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How to Teach Your Kids to Play Pool

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

A young boy holding a pool cue with text that says, "How to Teach Your Kids to Play Pool."

If you’re like most people, just the sight of a pool table was thrilling when you were a kid. Now that you’re an adult and that thrill is still going strong, you’re ready to pass on the joy of the game to your children.

Pool can be a great developmental tool, helping them improve their hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills. It lets them engage in healthy competition and encourages social connection through cooperative play. Best of all, teaching your kids to play pool lets you connect with your children through a favorite hobby that provides fun, tech-free family time.

How Do I Teach My Child to Play Pool?

The best approach to teaching your kids to play pool is to jump right in. Playing 8-Ball — the most common version of the game — lets them have fun while they pick up the basics. In just a few rounds, they’ll start learning:

  • The equipment: Along with a table, a game of pool requires some basic equipment. While you can always add more, all your kids will need at first is a set of pool balls, a pool rack, cue chalk and at least one cue stick for each player.

  • The setup: There are 16 balls in a standard pool set — seven solids, seven stripes, the eight ball and the cue ball. Teach your kids to “rack” the balls at the start of each game, with the number one ball at the front and the eight ball in the middle. If they need help lining up the rack at the end of the table, consider using table marker stickers or chalk until they get the hang of it.

  • The break: Using markers can also help kids learn how to place the cue ball. However, most of teaching them how to break will focus on where and how hard they should hit the cue ball. The first ball they sink will determine whether they shoot for stripes or solids in that game. Since kids can be adamant about their favorites — especially when they’re younger — they might also want to learn how to aim for a specific shot.

  • The game: Like the concepts above, playing a game of 8-Ball will be the easiest way to learn the rules. You’ll also want to decide whether or not to modify the rules based on individual temperament and preferences while they’re learning. For example, if the player who breaks doesn’t sink a ball, it’s common for both players to take turns shooting until one of them sinks. You can use that rule as-is or have the first player shoot until they sink a ball.

At What Age Should Kids Start Playing Pool?

As long as they can reach the table and handle a cue, any kid interested in pool is the right age to play it. However, different age groups will require different teaching methods. Here are a few ways to approach teaching your kids to play pool at different ages.

Preschool and Kindergarten

Very young children probably aren’t ready for the rules and structure of a real game, but they’ll have tons of fun enjoying all the noise and movement. You can teach them some basics — like what to call the equipment and the difference between solids and stripes — and let them roll the balls by hand. You can also make racking the balls a fun counting exercise for kids learning their numbers!

Kids this age will learn the game by watching as much as doing. Hold them up or grab a step stool so they can watch how the balls interact with the table and each other.

First Through Third Grade

Early elementary-age kids have typically developed enough fine motor control to learn how to rack the balls, make a bridge and hold a cue stick. They also have enough self-control to start taking their time with their shots, making practice much more rewarding.

Kids in first through third grade can start learning the rules of 8-Ball. You can teach them the game’s details along with the basic structure, including called shots and the penalties for scratching or sinking the eight ball early.

Fourth Through Sixth Grade

As kids get older, they can typically learn new things more quickly. Kids this age can jump right into learning by playing — you might be surprised to see how fast they pick it up!

Once they’re familiar with the basics and know the rules of 8-Ball, you can teach them new games, including:

  • Cutthroat: While most pool games involve just two players, Cutthroat is a three-person game. Each player gets five balls to protect while trying to sink the other players’ balls. The last player with at least one ball left is the winner.

  • 9-Ball: You’ll need a smaller diamond-shaped rack for 9-Ball, as it only uses the first nine balls in the set. Players must shoot the balls in numerical order, though they can sink any ball at any time. Since you win the game by pocketing the nine ball, skilled players can make this a very short game!

  • Bank pool: This modification to standard 8- or 9-Ball offers an extra challenge — players must call and bank their shot for the pocket to count.

Do I Need Special Equipment?

While you can teach your child pool with the same equipment you use to play, you may want to have some additional items on hand, such as:

  • Step stools: Your kids might not be quite tall enough to reach the table for their shots. Adding step stools to your pool room is a simple way to include everyone in family game nights.

  • Child-sized cues: Stock your cue rack with pool cues the right size for your child. Kids’ height is the most important sizing factor when they’re first learning. They’ll need pool cues that fit their arms comfortably, so start them out with a 42-inch or 48-inch stick.

  • Rubber balls: If your kids are very young, consider starting with rubber balls the same size as your pool balls. Soft rubber will be much more forgiving than the usual resin if someone throws or hits a ball off the table.

  • Tools for table marking: Understanding proper placement is an essential part of learning the game. Table marker stickers make it easier for kids to find the right place for the cue ball and rack. Look for stickers designed for pool tables to avoid residue or other damage to your table felt. You can also use chalk to mark the necessary areas for a temporary solution.

Teach Your Kids to Play Pool With HB Home

Teaching your kids to play pool is a wonderful way to help them grow while encouraging fun family time away from screens and devices. Embrace the opportunity to bring your family together with a new pool table from HB Home.

We carry styles from contemporary and rustic to industrial. Additionally, every pool table from HB Home includes free shipping and free professional installation. We’ll contact you for details about your layout, potential obstacles and where you plan to put your purchase so our installer can build your table exactly where you want it.

Browse our pool tables to find the perfect fit for your family, and reach out to us to learn more!

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