Stop Testing and Start Training

We all know that drills are one of the best ways to improve your game. I’ve seen countless forum posts asking how to improve and the answer is always “Do some drills”. However, different drills serve different purposes, and two of the most commonly performed drills don’t really serve the purpose you might think. So we’re going to look at the difference between drills that test how well you are playing, or how straight you are stroking, and drills that actually make you improve as you run them. There’s a big difference, and it’s important to understand this and plan your practice routine accordingly.

Testing Drills


If you’re a snooker player, you’ve undoubtedly run The Line Up many times in practice sessions, searching for a new high run. I’ve certainly spent long stretches where it seems that’s the only thing I’m doing. But is this really making you a better player?

A great test, not an all in one training drill.

Basically, if all you are doing is lining all 15 reds up and constantly trying to set a new high run and missing halfway through, I don’t think you are improving as quickly as you could be (if at all). I have seen many players whose practice is basically just this, and their progress is slow, or sometimes non-existent.

This is because the line up doesn’t really isolate any part of your game. It presents a very wide array of shots, you can pick any colour, you can play position on 15 different reds, so you must use all of your skills at once. This makes it an excellent test. A player with a high break of 120 in the line-up is probably a better player than the one who has only made a 55. But when it comes to improving that number, just the line-up is probably not going to be enough. If you get a B on a test, just taking the test over and over again probably won’t improve your score.

That being said, sometimes you are at a stage, due to putting in your time with other drills usually, where you are rapidly improving and constantly setting a new personal best in the line up. In this case there is nothing wrong with riding that wave until you come to a plateau. It’s important to get used to making higher and higher breaks. But if you haven’t set a new record in many sessions, it’s time for another plan of attack.


The pool equivalent of banging your head against the line up is The Ghost. The ghost is an excellent part of a practice routine, but too often it is used as an excuse to just bang balls. Just the same as the line up, the ghost forces you to use every single part of your game in order to succeed. You need to make shots from every angle, play every positional route you know, and hit every part of the cue ball. This is great because it forces you to use everything you know. At the same time, it’s terrible for practicing any specific part of your game, because as soon as you miss a low inside cut shot, you’re re-racking and never dedicating the time to master the shot that you missed.

If you’re not Efren this might not be the best use of your table time.

This is why the ghost is a great test of your ability, you only get one shot (and if you’re not re-racking and marking a loss after every miss you are not playing the ghost). It effectively simulates a real match. So if you miss a bank, better luck next time. But it’s not ideal for improving. That one tricky 3 rail route you’re bad at? You’ll avoid it and never get any better at it, same as every other weakness you have. So what should we do so that the next time we test ourselves against the ghost we do better?

Training Drills

I like to look to the world of fitness for ideas on how to structure practice. Imagine every single time you go to the gym, you just load the bar up as heavy as you can and try to squat the most you ever have. Is this making you stronger? You might set a couple of personal bests but it won’t last long. To get stronger you do more reps with lighter weights, work on your weak spots and sticking points, and perfect your form. Then when it comes time to peak and test, you all of a sudden can lift more than you did 2 weeks or a month ago.

You know this shot will come up every game, why not isolate it now?

The billiard equivalent is using drills that target specific parts of your game, like one rail positional shots, or stroke drills and doing a lot of them. Then use larger drills such as the line up and the ghost as a way to put those skills into action. So if you’re a pool player, before you lose to the 9 ball ghost again, why not schedule in time to practice moving up and down the table? This shot is going to come up many times during your next match against the ghost, and it’s much more efficient to practice it in isolation a hundred times in a row than to rely on improving it one shot at a time while trying to run a rack. You could also spend some time working on the Wagon Wheel to tighten up your cue ball control. Anything that lets you take a specific part of your game, isolate it, track it, and make progress.

