Play Your Best Pool: Roll to Where You Want to Go to Become a Better Player

Johnny Henson

As a young adult, I did a lot of stop, stunt, and draw shots. Most players back then believed you could not control your cue ball without shooting a lot of these types of shots during your table play. A good player at a pool hall told me to quit trying to draw the cue ball all the time, “You need to learn to roll your cue ball to where it needs to go.” Years later, a professional player offered the same advice, as I was still using my stop and draw shots for cue ball position. He said that every time the table layout allows, he would choose the roll shot over drawing the cue ball because he could more accurately leave his cue ball with roll instead of draw. This makes sense when you think about it. When you use draw or a below center hit on your cue ball, its negativity affects your accuracy, spin, and speed. It is also much harder to precisely leave your cue ball where you need to leave it. For example, set up an object ball and have your cue ball roll forward precisely one foot. Then shoot the same shot and try to draw back precisely one foot. Rolling the cue ball forward is easier and more precise.

A quick way to learn to rethink your position play, is to break a rack in practice, and every time you’re confronted with a draw shot, stop and rethink your cue ball position after the last shot. Notice where you could have left your cue ball angle on your next object ball to avoid a draw and be able to do a roll or follow shot and use the rails. Sometimes leaving your cue ball just an inch or two from where it is will allow a follow shot instead of a draw shot. This rethinking of your ball patterns is critical to eliminating as many draw shots as you can. If you work on this in practice you will be shooting more follow shots, but you will also be using your rails to get to different places on the table with your cue ball. Practicing and rethinking your cue ball to object ball angles is the best way for you to learn your new running patterns. I hope this helps your game.

Johnny Henson, Professor Pool, and Steve Farmer are both Professional Billiards Instructors Association (PBIA) and American Cue Sports (ACS) certified instructors. If you have questions, call 623-377-0042 or visit our website at