The Basic Shots of Snooker

On this page we shall outline by way of diagrams the basic shots of the game, including the breakoff, safety shots and shots to nothing, potting techniques, etc. This page is intended for those just taking up the game, in response to a number of requests. Obviously you will need to practise these on a real table before using them in a match game. Please e-mail us with suggestions for other aspects you would like to see. We shall be adding to this page in the future, so come back for more basics!

The Break-off

{short description of image}The opening shot must be played from within the 'D', usually between the brown and yellow. There are two basic ways to play the shot: (1) hit the end red plain ball and bring the white down the right hand side of the table as close to the baulk (bottom) cushion as possible. Or (2) hit the second red from the top (as shown) with some right-hand side to swing the cue-ball around the cushions, missing the blue on the top side, to finish somewhere behind the green. The red should be hit fairly thin, as too thick, or too much side, could go in-off or rattle in the right-hand top pocket. This shot can also be played from between the brown and green, hitting the left hand side of the pack of reds, and using left-hand side (the reverse of shot (2) above).

Note: 'plain ball' means striking the white ball in the centre, whereas the white is struck to the right or left of centre for 'side' shots. In other words, for right-hand side, strike the white to the right of centre, and for left-hand side strike it to the left of centre. Do not attempt to use side until you can strike the ball well in the centre. It is best to use break-off (1) until you can use side correctly.

Safety Shots

safety 1 jpg Often at the start of a frame you must wait for a potting chance, and both players will put their opponent in as many difficult positions as possible in order to gain an opening. The position left here is a typical example. There are no pots on except ones where, if taken on and missed, the opponent will probably be left a good chance. Therefore, the best shot is a thin clip off the left-hand red to return the white as near to the bottom cushion as possible, leaving the opponent with another difficult shot. The aim is to avoid colliding with other balls, so the balls to the extreme left or right are chosen, unless there is a gap to return from another red. If the white were on the right-hand side of the table, then the extreme right-hand red would be played. Care must be taken to avoid the jaw of the corner pocket, so a very fine contact is needed.
safety 2 gifSometimes you will find yourself with no pot and no obvious safety shot from the main pack of reds. In the diagram there is no return from the right-hand side of the table, and the safety from the two reds to the left of the black is blocked by the red near the corner pocket. This red also presents a very tricky contact. A shot often overlooked is the thin safety off the red near the side cushion. This must be hit very thin to avoid a double kiss, and also needs some left hand side to correct its path back down the left-hand side of the table. If no side is applied a collision with the reds is almost certain. Aim slightly thinner than you would expect to allow for the application of side. A rewarding shot when well played, but it can easily go wrong!

Shot Selection

shot selection gif Often in a frame the selection of shot to play can decide the eventual outcome of the frame itself. In the diagram attempting to pot shot C will almost certainly result in an easy leave for the opponent if missed. Shot B, attempting the red into the top right pocket, presents a slightly better choice, as it is an easier pot, but, if missed, the cue ball is likely to collide with either the blue or the reds in the middle of the table. Shot A is the best alternative, as it allows an attempt at the pot with a good chance of returning to the baulk end at the same time. This is a good example of a 'shot to nothing'. The only problem is that if the red is potted, there is no easy colour to follow. If the ball is struck slightly less hard, it could well finish on a baulk colour without leaving an easy ball if the red does not go down. Choice of the correct shot is very important in your tactical approach.

Breakbuilding - Breaking the Pack
breaking the pack gifIn order to continue a break, it is often necessary to dislodge some reds from a closely packed bunch. Beware - only try this if you are an equally good or better potter than your opponent. Otherwise it could be disastrous! It is usually advisable to break the pack when potting a colour, the most popular being black or blue. In shot A, finish on the black about parallel with the top cushion. Pot the black and screw into the pack. This is more difficult if the top reds are in a line across. In shot B, finish below the black and rebound from the top cushion into the pack. Shot C shows a pot on the blue, stunning full-ball into the pink, which breaks the reds. Beware of hitting the pink too thin, as an in-off often results! In shot D, pot the green and come off the side cushion. Some screw and right-hand side will probably be needed. As stated, you need to be confident and a good potter to use these shots. But you do want to improve, don't you?

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