Play Your Best Nine Ball
by Phil Capelle
First Edition by Billiards Press
Chapter 2 “The Break”
Breaking a rack of Nine-Ball is sort of like a golfer’s Putting or a basketball player’s
Jump Shot; sometimes you’ve got it & sometimes you don’t.
The Pros work on their Break as much as any other single shot and yet, as examples
demonstrate, their results in this crucial area of performance are highly inconsistent. This
is due to changing conditions & minor fluctuations in their techniques. In the final
analysis, you’ve got to perfect your Break, so you can wring as much from the table as
LAW: the greater the ability of the players, the more of a role the break plays in
determining the outcome of the match and vice versa.
Karin Kaltofen, then the editor of the magazine (Pool & Billiard Magazine), & engineer
Steve Kasten measured the speed of the break shots of over 300 hundred amateurs &
professionals using his “Laser Speed Meter”. The 23 male pros averaged 24.9 MPH
while the 15 women pros averaged 19.3 MPH. The most fundamental conclusion of the
study was that high-speed hits, with accuracy, do produce more balls on the break.
The test also revealed that going all out, for speed, creates a big variable in your results.
A controlled, yet powerful break speed gives you consistency. Once you have come close
to mastering the fundamental techniques of the Power Break, you will probably be within
1-2 MPH of the maximum you could ever hope to achieve. From that point forward,
incremental improvement will come only from focusing extensively on a training
regimen designed to enable you to reach your absolute maximum, period.
The Break Shot is the most crucial shot for the pros, when you consider they break & run
28% of the time. Even though the break is less important for amateurs, it can still provide
you with the winning edge. B players & above should be looking to accomplish the
following objectives; 1. Make at least one ball 2. Have the balls spread in such a way
that the rack can be run 3. Have a reasonable makeable shot on the lowest numbered ball
4. Park the Cue Ball in the center of the table.
A less than perfect hit on the Cue Ball and/or the One Ball can cause you to lose control
of the Cue Ball.