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How to Play and Win in 9 Ball Tournaments

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Nine balls is the version of billiards that is played in most tournaments. It is a strategic and fast moving game that is also rewarding if you can win. This article tells you how to prepare for and what to expect in nine ball tournaments.

Set aside some time for tournament play. In double elimination play with 30 players, expect the tournament to be about three hours to completion. Ask the billiards hall people on how long the tournament will be the entry fee and cash prize payout. In double elimination, if you lose twice you are eliminated but can still win despite losing once.

Know 9 ball game rules and develop a strategy for playing and winning in any way. You can win by sinking the nine balls and also if your opponent is disqualified - practice both ways. Your practice sessions must be carefully planned to make the best use of your time.

Have two cues, one for breaking and the other for shooting. These cues are two-piece and stored in cases. The breaking the rack cue is heavier. Do not minimize the importance of the break just because it is just one shot. Learn how to shape the cue tip with sandpaper.

Be focused. Your concentration is important; do not think of anything else. Play smart, think strategy and logically. The first game in a tournament is a must win - do not think double elimination.

When breaking a rack and deciding to do a power break, follow these pointers:

  • Accuracy comes first and power comes after. With accuracy shoot straight and do not twist and rotate your body like a golfer, batter or quarterback.
  • Power is from putting your body behind the stroke. A power break is not just with your arms and shoulder. Follow through straight thru even after you make contact with the ball.
  • Choose between a power break and a non-power break based on your level of skill, your opponents and the strategy you choose against that particular opponent. The main thing here is your ability and your opponent's ability to run the table.

Make your shots with your dominant hand. If you are right-handed shoot right-handed and do not try to be ambidextrous. When in a position, where you cannot shoot normally, use the bridge stick.

Practice by working on your weak areas. In a game, there is no separation or breaking down of the game - the parts of the game are often connected.

  • Long distance shots - is more difficult when the ball is close to the rail and when it is combined with another difficult manoeuvre such as a bank or combination shot. Even with long distance shots, practice to be able to use all types of English, including side English, besides power variation.
  • Setting up the cue ball for the next shot. Although not the most difficult shot, this is the most important element of the game.
  • Combination shots - are when more three or more balls are involved. Practice three ball combination shots.
  • Safeties - a safety is where you hide the ball because you do not have a good shot. Keep playing safeties until you can run the table. Do not take chances.
  • Bank shots. An example of a difficult bank shot to practice is where you must use the bank because another ball is in the way. In this situation, examine all possibilities and their outcomes. Do not merely avoid a penalty; try to go for a safety. In many situations you will have at least two banks to use, choose the one that is the safest. Do not go for the big score. Even in the most difficult of situations, go for the safety and be patient.

For a small percentage of your practice time, play games. When playing nine balls you must be able to run the table. A defining moment, after a lot of practice, to aim for, is to be able to pocket several balls in a row. When you become good, with the balls spread out from a break, aim to pocket all the balls without missing. If you practice, you will improve your accuracy.

Learn from observing other players and professionals on TV. Read books and watch instructional DVDs.

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