(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 it, the best 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 how to make life difficult for your opponent? 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 this as an opportunity to tease your opponent. With an intentional defensive shot, you don't give away the game by giving your opponent an easy way to win. (It’s never a good idea to let the billiard gods control your luck.) Your playing philosophy must be, "Nothing for me? Nothing for you!"

When faced with the impossibility of running out, you can go the stupid route – just pick any silly shot, come up with some fantastical path way and bang away with complete faith in your skills (and billiard god luck).

Why don’t you try to do some proper tactical thinking? Consider evaluating the table layout with the idea of leaving your opponent with either an impossible shot or at least a difficult safety shot. When you look at a table layout with the intention to shoot defensively, it is easy to identify several possible shots that are both easy to do – and will make your opponent dislike you – intensely.

More can be identified with another 15 seconds of thought. Tailor the 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 safety shot. Even a sharp cut on an object ball close to a pocket will give some trouble. When your opponent is a better player, safety shots have to be a little more sophisticated. Select a shot that will provide more of a challenge.

Keep in mind – slow speed safety shots are easier to control and simple is best. If the ending object ball position is important, put your hand on the location and work out the cue ball/object ball angle and speed. 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 shots quickly teach you that simple solutions at slower speeds get excellent results. When you do mis-shoot, think through the safety shot and figure out how you should have done it.

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