If you’re looking to improve your best break and get better at the game, knowing a few good snooker aiming techniques can make all the difference.
When people think of aiming in snooker, they generally think about potting balls and getting potting angles correct. That’s a little narrow thinking since aiming is important for every single shot you play on a snooker table – even delicate safety shots!
So, whether you want to improve your highest break or just want a better all-round game, learning snooker aiming techniques can be a great way to improve fast.
First Up – Is It Even Your Aim That’s ‘Off’?
Before we to cover snooker aiming techniques, it’s worth asking yourself the question ‘is it really your aim that needs improving’?
We all have a tendancy to believe we are cueing shots better than we are. We assume that if we miss a shot, it’s because we didn’t aim correctly.
In reality, more often than not, your aim isn’t the problem – it’s that you didn’t deliver the cue in a perfectly straight line.
Snooker is very unforgiving in this respect. Even a small unintended movement when delivering the cue can throw the shot offline, even if you aimed it perfectly.
A quick way to tell is to consider how much you miss a shot by. If you only just missed your intended shot, it’s probably a cueing error and you should focus on your stance and cue action instead.
If you miss by a long way, it’s most likely to be your aim that’s ‘off’ and so using snooker aiming techniques should help a lot.
Of course, it could be a combination of both bad aiming and bad technique, but that’s fine. Make sure you understand the basics of a good stance and cue action but don’t think too hard about it. Instead, get your aiming right, then come back to perfecting your technique when you only miss most shots by a small distance.
Snooker Aiming Technique 1 – Down The Line
The first snooker aiming technique to master is also the simplest and will form the base from which all other aiming techniques are built.
Before playing a shot, stand on the line at which the ball needs to travel to complete your shot. In the case of a pot, this would mean standing in a line directly behind the ball and intended pocket.
You should be able to draw an imaginary straight line between yourself, the ball you want to pot, and the pocket you want to pot it in.
Where this line goes through the ball you want to pot indicates where on the ball the cue ball needs to strike it to send it to the pocket.
Now, word of warning. Because the cue ball and object ball are spheres, you’ll need to adjust this point to accommodate the size of the cue ball.
The easiest way to do this when practicing is to carefully place a ball against the object ball at the spot it would need to hit to pot it. This will help you see how much adjustment is needed and over time will ensure it becomes second nature (don’t forget to remove the extra ball before playing the shot!).
This is a really basic snooker aiming technique, but it’s the most important one. You’ll even see the professionals using it on more difficult pots!
If you need extra help with finding the right contact point, there are devices like the one below available that can make it a little easier:
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Snooker Aiming Technique 2 – The Invisible Cue Ball
The next of our snooker aiming techniques takes the first one and advances it to the next level.
You’ll still need to find the right line but this technique is used when you’re down on the shot. What you’re going to do is try and ignore the cue ball.
Sounds counter-intuitive, right? Stay with us on this one!
Now, it’s only effective on shots with a relatively short distance between cue ball and object ball. It also works best on shots that are relatively near to straight.
First, make sure you get down on the shot on the right line (as per technique 1). Then, make sure you’re striking the centre of the cue ball (any side spin will change the angle).
Now, look past the cue ball and imagine the tip of your cue is going to strike the object ball at exactly the point where you want the cue ball to strike. You can now ignore the cue ball and deliver your cue as if you’re directly hitting that chosen point of the object ball with your tip.
It’s a tricky thing to get used to, and it may affect the pace you play the shot initially, but stick with it as it works very well.
The downside? The longer the distance between cue ball and object ball, the harder it gets to use this technique (at some distances it will be impossible). It only works on relative straight shots as eventually, as the angle gets wider, the centre of the cue ball will not be striking the object ball at all and so you won’t have a spot to pick out and aim for.
Snooker Aiming Technique 3 – On The Edge
Our third recommended snooker aiming technique gives a solution to one of the issues of the previous technique.
When the angle is too wide to be able to focus on a spot on the object ball, you’ll need to line up the edges of the balls.
This is particularly useful on thin cuts where the outer edge of the cue ball needs to strike close to the outer edge of the object ball.
