View Full Version : Why are tables short or long?

08-09-2005, 08:43 AM
What exactly makes a table play "short" or "long"?

08-09-2005, 08:54 AM
Lots of things can contribute but the most common is the condition of the rails and cloth.
I had an off brand 8 foot residential grade table for a while and the rails would bank about 1/2 diamond long. It took me a while to realize that it was screwing up my whole game and I replaced it with the Brunswick Pro 8 ft that I have now and that was a world of difference.
I bet Dr. Dave will have a lot of MUCH better reasons for you. /ccboard/images/graemlins/cool.gif

08-09-2005, 09:27 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote BigRigTom:</font><hr> ...I bet Dr. Dave will have a lot of MUCH better reasons for you. /ccboard/images/graemlins/cool.gif <hr /></blockquote>

Yes, this would be a good Dr. Dave thing. But this would probably not be easy - finding long and short tables, then lugging around all that video equipment...

08-09-2005, 09:59 AM
Lots of things.

**Humidity High humidity will make a table bank short, low will make it bank right, or long on new cloth.

**Age and condition of cloth (is it new, is it old, is it well kept &amp; clean or left dirty)

**Condition and quality of cushions

**Are the rails properly covered (too tight or too loose a cloth on the cushions can make a HUGE difference)

I'm sure there are more things, but these are the four that are most prominent in my opinion. These are all things you can figure out pretty quick by just hitting a few balls on a table.


Steve Lipsky
08-09-2005, 11:34 AM
Hi Cane. Thanks for the information. I was wondering if you could maybe go down your list, and exactly explain what cause will result in what effect?

For example, your first point said high humidity = tables play short. But then your next point was just "condition of rails"... could you elaborate on what condition of rails would result in playing short, and what condition of rails would result in playing long. And do the same for the rest of your list, if possible?

I'm sorry if this makes no sense, lol.


- Steve

08-09-2005, 12:27 PM
I'll do my best here, esp on the condition of the rails, or cushions, but that can be so different from table to table. I've seen older cushions that felt "soft" and the ball would go super short on those. I've seen others that felt soft, but the ball rebounded pretty much where it should. I've seen them hard that the ball would go just perfect on, and seen them hard that the ball would go REALLY long on. When I get on a table for a tournament or a match, I usually just take the cue ball and "dribble" it off my hand into the cushions to see how they feel. There is, at least in my opinion, a VERY wide range of "OK". Unless they're noticably hard or noticably soft, I just bank and kick as normal.

The big problem I see with cushions is that many times I see them covered WAY too tightly. Now, the farther I get away from Eastern Oklahoma, the less I see that, but you must keep in mind here, the qualifications to be a good table mechanic is that you know how to spell billyurds... oops!!! That ain't right! Really, what happens is that they stretch the cloth on the cushions so tightly that they act like a trampoline. Lively doesn't even begin to describe it. If you have an off angle bank you want to shorten up, you have to hit it into the cushion at mach 2 just to get enough rail crush to take the angle down. If we're lucky, the self made table mechanics will at least overstretch the cloth evenly down the length of the cushion. If they don't and you have those "ripples", then there's no telling WHERE the ball will go when it leaves the cushion. The opposite problem is, to me, not so bad. Loose cloth on the cushion. The only problem I find with this is that spin on a ball, like running english on a kick, won't take as well, so you have to adjust, maybe put a half a tip more of run on the ball.

Now, the dirty cloth thing drives me nuts! Personally, I don't see why it's so much trouble to brush a damn table and occasionally vacuum it. When I had my pool room open, it was the JOB of the waitresses when they came on shift (which was before the Pool Room was open), to brush every table and wipe down the rail caps. When the room was open, every table was brushed after every use, I didn't care if a player was only on it for 15 minutes. I just see no excuse for nasty equipment. In any case, if the cloth is dirty or pilled up, I'll avoid banks or kicks unless absolutely necessary. They're just too unpredictable. Low humidity and dirt... like a lubricant. Things go long. But... same dirt and the humidity in the room comes up 20%, then it's almost like mud. Drag coefficient goes WAY up and more friction makes for shorter rebounds on the banks.