For snooker players, you can use The Zipper to tighten up your play around the black. You can even just do specific parts of the line instead of the whole thing. Try two reds on either side of the blue. Without the other reds as a backup, you are forced to focus on one single aspect of positional play and spend some focused time improving on it. This way, the next time you’re on a 60 break and end up on the blue you will know for sure you can score an easy 24 points and continue on. Break the drill down into smaller parts that you can actually complete, and then string them all together in the full line.

You’ll get a lot more quality practice around the blue this way.

One final way that players tend to test when they should be training is with individual shots, especially Stroke Drills. If you are practicing your draw, it’s going to be a lot more effective to spend 5 minutes practicing drawing one diamond, then a diamond and a half, then two, instead of always trying to put maximum draw or follow on the ball just to test how big your stroke is. This applies to everything. If you set up this shot,

it might show you that your stroke isn’t straight, but it won’t really help in making it better. Try for shots you can make 50-80% of the time and only test the huge stroke shots when you want to show off to your buddies.

Make Time to Test and Train

These types of tests, both drills and tough shots, certainly have their place. I wouldn’t have them on the site if I didn’t think they were useful. But they should not be the only, or even the majority, of what you do when you’re at the table alone. Use them to assess your skills and discover your weaknesses. Then use smaller, focused isolation drills to get better at those things. You’ll progress much faster and when it comes time to test, you’ll feel accomplished at setting a new personal best instead of frustrated by failing in the same spot.

The 5 Most Important Beginner Pool Fundamentals

Beginner Pool and Snooker Lessons Part 1

This beginner pool lesson covers the most important fundamentals for a novice player to master before moving on to more advanced techniques.

I was lucky enough to spend my university years working in a pool hall. As such, it was my duty to settle rule disputes for new players, and give many players their first ever pool lesson. I’ve shown enough novices the basics to notice that there are some easy to learn fundamentals that will allow a beginner to quickly beat other casual players and be on the road to becoming a serious player. Those I taught that learned even just a proper bridge and how to keep a level cue almost immediately moved past their friends.

So what I want to give you is what I have found to be the best bang for your buck fundamentals in the order a beginner should learn them. These are the basics that can be quickly incorporated into your game while providing the greatest immediate benefit. They are all about maximizing your chances of making any given shot, keeping you at the table and your opponent in their chair. If you are looking to join your first league, get serious about the game, or just beat your friends in the bar, these 5 things are the most vital to being successful in snooker, pool or any cue sport. Master these and you will virtually always beat those who haven’t.

Check out our drills to hone these fundamentals and improve all aspects of your game.

#1 Use the Pro Bridge

The easiest way to tell if someone knows what they’re doing or not at a table is to look at their bridge hand. Good players all do pretty much the same thing. This is because it works and is absolutely vital to making the balls go where you want. Luckily, it is actually quite easy to learn, just follow these steps.

Assuming you are right handed, lay your left hand flat on the table. I’m a lefty so this is my right hand.

Next, spread your fingers, not quite as wide as possible, but fairly spread out.

A wider base provides a more stable bridge

Now, raise your knuckles off the ground. Your fingertips and heel of your hand should stay firmly planted on the table.

The middle of your hand rises, leaving the heel of the palm and fingers on the table.

Finally, the thumb. Place the joint of your thumb against the side of the knuckle of your index finger. Flex your thumb back so it is pointing upwards. This creates a groove where your cue will slide, so squeeze your thumb tightly enough against your hand so that it cannot move.

Your thumb and first knuckle create the channel for your cue.

There you have it, the bridge that has won every snooker world championship ever played and will help you win more games. The key points are: keep your thumb tight, don’t let it move, and keep the heel of your hand on the table.

Don’t do this.

You may have seen a bridge like this,

it works and has some benefits down the line, but it’s harder and not necessary right now. The basic, easy, open bridge will serve you right up to the highest levels of play. Master it and you will instantly have an immense advantage over anyone using an improper bridge.