You still pick your spot on the object ball where the cue ball needs to strike as per technique 1. However, when the spot is towards the edge, the only way it will work is when you play for the edge of the cue ball to hit that spot.
You’ll find this technique isn’t an exact science. You’ll need to practice it a lot to start making the minor subconscious adjustments that are needed to get the edge lined up in exactly the right spot each time.
This technique works best on thin cuts and gets harder the straighter the shot is.
The hardest part of this technique is ensuring you don’t put any unintentional side on the cue ball as you strike it.
Snooker Aiming Technique 4 – Laser Guided
Our fourth snooker aiming technique is perhaps a bit of a ‘cheat’ option and isn’t something you’ll be able to do during games.
However, as a practice aid to help you improve your aiming ready for a match, a laser guide can work wonders.
These are relatively cheap devices you can attach to your cue. They send a laser beam out which (after some configuration) will show the exact point on the object ball you’re aiming at.
They also have the benefit of helping you see how precise your cue action is (if the dot moves around a lot while cueing, or isn’t in the right spot after playing the shot, your cue action needs work).
The limitations are that it cannot be used during a match, the device may interfere with your cue action a little, and it cannot calculate the adjustments needed when playing spin shots (and won’t work at all for thinner shots).
Still, as a cheap aiming device that helps you understand your cue action and improve your aiming, it does an excellent job.
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Snooker Aiming Technique 5 – The Spin Doctor
This snooker aiming technique isn’t so much a technique, if we are honest. Instead, it’s more of a set of guidelines.
All the techniques we have discussed so far have assumed you’re playing the cue ball without any side spin. In reality, in order to achieve the correct position on the next shot, you’ll often have to play shots with some form of side spin.
The moment you put any amount of side on a shot, it will ‘throw’ the cue ball off the line slightly. The more side you use, the more the angle will change.
Top players automatically adjust for this on every shot. Since it’s very difficult to detect, many people are simply unaware that these adjustments are being made. It’s only when you try and replicate it in the club that you realise how difficult it is.
The key thing to remember is side will always throw the cue ball off to the opposite side of where you stuck the cue ball. In other words, if you strike the cue ball on the left, it will travel more to the right. If you strike it on the right, it will travel more to the left.
The speed at which you play the shot also matters as spin will impact slower shots more than faster ones. A long distance shot will also be more impacted by side than a short distance one because there’s more distance for the side to have an effect.
A final factor to consider is that side spin on a cue ball will slightly impact the direction the object ball travels at. That means you have to slightly adjust where you aim to hit the object ball to allow for this.
That’s a lot of things to consider and allow for, which is why playing with side is so difficult (and why accidentally adding side due to poor cueing is such a problem).
So what’s the answer? Well, firstly, never try and adjust your cueing angle after you have got down into position. You should try and allow for everything before you get down into position. This will help you see what’s going wrong easier when you miss.
Beyond that, there are no easy answers. It’s mostly about being aware of the factors at play, then practicing as much as you can. Try and learn from every shot you miss until it starts to become a natural part of your game to compensate for spin.
We recommend doing lots of different drills and routines in order to improve. One of our top-rated snooker books can help you in this area:
- Highfield, Andrew (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 160 Pages - 12/13/2017 (Publication Date) - The Crowood Press Ltd (Publisher)
Snooker Aiming Techniques – Conclusion
So, there we have it. If you follow the snooker aiming techniques discussed here, you should soon see your game start to improve.
What’s worth keeping in mind is that every missed shot is an opportunity to learn.
If you simply get frustrated and angry when you miss, you’ll find it difficult to improve. However, if you think carefully about how you played the shot and look to understand why it went wrong, you’ll be able to learn from that and try and improve for the next shot.
Thinking in this way will also help you highlight any common problems you have with how you play the game, allowing you to focus in on improving them.
Whichever techniques you choose to follow, good luck and keep at it – snooker is very much a game of skill that takes a lot of practice to perfect.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few other questions people looking for help with snooker aiming techniques sometimes ask…
What ball should you look at when playing snooker?
