A section of one of the seminars I held at theWorld 8 Ball Pool Championships at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool.
In this segment I talk about spin on the cue ball – how it gets there and what it does. To get the cue ball to react in the way you want it to, it is not simply a question of hitting the cue ball in a specific way, there are lots of other factors involved. Here I concentrate on the distance between the balls and how that affects the reaction of the cue ball after contact with an object ball.
To the man in the street, the games of English and American Pool are the same things. Most people don’t realise that they are very different sports. To the keen player, those differences are huge – differences in table, ball and pocket sizes make for a completely different playing experience. You even need a different cue!
Whatever the differences on the table, one of the more challenging aspects of employing your cue skills on at a bigger (or smaller) table – is the difference in language. Not only does the game play in a new way, but the terms used to describe the game change too.
Therefore, in an effort to promote international harmony, I present this short (but useful!) American-English Pool Dictionary
Word used to describe the action of a ball going into a pocket.
“I potted the Red”, “He Pocketed the 8 Ball”
The long pointy thing you use to hit the balls. “John had a hand-made cue.”, “Don assembled his Cue Stick”
Screw or Screwback
The application of backspin to the cue ball, with the effect of pulling it backwards from the object ball on contact. “Jimmy screwed the Cue Ball the length of the table”, “Brad got into position with a great draw shot”
The application of topspin to the cue ball, the result is that the cue ball will push forward from its natural course after contact with the object ball.
“Tommy topped the cue ball into the pocket”, “Dave played the Follow shot to split the balls”
The part of the pool table that stops the balls falling onto the floor. “Charles used the cushion to escape the snooker”, “Bill used two rails to get out of trouble.”
Escape from Snooker
Bouncing the cue ball off of the cushions (or rails) to hit an object ball obscured by another ball.
To play a shot with a lot of backspin which dissipates over time, the effect being a soft contact with the object ball from a distance.
The use of side spin on the Cue Ball. Called English because it’s use was popularised by English Billiards players in the 19th century
Striking the Cue Ball on the side furthest away from the cushion of first impact. This has the effect of speeding up the cue ball and widening the angle that the Cue Ball emerges from the cushion.
Striking the Cue Ball on the side closest to the cushion of first impact. This has the effect of closing the angle the Cue Ball emerges from the cushion.
Playing a shot where the Cue Ball hits an Object Ball onto another Object Ball into a pocket.
The name given to the two pockets in the centre of the long sides of the table. “Harry potted the ball in the middle pocket and screwed back”, “Larry pocketed the 3 ball in the side with draw.”
By no means a comprehensive guide (there are regional variations all over the UK and USA) this short glossary of pool terms will give you a small head start when crossing the billiard cultural divide.
If you know of any other billiard terms that are different depending on which side of the pond you are on, then please click comment and post them here.