Using "Center Ball" - is it good advice or a hidden disadvantage?

CJ Wiley

ESPN WORLD OPEN CHAMPION
Gold Member
Silver Member
The problem with using "center ball" is if you don't make the shot, or hit the part of the pocket desired you won't get the necessary feedback to make adjustments to calibrate your future shots.

This makes the player play a guessing game, which will break down when competing against a player that KNOWS why their shot reacted a certain way.

Giving handicaps to "center ball players," as a result of them being unaware of this knowledge is almost unfair. Just like playing golf, you won't see a professional trying to hit a full shot straight. They will move the ball off the straight line so they can align to one side of the green (or fairway) and force it into the center zone......if the ball curves too much it goes into the far side of the target area.

I would love to see all my opponents using center ball, they would (unknowingly) be at a disadvantage. If you're trapped at a level that you can't seem to improve I'd highly recommend learning how to use spin and deflection to help your shotmaking, not hurt yourself by using a "low deflection shaft".

The Game is the Teacher
 

Geosnookery

Well-known member
That’s an interesting observation. I’ve played Snooker for 52 years and for whatever reason rarely make a centre ball shot. I can’t claim this is out of some type of superior knowledge but rather just simply the way I’ve played over the decades.

I’ve come to realize that some top billiard players are looking at the table slightly differently than most. Instead of seeing a series of straight geometric lines, they are ( often subconsiously) assessing more a series of slight curves. Doing spatial Calculus without even knowing they are doing this. They use Spins and curves rather than just measuring acute and obtuse angles allowing for throw, etc.

Again, out of habit rather than ‘what’s best’, I use my Snooker cue for all billiards. I’m decent but not great at American pool. I find if I use an American cue, I just don’t have the subtle difference in cueball contact. I tend to hit centre ball more often and lose a bit of position. If I had always used an American cue, this wouldn’t be an issue. However, American low deflection cues seem counter productive to me. I’ve used my current Snooker cue for 13 years and ‘want’ it allow more movement to on the ball. That movement is what I can learn I control to my advantage.
 

Chili Palmer

AzB Gold Member
Gold Member
Silver Member
The problem with using "center ball" is if you don't make the shot, or hit the part of the pocket desired you won't get the necessary feedback to make adjustments to calibrate your future shots.

This makes the player play a guessing game, which will break down when competing against a player that KNOWS why their shot reacted a certain way.

Giving handicaps to "center ball players," as a result of them being unaware of this knowledge is almost unfair. Just like playing golf, you won't see a professional trying to hit a full shot straight. They will move the ball off the straight line so they can align to one side of the green (or fairway) and force it into the center zone......if the ball curves too much it goes into the far side of the target area.

I would love to see all my opponents using center ball, they would (unknowingly) be at a disadvantage. If you're trapped at a level that you can't seem to improve I'd highly recommend learning how to use spin and deflection to help your shotmaking, not hurt yourself by using a "low deflection shaft".

The Game is the Teacher

CJ, I would be interested to get your thoughts on why you won't get the desired feedback and how that is different than using English? Put another way - what makes it different than using a little spin?
 

ShootingArts

Smorg is giving St Peter the 7!
Gold Member
Silver Member
That’s an interesting observation. I’ve played Snooker for 52 years and for whatever reason rarely make a centre ball shot. I can’t claim this is out of some type of superior knowledge but rather just simply the way I’ve played over the decades.

I’ve come to realize that some top billiard players are looking at the table slightly differently than most. Instead of seeing a series of straight geometric lines, they are ( often subconsiously) assessing more a series of slight curves. Doing spatial Calculus without even knowing they are doing this. They use Spins and curves rather than just measuring acute and obtuse angles allowing for throw, etc.

