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The Hot Seat: Improper Stroke and Cue Ball English. ~ “Hurricane” Wayne Jenkins

Hello and welcome back to the Hot Seat.

It has been a awhile since you started working on improving your ball pocketing skills. How did you do? You are welcome to post your results and chat with us on our Facebook group.

Last time we also worked on a proper stance and not moving our head until the object ball hits the pocket. Now we are going to build on what we have already learned.

1. Improper stroke while shooting:

A proper stroke is difficult to maintain while trying to also concentrate on aiming, English, ball speed and playing two to three balls ahead. This is why it needs to become completely natural and that it requires no effort to perform.

A proper stroke never takes its aim away from the shot you are making during the entire length of the stroke. Over drawing during your stroke causes the butt of your cue to rise as your arm straightens.When you do this you are then pointing your cue down through the table instead of through the cue ball.

2. Cue Ball English:

Cue ball English “throws” more or less depending on cue ball speed and amount of English applied. Throw is how much it will actually cut the object ball. Throw will cut a ball even if you shoot it as if you were going to shoot it straight ahead. This will also cause you to miss a straight-in shot if you hit the cue ball off center, whether or not you are trying to follow, stop or draw the cue call.

If you shoot soft it will have more throw. If you shoot hard it will have less throw. How far can you actually throw a ball? Let’s take a look:

Wayne Jenkins diagram


When you set up to the cue ball to aim, make sure your forearm is hanging straight down at a 90 degree angle. Shorten the length of your stroke. You can shoot just as hard with a short stroke, even when you need to come around the table 3 or more rails. When you draw your cue back and it comes to the end of your back stroke, look to make sure that you are still aiming at the same place on the cue ball as when you first set up to it.

When you are ready to make your shot, never start your shooting stroke by drawing your cue back. Instead when you are stroking to aim and draw back, if you see that your aim is the same as your set up, push the cue ball from the drawn back position. This gives a more consistent stroke, better English control, and finesse with your cue ball speed. It will also help to eliminate mis-cueing, doubt when shooting and trying to “steer” the cue ball (you know that… pull your elbow into your side to try to make the cue ball curve or spin more.)

If you shoot the 1 through 4 balls slow, with left (9 o’clock) English, you will have maximum throw towards the pocket. The 1 ball is approximately one ball diameter distance from the rail, one diamond distance from the cue ball and one diamond distance from the pocket. The black circle is for measuring purposes. This is the maximum throw you can cut a ball and the minimum distances when shooting it straight ahead as if another ball were blocking you from a regular cut shot.

If the object ball were closer to the rail with the same cue ball and pocket distances, it would take less throw to pocket the object ball. The 2 ball is two balls from rail and 2 diamonds from pocket and cue ball. The 3 ball is three balls from rail and 3 diamonds from pocket and cue ball. The 4 ball is four balls from rail and 4 diamonds from pocket and cue ball.

These throw shots were all measured with the cue ball against the rail, giving us an easy way to measure the distances and angles. Now let’s look and see how to measure a throw shot that is in the middle of the table. The 5 ball is the object ball to be pocketed but is blocked from a regular cut shot by the 6 ball.

Place the end of your cue stick in the center of the pocket you want the object ball to land. Then place the other end of your cue stick to the inner edge of the cue ball. Your cue stick will now represent the rail and the cue ball placed against it. Now take the three measurements to see if the ball can be thrown into the pocket.


The 5 ball is 1 ¾ ball diameters from the cue stick. This is the base measurement for the entire shot.


This means the cue ball must be at least 1 ¾ diamonds distance from the 5 ball. In this case it is 2 ½ diamonds.


The 5 ball must be at least 1 ¾ diamonds distance from the pocket you are shooting the 5 ball. In this case it is 1 ¾ diamonds.

This shot meets all three required measurements. A throw shot must meet all three measurement rules to be a pocketable throw shot. Each table and set of balls will have a different amount of throw. Some will have less and you may even find some with more.

Test the table and balls as part of your warm up routine. Next time we will be working on refining our cue ball control and learning a snooker style game called “99.”

Be sure to check out my channel for the video lesson on this article and many others.

Wayne Jenkins is a Pro/Am tournament player, a published author of 2 books on pool, and an inventor of pool accessories and custom cue cases. Since hitting the road in 2006 he has won 142 tournaments to date. In 2007, he released his first book Black Belt Billiards, and in 2008 his second, Black Belt 8 Ball. Both are a collection of games he used as a practice routine to perfect the different skills in pool. Both books are available at and retail book stores worldwide. Black Belt Billiards is also available on google playstore as an app for your phone. He is the inventor of Double Diamonds, Hurricane’s Big Diamond Rack, and Sarcophagus Custom Cue Cases. For availability on these products you can contact him personally at Photo: Danny Sotzny/Flickr Editor: Dana Gornall

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