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Billiards Strategy Guide

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

A group of people playing pool with white text that says, "Billiards Strategy Guide."

Are you in need of tips on how to get better at pool? With this pool strategy guide, we've gathered some of the best tips and tricks to help you improve your skills and enjoy the game even more. Learn more about the game's history, some basic terminology, pool tips for beginners and more below.

History of Pool

Pool has evolved over the years and changed into the game many know and love today. Yet pool's beginning is quite simple — it originated in the 15th century as a way for people to enjoy their beloved outdoor sports, such as croquet, indoors. With an indoor version, people could enjoy a fun game together, regardless of the weather.

Green fabric was chosen to mimic the look of grass and further the idea of bringing an outdoor game inside. The French called the wooden stick used during play a billart, and each ball was called a bille. This is where we get the term billiards we use to describe the game today.

Basic Billiards Terminology

If you want to improve your pool skills, it's crucial to understand basic terminology. We'll review some important terminology to get you started, but check out our complete pool terminology guide for a more in-depth lesson.

Important billiards terminology to understand include:

  • Cue ball: The cue ball is the white or off-white ball you hit with the cue stick. The cue ball is what makes contact with the colored balls.

  • Cue stick: Cue sticks are the long, wooden sticks used to hit the cue ball and ultimately play the game.

  • Bridge: The bridge refers to anything you use to support the cue stick as you prepare to take a shot. Your hand can be used as a bridge, or a separate tool can be used. You may also hear a bridge called a crutch, but bridge is the more common term.

  • Cue tip: The cue tip is located on the smaller or thinner end of the cue, and it is covered in felt.

  • Object ball: Object balls are the colored and numbered balls on the table. Object balls can either be a solid color or have a colored stripe.

  • 8-ball: 8-ball pool is the most commonly played version of pool. In this game, two people take turns trying to sink all of their balls before sinking the 8-ball. One player is assigned stripes, and the other is assigned solids.

Beginner Tips

Do you want to know how to play pool like a pro? We've got you covered. Use the following pool tips and advice to upgrade your gameplay.

Stance and Alignment

A proper stance can set you up for success in a pool game. As a general rule, your front foot should be about shoulder-width apart from your back foot. Keep your front foot facing forward while your back foot is around a 45-degree angle. Your weight should be evenly distributed between both feet to give you a comfortable and stable position. When you lean down to shoot, your head should be level over the cue. Your final pool stance should be comfortable without any need to strain yourself.

How to Hold a Pool Cue

An improper grip on a pool cue can lead to a poor — and uncomfortable — performance. Practice properly holding a pool cue with these easy steps:

  1. Grab the pool cue by its larger end and hole the cue at your waist.

  2. Bend at the waist to create a better stance for holding and shooting the pool cue.

  3. Use your non-dominant hand to create a bridge.

  4. As you prepare to shoot, hold the cue stick firmly and envision the path needed to make the shot.

  5. With the cue stick firmly held in your dominant hand and the other end balanced on your bridge, use some force to move the cue stick forward and connect with the ball.

Practice Hand or Bridge Alignment

An inconsistent bridge can severely impact your game. A great grip, alignment and stance will mean nothing if you have a poor bridge. You can choose between two types of bridges — open bridge or closed bridge. We recommend starting by mastering the open bridge before moving on to the more advanced closed bridge.

To master the open bridge, continue practicing the following steps:

  1. Place the hand you will use as your bridge firmly on the table.

  2. Cup your hand while bringing your thumb and index finger together to form a V shape.

  3. Place the cue on the V of your thumb and index finger.

  4. Find your ideal bridge height by moving your fingers towards you to raise the bridge or moving your fingers away from you to lower the bridge.

  5. Create a solid foundation by spreading your fingers across the table.

  6. Use your index finger and thumb to help guide your shots.

As you continue to practice your bridge, the setup and feel of a proper bridge should become second nature.

Find the Imaginary Aiming Line

When trying to sink a ball into a pocket, imagine a line from the center of the pocket to the object ball you're aiming for. Now imagine this line extending through the object ball and straight back to the point where your cue will make contact with the object ball. This is called the imaginary aiming line. As you prepare to shoot, keep your eyes focused on this line — specifically, the center point of the object ball.

Practice Your Stroke Execution

Practicing your stroke before actually taking a shot can help improve your actual hit. Before taking a shot, take a couple of warm-up strokes. During your practice strokes, slowly complete a full stroke and stop just before your cue hits the ball. Around two to three practice strokes should be enough for you to become comfortable with the motion and find the point of the ball you want to hit.

In your free time, practice your stroke warmup until you find a routine that works for you. Developing a routine will help you feel more confident while playing and can help your stroke execution.

Use Chalk

When developing a pre-shot routine, be sure to include applying chalk to your pool cue. Chalk gives you a better grip on the ball you're hitting. This step is a super quick and easy way to improve your pool skills. Regardless of the type of shot you're going for, always chalk up!

Types Of Billiard Shots

Not all pool shots are the same. There are various pool shots you can master to improve your game and impress your friends and family. Once you've mastered the basics, try adding any of the following shots to your gameplay:

  • Straight shot

  • Bank shot

  • Break shot

  • Double shot

  • Plant shot

  • Draw shot

  • Force follow shot

  • Cushion shot

  • Jump shot

Learn the Diamond System

Once you're a pro at the basics, you can start to build on other techniques of the game, such as the diamond system. The diamond system is a commonly used tool that can help improve players' accuracy.

In short, the diamond system uses the three diamonds or other shapes on the pool table's surface to guide a player's aim. There are a variety of ways to use the diamond system that can help improve your pool strategy.

Use HB Home Pool Tables and Equipment to Show Off Your Skills

Whether you're playing pool for the first time or want to refine your strategy, HB Home has what you need to boost your game performance and have fun. We pride ourselves on creating high-quality game equipment that brings families and friends together.

Browse our selection of beautiful pool tables and accessories. Reach out to our team to learn more about our products and find the perfect pool table addition to your home.

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