#2 Keep a Level Cue

Have you ever lined up for a straightforward shot, and after you hit it the cue ball seems to swerve all over the table before missing where you were aiming entirely? The culprit here is almost certainly a “jacked up” cue. You should always try to keep the cue as close to perfectly level with the ground as possible.

A level cue ensures the cue ball goes where you aim.
Shooting with your cue on the red line will cause unnecessary misses.

Basically, an elevated cue exaggerates the effects of sidespin, causing the cue ball to veer off course. In contrast, a level cue will make the cue ball go where you aim it. Any elevation will cause the ball to swerve and you to likely miss the shot. Perfectly level isn’t possible but always try to be as level as possible. I’ve seen reasonably talented bar players that would instantly play several balls better if they simply followed this rule. Also important to note, raising the back of the cue will not help you draw the cue ball backwards. There are very limited circumstances where your cue should be anything but level.

#3 Use the Ideal Backhand Position

So we’ve got our front hand figured out, cue nice and level, what about the back hand? The ideal position, and one that very few beginners naturally use, is to have your backhand form a 90 degree angle with your cue.

Your back forearm and the cue create a 90 degree angle.

What this means is, as you are down on the shot and the tip of your cue is almost touching the cue ball, your backhand should be pointing more or less straight at the ground.

This position makes it so that when you actually strike the white, your arm is in the optimal position for generating force and hitting the target accurately. Of all basic fundamentals, this one might be the hardest to get used to, but the benefit is massive. For most people, it does not feel natural right away and there is a tendency to choke up on the cue, or hold the very end of the butt. But once you get used to this position you’ll find that swinging through the cue ball feels much more natural and you will be far more accurate.

Having your backhand too choked up on the cue limits power and accuracy.
At this angle it is impossible to smoothly stroke through the cue ball.

#4 Hit the Center of the Cue Ball

Our first three tips basically cover the most important aspects of positioning your body. Where your two hands go, and how the cue is positioned. Now for actually striking the cue ball. If you want to maximize your chance of making any given shot, the best thing you can do is to try to hit slightly above the center of the cue ball.

This position maximizes your shot making chances.

You might know that hitting the bottom can create backspin, pulling the cueball back, or that hitting the sides can change the angle of the ball off the rail. But as beginner, these are to be avoided, especially in game situations. Deviating from a center ball hit, especially to the side, adds variables that create unnecessary difficulty in the shot. At higher levels, off-center hits are vital to running out, but if you want to make more balls right now, stick to the middle. Hitting just above the center lets the natural roll of the ball keep it rolling straight and allows for a more level cue.

#5 Shoot “Pocket Speed”

Easily the number one mistake beginner and even fairly high-level intermediate players make is just shooting too hard. Just like throwing a ball, the harder you try to shoot, the harder it is to make the ball go exactly where you want it to go. Try lobbing a piece of paper into a garbage can and then throwing it as hard as you can. Which one went in?

Hitting too hard makes balls that might drop rattle out of the pocket.

If you watch really high-level players, you’ll find that they all have the ability to hit very hard, but rarely do. If you want to make more shots and win more games, shoot softly, hit the center of the cue ball, and the balls will go where you want them to.

Even if your aim is a bit off, a light touch can make the ball drop.

Not only will your shots be more accurate, soft shooting greatly increases your margin for error on many shots. What this means is, a shot that rattled and flew out of the pocket at high speeds, likely would have dropped if hit just hard enough to go in. We call this “pocket speed” or the minimum speed required to make the shot. Shooting this way means more of your balls go in and even if you miss, your balls will cover the pocket, meaning your opponent can’t make theirs! Of course, sometimes hitting harder is needed to play position on your next shot, but the general rule of always hitting as soft as the shot allows still applies.

In 8 ball, covering the pocket when you miss makes it very hard for your opponent to run out.


There you have it, 5 key fundamentals that you can bring to the table the next time you play to shoot better. Use the pro bridge, keep a level cue with your back arm pointing at the ground, and softly hit the center of the cue ball. Mastering these techniques will make you a formidable player in any bar and give you the foundation to move on to more advanced techniques. Stroke Drills are a great way to solidify these fundamentals and make your game more consistent.

