(S&D) Safety & Defense - Safety Mistakes

(About the author)

Safety Toolbox (Advanced)

(This is today's bit of advice from the book Safety Toolbox.)

In most offensive circumstances, all you need for the next shot is an angle on the next object ball. (Of course, some angles are better than others - but any angle is better than no angle.) Offensive shots imply that you are playing a pattern and intend to make the current shot and continue with the next ball.

On the other hand, the goal is different for defensive situations. After you complete the shot, you are allowing your opponent to play. Your intention is to give him a miserable opportunity. Play your defensive choices with careful control of cue ball speed, spin, and angle.

When you select an offensive or defensive shot, always have an idea of the perfect result. You can proceed without difficulties as long as your fantasy matches the reality. But when reality does not align with the picture in your head, you have a problem. How much of a problem depends on how badly you screwed up.

Most people, when they make this kind of error, do not want to recognize just how stupid they were. They will attempt to bury the experience into a part of their mind they do not like to visit – the mistakes graveyard.

As the smart player, you do the opposite. When your reality doesn't match your fantasy, you pick apart the shot and how it was executed. When you find the error (usually several), overlay the real shot with your imagined solution. This process allows you to learn from your mistakes.

Before you shoot, you want to have a clear image of the expected results. Always try to select a shot that you have practiced and have experience applying the correct speed and spin. If the best choice is not already known, extend the experience of a similar shot. This allows you to have some realistic expectations of success.

What can go wrong

There are so many ways that good intentions can go bad. Let's consider some ways that defensive efforts can fail. Generally, several mistakes are made on the same shot. These can fall into different areas, such as table analysis, shot selection, pre-shot routine, shot execution, and the most common of all - unreal expectations. All failures are opportunities to learn.

Here are some mental errors:

  • Not considering other shots.
  • Not thinking out the full paths and angles of the shot.
  • Energy transfer miscalculation.
  • Unconscious decision to be
  • Got lazy (especially against lesser players).

Here are some execution errors:

  • Cue ball traveled too far or came up short.
  • Cue ball spin did not get the expected angle off the rail.
  • Object ball travels too far or too short.
  • Not mentally practicing the shot.
  • Unplanned object ball contact.

Some ALWAYS factors

Here are a few tips to reduce the total number of mistakes you could make during a match:

  • Simplest options are usually the best. Avoid complicated choices.
  • Think through the entire shot from the beginning to the final resting positions of all the balls. Do it twice.
  • Pay close attention to controlling the critical ball.
  • Strive for perfection, but be aware of tolerances.


You can't afford to be lazy about mastering ball control. This is your secret to offensive and defensive success. The very least practice time should be 20-30 minutes a week - specifically on ball control. This slowly increases your winning percentages. Just that little bit of work has huge dividends over a year. It is your constant effort to develop yourself that drives your growth.

Until that far-off day when you have perfect control, sometimes your opponent takes advantage of an error on your part to win. Regardless of your actual current skills, the thinking and calculating processes are the most important. At the very least, keep the pressure on your opponent. Use every opportunity to give him a chance to help you.


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