Top 100 Pool and Billiards Myths ... Debunked, Busted and Explained
- The brand of chalk you use makes a big difference in play.
This is really not the case, assuming you chalk properly before each off-center hit (see chalk brand comparison).
- Pre-flag Master chalk is better than flag Master chalk.
Careful tests show that this is not the case (see chalk brand comparison and pre-flag vs. flag Master chalk).
- Softer tips allow you to put more spin on the ball.
This is true only if the softer tip holds chalk better than the tip to which it is being compared (see cue tip hardness effects).
- Low-cue-ball-deflection (LD) shafts allow you to put more spin on the ball.
This is not the case (see getting more spin with an LD shaft).
- A smaller-diameter shaft/tip allows you to put more spin on the ball.
It might seem like this to a player, but there are logical reasons to explain this false belief (see cue tip size and shape effects).
- LD shafts are better than non-LD shafts.
This is not true in general for all people (see advantages and disadvantages of LD shafts).
- When you switch from a regular non-LD shaft to an LD shaft, you won't need to change the way you play.
This might be true in general; but when applying sidespin, you will need to aim differently to account for the difference in CB deflection (squirt).
- Cue "feel" and "feedback" affect how it plays.
The sound and vibration created by a hit definitely affect how a cue "feels," but the "feel" has no direct effect on how the cue "plays" (see cue "feel," "hit," "feedback," and "playability").
- When you miscue, it is the tip's fault.
A miscue is usually caused by poor stroke technique (e.g., grip tightening and/or elbow drop before CB contact).
- It's the arrow, not the Indian.
A good player can play well with any cue (assuming it is mechanically sound and has a decent tip). Furthermore, a great cue will not truly help a bad player play better (although, there could be psychological effects resulting in slight improvements if a player thinks they should play better with a better cue). Now, an LD shaft does offer advantages to some people (although, they also have disadvantages for some people). One advantage is that less aim compensation for squirt is required with an LD shaft. However, a "bad player" typically doesn't use english much, not intentionally anyway. And when they use english unintentionally (e.g., with a swooping stroke), or if they are using back-hand english (either with a pre-stroke pivot or with a swooping stroke), an LD shaft is better only if they use a long bridge length. If a player prefers a short bridge length, the advantages an LD shaft offers is limited. Now, if the "bad player" attempts to use "parallel english" and doesn't compensate aim for squirt, then the LD shaft will offer an advantage; although, he or she will still miss many (if not most) shots in this situation.
- There is a "proper" or "conventional" stance that is most effective for most people.
The ideal stance for each individual (feet positions and directions, knee bend, body bend and direction, head height and position, arm position relative to the body, etc.) can be very different from one person to the next based on stability, comfort, anatomy, and stroke clearance requirements (see stance technique advice).
- A closed bridge is better than an open bridge.
This might be true for some people and some shots, especially if one has stroke flaws, but it is not true in general (see open bridge vs. close bridge).
- It's always best to look at the OB last before the final stroke.
Most people are most accurate and consistent if they focus on the OB target (and not the CB) during the final forward stroke (see eye pattern advice).
One exception is elevated-cue shots or other situations where tip position on the CB is critical (see the stroke "best practices" document).
- When checking your aim, it is best to move your eyes quickly between the CB and OB.
On the contrary, your eyes should be still and quiet when checking aim and alignment (see quiet eyes and reasons for pauses).
- Determining which eye might be "dominant" or not is important.
This is not true (see dominant eye). What is important is finding and consistently aligning your personal "vision center" over the line of the shot (see vision center).
- A tighter grip is better on power shots.
A tight grip will actually usually decrease power. The grip should generally be relaxed during the entire stroke, regardless of the power of the shot (see grip technique advice).
- Many misses are caused by "jumping up" on the shot.
Raising the body during the stroke into the ball is most definitely a no-no. However, most good players stay down during the stroke fairly well. Regardless, they often jump up as soon as they realize they hit a shot badly, and most good players know if a shot is good or not immediately after the hit. Therefore, when a commentator drops the cliche line: "He missed because he jumped up on the shot," the commentator is usually wrong. Usually, a more accurate description is: "He jumped up because he missed the shot."
- Most misses are caused by a bad stroke.
For intermediate to advanced players, most misses are probably due to aim and alignment errors rather than stroking errors. "Alignment" involves both placing the cue in the desired direction and placing the tip at the desired position on the CB. Also, when using intentional sidespin, many misses are due to an incomplete understanding of how to accurately compensate for squirt, swerve, and throw. (see aim compensation for squirt, swerve, and throw).
