View Full Version : English 101

07-24-2012, 06:04 PM
English 101

English is the application of sidespin to the cue ball. Anytime you stroke the cue ball to either the left, or the right, of the center vertical axis, you are imparting English to the cue ball. English can be combined with either follow (topspin) or draw (backspin). Neither follow, nor draw, are "English", although they are often mistakenly referred to as such.

Beginners should first make sure that they have practiced and are thoroughly acquainted with all the basic fundamentals such as grip, stance, center ball aim, stroke, follow, draw, and speed control, before they move on to using English. This is because the use of English introduces variables such as curve, throw, and deflection (or squirt), and these must be compensated for.

While it is true that you cannot be a good player without knowing how to use English, it is also equally true, that English used improperly can create a heck of a lot more problems than it solves. Learning to use English properly will demand a lot of effort on your part. You must be willing to spend lots of time at the practice table. Use English sparingly, and only when needed. You can get shape or position on most shots using center ball. You can also look to play a safety, wait for a better opportunity, and let your opponent make the mistakes. Having said that, let's move on.

If you stroke the cue ball with right English, the cue ball will spin to the left (counterclockwise) as it travels down the table. If you stroke the cue ball with left English it will spin to the right (clockwise) as it travels down the table.

English can also be transferred from the cue ball to an object ball. This phenomenon is referred to as "English induced throw". Set up a cue ball and an object ball and shoot at the object ball while using left English. You will observe that the object ball will now veer to the RIGHT. The left English on the cue ball has been converted to right English on the object ball. Although it is not entirely accurate, the easiest way to picture what is going on in a shot involving English induced throw is to picture two gears meshing. As one gear turns to the left, the other turns to the right. How much English induced throw is produced depends on how much English was applied to the cue ball initially and the speed of the stroke. The effect will be more pronounced on a softer stroke than on a hard stroke.

English is most often used for purposes of obtaining good position for the next shot. It can also be used to help pocket a ball.

Effects of English on the cue ball after it contacts a rail:

"Natural" or "Running" English will:

* Add speed to the cue ball after it contacts the rail.
* Widen the angle after the cue ball contacts the rail.

"Reverse" or "un-natural" English will:

* Take speed off the cue ball after it contacts a rail.
* Narrow or close the angle after the cue ball contacts the rail.

To know which English is natural or reverse, draw an imaginary line going through the center of the cue ball straight to the other side of the table. If you are shooting to the left of this imaginary line then left English is "natural" or "running English", and right English is "reverse" or "un-natural" English. If you are shooting to the right of the line then right English is "natural" or "running" English, and left English is "reverse" or "un-natural" English.

A cue ball struck with running English will contact every adjoining cushion with running English. However, if that cue ball strikes an opposing cushion, the English that was once "running" or natural English will be reversed. It's important for newbies to remember this and understand it completely because it is very important for position play.

Inside and Outside English:

Outside English:

English is also often referred to as "Inside" or "Outside" English. When a ball is cut to the right with left English, or to the left with right English, that is considered to be "outside" English. The most common reason for the use of outside English in cut shots is to help negate the effects of friction induced throw.

Friction induced throw occurs during the brief period of contact between the cue ball and the object ball. During this time, due to friction between the surfaces of the balls, there is a tendency for the object ball to remain in contact with the cue ball and be pushed forward from the planned line of aim.

When using outside English it is generally best to aim to hit the object ball a bit "thicker" or fuller than normal.

Inside English:

Cutting an object ball to the left with left English, or to the right with right English, is considered to be "Inside English". Inside English requires you to hit the object ball thinner. For a lot of players (beginners in particular) the thin hit required when using inside English seems to make aiming correctly quite a bit harder. Because of the thinner hit, inside English will not alter the path of the object ball as much, as the same amount of outside English would, on the very same shot.

Remember that after contact with the object ball, the cue ball still has English on it. Depending on what type, (right or left), and the angle of approach to the rail, that English will in turn, affect the path of the cue ball and the resulting position for you next shot.

Here's a shot where outside / running English is used to gain position on the nine ball, which is sitting by the middle of the short rail, at the other side of the table:


Here is another shot where inside / reverse English is used to gain position on the nine ball which is sitting by the short rail, one diamond away from the pocket you are shooting the object ball into.


In the two shots diagrammed next you can see how English alters the path of the object ball (English throw). During the brief moment when the cue ball and the object ball are in contact the “gear effect” takes over and the object ball is thrown off the original line of aim (blue line) and proceeds down the red line to the pocket.

Gear effect:

Outside English:


Inside English:


How much throw can be transferred depends on a few things;

1.) How thickly or thinly the object ball is struck. English induced throw is greatest on full on shots and decreases from there as the cut angle increases.

2.) The speed of the stroke. A nice easy soft stroke will produce the most throw; while a fast (hard) stroke will produce the least. When using a very soft or hard stroke, you must take this into account and adjust the line of aim accordingly.

Tips on using outside /inside English:

1.) Aim for a thicker hit when you are shooting with outside English.

2.) Inside English calls for a thinner hit, as a result, inside English will yield less throw than an equal amount of outside English. It is the required thinness of the hit that makes inside English shots harder to aim.

Next up I will address the nastiest word in pool, a phenomenon which has nipped many a beginner’s pool playing “career” in the bud, and reduced grown men to tears-- SQUIRT!


Squirt refers to the English induced alteration of the cue ball’s path.

When you stroke a cue ball with English it does not go straight down the line in which the cue was pointing at the moment of contact. If you use right English the cue ball will curve to the left, and if struck with left English the cue ball will curve to the right. This is known as squirt, (AKA deflection).

The amount of squirt generated for a given shot depends on how much English you are using, speed of stroke, length of the shot (distance), type of shaft-- low squirt i.e. Predator, OB-1, etc., or standard (higher squirt) shaft.

A soft stroke on a short shot will produce the least amount of squirt, while a long shot with a hard stroke will produce the most squirt. In addition, the greater the amount of English, the greater the amount of squirt.

As I stated at the beginning – squirt is the English induced alteration of the cue ball’s path. And as I previously stated, English induced throw is the alteration of the object ball’s path. Right English on the cue ball throws the object ball to the left, and left English throws the object ball to the right. As the cut angle increases, the cue ball hits less of the object ball and less throw is produced, the more English you use, the greater the throw. Unlike squirt, throw is greatest on soft shots.

With just the right speed of stroke you can use English, yet aim as though you are not using English at all, because the throw and deflection will cancel each other out.

Now let’s recap this:

1.) Throw is a bigger factor than squirt on soft shots.
2.) Squirt is a bigger factor than throw on hard shots.
3.) At the right point squirt and throw cancel each other out.

Now that you have a basic understanding of squirt and throw, just file this away in your head and don’t go driving yourself crazy thinking about all of the above when you’re playing. The best players I know don’t even think about compensating for squirt, or throw-- they just do it! How do they “just know” what to do? It’s easy… they’ve shot a bazillion shots, a bazillion different ways until the shots became second nature to them.

Here’s some parting advice:

Whenever possible—

1.) Use English on short shots and avoid it on long shots.
2.) Use a softer stroke
3.) Use no more than ½ tip to 1 tip of English