| by Jim Meador
One of the first things beginners are told, is to draw an imaginary line from the center of the pocket that extends through the center object ball. The target point is where the line exits the object ball. But a lot of students aim the center of the cue ball at this point, which results in hits that are entirely too full. It is not easy to see the place on the cue ball that must strike the object ball, so a lot of practice is needed to "find" it, and to become confident of it.
There are several methods people use to help them deliver the cue ball to the right spot. One of the best is to learn how to see the path created by the line. The object balls and the cue ball are the same size on most tables (some coin-op tables use a cue ball that is slightly larger than the object balls.) The official ball size is 2-1/4" in diameter (a radius of 1-1/8".) This fact can be used to help deliver the cue properly.
By selecting a point on the table 1-1/8" from the outside edge of the object ball, and in line with the pocket, and delivering the center of the cue ball over this spot, the target point on the object ball will be hit. The illustration above (A) shows the proper line, and the path to the object ball created by the line. The thin grey line represents the center of the cueball. Deliver the cue ball so that the center point is 1-1/8" from the edge of the object ball at contact. In time, you will begin seeing the entire path (wide light line.)
Once you have determined the line and path to the object ball, be sure to focus on the object ball when you stroke. Use the path to see how to deliver the cue ball, but be sure to keep your eye on the target, not the path, when you stroke.
Many shooters use the ghost ball technique of aiming. This is just a matter of deciding where to deliver the cue ball, and to imagine the cue ball resting against the object ball at the point of contact. Now simply stroke as if to "replace" the ghost ball with the "real" cue ball. (See B)
A less reliable method of aiming, but one that is good for certain shots is the distant point aim.
If, for example, you are faced with a thin cut, and the object ball is near the rail (as shown in figure C), you might want to select a point on the rail that is easier to see than the contact point on the object ball.
First, line up the path to the object ball and notice where the center of the cue ball would hit the rail if it could travel through the object ball without deflecting. If you line up the path correctly, and aim the center of the cue ball at the selected point on the rail, the cue ball should contact the object ball on the target spot.
Most cut shots require a slight adjustment for throw. Just know that a slight amount of outside spin can compensate for throw (whereby the object ball is "pushed" slightly ahead of the cue ball on contact.) We have discussed "squirt" and other anomalies that can affect the cue ball's path to the object ball in other articles. You should not have to worry about squirt if you keep the cue butt level, and avoid extreme side hits on the cue ball.