|My collection of Spotty
and Plain Cue Balls
The World 8 Ball Pool Championships takes place each summer, and every year there is a discussion about the use of the ‘Pro Cup’ cue ball in the competition. The ‘Pro Cup’ ball is like a normal cue ball, except it has six red spots, which should make the game better viewing, as spectators can see the spin that the players apply to the ball.
They were first introduced in the World Championships in 2006 when the event was sponsored by an online pool game, improveyourpool.com. Ever since then, when the World Championship comes around (it’s the only event on the calendar where the spotty white balls are used), you will always find pool players discussing how the ball changes the game.
The argument goes that the ‘Pro Cup’ ball weighs three grams more because of the red spots, and this means that the balls react differently to the spin and the course of the ball is altered after contact with the object ball. Personally I have always believed this to be nonsense, why should the small pieces of red plastic compound weigh any more than white plastic compound? They could weigh less. Who weighed the spotty balls and declared that they would play differently in a game? If there is extra weight what would it do to the cue ball?
Well after a discussion at this year’s World Championships, I decided to investigate further myself and draw my own conclusions. I have to say, I was surprised by what I discovered.
I have a collection of cue balls that I have accumulated over the years. For many shows a new set of balls is required, so I have loads of sets stored in my shed. I am waiting for someone to come up with a good use for used pool balls so that I can recycle them in an environmentally friendly manner – when I finally retire I could spend my time making paperweights out of them …
|A Pro Cup Cue Ball getting weighed|
Anyway, this means I have some cue balls to study. More recently, I have accumulated some Pro-Cup spotty cue balls which I have used for coaching events. So I figured a good experiment to get to the bottom of this issue, would be to weigh a batch of each type of cue ball and get some facts.
I have eight Pro-Cup balls, so I randomly selected a sample of eight plain cue-balls and got the scales out – see the results below:
|Plain Cue Ball||107g||97g||94g||95g||107g||96g||95g||95g||98.25g|
|Pro-Cup Cue Ball||97g||98g||97g||97g||97g||96g||97g||99g||97.25g|
I think the remarkable thing about this experiment is not just that my sample of plain cue balls averaged a higher weight, but the huge variety in the weight of the plain cue balls. I guess the reason for this is that they have come from many different sets that I have picked up over the years, and they have all had some use. I am sure some would have had the odd gram of chalk stuck to them, and some will have been bashed against some pub wall due to some over enthusiastic breaking.
On the other hand, my ‘Pro Cup’ balls have all been manufactured in the last few years, and they will have all come from the same factory, I can’t be sure about that with the plain balls.
So what’s does all this tell us? Well it’s something I hadn’t anticipated when I thought about weighing the balls in the first place. I think the one thing we have learnt is that because the weight of the plain cue balls varies so much, then it is pointless to be bothered about the extra weight that red spots may or may not add to the cue ball. While my sample wasn’t very large, it points to the conclusion that the issue isn’t as straightforward as it would first appear. Given my tiny sample, red spots may actually be lighter!
|The way you hit the ball will do more to change it’s positional path than a little extra weight|
While I am sure that a slightly heavier cue ball may affect the path the cue ball takes after contact with an object ball, I don’t believe that a few grams either way can make that much difference. None of the cue balls I weighed were heavier than the object balls I put on the scales, both reds and yellows came in at an average of 116 grams, so in all cases the cue ball is lighter – and that fact alone must alter the path more than anything else.
On top of that, there must be many other factors that affect how the balls move around the table and positional play, to a much greater degree. The condition of the cloth, the humidity, the grade and age of the rubber in the cushions – all these things have the potential to interfere with the progress of the cue ball and it’s interactions with the other balls on the table. The biggest variable will be how you are hitting the cue ball on any given day. Just a trace of spin has a big effect.
Conclusion: The spotty ball might weigh more than the one you are used to, but then again there is strong possibility it may not. Probably best not to worry about it and concentrate on some consistent cueing because that will influence the cue ball more than anything else.
A final thought: If the different coloured plastics used in pool balls have different weights, wouldn’t American Pool Balls with their spots, stripes and numbers be weighted off center and roll in a curve?