When I first started learning to play pool, I was often faced with the problem of the "break": not hard enough, too hard, wrong position, bad bridge, bad aim, etc.
Basically, there were so many factors to take into account that I needed to quickly pick up tips on how to break well.
OK, because I'm nice, I'll share my six useful steps that you can easily apply to your American pool or English pool (also known as blackball) matches. By the end of this article, you'll be unbeatable on the break!
So what is the break? The break involves hitting your first ball - the cue ball - into the 15 other balls which are in a rack in the shape of a triangle (numbered for American pool, red and yellow in English pool) in order to start play.
Step 1: The position of the balls and placement of the cue ball (white ball) when breaking in pool
First of all, make sure the 15 balls are correctly racked, and in particular that they are all in contact with each other (especially the first one). A gap between two balls, even if it's very small, could ruin your tactics by limiting the force of the impact. As for your cue ball (the white ball), you can place it wherever you like within the break box (generally indicated by a line).
Top tips from "Billard d'Or" player Corentin
To break well in pool, I recommend not putting the cue ball right in the centre: this area is often very worn and can easily mess up your shot by making the ball bounce slightly. Placing your cue ball to one side will distribute the force of the impact unevenly so that the balls spread out nicely. Remember though, don't hit the head ball straight on as you could lose control of your cue ball.
Step 2: Chalk!
Above all, don't forget to use chalk! Chalk is essential and will give the tip of your cue more grip. This means you'll have better control over your shot and the cue won't slide off the ball.
Step 3: To break well in pool, get in the right position!
Be comfortable! Get into a position where you feel comfortable. For more precision, we recommend putting 1 foot in front of the other in line with your pool cue. A wider position will give you more stability. Next, bring your chin close to your pool cue and bend your knees.
Step 4: The importance of the bridge when breaking
But what is a bridge? A bridge is your hand position, which stabilises the front of your pool cue so that your shots are more stable and precise.
Your bridge should be placed firmly against the table.
In American pool, the pockets are much wider and , generally, the cue ball moves around a lot more because the table is much bigger.
A closed bridge gives you more powerful shots and a smoother, more supported stroke.
For the break, a closed bridge (thumb and index touching and resting on the middle finger) is the best choice.
An open bridge is recommended, with your hand flat and the cue between your thumb and index finger. The open bridge is mainly recommended because the balls are smaller and a closed bridge could mess up your aim
Step 5: Adjust the distance between the cue ball and the bridge
The distance between the cue ball and your bridge will change the amount of power you give the cue ball. Make sure the distance isn't too big as it could affect your accuracy. The "ideal" distance between your bridge and the cue ball is 25 to 30 cm. This is bigger than for a normal shot and means you can break from a wider angle. We recommend trying things out until you find a distance that works well for you.
Step 6: Aiming and shooting
Hold your queue at the very end (back) for a fuller movement, and make sure you have a firm grip. Aim slightly below the middle of the ball so that it doesn't roll back towards you too much after it makes contact.
Ideally, you want it to come back into the centre of the table so you have as many options as possible for your first shot (if it's in the centre, you have a wide field open to you) Before you prepare to take your shot (when you'll move your hand back and forth in a few warm-up strokes), take a quick look at your cue ball and the head ball (the one at the top of the triangle) and, once you feel comfortable, aim your shot at that front ball!
Start warming up your stroke with three back-and-forth movements, then shoot! The tip should come into contact with the cue ball just as your arm goes through a vertical position. As you take your shot, lift your body to give the cue ball more power and increase the impact with the other balls.
Now you know everything there is to know, you'll be breaking like the pros!