View Full Version : 8-Ball practice tips?

02-02-2006, 07:12 AM

I play in an APA 8-Ball league, where I recently moved up to 6. Unfortunately I've been losing a lot since moving up. I've been working on my accuracy and positioning lately, and while there's certainly more work to be done there, I feel like I'm getting to an acceptable level for the time being. I find myself losing a lot of racks by making a 4-5 ball run, then leaving my opponent a relatively open table to run out.

So, I think what I need to work on most right now is reading the table. Deciding when to run, and when to play a safety. I work on this when I play against good players, but I practice solo a lot too. I'm not really sure how to work on this when I'm by playing by myself. Anyone have tips on this? Maybe some drills I can do, or even a software package that I can use when I'm not at a table?

Thanks in advance - I look forward to hearing your advice.

02-02-2006, 08:09 AM
Dr Snooze,

"Moving up" means that you give up one additional game as a handicap. Formerly you played a 3-3 race with a 5-rated player, now you must beat him 4-3. Similarly, your handicap is adjusted by one game when matched against other skill levels.

If you are "losing a lot" at your new handicap, it seems unlikely that you were cruising to victory with only a one-game difference before moving up. Perhaps the game spot at SL-6 is not really the issue? Perhaps it is that your team captain is now forced, by the numbers, to match you up differently and you are just not comfortable playing the strange opponents. Also, if you have just recently been moved up, it may be too soon to say you are really "losing a lot". You may just be on a short-term losing streak that has more to do with mathematical inevitability than any real skill deficit.


02-02-2006, 08:11 AM
Some of the things I practice on reflect the inadequacies of my game but they come in handy for just about everyone.

Here are a few things, but not in any particular order:

I practice a lot on speed control. Understand what it takes to move the ball from one end of the table to the other. I also practice on tapping the object ball. It's amazing how much trouble you can get yourself into by just trying to touch the object ball. I also practice on holding, drawing, and pushing the ball in many different situations. Those come into play whether you're playing defensive or offensive. Practice on your pre-shot drills and thought processes. Once you have decided to play safe or be more aggressive, approach the shot with the same confidence.

I would recommend playing 3 cushion billiards or one pocket to get a good handle on moving the ball around the table. One pocket is also a great game to learn how to play a leave.

You say you run 3-4 balls and then leave your opponent a run out. How about making 2-3 balls and playing a sure safety on the last ball instead of making it. I find that a lot of the players in my league will try and make that third or fourth ball even when there is no way they can pull shape on or make their next shot. At that point they want to call a time out to help get them out of their mess.

my .02

02-02-2006, 08:36 AM
Think defense first in eight ball and offense second.

Try to position your balls for a later runout and leave your opponent with tough make situations.

Speed contol is critical at this point and I have found that using Dr. Dave's 30 and 90 degree rules have helped me better plot the path of the cue ball both for position and safety play.

Making four or five balls and leaving your opponent with a clear table in eight ball is death.

02-02-2006, 08:40 AM
Yes there are several good articles in this months Billiard Digest. With the IPT offering big money You will see a lot more about 8 ball!

02-02-2006, 09:04 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote DrSnooze:</font><hr>So, I think what I need to work on most right now is reading the table. Deciding when to run, and when to play a safety. I work on this when I play against good players, but I practice solo a lot too. I'm not really sure how to work on this when I'm by playing by myself. Anyone have tips on this? .
<hr /></blockquote>

Some of these are just copy and paste from past posts.

Excerpts from Fred's Idiot Guide to Runout Barbox 8-ball:

Have an entire plan for your inning at every shot. Even if you change plans mid-inning, 8-ball is a thinking game. The entire inning should be planned.

Start your plan with the key ball (the one before the 8-ball) and work backwards.

Contradictory to other advice, leaving your balls in the center of the table as your last or nearly last balls isn't a good idea (especially for bar boxes) for two reasons: 1) It limits your pathways for your cueball 2) positionally speaking, it is more challenging to get the proper angle on a ball in the center of the table.

Your balls hanging in the pockets aren't your friends. Similar to 14.1, if you're planning on running out, the pockets must be cleared. Keeping a pocket blocked in hopes to deter your opponent's runout is normally a losing proposition.