- Adding a pause at the back of your stroke is bad.
What is worse is jerking the transition between the back and forward strokes (see stroke technique advice and reasons for pausing).
- The cue should move along a straight line during the entire stroke with a piston-like motion.
Actually, a pendulum stroke, where the elbow does not drop and the follow through is not exaggerated, can be more effective for most people and most shots (see pendulum vs. piston stroke and elbow drop).
- The "type" and "quality" of stroke makes a difference in the outcome of a shot.
The only things the CB "cares" about
is the hit, not the stroke technique leading to the hit (see "type" or "quality" of stroke).
- "Accelerate through the ball" is bad advice because it is not possible physically.
It is true that the cue cannot be accelerated during a hit (because it actually slows down significantly during a hit, per the stroke acceleration resource page), but thinking this ("accelerate through the ball") can be useful advice to encourage people to not be hesitant, to finish the stroke, and to create more speed into the ball (e.g., with draw shots).
- The cue is and should be "level" on most pool shots.
With most pool shots, where the cue must clear the rails, it is impossible for the cue to be truly level ... the butt must be elevated at least a small amount. Regardless, in general, it is best to keep the cue as level as possible to minimize CB swerve (see cue elevation effects).
- Follow through puts more spin on the CB.
This is not true. The follow through is often a good indicator of a good stroke, but it has no direct effect on the outcome of the shot (see follow through).
- Dropping the elbow after CB contact makes a difference.
Dropping the elbow after the hit might feel right and be more comfortable for some people, but it doesn't really offer any direct advantages. (see elbow drop).
- "Aiming systems" are not helpful.
For some people, an "aiming system" can be very helpful (see benefits of aiming systems).
- Pros have a secret "aiming system."
This is simply not true. There is no silver-bullet "aiming system" that will magically allow you to pocket shots with pro-level consistency. Pros aim virtually all shots subconsciously by instinct, intuition, and feel based on countless past hours of practice and successful experience (see "How the Pros Aim"). They typically do not use any particular prescribed "aiming system." Although, they do usually have a consistent and purposeful pre-shot routine to help ensure they aim and align accurately and consistently. The only way to truly improve your aiming accuracy and consistency is through dedicated and smart practice. Success comes from having a consistent and purposeful pre-shot routine, a reliable and accurate stroke, and a long history of experience.
- The only way to learn to aim is to play 10,000 hours or "hit a million balls."
It can certainly help to practice a lot and gain lots of experience, but an understanding of aiming principles, having a consistent and purposeful pre-shot routine, and knowing how to adjust aim when using english can certainly speed the learning process.
- The best place to aim at a pocket is always the center between the pocket points.
The effective "center" of the pocket changes with speed and angle
(see pocket "size" and "center"). Also, sometimes the pocket needs to be "cheated" (with the OB aimed away from the center of the pocket) for CB control purposes.
- Bridge length and shot distance have no effect on pivot-based aiming systems.
Unfortunately, that is not true (see pivot-based aiming system issues and CTE analysis and evaluation).
- Aiming systems that use a limited number of lines of aim or aiming alignments can be used to pocket shots over a wide range of cut angles without adjusting by intuition or "feel" (either consciously or subconsciously) between the references.
Unfortunately, this is simply not true (see limited lines or alignment of aim and CTE analysis and evaluation). Regardless, an "aiming system" can still be a valuable addition to a person's game, especially if they don't already have a consistent and purposeful pre-shot routine. An "aiming system" can help encourage a person to actually aim while standing, before they get down on a shot, which is important. There are also other potential benefits of "aiming systems."
- Marketing information and claims concerning "aiming systems" are usually modest and totally realistic.
Unfortunately, "aiming systems" promotion sometimes involves exaggerated "marketing claims" (e.g., see the DAM marketing spoof).
Cue Ball Control
- Center-of-table position is good for most shots.
This is simply not true. Center-table position is adequate for many shots; but for many others, the center of the table is a terrible place to be.
- The CB always heads in the tangent-line direction.
The CB heads and persists along the tangent-line direction only for a stun shot (see the 90 degree rule). For shots with top or bottom spin, the CB initially heads in the tangent-line direction, but it curves away (see the 30 degree rule and the draw-shot trisect system); and at slow speed, it curves almost immediately (see CB path speed effects) to where the tangent-line motion isn't even noticeable.
- On a lag shot, the best place to hit the CB is dead center.
Not true. The optimal speed-control tip height is 20% of the ball radius above center (see lag shot).