As you develop as a player you will discover all sorts of situations where you must break these rules. So, subscribe at the bottom of this page for updates in this beginner series where we cover foot position, grip, and more. Thanks for reading and play well.

Who is the Greatest Snooker Player of All Time?

If you are looking to improve your game, try our Snooker Drills.

What’s a World Championship Worth?

With Ronnie in form and the World Championship here, a common discussion among snooker enthusiasts is, who is the GOAT and what is a World Championship worth? To some, Hendry’s 7 World Titles is the pinnacle of the sport and, until that record is beaten, he is the undisputed greatest. Others see Ronnie’s 5 Titles and 1000+ centuries as superior. With these conversations, the topic of the standard of play is often brought up. Some, myself included, believe it has improved vastly since players like Steve Davis and Hendry dominated the game and therefore a World Championship means more today than it did 20 or 30 years ago. Others believe that the standard of safety and match play has actually dropped and that prime Davis would do even better in the modern game!

Luckily for us, snooker is a game of statistics. Although 1-1 comparisons are difficult (as will be addressed later) break stats help us look at how effective players in different decades were at potting balls and controlling the white. For this analysis, I’m using CueTracker statistics to see if the standard of play has improved, and therefore if it’s harder to win a World Championship today. From this, we can see if the greats of the past would have had the same level of achievement if they brought their best game to the present.


Since it’s 2019, my sample will be the last season of each decade back to 1979, the end (and presumably best) of each decade. We will take a look at century stats and 50+ breaks, and discuss if those really tell us enough about how well players played. The focus of these discussions is usually Ronnie Vs Hendry, but I’m also going to focus on how well the entire professional field was playing. This should give us a feel of the level of play required to win a World title, not just how good the top player was. We will start with everyone’s favourite stat, century rate.


With Ronnie recently breaking the 1000 mark, centuries are a hot topic of discussion. It’s fairly common knowledge that players like Trump and Ronnie make centuries at the highest pace ever recorded, but what’s the average like?

Average frames required per century by year

From 1979-1999, players averaged somewhere around 1 century per 40 frames played, dropping to 18 in 2009 and 12 and 2019. So this season players are making 100+ breaks 3 times as often as they were before 2000. Put another way, in 1999, unless you matched with Steven Hendry, your opponent was likely to make 1 or fewer centuries over the course of the match. Now, in any long form given match against any player, you could expect 3 centuries against you. Ronnie’s current century rate is 6 times better than the 1999 average but only double the current.

It’s interesting that the century rate actually got worse between 1979 and 1989. Instead of players getting worse, this is likely because 1979 only had 52 active players, so the average is really for the top 50. 1989 had over 200 active players, which pulls the average down. Still, 2019 includes almost 500 active players and events like qualifiers and Q school, making the overall 1 in 12 century rate even more impressive.

The best century rate achieved by one player each year

When looking at just the best century rate each year, we get a very similar story. Not only does the average improve every season, but the best players have to play better every season to stay on top. What was dominant in 1999 is already below average. Since the field and top rates are both improving every decade, it seems that the level of play required to win a World Title must naturally be higher as well.

So it is clear that the standard of play in terms of centuries has dramatically improved. Although, some think this is a rather meaningless stat. I have heard that players in the ’80s and ’90s weren’t really trying to get centuries because they didn’t care all that much about them. I believe the fact that 100+ breaks became more common between 2009 and 2019 disproves this as the reason. In 2009, everyone wanted to run centuries, the post-Hendry attacking style of play was in full swing, and still, ten years later players are 50% better at making tons. Clearly then, in the last decade, the standard of play has improved. So it is fair to assume that in the last 20 years the improvement has been even greater.

