For the amateur pool player, an angled shot is easier to make than a straight shot. When the line between the cue ball and the target ball and the line between the target ball and the pocket is between about 5 degrees and 55 degrees (a moderate angle), the shooter is more likely to make the shot than if the angle is zero to 5 degrees (small or no angle) or greater than 55 degrees (a severe angle). This conclusion is based on lengthy observations of non-professional pool players.

My theory behind this observation is that the untrained eye can better visualize the point where these lines meet when there is a moderate angle between them. The point is harder to define when the lines approach one another or when the lines are at a severe angle. This is actually because of the round shape of the target ball. With a moderate angle, the area of the target ball which must be struck to sink the shot actually appears to be larger. With no angle or a small angle, the area appears smaller and thus harder to strike. With a severe angle, the area is again too small to visualize properly.

The size of the target area is actually the same in all instances, but it is the appearance of the size that allows the player the confidence to make the shot.
A friend of mine taught me a trick that helps one make angled shots. It is probably only of worth to beginner pool players, those who cannot intuitively determine where exactly to aim to make the shot (like me!).

Situation: There is not a straight line between between the pocket, the target ball, and the cue ball. The angle strays from a straight line by somewhere between 0 to 75 degrees (0 to 90 is possible, but very hard for beginners). You know you have a cut shot, but where should you aim?

How to do it: Imagine an invisible ball, being the exact same size of the target ball, touching the target ball. The invisible ball should be positioned so the pocket, the target ball, and the invisible ball are in a straight line. Now, aim the cue ball as to hit the invisible ball straight on, that is, aim for a straight line that directly hits the center of the invisible ball. Hit the cue ball at the center, or in other words, don't use english. (Although I suppose one could use draw or follow.)

I find this tip useful, but I am told that soon I will not need it. Cool ( :

If it was a game of point sources, then it would be easier. The exit point of the half-ray on the target ball is difficult to identify when the angles are small.
The invisible ball way to compensate for the full width of 1 ball is a very ingenious technique. After too many years and beers, this is the best explaination I have heard.
This is a great way to adjust to the different playing surfaces and equipment dimensions. On the same night, you might play a game on a pay pool table - that actually has a cue ball slightly larger than the others - and then move to an hourly-rated snooker table - with larger surface, tighter pockets, and smaller balls.
Everyone needs time and a technique to warm-up. Bravo.

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