- It is always best to leave yourself with an easy, nearly straight-in, shot.
This is true for the last shot in a game, but it is certainly not true in general. Contrary to what many people think, a straight shot is much easier to hit accurately and consistently than a shot at an angle (see straight-in shots). However, your position-control options are severely limited when a shot is nearly straight in (see cue ball position control).
Follow and Draw Shots
- If you elevate the cue, you get more draw.
To get tighter-angle draw, cue elevation is required (see quick draw); however, for maximum draw distance with a mostly straight shot, keeping the cue as level as possible is better (see draw shot cue elevation effects).
- A closed bridge is better for draw shots.
This might be true for some people due to stroke flaws, but on open bridge can actually offer significant advantages (see open vs. closed bridge).
- To get maximum draw, hit as close to the miscue limit as possible.
It is too risky to hit too close to the miscue limit, and less draw can result, especially with power draw shots (see power draw technique advice).
- Draw is tougher on slick cloth because the backspin doesn't "bite" as much.
It can be more difficult to draw the CB back at a tight angle; but with a nearly straight shot, draw is much easier on a slicker cloth (see cloth effects).
- If you have trouble with draw shots, there is something wrong with the cue, tip, cloth, or CB.
Difficulty with draw is almost always due to poor technique. You must keep your grip relaxed, keep your cue as level as possible or appropriate, and accelerate smoothly into the ball (see draw shot technique advice).
- Draw shot control is better with less tip offset and more speed.
Actually, the opposite is true.
In general, for best draw distance control, use more spin with less speed (see physics-based draw shot advice).
- Draw shots are more accurate than follow shots.
This is definitely not true in general (see follow shot accuracy).
- Force-follow shots require an overspin hit on the CB.
That's not true. In fact, it is extremely difficult to create overspin off the tip (see natural roll, maximum offset, and overspin).
- The only way to learn how to use english effectively is through experience.
Practicing many different types of shots many times can certainly be helpful; however, knowing some basic systems for using english like BHE and FHE, and learning about squirt, swerve, and throw effects, can dramatically speed the learning process and help one use english effectively sooner than they might otherwise.
- More english can be applied with a swooping stroke.
A swooping stroke might help some people apply english more effectively, but a swoop is certainly not required to get maximum sidespin (see stroke swoop).
- English is not required often in top-level play.
This is a common misconception; but in reality, top players use sidespin (often only in small amounts) frequently in their games (e.g., to make small corrections when they get out of line, to help the CB come more into the line of the next shot, to send the CB multiple rails with ease and in natural directions, to help pocket steep rail cut shots, to change the angle of a kick, to throw a ball in, to curve the CB slightly, etc.).
- Sidespin affects the path the CB takes off the OB.
This is not true for a stunned CB, and the effect is small with topspin and bottom-spin shots (see 30-degree and 90-degree rule sidespin effects). Generally, sidespin has a significant effect only when the CB hits a cushion (where the rebound angle is changed). Throw shots are an exception (see throw "hold" and "kill" shots).
- With frozen rail cut shots, always use a cushion-first hit with running english.
This can make steep-angle rail-cut shots much easier to pocket, but it is not necessary or even helpful at small-angle shots. Also, whether you go ball-first or cushion-first with sidespin on rail cut shots can make a big difference in CB control, and sometimes outside english is required to create desired CB motion (see rail cut shots).
- To get the largest rebound-angle change off a cushion, hit the CB on the horizontal centerline (to the extreme left or right of center).
Actually, a drag shot resulting from a below-center hit with sidespin can be used to get a larger sidespin effects off a cushion (see maximum sidespin effect).
- When a ball is rolling with sidespin, it curves.
Actually, this is not true. When you first hit the CB with sidespin (with an elevated cue), the CB swerves initially (while it is sliding), but once it starts rolling (with sidespin), it heads in a straight line (see ball swerve and turn).
- "Helping english" should be used to pocket balls.
When spin is transferred to an object ball, the spin can help the pocket accept the ball if the spin is in the "running" direction on the pocket facing; however, attempting to create "helping english" by changing the way you hit a shot is generally not advisable (see "get in" english).
- A touch of inside english is the best choice for most shots.
Inside english can offer advantages with certain types of shots, but it is not always the best choice (see inside english effects).
- Sidespin helps in breaking out a cluster with power.
Sidespin might offer a slight advantage in certain limited cluster situations, but this is just not true in general.
Squirt (CB Deflection)
- You don't need to understand squirt, swerve, and throw to use english effectively.
