by Bob Jewett
Back in 2005 I proposed an exercise in which you tried to make the nine ball with a series of draw shots from an object ball. Here is a new challenge which will help you perfect your follow angles and speed.
The goal is to make the nine ball into the corner pocket labeled “P” by pocketing the one ball in the side and following to the nine. You don’t have to make it in a single shot. Just leave the nine ball wherever you bump it to, put the one ball back in its spot and take the cue ball in hand. To place the one ball consistently, use a small chalk mark or a donut-shaped self-adhesive paper reinforcement.
In the diagram, I show some right English on the cue ball. If the cue ball hits the cushion just before the nine, the spin will help a lot. You can also play the shot without side spin, and that will be best when the nine ball is off the cushion. In any case, you will want full follow on the cue ball — that makes the angle the cue ball takes off the one ball more predictable.
At first, try to just bump the nine a little. If you hit it hard enough on the first shot to get it to the pocket, a full hit will knock the nine to the other side of the table. As you get to know the angle better, you can be more aggressive with the power.
Regulate the path of the cue ball by how full you hit the one ball. Since the one is going to return to exactly the same place on each shot, you should soon know where the cue ball will go when you shoot from the direction of the A or B diamonds, and gradually for points in between. For example, on your table you may find that if your cue stick is over diamond A when you shoot, the cue ball will land on the cushion by diamond C, and shooting from the direction of B will land on the short rail just to the right of pocket P.
Besides having full follow on the cue ball for all shots, you should try drive the one ball into the middle of the pocket. Putting it in the left or right side will change the carom angle a lot, so even though the shot to make the one ball is easy, precision pocketing is required to get the cue ball on the correct path.
If you knock the nine ball out into the middle of the table, you’re going to have to use extreme measures to get it back. Rather than use draw and try to hit the ball on the tough side, let’s say that you can spot the one ball in the middle of the table to herd the nine back to the left side.
To make this into a scored drill, count the number of shots it takes you to pocket the nine. An easy way to do this is to use the solids in order rather than just the one ball as the object ball so you have an automatic count. If you have a practice partner, challenge him to see who can do it in fewer shots. Try playing the strict rules in the challenge: the one ball has to go on the spot shown.