Again, out of habit rather than ‘what’s best’, I use my Snooker cue for all billiards. I’m decent but not great at American pool. I find if I use an American cue, I just don’t have the subtle difference in cueball contact. I tend to hit centre ball more often and lose a bit of position. If I had always used an American cue, this wouldn’t be an issue. However, American low deflection cues seem counter productive to me. I’ve used my current Snooker cue for 13 years and ‘want’ it allow more movement to on the ball. That movement is what I can learn I control to my advantage.
Your snooker cue is low deflection when you use it for American pool. A snooker cue was my introduction to low deflection back in the eighties. First table length shot on a bar table, I juiced it up and missed the object ball two inches! Yep, not the pocket, the ball. Took me a few months to make that snooker cue talk then it was pure magic on a pool table. I do know that after trying his snooker cue awhile, Ronnie O moved to a pool cue for the IPT.

I'm gonna sit back and watch this one for awhile. The sweetest spot on the cue ball is the center. The sweetest spot on the cue tip is the center. An error mishitting a cue ball slightly from center usually results in the ball pocketed and shape that you expected. The further out you move on the cue ball, the greater the effect of the same amount of error.

Not to say I don't use spin, it just takes a distant backseat to speed and angles. I do tend to use a little high outside so the ball comes off the rail sweetly. I think more habit than need. I suspect I use inside side more than most, It I find very useful. It has gotten so uncommon at the local hall that I have had rotation game players jump out of their chair to ask me what the hell I did! The one pocket players know exactly what I did.

Hu
 

CJ Wiley

ESPN WORLD OPEN CHAMPION
Gold Member
Silver Member
CJ, I would be interested to get your thoughts on why you won't get the desired feedback and how that is different than using English? Put another way - what makes it different than using a little spin?
Basically the cue ball is the primary target.

When we try to hit center there are three things that can happen:

1) We aim at the exact center and the cueball goes exactly straight (this isn't possible 100% even for the greatest players)
2) We aim at the center and hit it slightly to the left, which makes the cueball deflect to the right slightly.
3) We aim at the center and hit it slightly to the right, which makes the cueball deflect to the left slightly.

So there's 3 different factors, and unless we are perfect this will be true (I definitely didn't design my game to try and be perfect)

So if we decide to cue the ball slightly to the inside, there are two things that can happen:

1) We aim a touch to the left of the cueball's center and the cueball deflects slightly to the right.
2) We aim the cueball a touch to the left and hit it slightly farther to the left......the cueball still deflects to the right slightly
3) We aim the cueball slightly to the left and hit slightly to the right, WE STILL HIT THE CENTER, so there's no 3rd variable.

So when we develop a foundation of aiming slightly to the inside (or outside with spin) we only have two variables instead of 3.

This is the basics, and some food for thought. There is a lot more concerning how we use this to increase our pocket zone by targeting the side of the pocket closest to the object ball. This enables a ZONE to be created and we have a much larger "bail out area" (golf term" in the pocket.

Remember, to create a zone we can not try to hit, kick or throw a ball straight. This is why golfers fade or draw the golf ball, tennis players usually use topspin, slice or an America Twist and baseball pitchers will have a consistent movement to their fast balls, curses and drop balls.

I can explain this technique in a lot of detail, however, in writing it's challenging without a solid referential index to go by. This is why I use a pool table to demonstrate, explain and describe all the variables that apply and how the TOUCH OF INSIDE system enhances your game physically, mentally and emotionally......the confidence I have playing long sessions using the TOI speaks for itself, over time it gets better and better.

My Touch of Inside video section on my website is 90 minutes and shows exactly how this is done, I'd recommend watching it 3-5 times to pick up all the information, your mind will learn it in levels, it's not possible to pick it up all at once and 3 hours of practice is recommended using ONLY the Touch of Inside to start to open up your mind to how powerful this system is.....it's not an aiming system, it's an overall playing system!

The Game is the Teacher
 

Patrick Johnson

Fish of the Day
Silver Member
3) We aim the cueball slightly to the left and hit slightly to the right, WE STILL HIT THE CENTER, so there's no 3rd variable.
Seems to me like...

