10 Rules You Should Know if You Want to Play Pool Like a Pro

February 20, 2014

billiard balls, ready for the break

If you want to hold your own and play pool like a professional, there are a few key things you should always keep in mind.

1. Work on Your Form

Proper form is one of the many important parts of pool that many novice players overlook. One of the most important things that you need to focus on is keeping your neck straight, for example. Keeping your neck straight will give you the proper amount of perspective that you need to be able to visualize exactly where the ball is going to go before you strike it.

You’ll also want to secure your bridge hand, which will help you execute a wider array of shots with maximum efficiency. Finally, you’ll want to keep your backswing smooth and slow to help yourself stay coordinated while taking shots.

2. Learn From Your Mistakes

One of the most important things that a person can do in life is learn from his or her mistakes. This advice goes for all aspects of life, from your personal life to your professional life and even to the world of pool. If you consistently miss the same type of shot or freeze up in the same situation, take the time to stop and think about what is happening.

If you always approach a shot from the wrong angle, identify your weak points and learn how to turn them into positive attributes. Doing so will help make sure you’re ready for any event that is likely to happen and you won’t make these same types of mistakes again.

3. Always Stay Relaxed

Staying as comfortable as possible is one of the key parts to success in many different forms of life.

When you start to get uncomfortable and begin to stress out, you are more likely to make quick decisions just to get yourself out of a certain type of situation.

If you don’t leave yourself the proper amount of time to think things through before you move forward with your actions, you are much more likely to make a mistake.

The same is true in pool. Always make sure that you’re staying as calm as possible and that you’re giving yourself the appropriate amount of time necessary to make the best possible strategic decisions.

4. Look at the Entire Table

One of the most important things that you can do in pool is walk around the entire table and strategize before you make your shot. Playing pool on a professional level is a lot like playing chess. You shouldn’t just be thinking about the move you want to make.

You need to be thinking about the next three moves that you’ll make, as well as the moves your opponent will make, before you move forward. Taking a look at the entire table will allow you to do that, because you’ll be able to see the ramifications from the shot you’re thinking of making.

5. Don’t Get Fancy

When you watch pool professionals play on television, you are likely to see people making “trick shots” and doing other types of flashy moves to get attention while they’re winning. Keep in mind that in the world of professional pool, these types of actions are exceedingly rare. When you start trying to make “trick shots” is when you start slipping up and making mistakes.

The people on television are only making these types of moves because they’re on television and they know that millions of people could be watching. You’re not on television, so relax and take your time.

6. Never Forget Your Opponent

One of the most interesting aspects of the game of pool is how a decision that you make directly influences the decision your opponent has to make. The game is much more focused on strategy than a lot of people realize. Right before you take a shot, always stop to think about what your opponent will be forced to do next.

Even if you sink a ball, for example, you could be setting them up for an even better shot. Likewise, it may be better to pass up on that easy shot if you can block your opponent’s next move in the process.

7. Practice Makes Perfect


Though it should go without saying, the idea that you can’t play pool like a professional without a great deal of practice bears repeating.

Practice makes perfect in nearly all aspects of life, but it is especially true when it comes to the world of professional sports.

When you watch a professional play pool, you aren’t watching someone who is picking up a cue for the first time.

You aren’t watching someone who plays casually with friends a few times a month. You’re watching someone who has practiced for hundreds of hours before they ever set foot near that professional table.

8. Focus on Your Break

One of the biggest moments in any game of pool is the break. The success of a game can live or die based on how well you executed the break at the beginning of the process. If you begin to work on your break technique, you can start to develop strategies for how to get into a power position on the table before the game even truly begins.

You may also get lucky and hit the coveted “eight ball break,” which is a move so rare it allows you to win a game of pool automatically.

9. Brush Up on Your Geometry

One element of pool that people might not realize involves just how heavily success in the game depends on the idea of geometry. If you know how to bank balls off the wall, you can get yourself out of tricky positions when you don’t have a direct shot at one of the pockets.

By learning more about the basics of geometry you’ll be able to look at the table and have a better idea of the types of shots you should be making at any given moment. Doing so will definitely help you play like a professional.

10. Learn How to Hit a Ball Indirectly

Another important element of playing pool has to do with learning how to hit a ball indirectly. It is common knowledge that hitting the center of a ball will largely cause the ball to move straight. If you hit at an angle, however, you may be able to cut the ball diagonally across the table.

If you master hitting the ball indirectly, you’ll quickly find that there are few situations that you won’t be able to get yourself out of with skill instead of luck. Once you master that technique, you’ll have complete control over the table at all times.