Humidity is the real killer in this part of the world. Where I live, a dry day is 50 to 60% humidity. A wet day will hover anywhere from 90% to "if you take a deep breath, you drown". Even in air conditioned pool rooms, just the customers roaming in and out can raise the humidity drastically and "kill" the cloth.

Well, that's my interpretation of what happens and why.


Steve Lipsky
08-09-2005, 12:54 PM
Thanks Bob! That was very informative. I will relay this information to the powers that be at my room.

Thanks again,

08-09-2005, 04:07 PM
You have already had some good answers here, but Ill throw my .02 in anyway.

Ill use a common kick shot as an example.

WEI Table (http://endeavor.med.nyu.edu/~wei/pool/pooltable2.html)



With the above example kicking the cueball at the corner pocket with a center hit or above by the time the cueball reaches the first rail it will have forward roll on it. The orange arrow shows the direction of the forward roll (or follow).

If the cloth and balls are clean the cueball will maintain the spin in this direction when it comes off the rail (shown by brown arrow) and will alter the path of the cueball after it leaves the rail.

Dirty cloth will remove more of the spin before it leaves the rail because of the increased friction and will play shorter. Cane mentioned humidity which aslo increases the friction and will tend to make the table play shorter.

New cloth is very slick and will tend to make them play much wider.

You will notice this much more when the kick is 4 diamonds or wider, 3 diamonds or less wont be affected as much.

I hope I explained it properly. Its much easier to demonstrate on a pool table /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif


08-10-2005, 12:18 AM
On some tables, ordinary banks miss short when hit at normal speed but go in if they are hit softly. When this is happening I think it indicates that the cushion may be too soft. I think that the ob penetrates too deeply into a soft cushion and that the desired rebound path is blocked by a point of the pocket the ob makes in the cushion. I wonder what a high-speed camera would show.


08-10-2005, 08:12 AM
A Pool Table will play short or long for several or all of the reasons mentioned.

There are several kinds of rubber cushions, all of which will cause a slight difference in rebound. Same result for different kinds of Cloth &amp; the condition of the cloth. Speed &amp; English are a definite factor too.

Here's another problem, the cushion may not be installed at a level height, causing the ball to rebound at a different speed. The cushion is supposed to be installed at the correct height, all the way around the table. However, the cushion was put on the rail by hand.

08-10-2005, 01:53 PM
this is a very interesting post. Now I am curious, is there a quote un-quote "tester" shot that you can do that will tell you how it is working, or is it something that you just have to kind of figure out as you go?

08-10-2005, 09:04 PM
I normally test for kicks before I play on a table. Ill test one rail kicks on the 6 to 3 track from both sides of the table. Then Ill check a 3 rail kick to see if it goes short or long.

08-11-2005, 09:23 AM
thanks woody! Now I'll be hopping from table to table tonight making people wonder what the heck I am doing

08-11-2005, 10:51 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote sack316:</font><hr> ...is there a quote un-quote "tester" shot that you can do that will tell you how it is working... <hr /></blockquote>

Yes, there are several. Probably the best is trying out shots you would typically use in a game. There is a 3 rail test to make the corner pocket, but most players would not use this shot in a typical game.

A common shot is a long shot from the corner pocket to center diamond on far short rail, then back to opposite corner pocket. (You need to hit a ball which is near that pocket and you are blocked, so need to shoot a kick shot.)

Depending on the table, you will need to aim to a spot other than exactly at the diamond or use a little english or not use any english.

Basically shoot "natural" kick shots which would make the cue ball into a pocket and use the diamonds. Shoot from a diamond to the appropriate diamond on the opposite side. (In front of a pocket is a diamond.)

With some tables, you can shoot center ball exactly to the diamond and make the CB into the pocket. Other tables you need to shoot a little to this side or that side of the diamond or use a little english (or both).

It can come in real handy to know in advance where exactly you need to aim to get a long kick shot to work.

Of course you need a "base" or "known" method of shooting these shots to be able to tell if a table is off or different.

So place an object ball in front of each diamond and practice shooting them into a pocket using the diamonds. May need to use some inside english to make balls on certain tables. And be sure your ball goes to the same place each time.

If you hit the same exact shot over and over aiming at the same exact spot, but the ball goes different directions after coming off the rail, you are not hitting the ball dead center each time or hitting with different amounts of english each time. It is very hard to hit the ball dead center for each shot.