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Allan Sand

Instruction Articles:
Have It Both Ways
While not exactly a safety, two-way shots are an essential part of any intelligent player's game. The concept of a two-way shot is this: If you make the shot, you are in position for the next ball of your pattern. If you miss it, your opponent comes to the table with little or no opportunities.

Having a defensive mindset, which requires an honest assessment of your skills, provides an enormous amount of flexibility in your game play.

Playing each shot as a two-way requires more mental work than figuring out a normal pattern - again, accounting for the final destination of both the object ball and cue ball.

The advantage is that you are adding a contingency plan to each shot. When you make the appropriate plans for the unfortunate miss, you are ensuring that you do not give a freebie to your opponent. Constantly say to yourself, "No freebies - ever!" (If you are absent-minded, designate a buddy to yell it at you from time to time.)

In Diagram 1, we have an 8-ball layout that is perfectly set up for a two-way shot. Cutting the 4 in the side is definitely a makeable shot, but it's no gimme. Shoot it with medium speed and an iota of draw. If the shot drops, you're in perfect position to put the 1 in the corner and head back uptable for the 2 and 3. Should you miss, your opponent will have a tough time pocketing a stripe.

In 9-ball, the two-way shot is often more obvious, since you have only one object ball to worry about, but that doesn't mean it's any easier. In Diagram 2, you have a tricky cut on the 3 ball into the side. With some nifty speed, you can shoot this so that the cue ball goes one rail in line with the 4, while the 3 ball heads downtable to hide behind the 6.

Allan Sand is the author of the Safety Toolbox in the "Handbook of the Billiard Gods" series, which is available at