(FAQ) How do you learn ball speeds on different tables?

(About the Author)

When you play regularly on the same table (or tables), you pretty much have a dialed in stick speed standard for that table. You know how far the cue ball will go on a lag shot. When you can cut a ball into a corner, you “know” what speed is necessary to pocket the ball and come off the cushion into rough position for the next shot. For you, these are part of your natural shots, and the calculations for the shot hardly require any effort.

When you come across a strange table that has a different cloth, the rolls are going to be affected. Your stick speed with all of its predictability goes out the window, along with a good portion of your confidence. If the table change is made suddenly, there is even a little bit of disorientation.

To remedy this situation, you need to figure out what the differences are when compared to your usual table. Whether the table speed differences are, it will be a consistent numerical factor. For a slower cloth, the factor will above 1. If the cloth is faster, it will be a fraction.

For example, a slow cloth will require half again the stick speed to get the same results as your regular table. That makes the factor to be 150%. A faster table might require 1/4 less effort to travel the same distance. The factor is 75%.

If you have a chance to practice a few minutes on the different table, use it for distance and speed experiments. If there was no opportunity to play around on the table, use the first half dozen shots. If you opponent is comfortable with the table, carefully watch the speed of his strokes and how long it will take the balls to stop.

With the results of these several shots combined with your observations, you can mentally dial in the stick speed adjustments. These modifications will allow you to get almost the exact same control as your original table. The control will be rough for a few times around the table, but will smooth out by the end of the second rack. You’ll be knocking balls around the table like this was where you spent the last year shooting balls.

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