(FAQ) When do you play a safety shot?

(About the Author)

Many times while playing, you face a table layout without simple options to pocket balls. There are only bad, very bad and “%?&*@#^” choices. All of us have watched as various bar bangers seize upon this opportunity to demonstrate the width and breadth of their imagination. Actually these guys provide you with an amazing educational instance of stupidity.

Some sort of silly shot will be called, often detailing three or more rails. Why do they do this? It's seems to be a bit insane to attempt something that can help lose the game. When playing idiots of this caliber, take ‘em for every dollar you can get. (Who knows? They might smarten up later and actually start thinking before shooting.)

While it’s fun to watch a bar banger address a poor table layout, you need to be the Intelligent Player and think before you shoot. When faced with a situation beyond your ability to shoot out of the situation, the proper response is to make life difficult for your opponent. And the best way to do this is to be a safety shot.

Instead of considering some low percentage shot, how about figuring out easy ways to help your opponent let you win? If you can see the object ball, you are the person in charge of the table. You can decide what kind of table layout you want to hand over to your poor unsuspecting victim.

Since all aggressive options are dependent upon billiard god luck, think of a safety shot as an opportunity to tease your opponent. With an intentional defensive play, you don't give away the game by letting your opponent come to the table. (It’s never a good idea to let billiard god luck decide whether you win or not.) Your playing philosophy must be, "Nothing for me? Nothing for you!" Play the safety shot and make your life easier.

When faced with the impossibility of running out, do some proper tactical thinking. When looking at a table layout with the intention to shoot defensively, several possible shots will be immediately available. More can be identified with another 15 seconds of thought. Tailor the safety shot selection to your personal ability and the capability of your opponent. If he has a problem with banks, set one up for him. If he can’t make a long shot, move the cue ball far, far away.

The lower the skill level of your opponent, the simpler it is to give him a near-impossible shot. Even a sharp cut on an object ball close to a pocket will give some trouble. When your opponent is a better player, your safety shot has to be a little more sophisticated. Select a defensive shot that will provide more of a challenge to your opponent.

Keep in mind two things – slow speed safety shots are 1) easier to control and 2) simple to identify. If the ending object ball position is important, put your hand on the table location and work out the cue ball/object ball angle and speed for the safety shot. If the final cue ball position is critical, put your hand on the location and work out the details.

The learning curve is very easy and quick. On the practice table, a few dozen testing shots can quickly teach you that simple solutions at slower speeds get excellent results. When you do mis-shoot, think through the shot and figure out how you should have done it.

You can win a lot more times by thinking your way through each shot in every game. A planned miss of an easy shot can often by the move that helps you beat your opponent. So there isn't any reason why you have to play stupid.