Miscues occur when the cue tip contacts the cue ball and does not "grab". When that happens, the tip slips off of the cue ball which then travels in strange directions. There is a certain sound that accompanies the miscue. If there are others around, everyone will look at you. The only way to get them to look away is to pretend it wasn’t you.
There are two reasons why a miscue occurs. The first (and most common) is because your cue tip is NOT chalked properly. At the moment of contact, chalk acts a bit like an adhesive, using friction to hold tip and ball together for that instant - long enough to get the intended cue ball spin.
To add to your internal shame, you are showered with various insulting comments - the least of which is, "Chalk is cheap!". But it is the sound of the miscue that echoes across the room. Everyone, on hearing it, immediately identifies you as the perpetrator.
These are excellent motivators to acquire the good habit of chalking on every shot. When you have your own personal chalk (i.e., chalk on a stick), the habit is easy to acquire.
To properly chalk, use gentle strokes with the edge of the cube across the cue tip as you rotate your stick. Then inspect it closely to make sure the coating is even. Besides, It just looks stupid to try to drill a hole in the cube while not making sure it covers.
The second reason for a miscue is when you try to put excessive spin on the cue ball. The contact point is so far out from center that there isn't enough of the cue tip surface to properly hold onto the ball during the contact. Just like lack of chalk, the tip skitters away with the embarrassing sound and unpredictable cue ball activity.
The single greatest motivations to lovingly coat your tip with chalk is this: on any miscue, you get to sit down and watch your opponent. First he gives you that "glance of pity". Then while you suffer internal shame, he gets to take over the table.
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