With enough practice, an intuitive feel can be developed for these factors; however, a solid understanding of squirt, swerve, and throw effects can speed the learning process and help one use sidespin more effectively.
- Squirt varies with speed.
Not true. Squirt (CB deflection) is independent of shot speed. However, swerve does vary with speed (and cue elevation, and conditions), so "net CB deflection" (AKA "squerve") does vary with speed (see squirt speed effects).
- CB deflection is caused by cue stiffness.
This is not true; although, cue stiffness can be indirectly related to shaft endmass, which does affect squirt (see cue endmass and stiffness effects).
- The butt of a cue has an effect on CB deflection.
This is not true. The amount of squirt a cue produces depends only on the endmass of the shaft (see what causes squirt?).
- Tip type, hardness, and size significantly affect the amount of squirt.
Tests clearly show that this is not the case (see Cue and Tip Testing for Cue Ball Deflection, tip hardness effects, tip size and shape effects).
- Net CB deflection is not a concern for slow shots because swerve cancels squirt.
This is true in some situations, but it depends on shot distance and exact speed, cue elevation, shaft CB deflection, and conditions (see squirt, swerve, and throw effects).
- Cue testing machines are the best way to test and compare shafts.
With carefully designed machines and testing procedures, this can be true; however, there are many factors that can result in misleading data (see squirt robot test results and concerns).
Bank and Kick Shots
- Kick and bank shot aiming systems are not useful.
This is simply not true. Kick and bank shot aiming systems can be very effective when used properly and with understanding of bank and kick effects.
- The "angle of reflection" is the same as the angle of "incidence" (i.e., a kick or bank comes off a cushion at the same angle at which it comes in).
This is the basis for many kick and bank shot aiming systems, and it is true at certain angles and speeds, but this is not true in general (see bank and kick effects).
- Kick shot aiming is not affected by speed.
Not true. All kick-shot-system aims must be adjusted based on speed, spin, distance, and angle effects (see bank and kick effects).
- Bank shot aiming is not affected by cut angle, speed, spin, or conditions.
Many aiming systems assume this; but to bank and kick effectively, it is important to understand and have a feel for all bank and kick effects.
- Slower speed is better for bank shots because the pocket is more accepting at slower speeds.
It is true that the effective size of the pocket can be larger at slower speeds, but fast speed offers many advantages with bank shots (see advantages of fast-speed banks).
- Spin transfer is not an important effect with bank shots.
This is not true. In fact, certain types of bank shots
cannot be made without spin transfer (see spin transfer bank shots).
- With a cross-corner bank shot, a double kiss is likely if a line through the CB and OB goes through the pocket center.
This is close to true, but the more accurate line is through the near pocket facing (see how to detect and avoid double kisses).
- Cue twisting is necessary for certain types of bank shots.
Somebody might be able to use cue twist to pocket certain shots, but this technique is certainly not required or recommended (see stroke swoop and cue twist).
Throw and Spin Transfer
- CIT is constant for all cut angles and speeds.
This is not true. Cut-induced throw varies significantly with angle and speed. Maximum CIT, with no sidespin, occurs with slow speed at about a 1/2-ball hit (see throw effects and maximum throw).
- More spin creates more SIT.
This is one of those cases where more doesn't give more. Maximum spin-induced throw occurs with slow speed and about 50% sidespin (see maximum throw).
- Frozen balls throw more than non-frozen balls.
When balls are frozen, maximum CIT results, but a stun shot can create the same throw (see frozen-ball throw).
- A follow or draw shot throws the same amount as a stun shot of the same speed.
Not true. Follow and draw shots throw about half as much as stun shots (see throw draw and follow effects).
- Outside english prevents cut-induced throw.
This is true only if the "gearing amount" of outside english is used (see gearing outside english).
- The amount of spin that can be transferred to an OB is insignificant.
This is not true. In fact, certain types of shots are not possible without spin transfer (see spin transfer shots).
- Cling/skid/kick is caused by static electricity.
This was a common misconception in the past (especially with some people in the snooker world), but it is simply not true. Cling is caused by chalk marks on the balls. It can also be caused by some cleaning products and polishes (see cling/skid/kick). It is important to recognize that a normal amount of throw (especially when the normal throw is large, as with slow stun shots or slow small-cut-angle shots with sidespin) can sometimes be confused with cling/skid/kick (see maximum throw). Normal throw (even a large amount) is a direct result of throw physics effects, and it is not due to something being wrong with the balls.
- Chalk brand has no effect on the frequency or amount of cling/skid/kick.
