View Full Version : Radical idea, at least for me

06-20-2002, 09:25 AM
I started playing this maddening game about 7 years ago and have had to fight my way to teach myself everything I know (save Voodoo teachings of the Zen master). I don't have great natural talent, stroke, and I don't see ball patterns like alot of good players do. Don't get me wrong I'm ok but....................something is missing. I've found out new cues only work for a little while and financially it's not viable to buy a new cue just because I'm in ANOTHER slump.

Yesterday after work I was sitting in my living room rolling balls around the table and I noticed something............no spin. I learned that I don't know how to shoot balls without spin!!!!!!!

Like alot of people I fell in love with english the second I learned how to use it but forgot how to play in the center of the cue ball (if I ever knew how). I hit 2 racks of 3 foot shots with center ball last night before league and it was weird. It's like a whole part of the cue ball that I didn't remember existed!!!!! I'm scraping my game and starting over, I'm gonna learn how to play the right way, a better way, a fundamentally solid way.

I'm not sure what I trying to ask here but is there a good way to learn this? I'm thinking of just start shooting 5 or so racks of the same shot over and over, maybe varying speed per rack, maybe 4 shots per night. Over the course of the weeks and months ahead I should learn what the cue ball will do and how to hit shots without using English, this is better right? Maybe I'm just flipping out over nothing but how can there be an entire section of the ball that I don't use?

The wise Zen Master once told me (I think Moses told him) that the only thing english is good for is getting yourself out of trouble and........................putting yourself right back in.

Kato~~~wouldn't know what to do if I wasn't confused.

06-20-2002, 09:32 AM
Good morning:

In January of 2001, when I started taking lessons from Gerda Hofstatter, all instruction focused on center ball - No English. Gerda had me work for more then a year before she introduced english into my game. You will learn, as I did from Gerda, that you can do more then you ever thought possible by using nothing more then center ball; stun, follow, draw.

Dr. D.

06-20-2002, 09:50 AM
I have been playing pool 37 years. The first 20 years I was trying to learn english. The last 17 years, I have been trying to learn speed, angle and the use of rails for shape.

And, if it means anything, you get a little more acurate on long cut shots if you use about a half a tip of top english. This makes the cue ball roll on the aim path better.

Try hitting the cue ball from the head spot to the end rail and back again (keeping your cue tip in positon on the table) with a little top english and you will be surprized how many times the cue ball comes back to your cue tip.

Snooker players use center (top-middle-low) about 85-90% of the time. There is a reason they have a reputation for being able make shots.

Next time you practice, try to figure out which side of OB you want to be on, for each shot, to be able to use just center english, the speed of the shot and rails to get shape on each following shot. Its easier than you might think..

Not so radical.. but very enlightening

06-20-2002, 10:00 AM
I don't think it's a radical idea. It sounds very reasonable to me. I probably use more english than I should. You're talking about using the KISS principle, which is a proven concept. I like using english on my bank shots, but to be perfectly honest, if I'm shooting a bank, it's usually because I didn't get the position I wanted. Looking at the tangent line created by the cueball and object ball at contact, and figuring in ball speed, follow, stop, or draw, I can normally get the cueball to a satisfactory position. There are times I find english necessary, but IMO english is often overused and results in a lot of missed shots. I get caught up in trying to get perfect position sometimes, when just getting to a general area will do fine.

06-20-2002, 01:38 PM
Just as a warning, you may find you need to slightly overcut balls, hit them slightly thinner, than the lines you used before when playing with English.

06-20-2002, 01:51 PM
Here are a few suggestion for learning to use center ball hits. Do you have acces to a 12' Snooker table? If so spend some time trying to use just the vertical axis of the cueball. The great distances and small balls/pockets discourage any attempts at english in a hurry!

Here is a crazy idea:

Get a cue with a very short pivot point (very high squirt). One way to do that is to strap a piece of lead strip to the ferrule of a house cue with a small hose clamp. Or have a cue repairman add a solid brass ferrule to a house cue or sneaky pete.

You will find that unless you stick to centerball hits, you won't make a ball! Any deviation will amplify the effect due to the extreme squirt of the cue. I don't suggest using this cue for actual play, but for practice it will help punish any non center hits immediately.


