View Full Version : shooting off a rail

07-02-2004, 10:24 AM
Hey all!!

I was working on this last night, and noticed that I seem to be weak when shootig off a rail. I know it's not an overly easy shot, but I seem to be missing them consistently. Especially when they are dead straight in. Every other aspect of my game is strong, such as the break (I usually pocket 1 to 4 balls consistently and keep control of whitey)and position play. I've tried several things to try to straigten it out, to no avail. A room owner about an hour from here told me when I play at his room, I'll be an AA player. He'd rank me higher if it wasn't for consistently missing these shots. What's really weird, is I have no problem shooting over an impeding ball.
Any suggestions, or tips to help me out would be much appreciated.
Thanks a lot.

07-02-2004, 10:36 AM
Try lining up your shot and then elevating the butt of the cue so it is at the same angle as the top of the cushion (not the rail) so you are shooting slightly down on the cb. let the cue rest on the cushion, use your bridge hand just to keep it from moving sideways, and use a nice smooth soft stroke. Obviously, you can't try to put anything on the cb. You are right, it's not easy, just one of those things you need to have in your bag of tricks.

07-02-2004, 10:46 AM
I think the hardest part about shooting off the rail is staying in the dead verticle center of the cue ball while still being able to aim and to stroke the cue ball without unwanted english. For that reason, it is especially important to visualize the point of aim and your line precisely before setting up for the shot.

As far as the stroke goes, keep the cue level. This will reduce the errors. Once your aligned, keep you body and head very still, softly draw the cue back, and smoothly stroke right on through the ball. The forward stroke should be especially smooth and positive.

Here is a shot I practice all the time. Visualization is especially key in this shot. The smallest error and the ball won't go anywhere near the pocket. Freeze the cueball on the rail and object ball about a half inch or an inch off the rail.



WEI Table (http://endeavor.med.nyu.edu/~wei/pool/9egg/)

The main thing is to see this shot in your mind before setting up. If you practice this shot for awhile, all other rail shots will seem simple. Forget english on rail shots if you want to make them.


07-02-2004, 11:36 AM
Yep, just make sure your well balanced. I see some that have the tendency to put the weight on their toes. If your not jacked up keep your feet flat. Even then, you can hold the handle more forward and still be flat footed.

That's part of what can go wrong with these shots. Off balance and miss-hit the c/b. All it takes is a little unwanted side english and the c/b swerves a touch before the o/b. Try to keep the cue as level as permitted for that type of shot.

If the shot doesn't need any force, i'm a believer of just dropping the cue on the c/b, By that I mean, hold the handle a little more forward with a shorter bridge. The cue feels heavier which I think makes a good guide/pendlum. A short backswing, let the weight go forward and don't force any follow through. That's not saying the cue needs any more elevation. It's going to be slightly elevated anyway.

I practiced these shots. If you get the feeling I tried to describe you'll have a lot more confidence. That is after all how we play our best. I still feel comfortable shooting them.

Here is a shot I practiced. You can vary the distance to the o/b. The force needed for this shot has the c/b travel 3 to 4 inches tops after contact. Remember balance and stay still. HTH
WEI (http://endeavor.med.nyu.edu/%7Ewei/pool/pooltable2.html)

%AP9G2%BL7P8%CJ5O4%DL7N1%EM7P1%FK6P1%GK6N8%HM7N8%I L7O4%JK6M5


07-02-2004, 12:43 PM
Don't leave the cueball on the rail. I was reading BD a few months ago, and it asked Jean Balukas what she thought the best piece of advice was that she ever received or would give. She answered, "be sure not to leave the cue ball on the rail". I have a buddy who is a good shortstop, but would be a champion if he just concentrated on being sure the cue ball was not left on the rail. I know you can't help it if the opponent misses and leaves it there, but most times it is lack of concentration on the shooting player that leaves this shot.


Scott Lee
07-02-2004, 12:59 PM
The number one mistake, imo, that players make when shooting the CB on the rail, is picking the cuestick up off of your bridge hand, as you stroke through the CB. This results in an inaccurate and inefficient delivery, and is often no better than a "poke" at the CB. Light grip, slow backswing, pendulum swing, and follow through...the keys to the kingdom! LOL

Scott Lee

07-02-2004, 02:06 PM
There are a few tricks that I have learned along the way that will improve your accuracy with this shot. Shooting a ball off of a rail is always going to be difficult, but you can take a few steps to improve your %'s. The most important of which is your bridge on the rail. The bridge I've found to be most comfortable is a thumb cross over (don't worry, I'll explain it in a min.). That doesn't mean that this is the only right way, just mine.