Careful tests have shown that the type of chalk does make a difference with the frequency and amount of cling (see chalk brand comparison).
- CB hop during a break is a good thing.
CB hop on a break is often an indicator of an accurate and powerful break, but this is not something one should force (e.g., by elevating the cue) because it represents lost energy (see break hop and squat).
- The optimal break-cue weight is the same for everybody.
The best weight for a cue is a very individual thing (see optimal cue weight).
- Pattern racking is legal, and players who know the tricks should use them.
In most pool games (and under the official rules of pool), pattern racking
is illegal and unethical; although, knowing where certain balls in a rack tend to head is useful to know (see pattern racking strategy).
- CB deflection is not a concern with a break cue.
If you use a break cue with a natural pivot length well matched to your bridge length, stroking errors will not affect your accuracy (see pivot-length article).
Jump and Massé Shots
- It takes a lot of power to jump the ball.
The jump shot is about finesse and technique, not power (see jump shot technique advice).
- Aim through the center of the CB for best jump results.
For best jump results, it is actually better to aim between the center of the CB and resting point on the cloth, especially at higher cue elevations (see jump shot article).
- The dart stroke is not as effective as a normal stroke for jump shots.
With higher cue elevations, the dart stroke will be more comfortable and effective for many people (see jump shot technique advice).
- If you over-cut a jump shot, it is because your aim was off or you had unintentional sidespin on the shot.
Jump shots are often over cut due to the CB hopping into the OB (see jump shot overcut effect).
- The only way to aim massé shots is by feel.
Massé shots do require feel to judge speed effects, but the Coriolis aiming system can be very helpful in choosing a line of aim.
- Hitting into a CB frozen to OB is a foul because it results in a double hit or push.
This is simply not true; and under standard WPA rules, this type of shot is legal (see frozen cue ball shots).
- Miscues are usually not double hits.
Actually, most miscues do involve secondary contact. Regardless, miscues are not considered fouls unless they are intentional or if there is obvious visual proof of secondary contact (see miscue fouls).
- "Scoop" jump shots always involve a miscue.
It is possible to hit a "scoop" shot without a miscue, but this sort of shot is still illegal (see illegal "scoop" jump shot).
- If the CB and OB are frozen (or if there is a small gap), angling the cue at 45 degrees (or more) horizontally or vertically is enough to avoid a foul.
This is not true (see double hit detection and avoidance).
- With a straight shot where there is a small gap between the CB and OB, if the CB advances forward more than a chalk's width, the shot is a foul.
This is simply not true (see double hit detection and avoidance).
- What the stroke or grip does during tip contact makes a difference.
What the grip or arm does during the incredibly brief tip-contact time has no practical effect on the outcome of a shot (see grip tightness effects and stroke acceleration).
- The manner in which the cue is stroked can change the outcome of a shot (for a given tip contact point and cue speed at contact).
The "style" of "quality" of stroke has no effect on the outcome of a shot, for a given tip contact point and stroke speed (see stroke "type" and "quality").
- Tip/CB contact time is increased by "accelerating through" the CB.
Not true. The ball contact time varies some with cue speed and tip hardness, but the type of stroke has no practical effect (see cue tip contact time).
- Practice makes perfect.
Only perfect practice makes perfect. If all you do is reinforce bad habits, or if you fail to learn and develop understanding during practice, it won't help your game much. In fact, "practice can make permanent" the wrong things.
- Drills won't make you play better.
Drills can be very useful to help you efficiently use practice time to develop specific skills that can help you improve your overall game the most (see why do drills).
- Natural talent is more important than hard work.
For certain sports (e.g., anything involving jumping or speed like some track and field events), this can be true. Also, someone with good eye-hand coordination (e.g., from genetics and/or previous experience with other activities and sports) will have an advantage over someone who is not very coordinated. It also helps to have sharp vision and good visual perception. However, practice, experience, and hard work are the most important ingredients of success in pool. See also: what it takes to play like a pro.
- Pro Players make the best instructors.
A session with an experienced, qualified, and professional instructor can often be much more helpful, regardless of the current or past level of play of the instructor (see selecting an instructor).
- Safeties are for sissies.
This is ridiculous. Defensive play is a very important part of high-level pool. One should always play safe when it increases your chances of winning a game.
- I lost because of "bad rolls."
Bad luck and a "bad roll" can sometimes cause a loss of game; but, in general these things can be avoided by better play. Generally, the better you are, the "luckier" you get (i.e., you need to be good to get lucky). Also, occasional "good luck" and "good rolls" tend to balance out the "bad luck" and "bad rolls."
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