50+ Breaks

Still, centuries do not win frames. By the time a 100 is made the frame is well over and it is possible players try harder for them now. Instead we can look at frame-winning breaks. Scoring a 50+ in one visit tends to secure the frame, and the players that do it the most often are usually the most successful. Here are the best at doing that by year.

The player with the best 50+ rate and their chance at making one in any given frame.

Here we see who had the best 50+ break percentage by year, and what it was. As you can see, there has been a steady improvement from Davis’s 25% (1 50+ in every 4 frames played) to Ronnie’s current 51% (1 50+ in every 2 frames played). It’s interesting that the player with the best percentage each year is also the commonly accepted best player of each generation, indicating that 50+ breaks are a very good measure of how successful players are.

This stat also gives us a good way to measure how competitive peak Davis and Hendry would be in today’s game. At his best in the mid-1980s, Steve Davis made 50+ breaks in around 30% of frames he played in, which would put him somewhere around 40-50th this year. Hendry’s 1999 37% puts him around 15th. Clearly, both players would be competitive in the modern game, but the break-building prowess that earned them to 6 and 7 World titles respectively would not be enough to dominate modern players. Put another way, if you sent 67th ranked, 22-year-old Zhao Xintong back in time to 1999, he would be the best break builder in the world.

Comparing the best break builder of each year to the next ten best, we see that the top ten on average tend to play close to as well as the best player a decade prior. The top ten players (excluding Hendry) of 1989 put up similar breaks for Davis’ dominate 1979 performance. Looking to 2019, any one of the best ten players this year would have been virtually unplayable just 30 years ago. Perhaps in 2029, we will see many players hit the 50% mark Ronnie has this season.

Table Conditions, Styles of Play, and Safety

The common answer to why players make bigger breaks now is that the table conditions have improved. It is certainly true that a table in 2019 is faster and therefore reds are easier to break open than in 1979. But what about in 2009? What major changes have taken place since then? Even with no major changes in equipment, break building is improving for both elite players and the entire professional field. Decade by decade, and even year by year, even in the absence of table condition changes, players get better at making big breaks.

Play style is another often touted reason for low breaks in the past. The idea being that players were happy with a 40 or 50 and hiding instead of trying to finish the frame in one go. This is undoubtedly true, players play far more aggressive now, but why were the players of the past satisfied with a lower break? Modern players don’t shoot 4 blacks and hide instead of cracking open the pack because in the modern game that is not a winning strategy. Letting your opponent back to the table, even in a snooker, when they make 50+ breaks 40% of the frames they play in is dangerous. In Davis’s era, the reason that play style was effective is simply that the players were weaker, it was unlikely that leaving a long red on would mean you did not return to the table. The difference in play style then is actually proof of the increase in the standard of play, not a refutation of it.

Finally, safety play. Were Steve Davis and his peers better defensive players than Trump, Ding, or Robertson? Maybe. Unfortunately, I do not know of any stats that cover this. What I do know is successful safety play involves 3 things: seeing the shot, controlling the white, and controlling the object ball. The latter 2 are also the key components of break building, so it stands to reason that great break builders like Trump and Ding also have the ability to play great safety shots. Does anyone doubt that Ding, or really any modern pro is able to place the cueball exactly where he wants on the table?

In addition, when all players are better at putting together frame-winning breaks, playing good safeties is even more important, so why would modern players be worse at it? They may choose to play safe less often, but they are doing so because aggressive play and frame-winning breaks are the most successful strategies against the current standard of play.


The point of this analysis is certainly not to disparage the greats of the past. My favourite player is easily Steve Davis. In fact, I believe if you brought a teenage Steve Davis to the present, he would, within a few years, play as well as anyone in the top 8 today. The level that won him 6 World Championships, however, would not be enough. The same can be said of Stephen Hendry. These players changed the way the game is played and are the reason that modern players play so well; they have had the benefit of learning from the greats. Reardon, Davis, and Hendry dominated at a level that Ronnie may never reach, but the current competition simply plays the game better than ever before.

