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Bad Angles. ~Allan Sand

A bad angle is any shot that is not within the shooter’s skills to pocket. It does not have to be impossible, but must be a low percentage shot for your opponent. (Low percentage means that the shot cannot be pocketed more than 30-40% of the time – 3 or 4 out of 10 tries.)

This defensive shot (alone or combined with the distance safety) is one of the easiest to set up. It is very flexible with a high tolerance factor. It does not require precise control. Everyone, regardless of skill level, can easily create a bad angle defensive shot.

When combined with other safety types, such as over-a-ball or frozen cushion, the shot becomes exponentially more difficult. This is one of the ways to guarantee your opponent only gets one shot and has to sit down.

Note: There is also a certain psychological wear and tear on any player who constantly only gets one shot per turn.

When setting up a safety, know the shooting skills of your opponent. This determines how careful to be when leaving a difficult shot. For example, if he has a special talent for successfully making tough cuts, don’t provide one.

Sometimes you have an opponent who attempts anything, no matter how stupid. Entertain yourself by setting up bad angle after bad angle. Someday he might figure out what you were doing and take some steps to correct his approach to the game.

There is a luck factor to be considered. You are providing a shot with the percentages of failure in your favor. But even the craziest shots are sometimes successful. If your opponent somehow does make such a shot, shrug your shoulders and move on. Accept it as an element of the game and continue playing the percentages. (Let your opponent enjoy his moment of sunshine – you will allow very few of them.)

Against a savvy opponent, this could begin a Safety battle. These back and forth safeties are usually won by the person who has the most patience. Players with poor safety skills will usually make a mistake within the first two or three innings. Even experienced defensive players tend to get careless around 8 or 10 innings. So the advice is always “Wait for it.”

Examples of bad angle shots—from the corner

From the corner, these are all shots you want an opponent to face.

bad angles 1

Examples of bad angle shots—from the quarter table position

If faced with any of these shots, play a good defense.

bad angles 2

Examples of bad angle shots—middle of the table

Even when the ball is in the center of the table, there are many poor locations for target balls.

bad angles 3

Examples of bad angle shots—short rail

From the short rail, these are tough shots.

bad angles 4

Allan Sand is a certified pocket billiards instructor, qualified by the PBIA (Professional Billiards Instructor Association) and ACS (American Cue Sports). His focus is on helping players become the “Intelligent Shooter” (thinking before shooting). He has played the Green Game for more than 50 years and now resides in Santa Clara, CA. He keeps his skills sharpen on a 5×10 Saunier & Wilhelm 1938 table with double-shimmed pockets. He has written 10 books on pocket billiards and produced five videos on how play better and smarter. He has one of the most popular billiards blogs on the planet with three posts every week. Photos: cover photo from Flickr/Jonathan Warner, diagrams provided by author Editor: Hannah Blue

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