Follow Perfection

Follow Perfection

by Bob Jewett

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.

Power Follow Shots

by: Bob Jewett – San Francisco Billiard Academy,

Bob Jewett

Last time we were practicing follow shots with the cue ball frozen to the cushion. That’s the sort of shot that it’s easy to do badly because the cushion interferes with your bridge and your elevation.

For that shot you need to pay special attention to your fundamentals and to do the shot as simply as possible with as little power as possible.

This time, the shot itself is no problem, so the goal is to work on power and accuracy. Start with

Shot 1. The cue ball and object ball are one diamond apart. The goal is to pocket the ball and follow

to the end cushion and back. Try to return the cue ball as close as you can to where the object ball started. Pick your own margin for “close enough” on the cue ball position.

Shown in the diagram is the easiest position. If you do it successfully, move both balls back one diamond so the object ball is even with the diamond numbered “2”. If you fail to do the shot, make the next shot easier. The cue ball and object ball are always one diamond apart. You need a very slight cut angle to avoid the scratch but no so much angle that you can’t keep the cue ball near the side cushion.

You need to pay special attention to keeping side spin off the cue ball. On shots like this where you hit the object ball nearly full, any side spin you do have on the cue ball will in effect be multiplied because all of the speed is taken away by the hit on the object ball but the spin mostly remains.

For a slightly more advanced shot, use a little left English on the cue ball so that returns to the side cushion after it hits the end rail. Try for just enough spin that the cue ball gets back to exactly the starting spot of the object ball. Even if you do the easy version of the shot well, you will probably have trouble getting beyond position 2 and still leaving the cue ball within a hand-span of the goal.

Shot 2 is a little different. It has the object ball always a diamond from the pocket and the cue ball is moved back to make the shot harder as your skill progresses. Try to return the cue ball to its starting location. Remember to mark the current cue ball location with a coin and move the coin after each shot depending on whether you do the shot well enough or not.