What I hope you take away from this then, is a greater appreciation for the fact that we are lucky enough to see the best snooker ever being played. Any player capable of winning the 2019 World Championship plays to a standard that would have dominated the 20th-century game. Players like Ding and Trump have not, and may never win a World Title, but in the “Golden Age” of Snooker may have never lost. Even middling players struggling to earn a living play with a level of precision that would have been unimaginable to Fred Davis and Ray Reardon. What do future generations have in store for us?

For more analysis, lessons, and drills subscribe to the CueDrills email list at the bottom of the page.

One of the most fundamental and least understood aspects of improving in cue sports is learning how to practice. Other sports have practice down to a science. In football or hockey, for instance, every action is broken down into its smallest parts and polished to perfection. This results in a movement that is completely controlled and highly repeatable. You don’t develop a slapshot by playing a bunch of games and hoping it gets better, but by isolating it and perfecting it.

In pool, however, we are still a little in the dark ages in terms of practice. Many players do almost no practice beyond playing games against their buddies or themselves. The problem with this is you never isolate the most important parts of the game and give them the time and focus they deserve. It’s kind of like going into the gym and just doing random exercises for 1 rep. No surprise you aren’t any stronger a year later. Instead, you can systematically approach practice with a plan and a program to ensure you keep getting better all the time. Luckily, in all cuesports, there are shots and patterns that come up again and again, so they are relatively easy to isolate and, with a little thought, put together a plan of attack to master.


The best way to do this is through drills. Drills are a shot, or series of shots, that you can set up the same way every time, track your success in, and repeat them until they are mastered. Some people might say they get bored by drills, but I think that is mostly because they haven’t done drills this way. Using the principles outlined here, drills have all the pressure and challenge of a match, while ensuring you are getting better every time you play. Besides, I think the really fun part of pool or snooker is running out in a big match and drills make you do that more often. Here is a short guide on how to get the most out of the drills on this site.

To start, set the balls up as shown as closely as possible. Be precise. When resetting a drill, do your best to reset the balls exactly as shown. If a ball doesn’t pass into a pocket, there is a reason why. Using paper hole reinforcements is a great way to ensure that the balls are in the same place every time. Set them up and the beginning of the drill to make it quick and easy to get the proper set up every time. Sloppiness in the set up defeats the purpose of having a set shot or series of shots that you perfect by shooting the same way every time. This is especially true if you are working on just a single shot. You will get much more out of the practice if that shot is the exact same every time you shoot it.

Stroke Drills

When choosing what drills to do, you should always start with stroke drills. If there’s one thing you learn from this site, I hope it is that the stroke is the most important part of any game involving a cue. These stroke drills are designed to get you stroking straight and groove your stroke so it stays straight, even when the pressure is on. If you are just starting out with drills, do the stroke drills first. If a straight in shot, or shooting up the spots is challenging then this is something you should address before really diving into the other drills. You can still do the other ones, but the majority of your time should be spent getting your stroke in line first. If you feel comfortable and confident with them, they should still be a part of every practice session. Start each session with basic stroke drills to make sure you’re cueing well before moving on to the more challenging parts of your routine. It’s always a good idea to practice your stroke at home whenever you get a chance as well.

up the spots
Stroke drills should be a part of every practice session, especially for beginners.

Drill Selection

When deciding which drills or variations to incorporate into your practice, the golden rule is to start easy. All the drills on this site are labelled as beginner, intermediate, or advanced. No matter how good you think you are, start with the beginner drills and master them before moving on. The best players all have one thing in common, they are consistent. Consistent players win tournaments and are very hard to beat. Having more successes with an easier drill is a better way to build consistency than struggling with a drill that is beyond your skill level. Of course, you want to challenge yourself, but starting easy is the best way to find out what drills are going to give you the most bang for your buck.