1. Place your open hand palm side down on the rail.
2. Place your thumb in a way so that it is pointing towards your obj. ball, and rest your shaft alongside your thumb.
3. Take your index finger and cross it over the shaft
4. Rest your middle finger against the shaft, but keep your ring and little fingers spread out for stability.

I've had the best luck with this bridge... somewhere between 55-65 percent. The other thing, probably even more important, is not to "look" at the CB. When you're stuck that close to the CB, your eyes alter your ability to decode the geometry properly. Instead, pick a point 1.5" to 2" in front of the ball, keep your cue level, as low as possible (given that it's on the rail), and keep your grip loose. Then, stroke away until you're dead! (dead on that is) /ccboard/images/graemlins/tongue.gif

Hope this helps!

phil in sofla
07-02-2004, 03:54 PM
Jimmy Reid teaches a little different stroking technique for shots off the rail.

He says that if you take the normal backstroke and pause on your last stroke, the extra stress of the shot will likely cause an unwanted tension in the small muscles of the arm, throwing off the line off the shot.

What he recommends is to get your practice stroking going, in a kind of feathering stroke he calls 'fast and loose', and then just let the stroke go on any of the strokes that feel correct on line, without any particular pausing on the last backstroke. Supposedly this will let the cue stay straight in line, without the unwanted muscular tension throwing it off line.

It's almost like surprising yourself, not making the decision of 'now, this is the final stroke' but instead letting it happen.

(I don't use this myself, preferring the 'let the cue fall on the cue ball' theory already mentioned in this thread).

07-02-2004, 04:00 PM
Ah Phil you beat me to this post, I have used Jimmy's suggestion with a fair amount of success.

07-02-2004, 06:29 PM
This is what I do, has anyone ever suggested this to you? I put a little downward pressure on the shaft with my grip hand (Stroking hand) so it can't slip over the cue ball. I also use a deliberate stroke, no free wheel at all. I am very confident shooting off the rail.

07-02-2004, 07:37 PM
Someone posted this drill here a while back that I have found usefull.

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You go around the table placing the cueball where the object ball was and place the object ball on the footspot. Then shoot the object ball into either A or B. Keep track of how many shots it takes to get around the table. If its a little too advanced to start out and you feel it would take you all night to get around once I would suggest just going around and keeping track of how many you make. Dont torture yourself with it, but doing this a few times a day would help anyones ability to make a ball off the rail I would think.

07-02-2004, 07:55 PM
im not the one you really need advice from (i shot a 35 the other night) but i always rack up a game of 8 ball every night and shoot out the rack with the cue on the rail for every shot. I shoot a shot in then place the cue back on the rail and look for another shot to shoot at. I use to really dred looking at a bank shot clear across the table with the cue on the rail but now they dont really worry me much. I guess what i am saying is to practice shooting off the rail. Other than that i dont know any tricks.

07-02-2004, 08:36 PM
Thanks for all the good advice everyone!
I can't wait to get out tomorrow night and attack these shots with a vengeance.
I'll get them after a few hours I'm sure.

07-03-2004, 01:36 AM
I practice shooting these shots once a week. May want to schedule a once a week practice game for yourself. Just play a game of 8-ball by yourself, except wherever the cue ball stops, move it to a rail and shoot from there. Then practice straight in shots. Move the object ball further and further back after each shot. Then practice cut shots, moving the object ball futher and further away from the pocket. After a few months of this once a week practice, you will see a big improvement. (Basically practice the shots you hate the most and those which are the most frustrating...)

07-03-2004, 08:10 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote Popcorn:</font><hr> This is what I do, has anyone ever suggested this to you? I put a little downward pressure on the shaft with my grip hand (Stroking hand) so it can't slip over the cue ball...... <hr /></blockquote>

When this subject came up a few months ago this was suggested. I have tried it and it seems to help. I think the key is not to use too much pressure, just a wee bit.

07-03-2004, 09:55 AM
I like it, no need to jack up and you can keep you eye on the ball without all your attention being completely occupied by just trying to make a good hit on the cue ball without miscuing. I have no problem being frozen to the rail. You are very limited by the fact you are frozen to the rail of course, but you should be able do as much as can be expected with some amount confidence.

07-03-2004, 10:18 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote MosconiJr:</font><hr> Don't leave the cueball on the rail. ...<hr /></blockquote>

Yep. I used to practice off-the-rail shots frequently because I was always leaving myself there. Since my position play has improved somewhat I find myself stranded there less often lately, now that I think about it.