A Simple Kicking System

by Bob Jewett

Bob Jewett

If you find yourself in a spot like the diagram where you have to kick three cushions at the one ball, you might be tempted to apply the “corner-5” system. You would decide on a third-cushion contact point, estimate the cue ball’s origin, do some arithmetic to one or two decimal places and then shoot to the calculated spot on the first cushion. It’s amusing to watch a diamond system player who is not so good at math as they miss the target by exactly one diamond — oops, forgot to borrow during the subtraction.


A much simpler system is Ray Kilgore’s “opposite 3” system, which is described in detail in Robert Byrne’s book “Wonderful World of Pool and Billiards.” Kilgore was a champion 3-cushion player, and the system is most useful on a carom table, but with the modifications below, it is useful and easy on a pool table.

The basic idea is that if you are shooting from one side of the table and want to return to the same spot on the other side of the table after three cushions, all you have to do is shoot to a magic spot on the table. In the diagram, you are shooting from a spot 2 diamonds from the corner pocket on the long rail, and you want to go to the spot directly across the table, also two diamonds from the corner pocket. I’ve marked a spot X which is close to the magic spot for most pool tables. If you just shoot over the X, the cue ball will hit the one ball. If you are shooting from the corner pocket at A, and you shoot over X, the cue ball will go to AA. Same thing for B-BB.

The main problem is that the spot is in a slightly different place on each table. This is solved by taking a few shots such as the shots shown to discover where the spot is for your conditions. Start by shooting from the corner pocket to get to the other corner pocket. Remember to use medium speed — enough to move the object ball to somewhere useful — and running English, which would be left side in the diagram. Also, use follow for best consistency.

Mark the rail once you have found the direction for a pocket-to-pocket shot. Then try the shot shown in the diagram, marking the rail again. Finally, try the shot from and to the end cushion, BBB.

If you look at the three paths, they should all converge at a single point, or close to it. That’s the magic spot on your table. Any shot you try between the calibration shots should be right on, and even shots from slightly outside that range should be close. Where I play, the spot is close to where I’ve drawn the X in the diagram.

The large disadvantage of this system is that if you have to go to somewhere other than directly across the table from where you start, the system doesn’t work. For example, if you have to hit the 9 ball instead of the 1 ball, shooting to the X would land in the wrong place. You can roughly fix the shot by splitting the difference: since you want to land a diamond farther down the cushion to hit the 9, aim half a diamond farther up the cushion. Practice to get a feel for the adjustment.

This system is easy to master and because you will calibrate it for your stroke and your table, it can be very accurate. It’s called “Opposite 3” because on a carom table the magic spot is right by Diamond 3 on the long cushion. For more details, see Byrne’s book.

Get out of Town!

Samm Diep

By Samm Diep © December 2010

No, seriously. Get yourself out of town and play some pool.

Once you start playing seriously, one of the best things you can do for your competitive game is to get out of town. Travel to a tournament in another town, even another state, and compete. It’s easy to become so comfortable in your own zip code that when you do finally have to leave town for an event, the foreign pressure becomes so overwhelming that you can’t perform.

You may even find that you play better because there are no expectations from others. There are no friends or family to distract you or to break your concentration during the event. You also force yourself to play under different conditions. You test your skills and concentration.

Attending out of state pool tournaments is a wonderful opportunity to meet new people with similar interests and experiences. Developing new friendships only helps our great sport grow.

Top Ten Reasons to Leave Town for a Tournament

Learning to play on different equipment and in a different environment. It’s easy to get so comfortable in your element that when you’re finally forced to step outside the box, you can’t perform. When you only leave town once a year for Vegas nationals, you may find you put so much pressure on that one event instead of realizing it’s just one of many.

Winning when you know you’re not the favorite. There’s nothing more rewarding than coming out ahead in a match when the crowd is all pulling for your opponent. It takes a lot of mental strength to fight through the feeling that everyone is rooting against you.

Competing against different players. You already know what to expect from the top players in your own town. You’d be surprised what you can learn when playing against and watching new players.

Benchmark your game. What better way to gauge your level of play than by testing your skills against new and unbiased competition? It’s difficult to truly measure your true progress when you are facing the same players in every event.

Return home a better player. Each time you prepare for a big event and play your heart out while you’re there, you always return home stronger and more confident than before you left. Learning to compete under a higher level of pressure always brings out the best player.

Change the monotony and break the glass ceiling. When you’re constantly playing against the same players over and over again, you begin to have expectations. After a while, you know who you’re going to beat and who you’re going to lose to. The get stuck at a level where you feel expected to be at.

Big fish in a little pond? If you’re the best in your town, playing against great players from other towns can give you a better idea of where you stand in the big picture.

Little fish in a big pond? And likewise, if you’re constantly losing to the same people, change things up a little and challenge yourself with some fresh competition. You’d be surprised how you’ll come back a better player.

Meet new and different people. Have a little fun.

Explore a new city. Do some sightseeing and enjoy yourself!

The next time you get the chance to take a weekend road trip to a tournament, even if it’s just a neighboring town, take advantage of the opportunity. The benefits are countless.

Special thanks goes to Dave Gross (aka “12squared”) from Fort Collins, Colorado for his contributions to this month’s article.

Samm Diep, “Cherry Bomb” (DenverCherryBomb.com)

House Pro at Rack ‘Em Billiards (Aurora, CO)

Author of “You Might Be A D Player If… (101 Classic Moves That All Pool Players Can Appreciate)”

Player Representative for Chris Byrne Custom Cues, PoolDawg, Predator, Jim Murnak Custom Cases, & Delta-13 Rack

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