Success Rate

Putting it into more concrete terms, when practicing, you should be shooting for a 50-80% success rate. That long masse that you make 1/20 times? Not an effective use of your time. A hanger that you make 100 times in a row? You aren’t getting better that way. Shooting shots (or entire drills) that you can do more than 50 but less than 80 percent of the time matches the challenge to your skill level. When you are adequately challenged, but still doing something within your ability, this is the recipe for “getting in the zone”. It also gives you an easy goal, take something you can do half the time, and work it until its something you can do almost every time.

With working on specific shots, this is easy. If you are making a shot 40% of the time, make it a little easier by moving the object ball closer to the pocket, or the cue ball closer to the object ball. If you make it 90% of the time make it more challenging by adding distance or adding a positional target to get into that 50-80% success zone.

straight in
When you can make this shot over 80% of the time, use a different cue ball or object ball position to make it more difficult.

Running drills this way is a little trickier. Even a fairly easy drill can be quite difficult to run 80% of the time, and limiting yourself to only drills you can do half the time might mean you don’t have very many drills that you can do. Instead, try finding drills that you can consistently complete at least half of. If you can’t get halfway through it, it is likely too difficult, but as long as you are having success with the majority of the drill, it is still falling in that zone of success. Work on taking these drills from one success in a session to many, and eventually to completing it the majority of the time. Don’t take this as a licence to bang away at drills that are much beyond your skill level, be honest about working in that effective range.

line up
If you can’t routinely get halfway through a drill like this, use fewer balls or an easier variation until you can.


The best way to keep yourself honest is to track. Tracking your drills gives you an absolute measure of your own improvement and lets you know which areas you need to work on most. Tracking is probably the most effective but least utilized technique in practice. It works, there is no question about it. It holds you accountable and is objective and honest. But it is tough to admit your failures and mark them down on a piece of paper. If you can get over it and be honest with yourself, you will see a big improvement in your practice, and in your game. Try using our free fillable PDF tracking sheet that links to all the drills on the site and allows for easy tracking from your phone.

Drills that you know you can complete regularly should be reset after every miss. The goal in most cue sports is to clear the table, and resetting every time is the best way to practice getting in a runout mindset. As noted above, however, some drills you will not be running out very consistently and shouldn’t be reset every time. Instead find out where the problem area lies, a certain positional shot, or a shot that is giving you trouble, and work on it in isolation. Once you’ve conquered your sticking points you can go back to attempting to run the table completely. Be aware though, if you are missing a lot in a drill, it may be a better use of your time to use an easier version and get more completions in.

Time Limits

You should also give yourself a time limit for every drill, I recommend 10-20 minutes for drills, and 5 for specific shots and stroke drills. This does a few things. First, it keeps you from banging away at something that just isn’t working. We all get frustrated, and it’s easy to just get worked up and keep trying a drill all night with little success. The timer gives you a point to move on and try something new. Second, it keeps you focused. The timer gives you a time when you have to stop, so putting pressure on you to succeed in that time frame or beat your best score. It also stops you from getting distracted shooting random shots. Finally, it gives you a good baseline to track from. If you do everything for the same amount of time, its easy to tell if you’re getting better at it because you will complete the drill more often in the same timeframe.

So that’s how you to run drills effectively. You find a drill within your skill level, set the balls up, set a timer, and track your successes. Sound like a lot of work? In a way it is, it’s more work than just playing without a plan, but in the long run, I think it’s actually a much easier way to practice. You will get better so much faster and experience so much less frustration this way. I think constant improvement is easier to live with than stagnation. Streamlining your practice like this will also save you a lot of money on table time!


Now that you know how to run drills, the last thing you need to do is string some of these together to form a practice routine. As noted before, all routine should begin with stroke drills to get you cueing well before trying to run balls. From there, it’s up to you to decide which areas you need to work on and decide which drills will help you. All the drills on this page have variations for any level of player and will improve your game if you apply the lessons learned here. For an in-depth explanation of how to create an effective routine and some samples, click here.

Thanks for reading, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comments. Play well.