While it can vary from player to player, it is generally advised that while cueing back and forth before playing a shot, you should flick your eyes between the contact point you are aiming for on the object ball and the contact point you are aiming to strike the cue ball at.
Then, as you play the shot and your cue is striking the cue ball, your eyes should be looking at the object ball. More specifically, your eyes should be looking at the potting angle (e.g. contact point required) of the object ball.
How do you find the aim of a line in snooker?
To find the aim of a line in snooker, stand directly behind the object ball in a straight line to the intended pocket. To pt the ball successfully, imagine your cue ball sat touching the object ball directly behind the line of the pot.
This is where the cue ball will need to be when it strikes the object ball to send it towards the pocket.
This is such a useful technique you’ll often see professional players doing this during matches. Of course, they are so used to it they may only look down the line for a split second but the technique is the same.
How can I improve my snooker accuracy?
The best way to improve snooker accuracy is to practice a lot but also understand why you’re missing or playing each shot successfully.
That means you’ll need a good understanding of the physics of the game and how different shots and spin can impact accuracy.
Once you have a good understanding, you’ll need to practice as much as you can. Each time you play a shot give yourself a critique. What was right? What was wrong? What was the result? How can you do better next time?
By taking the time to understand the critical factor of WHY you are missing, rather than just focus on the fact you missed, you’ll soon start to improve.
What is the most important thing in snooker?
There is no single most important thing in snooker. Instead, there are numerous important things that all come together to dictate how well, or how badly, you play.
That said, if you want to start anywhere you should work on your aiming skills and your stance and cue action. Aiming is the most important as you can hit a well aligned shot badly and still pot it, but you won’t pot a well cued shot that has been aimed badly.
Once you’re satisfied with your aiming, make sure your stance is correct as this will dictate how easy you find it to perfect your cue action.
Finally, make sure you’re delivering the cue smoothly and in a straight line. This part is much more difficult than it sounds and is worth spending extra time on.
Once these three key areas are consistently good, you should notice big improvements in your game. You can then move on to more advanced techniques such as swerve shots and positional play.
How do you cue straight?
To cue straight in snooker you’ll need a good stance. This will help eliminate any unnecessary movement during the shot.
You’re aiming to only have movement in your cue arm during the shot. Everything else, including your head, should be as still as possible.
You should have 4 points of contact between your body and the cue. Your bridge hand, chin, chest, and cue hand. This helps to stabilise the cue.
Then, focus on delivering the cue in a smooth action. You should be looking to hit through the cue ball as smoothly as possible and accelerate as you do. This will ensure a good contact with the cue ball for as long as possible (without it becoming a ‘push’ shot).
Once you perfect all of these things, you should find you’re able to cue straight more often than not.
How do I get better at potting in snooker?
The best way to get better at potting in snooker is to practice, practice and then practice some more!
However, simply hitting balls around aimlessly is a really slow way to improve your game.
Much better is to take the time to learn the theory around how to get good at snooker. Then, as you practice, think about the theory and how what you’re doing matches with it.
Try and change anything that you’re doing differently to the theory and persevere with the change for a while (even if it feels odd or worse at first). After a little while, you’ll know whether it’s working for you and then can decide whether to stick with it or try something else.
For structure, it’s best to use practice drills and routines to focus on the areas that need the most improvement.
How do you aim a cue ball with spin?
When using spin on a shot, it changes how you need to aim the cue ball. Left-hand side will throw the cue ball to the right and right-hand side will throw it to the left.
Slow shots will be effected by spin more than faster shots and longer shots will give more time for the spin to take effect than shorter shots.
Finally, a spinning cue ball that strikes an object ball will send the object ball in a slightly different direction than a cue ball without spin.
You need to factor in all of these things BEFORE you get down to play the shot as adjusting your aim while already down on a shot is a big no-no.
So, how do you calculate the impact of all of these things? Unfortunately there is no quick-fix. Your best bet is to simply practice a lot, testing different variables and learning how they impact the end result.
Over time, you’ll build up a subconscious picture that will help you aim a cue ball with spin without thinking twice.