Summary: Billiards Digest September, 2011
"How High or Low Should You Hit the Cue Ball?" ILLUSTRATED PRINCIPLES
David Alciatore, PhD ("Dr. Dave")
Supporting narrated video (NV) demonstrations, high-speed video (HSV) clips, and technical proofs (TP),
and all of my past articles, can be accessed and viewed online at billiards.colostate.edu. The reference
numbers used in my articles will help you locate the resources on the website. If you have a slow or
inconvenient Internet connection, you might want to view the resources from a CD-ROM or DVD. Details
can be found online at: dr-dave-billiards.com.
In this article, we look at how high or low you should hit the cue ball (CB) for different types of shots.
Let's start with some basics. Whenever you need to hit the CB off center to impart spin, it is very important to
know how far off center you can hit without risking a miscue. If you hit farther from center than the miscue
limit, the tip will slip off the ball, resulting in a poor hit. As illustrated in Diagram 1a, the miscue limit is
generally accepted to be half the ball's radius (0.5R) from center. It just so happens that many pool balls
have a stripe width that is very close to half the ball's diameter. Therefore, the edges of the stripe can help
you visualize how high or low you can safely hit the CB, assuming, of course, your tip is well chalked. But,
not all balls have the same stripe width. As shown in Diagram 1b, you can check a given set of balls by
placing three striped balls together in a triangle with the three stripes oriented in the same direction. If the
edges of the stripes align, then the stripe widths are in fact half the ball diameters and the correct size for
demarcating the miscue limit.
a.) miscue limits b.) checking stripe width