A great pool shot is all about physics and geometry. Getting the angles right is the first major part of lining up your shots, and knowing how hard (or soft) to strike the cue ball makes a world of difference.
To take your game to the next level, however, you’ll want to incorporate some more advanced techniques for guiding the cue ball. One of the most common techniques is side spin, more often referred to as “English.”
English is a pretty catch all term for several types of shots, but it basically means striking the cue ball somewhere other than the center to produce a desired effect. Striking different regions will produce different types of spin, and that spin greatly affects how the cue ball will behave as it travels across the table, and when it makes contact with the object ball.
Using Side Spin to Improve Your Pool Game
Mastering these types of shots takes plenty of practice, of course, but just internalizing these concepts will help you know which type of English to use in a given situation.
One effect of English is known as “squirt.” Essentially, this is when the cue ball does not travel along the same path the cue is aimed. If you strike the cue ball left of center, it will squirt to the right, and vice versa – aiming right of center will make the cue ball squirt to the left.
Related to squirt, “swerve” a curved path the cue ball takes, depending on cue elevation and shot strength. Right English will cause left squirt, and the cue ball will swerve back to the right. The opposite is true for left English.
Cue elevation influences swerve. The higher the back of the cue, the more swerve you are likely to experience. Because the cue must always be slightly elevated to clear the rail, compensating for swerve is important any time you use English.
The softer the shot, the more the cue ball will swerve. With a powerful shot, you’ll see plenty of squirt, but little swerve. The combined effects of these two mechanics is sometimes called “squerve.”
Check out this instructional video to see these effects in real time!
With these English basics, you can start to have more control, as well as perform more difficult shots with consistency. Experiment with varying degrees of English to see how the cue ball behaves. Remember that any time you’re hitting outside of center, it will affect how the cue ball moves across the table.