06-20-2002, 05:53 PM
In 69, I played on a snooker table about 20 times at Northern IL. I don't know if it was 12' X 6' or just 10' X 5'. I used my regular cue. And they had a set of balls numbered 1 to 15 just like regular balls. But I think they were snooker sized. I'm not sure. But it did help improve my game. I did have to shoot most of the shots with little english. Mostly center ball. And I wasn't able to get good position. Especially on the long shots. So I ended up leaving more long shots for myself. And it also forced me to concentrate more on aiming for the center of the pocket. But unlike now, I had excellent eye sight back. then. I remember having a high run of 25 playing someone a game of straights on the snooker table. I thought that was excellent because my high run on a regular table was 35. Now even when I just roll out all the balls onto the table I haven't even been able to make 15 without a miss.

Scott Lee
06-20-2002, 07:08 PM
Dr. D...Certainly a good basis for starting to learn, and I teach the same idea...but to play only centerball for a whole year is overkill! If you were my student, you would be learning sidespin within a month or two (at most!). JMO

Scott Lee

Scott Lee
06-20-2002, 07:14 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: Tom_In_Cincy:</font><hr> And, if it means anything, you get a little more acurate on long cut shots if you use about a half a tip of top english. This makes the cue ball roll on the aim path better.

Try hitting the cue ball from the head spot to the end rail and back again (keeping your cue tip in positon on the table) with a little top english and you will be surprized how many times the cue ball comes back to your cue tip.

Tom...I don't mean to play semantics, but I do not consider straight topspin to be using "english", unless you add right or left to the topspin...then you have "top english".
I only point this out, because many people misunderstand using the term "english". Centerball, whether it is dead center, topspin, or draw, has no 'english', or sidespin attached to it. I know that's what you mean, but I wanted to clear it up those that don't know! LOL


06-20-2002, 07:43 PM
Kato, my suggestion is to mark a spot for the c/b. Set the o/b out from the rail. Hit it with center and note the angle. I have people shoot these center, right and left english to have a comparison. I know you want to use center but if you alternate shots it may help you more. You may want to set up a ball to play position on. It helps to have a target rather than just making balls. Shoot shots from long and short rails. I know your on the right track, and you will get better. Keep in mind though english is still a necessary part of the game. You made a good decision.

Voodoo Daddy
06-20-2002, 10:52 PM
Unlike Scott, I would have you playing the center ball for months. I feel that with the balls construction and the cloth speeds that tournaments are played on and most pool rooms have..anymore than a half/full tip from center is just too much. Not saying his way or mine are the tell all, just a matter of opinion. Once I watched a friend run a rack or two with a new tip that had NO CHALK...Toby Sweet is obviously a center ball player. As far as Kato is concerned, center, top and bottom should get you where you wanna be. Trust me folks, this kid can play a 'lil and with some more schooling could play alot.

Voodoo...wants to see Kato shine at pool

Scott Lee
06-20-2002, 11:57 PM
Steve...I agree with you about learning to play the vertical
axis of the CB first and foremost! However, to get to a higher level, the student needs to understand what english is, and when (or when NOT) to use it appropriately. My comment to Dr. D was based on someone who is serious about learning, and has the time for regular practice. In my experience (as was stated in the first post of this thread by Kato), many poolplayers learn to use english (sidespin) on EVERY shot, and consequently never learn what the CB is capable of, utilizing only the vertical axis, natural angle, and speed control. I make certain the student has a full understanding of centerball hits before sidespin is even looked at! I just don't believe it necessarily has to take "months and months", or worse yet, a whole year, before that centerball knowledge is acquired and honed. Anyone who knows me, knows that I preach centerball more than most! I think we're basically on the same page here!


Voodoo Daddy
06-21-2002, 01:24 AM
We might be on the same page Scott but I gotta take the months and months version one step further. In order to reach the next level I believe you MUST have a command of center ball, all its angles and its advantages before you venture out even half a tip of english {spin}. To each his/her own but my students command center ball before we move ahead.

Voodoo...never knocks one's opinion

06-21-2002, 05:53 AM
Scott &amp; Voodoo'
How do you get a student to put his game on hold and go back to zero and learn the benefits of center axis play which he/she most likely breezed right by when he first started to play. My students are sooooooo impatient.....