Trying to hit center ball but hitting slightly right - drives the cue ball slightly left of where you intended.

Trying to hit slightly left but hitting center ball - drives the cue ball slightly left of where you intended.

Same variables and stroke error consequences both ways.

pj <- seems like
chgo
 

straightline

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I think it's simply about consistency. Dead center ball is a teeter totter; ball on a ball on the end of your stick. Biasing english shifts that fulcrum into a more stable and forgiving zone.
 

boogieman

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that ping.
American low deflection cues seem counter productive to me. I’ve used my current Snooker cue for 13 years and ‘want’ it allow more movement to on the ball. That movement is what I can learn I control to my advantage.
I agree. The thing is, a non LD cue requires a better touch and can take longer to learn the intricacies with. A LD gets anyone shooting pretty good because it eliminates some variables. On many shots, I feel this is an advantage, but some shots almost require a bit of deflection. I'm no pro or anything, but even at my level, I feel like I'm losing some control when I use a LD shaft. It's kind of similar to driving an manual instead of an automatic, but in to a lesser extent. It takes a lot of practice and experience to master, but the difference is there.

EDIT: Not saying a LD shaft isn't great and used by great players, I just personally feel something is missing. Sure you can adapt to it and master LD playing, but personally, it feels like you're giving something up. I have a maple shaft that is 12.5mm so it's probably less deflection than a thicker shaft, but still more than the LD shafts of today.
 
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Patrick Johnson

Fish of the Day
Silver Member
I think it's simply about consistency. Dead center ball is a teeter totter; ball on a ball on the end of your stick. Biasing english shifts that fulcrum into a more stable and forgiving zone.
What’s “more stable and forgiving” about it?

pj
chgo
 

boogieman

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that ping.
Describe one.

pj
chgo
Ok, I'm fully prepared for you to prove me wrong, I'm not a pro or even close. PERSONALLY, I find the territory from super thin cut shots to the type of cuts that you have to almost use a half masse shot to make the ball much easier with a non LD shaft. There are very few shots that come up in regular games like this, but sometimes you just have no other options, and you have to make them. I see this stuff come up more when you're playing randos on smaller tables where clusters and messes reign supreme. This could be straight ignorance on my part, perhaps it's dead simple to do a half masse around a blocker or to come into the edge of a thin cut, but I've had no luck with doing so on LD equipment. Straight shots and such feel nice to me on LD, but these half masse where you have to curve the ball a bit just feel like you're using a wet noodle.
 

Patrick Johnson

Fish of the Day
Silver Member
Straight shots and such feel nice to me on LD, but these half masse where you have to curve the ball a bit just feel like you're using a wet noodle.
There’s no physical reason that should be harder with a LD shaft. I’m guessing unfamiliarity is the culprit - if you customarily used an LD shaft you’d probably think non-LD makes it harder.

pj
chgo
 

boogieman

It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that ping.
There’s no physical reason that should be harder with a LD shaft. I’m guessing unfamiliarity is the culprit - if you customarily used an LD shaft you’d probably think non-LD makes it harder.

pj
chgo
You're probably right. A couple months during league was enough for me. If I'd grown up with one or kept if for years I'd imagine non LD would seem it makes things harder.
 

ChrisinNC

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
The problem with using "center ball" is if you don't make the shot, or hit the part of the pocket desired you won't get the necessary feedback to make adjustments to calibrate your future shots.

This makes the player play a guessing game, which will break down when competing against a player that KNOWS why their shot reacted a certain way.

Giving handicaps to "center ball players," as a result of them being unaware of this knowledge is almost unfair. Just like playing golf, you won't see a professional trying to hit a full shot straight. They will move the ball off the straight line so they can align to one side of the green (or fairway) and force it into the center zone......if the ball curves too much it goes into the far side of the target area.

