Cue Ball Importance, Part 1
By Roger Long
Advanced Certified Instructor
The cue ball is frequently overlooked as being much of an important factor in playing the game of pool. Other than it being the only all-white ball on the table, and being the one that is used to shoot at its intended targets, many players just assume it is the same as all the other balls.
But the particular cue ball in use can really become an important issue with a lot of players; especially those at the higher skill levels. Please allow me to explain why.
The Official Rules & Records Book specifies that all pool balls are to be 2-1/4 inches in diameter with a tolerance range of plus or minus 5-thousands of an inch, and are to weigh 5-1/2 to 6 ounces. The reason for the size thing is so that the horizontal center lines all meet at the same point ensuring tighter racks and equal carom reactions. The weight thing is meant to equalize rebound speeds and other collision-induced reactions.
Now this is where the subject of the cue ball comes into the picture. Not all cue balls are made to the same specs as the object balls. This creates unequal reactions between these oddball cue balls and the object balls. For a player who has fine-tuned his game to the reactions produced by standard cue balls, suddenly introducing an out-of-spec cue ball to the game can throw that player for a loop in no time.
“Oddball” cue balls are most generally found on coin-operated bar tables. That’s because the size, weight, material, or something, has to be changed in order for the table’s return mechanism to be able to identify the cue ball as such, and return it to the head end of the table instead of sending it to the ball bay that holds the object balls.
Older bar tables used cue balls that were 2-3/8 inches in diameter, and weighed as much as 7 ounces. Those things were a real adventure in frustration to play with. Then about 30 years ago, we started seeing bar table cue balls that were 2-1/4 inches, but the weight was still around 7 ounces. Now if you don’t think one ounce makes any difference, just try drawing or jumping that overweight little sucker. It’s next to impossible! And not to mention getting it stopped once you get it rolling.
In more recent years, however, technology has allowed manufacturers to produce coin-operated tables that can be used with properly sized and weighted cue balls. This has come as a welcome relief to the many advanced players who enjoy playing in bar leagues, but have heretofore had to put up with unruly cue balls.
Next month, we’ll delve a little further into the subject of cue balls.