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In Loving Memory of Jim Meador

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Jitterbugging Cue Ball

 | by Jim Meador

I wish I had a $100,000.00 (a nickel doesn't go very far today) for every time I have seen players try to sink a jawed object ball and attempt to bring the cue ball directly back up table with heavy top spin. They believe the top spin will carry the cue ball forcefully into the top rail causing it to rebound back up table. Instead, the cue ball seems to die in its tracks. (See table 1 below.) If you know the reason it is a mistake you will never make again (maybe.)

1) Here is what happens. First, remember that when the cue ball hits an object ball there is a transfer of energy (or momentum) from the cue to the object ball. The amount of transfer depends on the fullness of the hit. If you hit the object ball on the table above hard and rather full, the cue ball stops and spins in place until the friction of the cloth causes the forward spin to carry the cue ball forward again.

Since the object ball was so close to the top rail when contact with the object ball was made, the cue ball does not have enough space to pick up speed. It hits the rail with a lot of forward spin, but with no forward momentum and rebounds very weakly. The top spin is stronger than the rebound momentum, and the top spin pulls the cue back to the rail where the same action is repeated until both the spin and momentum are exhausted. There are a number of trick shots that use the same dynamic. When done accidentally, it looks like a sloppy shot. when executed on purpose it looks like magic.


2) A better way to get back up table is with the use of two rails (table 2 below.) Use about a 1/2 hit on the object ball (cheat the pocket a little to the right) with top left, and a medium hard stroke. If your next ball is on the bottom rail, just stroke hard enough to go three rails following the same path.


3) If for some reason the multiple rail path is blocked, use a 1/4 hit on the object ball (cheat the pocket a lot to the right) with top right. Just remember that this is "inside" english on the cue ball, and the cue might want to die off the rail. Also, too much right and you could squirt left missing the object ball altogether. Going multiple rails with running english is easier to control, and you will look much better trying it that way should you screw up. At least it looks like you know what you're doing. Who knows? With enough practice you just might know exactly what you're doing.

The main point here is to remember that full hit on the object ball with top spin requires that the cue ball be allowed enough traveling space for it to pick up speed to the rail if a healthy rebound is desired.


Practice this shot a lot. Other options, such a going to the long rail first (below) should also be considered and practiced. Try the same angles with different english and find out what happens. Just pay attention to where the cue ball goes.