I'm incapable of being more precise in my aiming. And I don't need to as balls just go where they should.

I tried to learn various aiming systems but all seem too difficult or complicated.

As for determination how much to cut, it is always a little more or a little less but I'm not sure from what, I guess from whatever I'm aligned to.
Do you ever miss? Are you a top pro player? I guess you aren't a pool instructor. How would you transfer this to someone else?
 
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