(This is today's bit of advice from the book Safety Toolbox.)
When you decide that the best shot for the circumstances is a safety, there are a wide variety of factors to be evaluated. These considerations are necessary to help fine tune your options and select the most effective shot within your skills.
KNOW the table conditions
Every table has its own unique characteristics. A game can be lost when these conditions are unknown. Each one requires slight modifications in shooting style and shot selection. Playing on a wide variety of tables makes most adjustments almost automatic.
When coming to a table upon which you have no experience, always shoot a few shots to identify any obvious variances. Table conditions that affect your game are:
- It is important to know the bounce factor in order to predict ball travel after the bounce.
- Thicker cloth means shorter ball roll distances. Cloth that is damaged or repaired or worn out throws off ball roll direction. A lot of chalk dust embedded in the cloth causes unpredictable ball behavior.
- Table level. A poorly leveled table causes rolling balls to move in unpredictable curves and directions. As you become familiar with the eccentricities, you can play some of these to your advantage.
- Heat and cold affects cushion responses and ball roll distances. High humidity slows down rolling balls - a lot.
- Well-cleaned balls roll further. Dirty balls cling together on contact which throws the ball in deviant paths.
Knowing table conditions allows you to turn them to your advantage and against an opponent who isn't paying attention. Where possible, learn about them before you start the match. It becomes one more factor to be used to make the competition more fun.