Johnny Henson, Professor Pool
Players are always looking for ways to improve their game. I have taught players over the years to practice these fun variations of 8 ball to improve their confidence, playing ability and run out percentage. A lot of players are good ball pocketers, but have trouble finishing games and running racks in competition. I came up with some fun practice games to help players build confidence and skills. These games can be used to just practice or can be used to compete against other players.
Play 8 ball using only seven balls. Rack the balls in a cluster just like you would for 7 ball, with the 8 ball in the middle, and the 8 ball racked on head spot, in order to get a good break shot. You will have three solid and three striped object balls, along with the 8 ball. Running the rack will be a maximum of four balls. This will build up confidence in running out, especially in players who have trouble finishing table runs in 8 ball. Another benefit is on a coin-op table, you get two games per pay. Example—for game one use 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 10, and 11 balls, and use 4, 5, 6, 7, 12, 13, and 14 balls for game two. Use the 7 ball as the 8 ball on the second rack as the 8 ball is already pocketed.
After you are comfortable with 7 ball, add two more balls, to increase the difficulty of this drill. Rack the balls as in 9 ball, with the 8 ball in the middle, and the 8 ball racked on head spot, in order to get a good break shot. You will have four solid and four striped object balls, along with the 8 ball. Running the rack will be a maximum of five balls. This will build up your confidence in running out, especially in players who have trouble finishing table runs in regular 8 ball.
Other variations of these games include: one ball must be banked each game, to help work on bank shots. Another variation is that the 8 ball must be pocketed in the same pocket as the last object ball by that player.
Both of these drills have less balls, congestion, and clusters than in a regular game of 8 ball. I have used these games over the years to help train students from being non table runners, to being table runners. Running a rack feels good, and makes a player feel better about their overall game. Weaker players benefit in tournaments and leagues using these games, giving many players their first table runs in competition.
Shoot the 7 ball drill until you run two to three in a row, then move to the 9 ball drill. When you can run two or three runs in a row of the 9 ball rack, you will be able to play regular 8 ball at a higher level. Have fun with these drills. Let me know if this has helped you.
Johnny Henson, Professor Pool, and Steve Farmer are both PBIA and ACS certified instructors. If you have any questions, please email me at [email protected], or call 623-377-0042. Visit our website at BilliardUniversity.com.