The progression of 8-ball skill level seems to go like the following list, from beginner to advanced. Knowing where you are today gives an idea where your game can be tomorrow:

Shoot at anything regardless of runout possibilities.
Shoot at anything, except for balls hanging in the pockets.
Play safeties when you can't run out.
Play safeties, bunting balls around, even when you can run out.
Realize that leaving the hanging balls is the worst thing for your game.
Realize that other people are running out on you while you're bunting around.
Realize there are good patterns and bad patterns for running the rack.
Go for the runout nearly every time when it's available.

Play tournaments.

Stay and watch the tournament after you get knocked out. Learning what and how the winner wins is virtually free learning.

If you find yourself complaining about handicaps, you're in leagues for the wrong reason.


Sometimes, somedays, you're just going to suck. That's life.

on a related note,

Be honest with yourself. Your best day at the table isn't the definition of your game.



02-02-2006, 09:05 AM
There are a number of drills I use, while not specific for 8 ball they're good overall practice. I like to spread the balls out on the table, take a ball and hand and plan a run out. After I've decided on my first shot I'll take a small post-it note and put it on the table where I want the CB to end up. I play 14.1 because it improves my pattern planning, and 1 pocket is an excellent game to play to work on your whole game, from safeties to cluster management and shape planning.

I also play on-line pool(pogo.com) because it's good for planning runnouts(and it's fun).


02-02-2006, 10:41 AM
Sometimes pocketing one ball of the best group (if table open), then intentionally missing your next shot is a good strategy. Then you let the other player clear the table of most of his balls so YOU can run out.

And I have noticed with better players, they will look at the end game. Is the 8 ball blocked by one or more of your balls? Is one of your opponent's balls blocked by one of your balls?

If yes, then what is your opponent going to do? Well they can proceed to shoot in most of their balls, but so what? When they finally get to their blocked ball or blocked 8 ball, they will need to bank it. And this is a low percentage shot, so you will then probably be left with a nice run out.

And say the 8 ball is on a long rail, the better players might shoot one of their balls to the rail between the corner pocket and the 8 ball. Then their opponent is left with a bank shot on the 8. Let them clear the table and miss on the 8, then you can run out. (Shooting in the blocking ball last or next to last.)

Last night I played a very good player who gave me a slug rack (money tournament). So I broke and there was a big cluster of balls instead of a nice spread. And it just so happened I had two of my balls blocking the 8 into either corner pocket.

Well no problem, I let my opponent clear the table of most of his balls. Then he "missed a shot" and was very nice to leave me, as my only shot a shot on a ball, that if I cut it in, it would break up those blocking balls.

Well I did not cut it but hit it as a bank not intending to make the ball, but to just move it somewhere where I would have a shot on it later. This left my blocking balls where they were. And I knew my opponent would not break up the cluster, because he knew I would then run out.

So anyway my opponent kept "missing" on his two remaining balls and I eventually was able to make all my balls and then leave position on the two blocking balls. Then shot the first blocking ball leaing position on the second. Then shot that one in, and got position on the 8, which I then shot in.

So I refused to disturb my blocking balls until I had made all my other balls first. I had control on the 8 for the entire game, so I could care less how many balls my opponent was pocketing.

02-02-2006, 11:47 AM
DrSnooze: Phil Capelle has an excellent book called "How to play your best 8-ball". This book has a lot of tips on 8-ball strategy and tactics.

BillyBob: Regarding your various comments on making just one ball and then letting your opponent clear most of the rack for you, after which you can run out the rack, that strategy only works for weaker opponents. As you play better opponents, you need to balance offense with defense. If your balls are in clusters, you need to use other balls to assist in opening up your clusters. Relying on your opponent to solve your problems isn't necessarily the best way to win games.

02-02-2006, 12:08 PM
In addition to some good advice I would add: try and create a problem with your opponents set of balls but only if it easily fits into your own runout, don't risk getting out of line. If your not used to looking for these simple little moves you will rarely see them. Second piece of advise is to continuiously run 'what if scenarios' when your riding the bench. You may see a real gem move out there but what it really does is keep you up to speed mentally and it keeps you ready to play, you will never be caught sleeping and then rush your shot because you feel like an idiot...LOL