Pool is a great game to play competitively and for fun, and knowing how to take calculated shots can make it even more enjoyable. But as a beginner, it can be hard to understand how to properly strike the ball, let alone knowing how to aim with skill. However, it is easier than you may think. By learning and utilizing the diamond system, you can be a beginner but play like you're a pro. This article will go over the diamond system and how to use it in your gameplay.
Pool Diamond System Tutorial
The diamond system is a method used on American pool tables that, when used, improves accuracy and overall performance in a game of billiards. This method is popular among the approximately 34.55 million Americans who enjoy playing pool. It uses the 3 small diamonds, or other shapes, on each pool table's rails to aim to kick shots and banks. The inlaid diamonds form invisible lines connecting each diamond.
Generally, if you strike the cue ball straight at any given diamond, it will travel straight back towards the diamond at the opposite end of the table. When used correctly, you will be able to calculate where precisely you'll want the cue ball to impact any other spot on the pool table. If you hit the ball from 10 degrees, it should rebound 10 degrees in the opposite direction.
But there are only 3 diamonds on each rail and they aren't always going to be in the perfect spot for your shots. In that case, you'll have to visualize imaginary diamonds and imaginary lines.
You can use this method by combining practice and a little bit of pool geometry, even if you're new to the table. It will take time before it feels natural. The following guide will apply to nine-foot tables.
How to Use the Diamond System
There's a wide range of methods that you can use to determine which diamonds to use and the angles you need, but most have one thing in common. You can number the diamonds to make them easy to remember and calculate. Below will explain the diamond system and how to use it generally but also for specific shots.
Beginner Diamond System Method
Here is how to use one of the more straightforward methods for using the diamond aiming system in pool, which is a method perfect for beginners:
Start at the foot rail. The foot rail, also known as a short rail, is found at the bottom or foot of the table. For the corner pocket where the two cushions meet, imagine the number one.
Continue up the rail and give each diamond a number. The numbers will be from one to five.
Then, number the long rails, which are the rails encompassing the length of the table, also known as the side rails. These rails will have numbers one through nine. This step will divide the table into eight segments, with each segment being the distance between two diamonds — which you will have numbered in step two. The foot rail will have four segments, and the long rail will have eight segments.
The spaces between the diamonds will become half numbers. For example, the space between the three-diamond and the four-diamond will be 3.5. These numbers are significant because, for the system to work, you assign a number to the cue ball and another number to the location of the ball you want to strike. Then, you subtract the two numbers to determine where to shoot the cue ball.
This being said, this system assumes no sidespin, which happens if you stroke off-center. If this happens, you will get results different from what you calculated with the diamond system. It's also important to keep in mind that there are other diamond systems for the number of rails you need to hit. Choosing which system to use is up to personal preference, but the offered method is a good starting place for beginners.
Using the Diamond System for Specific Shots
The diamond system might sound complicated, but it is achievable for anyone, even pool newcomers. All it takes is time and practice. Below are different types of shots that you can complete with the system. When learning this system, it's a good idea to try and complete the examples to get a good feel of how to accomplish a successful shot with the diamond system.
One way the diamonds can be helpful when playing is to aid your bank shot. Bank shots became an integral part of the game after Charles Goodyear invented vulcanized rubber, making these shots consistent and reliable. Today, bank shots remain a sought-after skill to master.
To use the diamonds for your bank shot, find the one that will make the object ball, the ball you want to hit, bounce off the rail and drop into the desired pocket. You also have to ensure that the cue ball will not interfere with the object ball's path after impact when you're planning your bank shot.
For example, if the cue ball is at the side pocket, the object ball is on the corner pocket and the straight path along the rail is blocked, you may want to bank. Here's how you might use the diamond system to make the bank:
First, remember that the angle that the ball enters the rail is the angle that it will leave, known as mirrored angles.
Use the numbers from the beginning for the two rails involved.
Since the side pocket is four diamonds away from the corner, divide by two and hit the opposite rail on the second diamond, halfway between the corner and side pockets. By using the suggested diamond, the distance is cut in half, mirrored angles are created and the ball travels correctly.
