Two Great Trick Shots

Bob Jewett

Here are two trick shots to make the 8 and the 9 in side pocket A. I call them great because unlike some trick shots, there are things to be learned from them that you can use in games. Also, they are truly amazing when they go, which is most of the time if you have practiced them.

For the 9 ball shot — the goal is to make the 9 in pocket A — both the 9 and the cue ball are frozen to the cushion and to each other. They really need to be frozen or the shot will be either inconsistent or impossible. One technique for encouraging balky balls to stay frozen is to tap them into place with another ball.

If you aim at about the point indicated, which is the edge of the metal fitting for the side pocket on the other side and shoot firmly, the 9 will move relatively slowly down the rail while the cue ball zips across one rail to hit it just as it passes the side pocket.

The main thing to learn from this shot is how adjustments can be used to modify parts of the shot.

The more you shoot into the nine ball, the faster it will move down the table relative to the cue ball speed. If the nine ball is short of the side pocket when the cue ball returns, you need to give it more speed, so you need to shoot into it fuller. Choose an aiming point closer to the middle of the side pocket — not a lot closer, try a half-inch at a time.

As you take an aiming point to the left or right to get less or more speed on the 9, the path of the cue ball will also change. To adjust it to come to the side pocket, use a little left or right English to change the angle off the far cushion. With these two controls — and with careful setup — you can expect to make the ball over half the time. Remember to hit the ball firmly as it keeps the timing more consistent; the 9 should be moving at a good pace when it’s struck by the cue ball the second time.

The exact distance of the two balls from the side pocket is not too important, but you will have to change the aiming point and English slightly as you move away from the side. The shot can be made with nearly the same line three diamonds from the side.

The shot to make the 8 ball in the side I first saw done by the exhibition player Jack White in the 1960s but it dates back at least 70 years. It’s called The Rosebud. The 8 is on the spot with the 6 and 7 straight across. The other four balls are placed touching the 6 and 7 and lined up with the 6 and 7 to the far corner pockets, B and C. For example, the 5-7 line points to pocket B.

The proposition is to make the 8 in any of the four pockets on that end of the table, which you can let the audience pick before you place the cue ball. If pocket A is chosen, place the cue ball as shown in line with the 2-8-5 line, and shoot the 2 straight at the 8. Do you see what happens to let the 8 go in side A? The entire shot is based on tangent lines from ball collisions. The 8 ball last hits the 5 ball — I’ll leave it for you to figure out where the other balls have gone during the lightning- fast sequence of collisions. I’ll also leave it to you to figure out where to put the cue ball for the other three pockets. Have fun.

Frozen Force

Frozen Force

by Bob Jewett

Bob Jewett

The balls don’t always behave the way you expect. This can be a disaster in competition but is a standard feature of trick shots. Studying good trick shots — ones that demonstrate an underlying principle — will prepare you for when similar shots appear in your matches.

Shot 1 shows a trick shot that has been in print for over a century; it is in Joe Hood’s 1908 book “Trick and Fancy Pool Shots Exposed.” The problem is to make the 1 ball directly into the corner pocket. It is frozen to the 2 ball. Simple physics suggests that the shot is impossible, but when the balls are really frozen, strange things happen. Hit the 1 ball nearly full, just barely favoring the rail-side. Use good draw on the cue ball and a fair amount of force. Most importantly, make sure there is no daylight at all between the 1 and the 2 — you may need to tap them in place to ensure the freeze. Play with the shot to get a feel for how full you have to hit the 1 into the 2 to move it towards the pocket. If you hit it directly into the 2, you should be able to get the 1 to go straight ahead, which is useful in other situations. For extra effect as an exhibition shot, change the angle of the 1-2 into the cushion so that the 2 ball goes two cushions to the upper-right corner pocket.

While the draw helps the 1 ball go forward, it’s not absolutely required for the shot to work. There are actually two effects operating. Draw on the cue ball will transfer a little follow to the 1 ball, but the frozen-ball contact by itself will send the 1 ball forward.


In Shot 2 is a practical application of the second effect. In a game of 9 ball, you’re looking at an apparently hopeless cluster. You can get the 9 moving a little by driving the 3 into it and having it come off the 4, but the kiss line says that the 9 will land on the long rail a full ball from going into the pocket. Well, not if Frozen Force is helping you. Try the shot, again making very sure that the 9 is frozen to the 4 ball. The 3 ball is frozen or close to the 9 so that the fullness of the hit of the 9 into the 4 is controlled.

One way to judge that fullness is to first put your stick at the cluster and along the 4-9 line, then move the butt of your stick until it is along the 9-3 line, pivoting at the tip. The inches that the butt of the cue moves is the number of degrees off fullness of the shot.

Can you move the 9-4 out to the foot spot (like two spotted balls) and still make the 9 in the corner?

For such an extreme departure from the kiss line, you’ll find that the placement of the 3 needs to be very precise. This shot from the spot is common at one pocket, but that game has the advantage that getting shots just close puts your opponent in a world of hurt. From the spot, try the shot without the 3 and using draw to see how much draw helps the angle.

Knowing this secret that’s not so secret will also help you avoid shots that look dead but aren’t. Suppose in Shot 2 the balls are all moved up a couple of ball widths. Now the kiss line will say “probably good” while the Frozen Force principle says “no way.”

This shot is definitely worth the investment of half an hour of study at the table.