06-21-2002, 06:33 AM
Kato, you have indeed stumbled on to something here. If you dare (as I did) to do something radical in order to potentially drastically improve your game in the long run, for the next month commit yourself (no exceptions) to playing only the center axis of the cue-ball (high center, dead center, and low center) during ALL of your play - practice and match play. You will find that this is indeed very limiting to your position play, but will improve your game immensely. It will also FORCE you to think better and learn to play better patterns and the importance of falling on the right side of the object in order to be able to play natural (and simpler) position to the next ball.

Eventually you will feel comfortable playing centerball and looking for more natural positioning patterns rather than always loading up the cue ball with english to force it around the table. Yes - proper use of all english (and with accuracy) is no doubt required to play this game at a high level, but many players forget about the importance of centerball - much like they forget about the importance of having solid fundamentals.

After this period, you can then return back to playing necessary english when required for position, but you'll feel like you'll have a much more complete game you can count on to hold up under pressure. - Chris in NC

06-21-2002, 07:00 AM
Good morning Scott:

One additional point of fact. I never held a cue or even played pool for fun prior to January 1, 2001. To this day, even though sidespin has been introduced into my game in a significant manner, my use of english is very limited. I use english only when required.

Dr. D.

06-21-2002, 07:15 AM
First, let me thank you all for responding to this post. Your advice is certainly priceless to me.

Chris, you bring up a very important point about MATCH play and you're right. I'm going to have to not only change my practice but even change the way I play in tournaments and league (Phil, if you're following this thread I'm sorry but I have to limit myself to move forward). I didn't think about this until reading Chris's post. If I don't change then I'm not serious enough. In order to make the change permanent and effective I must stick to this program.

A while ago I asked Voodoo to teach me some stuff and he really opened my eyes to what I was missing (alot). I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna do this well, I'm gonna do this right. This is my goal, this is my vision. It's all aimed toward being at the top of my game the 28th of September, year of our lord, 2002.

Kato~~~waking up

Scott Lee
06-21-2002, 01:10 PM
Diana...Good for you! You are going about the learning process in the right way! Use english sparingly, and your game improves almost immediately!

Scott Lee

Scott Lee
06-21-2002, 01:19 PM
Steve...We definitely agree that a total command of centerball hits is a MUST before moving on to teaching sidespin and it's effects on both CB and OB. IMO, the length of time needed to get a firm handle on this is subjective, according to the student, their ability to pick up knowledge, and the amount of time they are willing to delegate to serious practice!


Scott Lee
06-21-2002, 01:26 PM
Cheese...I start out by demonstrating the tangent line effect, by putting an OB on the footspot, and showing how the CB will go towards the side pocket (on any angle shot) when stroked with centerball. Then I show how top and bottom affect the tangent line, and how sidespin DOESN'T (unless it's used with top or bottom). That, in itself, usually is enough for most people to say, "Wow, I didn't know you could curve the CB without english!" LOL Now they want to know MORE!


06-21-2002, 03:15 PM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote: cheesemouse:</font><hr> My students are sooooooo impatient..... <hr></blockquote>

Yes, most people are impatient...and I guess that is why most people aren't on the pro tour. They are too impatient to take the time needed to perfect their game...

I don't necessarily think a year of playing only center ball is unreasonable, if your goal is to be pro. How many years have most pro players practiced certain aspects of their game in order to get to the level they are?? The importance of using center ball in your game is such a major fundamental, it is something that needs to be so automatic that a player does not get to the point of ever forgetting it. If that is what it takes to get there, a year is no problem IMO.

06-21-2002, 04:40 PM

To me, anywhere you hit the cue ball envokes 'english'. Describing where is the difficult part.

To me, any hit that changes the path of the cue ball after it hits the OB, should be considered 'english'

And, this would include a 'center ball' hit, with different speeds.

If I could just remember to leave the word 'english' out of these types of posts.. this would never happen again..

Trying harder..

Voodoo Daddy
06-21-2002, 07:56 PM
First off, my first lesson is normally a verbal one. Just sit and talk to the person/persons for awhile to see where they "THINK" they are in their game. I explain to them that this isnt a game to me...its my life and I take it very seriously. I then tell them that I have a dump-truck load of patience and if they really wanna learn I will teach them but they will do it my way.

