Squirt And Throw

by Jim Meador


The "squirt" phenomenon has always been a factor in pool. Only recently, however, and partly due to the increased competition by cue makers for new customers, has the issue reached a boiling point.

The only way I can relate to the subject, and present it to readers as best I know how, is to share my experience with the anomaly.

When I started playing pool in the late 50's, there were few instruction books, no upscale billiard parlors, and very little concern about the physics of the game &endash; especially among rank and file shooters. There was little if any TV coverage of pool in those days, and the only instructors I remember were pool hustlers who would "teach" you for a buck a game.

I would practice alone, or with friends in a pool hall, and watch the "experts" on another table playing one pocket or cribbage. Pill pool was also popular back then, but I never took an interest in the game.

I learned to shoot with a house cue. All I looked for was a straight stick with a good tip, and the thought of shaft stiffness or whippiness never crossed my mind. Of course, all house sticks were stiff, because none were pro-tapered, and they were made tough and cheap to survive the environment. So, although I always shot with a different cue, they all acted the same way. Squirt existed, but I must have automatically compensated for it when I aimed. So, what is "squirt?"

Obviously, whenever we hit the cueball with a stroke that is off center, it is vulnerable to sliding off the tip of the cue stick. This is nothing new to those who have miscued. Hit too far to the outside edge of the cueball and it will deflect (squirt) off the tip and leave the intended aiming path. A whippy shaft can exacerbate the problem.

With the introduction of pro-tapered cue sticks to the general pool playing population, the more flexible shafts increased the vulnerability of miscues due to the increased (or at least different) deflection of the cueball off the tip. In fact, those who shoot with flexible shafts must compensate more, often subconsciously, for the squirt anomaly.

The illustration shows the effect of squirt. Notice that the contact point on the object ball is changed from center, to left of center. So, if you are missing shots consistently to the right of the pocket using right english, maybe squirt is the the culprit. Try reducing the amount of english used. The same is true of left english, but with opposite ball action.


While squirt is undesirable, "throw" may or may not be, depending on the skill of the player. Throw can be used to your advantage once the amount can be controlled. It is almost impossible to control the amount of squirt.

Throw is the effect a spinning cueball has on the object ball, and it is always present when side spin is used, either alone or in combination with top or bottom.

Throw is caused by ball friction. When the cueball hits the object ball while it is spinning, the spin friction will "throw" the object ball slightly in a direction opposite the english used. The illustration at left shows the object ball being thrown left with right english. An object ball can be thrown 4 to 6 inches over the length of the table, and when you learn to use it, a throw shot can be as dependable as a cut shot if it falls safely within the throw window.

Many players compensate for throw when cutting a ball by applying a little outside spin to the cueball. Others compensate by cutting the ball a fraction thinner.

Unless you are really into the physics of the game, it is best to stay focused on aiming and learn to compensate for various anomalies subconsciously. Just know squirt & throw exists.

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