This is just one example of how you might use the diamond system for banking. The possibilities are endless depending on the layout of the cue ball, the object ball and any other balls blocking the path.
Achieving a kick shot is another use of the diamond system. When doing a kick shot, the cue ball touches the cushion before the intended object ball. You might need this type of shot if an opponent's ball blocks a direct path to your target, in which case, you need to imagine a line going to the opposite rail, where you would hit your object ball by aiming the cue ball on the cushion. Try this example:
A ball located next to the middle pocket is what you want to hit into that pocket. The cue ball is near the bottom left corner pocket. Aim halfway between the cue and the object ball on the rail opposite the cue and object balls. The point is close to the second diamond from the left on the top rail in this example. Here's another example of a kick shot with the diamond system:
The cue ball is at the end of the table by the top left corner pocket and the object ball is in the bottom left corner. Typically, you would send the cue parallel to the short rail, but imagine this blocked path, forcing the kick shot. Aim halfway between the cue and object balls, the middle diamond on the opposite rail. And another example:
This example is when you are aiming to pot a ball placed over the bottom right corner pocket and the cue ball starts at the bottom left corner pocket. In this scenario, the middle point is the middle pocket, which is not an aiming point. So, you'd want to aim slightly to the left of the pocket, so there's enough contact to sink the object ball. With this example, if you feel confident with your kick shots, you can try some fancier trick shots here.
The cue ball is between the diamonds on the bottom left, towards the center of the area. There are two of your balls directly next to each other. They are to the right of the middle bottom pocket. You can aim to hit the ball closer to the cue into the second to pot the latter.
To explain this trick shot better, move the first ball next to the third diamond from the right on the bottom rail. Find the third diamond from the left on the top rail, halfway between this diamond and the cue ball.
Two Rail Kick Shots
There are times when the one rail kick shot is not possible, like in the examples above. Sometimes, for a successful kick shot, you need to use two or more rails. For this, you would no longer aim for a point on the inside cushion of the rail. Instead, you wouldn't consider the rail at all.
This is known as the Plus Two system. Let's explain this with an example:
The object ball is in front of the top left corner pocket and the cue is on the left side of the table, near the center diamond on the short rail. The goal is to pot the object ball in that corner pocket. Another ball is in between the cue ball and the yellow ball, blocking the direct shot. The single-kick shot route is also blocked. Instead, you need to use two rails.
Essentially, the Plus Two system will tell you that whichever diamond dumber you aim for, the last position will be shifted back two places. So, with this example, say you aim for the second diamond from the right on the bottom rail. The cue ball will then strike two positions back from the starting position in the corner pocket area, potting the yellow ball.
Three Rail Kick Shots
If your path to a kick shot aiming system and a two-rail kick shot is blocked, you may need a three-rail kick shot. This will be a little more complicated, so try to understand the other shots before attempting this one during your practice time.
As with the other shots, there are varying ways to complete a three-rail kick shot, but the easiest to understand is the Corner-5 system. Look at this system within an example:
Let's say the cue ball starts over the corner pocket. Using the Corner-5 system, the number of this starting position is five. If you aim up the table to the second diamond from the right on the bottom rail, you're aiming for diamond two. Subtract two from five. With the sum of three, the system will tell you that the cue ball will contact diamond number three with the opposite rail.
With the Corner-5 system, you only have to do a simple calculation to predict the cue ball's path, even with it hitting multiple rails.
Adjusting Shots Between Diamonds
There are times, like in one of the previous examples, where you won't be able to aim for a diamond directly, and you will need to aim either slightly in front or slightly behind it. Many systems only number the diamonds and the halfway points for this exact reason. This is where the 3.5 from the beginning comes into play.
Knowing how to best adjust your shots will come in time and with plenty of practice. You'll have to get a feel for it. Every pool and billiards table will be different, especially if one is brand new and another is worn down. When you move to a new table, take time to adjust your shots accordingly.
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