First table lesson consists of watching them for 10 minutes or so and I can survey their mechanics. Then I asked them if they can perform certain shots...there I can see where they REALLY stand ability wise. From there its what/when/where I say. When they get frustrated with me because I wont teach them to jump balls or masse` I tell them "When you know center ball, we'll jump balls, jump up and down...whatever you like" Those I have helped all say the same thing..."english was meant to get you outta trouble and puts you in it as well".

Voodoo...marveling at the amount of text he typed

06-21-2002, 09:09 PM
Scott&amp; Voodoo,
Thanks for your replies. I have three guys that are going to start a series of lessons at the end of summer. I used to do it for free but now I charge and they learn more for the cash. Voodoo, you and I must think alike in regards to first approach. Scott I will try starting the two news guys with your center english demo, the other guy is beyound that after last Winters lessons. Thanks again guys.... /ccboard/images/icons/smile.gif
P.S. Voodoo you should expound more often LOL LOL......

Scott Lee
06-21-2002, 09:29 PM
I know what you mean Tom! My friend Willie Jopling is the exact same way! I just like to differenciate between sidespin and follow or draw. Generally, sidespin is referred to as 'english', and shots on the vertical axis are said to be 'non-englished' shots...at least how it's defined by BCA instructors. That doesn't necessarily make it 'right' or 'better'...just more of a commonality among teachers. For myself, it seems to help my students see the difference between stroking a ball with just draw, for example, as opposed to stroking it with draw + english...
so they can see and understand how to communicate the different results. Seems like more players from the South refer to any kind of spin as english, moreso than other parts of the country!


06-22-2002, 12:12 AM
My first time meeting Voodoo was a little wierd. I walked up and introduced myself and he blew me off (he was sick and not happy with losing in the tournament and kind of blew me off). The next day I got an e-mail explaining what had happened and asked to meet again. We became very fast friends. This man, regardless of size, shape, and speed is the thing that both teachers and friends are made of. I'm not a pool player (or person for that matter) of the stature of Voodoo, that didn't stop him from trying me. His patience, lord help us all, is that of a Tibetian monk (though not nearly as moral).

My first lesson consisted of one single shot, which I failed on everytime out of 10 (by the way, I won't miss that shot in front of him ever again). Stop, he corrected about 43 problems (really one, the others came later) I had, mainly my head bobbing up and down like I was dumping for apples. Unfortunatley we have very opposite schedules and I can only take advantage of him as a friend and confidant rather than a mentor and coach.

What I can say about Steve are very simple acknowledgements from experience.

1) He never says no to me: If I wish to know something about pool or life, he offers his advice or knowledge, no questions asked.

2) I know that if I had a tournament or something coming up that I really wanted to place strongly in (read CCB tourny), he'd stop his entire life to help, not just me but every person he knew. This is special in a person or coach.

Lord help me if I'm sucking up but this is how I feel. I'm pleased that he has endorsed my idea of scrapping my game and starting over. That makes me proud.

Kato~~~Voodoo's life long friend 'till the day we die.

06-22-2002, 07:34 AM
Maybe they need to come to the conclusion that I did. Just scrap it. It's broke, fix it.


06-22-2002, 10:43 AM
Scott Lee &amp; Chris in NC&gt; I am going to try this too whether practicing or playing in league b/c I really don't know where the CB should naturally travel after making contact with the OB using the vertical axis.

Kato, I wish you the best. Know that you have someone else that aspires to play at a higher and more consistent level and is willing to make this sacrifice to reap GREAT rewards in the end.

I can say it's broken now and is in the mending PROCESS. Thanks for this post and I'd like to keep in touch with you so we can discuss our progress, as we're both starting something we've skipped.


Jay M
06-24-2002, 09:50 AM
My game is all based around the concept of no english. While I am in line, I won't use any english at all (that includes draw and follow). I only use english when I absolutely have to have it to get in line (or back in line). Draw and follow are used minimally for angles, primarily to keep the cue away from pockets.

Don't get me wrong, I can spin the heck out of the rock when I need to, I just prefer to use all natural angles. Possibly to an extreme. I'll take the natural 3 rail leave over the force follow one rail leave just about every time. Ray doesn't like that approach and I guess I should really listen, I mean he IS a three time world champion after all...

It's entirely possible that the reason I play safe as often as I do is because I get out of line and keep fighting the rack, trying to get back into line.

Jay M