I would love to see all my opponents using center ball, they would (unknowingly) be at a disadvantage. If you're trapped at a level that you can't seem to improve I'd highly recommend learning how to use spin and deflection to help your shotmaking, not hurt yourself by using a "low deflection shaft".

The Game is the Teacher
Under the pressure of a match, particularly when shooting on a nine ball when there’s no need to move the cue ball anywhere in particular other than keeping it from heading toward a pocket, I try to stay on the center axis of the cue ball. By not spinning the cue ball, the object ball will be rolling straight forward which makes the pocket play bigger and more forgiving.

Also, all I need to concentrate on is a straight back and straight through stroke and aiming it where I need to. No need to have to factor in deflection, swerve and speed in to the aiming equation. For me, this helps simplify things when shooting under pressure by eliminating all those other variables.
 

gregcantrall

Center Ball
Silver Member
Very few are willing to spend the time on the basics or foundation that is required to become the best they can be. I am accustomed to watching players that want to run before they can walk. An example is a D player giving a novice a lesson in how to shoot a massee shot.

Walter Lindrum is an example of the importance of basics. I read in a biography that his father coached him and had him practice for the first month with just one ball.

I would start a new student with building a solid shooting platform. Weeks of practice to build it then daily maintenance. It is significantly easier to build a good habit than to break a bad one.

Center ball gives me a shot with the fewest variables that I need to account for in planning the shot. Center ball is the next step after the stable shooting platform. Think Water Lindrum and give it the time and attention it deserves. My daily practice includes playing 3 ball with a phenolic tipped break cue that has not been chalked. (This could be my hustle proposition) Only after this has been mastered should a player start investigating top and bottom. (Wait another month for side if you want to be as good as Walter 🥴)
 

ChrisinNC

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
It's already biased to one side. You know side will be THAT side give or take. Center could go either way. There is no such give or take; give or take...
Not sure I agree with your premise. If you’re playing a shot with say 1/2 tip of inside and you adjust your aiming accordingly, if you miss that exact spot you’re planning to strike the cue ball by say 1/16th inch either way, it’s going to throw the cue ball off line virtually the exact same amount as attempting to play dead center on the cue ball and missing your contact spot by the same 1/16 inch.

For most including myself, I just think it’s easier to address and find the dead center location (vertical axis) on the cue ball and successfully deliver the cue tip to that center location on the cue ball on your stroke, as opposed to addressing the tip with whatever amount of left or right you plan to strike that cue ball with and successfully hitting that exact location with your tip on your stroke.
 

rexus31

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
I think the top players use less center ball than you think. It just looks like they are hitting center ball but the stroke is so good, they can get the same cue ball reaction hitting closer to center than the average player hitting further out. I've had the opportunity to take a couple of lessons from Dennis Orcullo. After one session asked him, "Generally speaking, what percentage of shots do you shoot without english; using only center ball?". He looked at me like I was from another planet and said, "None. I use english on every shot."
 

straightline

AzB Silver Member
Silver Member
Not sure I agree with your premise. If you’re playing a shot with say 1/2 tip of inside and you adjust your aiming accordingly, if you miss that exact spot you’re planning to strike the cue ball by say 1/16th inch either way, it’s going to throw the cue ball off line virtually the exact same amount as attempting to play dead center on the cue ball and missing your contact spot by the same 1/16 inch.

For most including myself, I just think it’s easier to address and find the dead center location (vertical axis) on the cue ball and successfully deliver the cue tip to that center location on the cue ball on your stroke, as opposed to addressing the tip with whatever amount of left or right you plan to strike that cue ball with and successfully hitting that exact location with your tip on your stroke.
It's just what I get from CJ's explanation and my own epiphanies. Grey area for sure but it just makes sense. The thing about error from center is it's very easy to get into unfavorable spin. IOW if you're aiming with visible inside, it's not likely you'll end up with outside. With your finest center hit, you have left and right catastrophe zones.
 
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