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Nick Varner

Instruction Articles:
Cooling Your Opponent

A basic tenet of safety play is creating distance between the cue ball and object ball; this is especially true in "end game" situations in 9-ball. When you have just one or two balls left, there's no place to hide. But, if you can put the object ball on one short rail and the cue ball on the other, you've left your opponent with a tough out.

In Diagram 1, it is hard to pocket the 8 ball and go three rails for position on the 9 ball. One option is to play safe on the 8. You need to go rail first on the 8 ball to contact the 8 ball thinly. If you can skim the 8, it should end up along the end rail as shown. Your opponent is left with a near-impossible cut or risky bank shot.

The cue ball will go to the rail and come back down below the side pocket, ending up on the opposite rail. Contact the cue ball with center-high English. It is easy to contact the 8 ball too full on this shot, usually giving your opponent an easy shot. Be sure to aim high enough on the rail before you contact the 8 ball. Notice in the diagram how far away from the 8 ball the cue ball contacts the rail.

After a few tries you'll love this safety. This safety is really cool. You will leave the 8 ball and cue ball a long distance apart.