How to use sidespin is an important element in every good players game. When to use or not use sidespin is equally as important. There are a few myths about sidespin that we will explain as well as a few new twists you may not have heard of.
Sidespin, often called english by today's players is an effective tool that can be used to gain position on your next object ball, avoid a scratch, or in some cases pocket a ball in a way that seems at odds with geometry. First we'll talk about some of the myth's in relation to position play.
As everyone knows position play is a key to your success. Side english does not affect the direction of the cue ball after contact with the object ball! After the cue ball contacts an object ball, the continuing path of the cue ball follows the tangent line. The cue ball only leaves the tangent line with follow or draw. The tangent line is a path that is exactly 90 degrees off the direction the object ball has taken.
The speed of the cue ball is not affected when using side english. Not before or after contact with the object ball. The speed is affected only when and if the cue ball contacts a rail. An example of this I see all the time is someone using a lot of side english attempting to break up some balls that are tied up. This is a wasted effort. The cue ball always travels at the same speed whether you use a center cue ball hit or side english. Side english can change the cue ball speed but only after it contacts a rail.Using sidespin changes the point of contact needed to pocket an object ball. Learning this can only be done with a general knowledge of what happens at the point of contact and lots of practice. On all cut shots there is a small amount of friction at the point of contact. This friction means that when you pocket a ball with a center cue ball hit, you are cutting the ball slightly more than you think. In a sense you are always over cutting object balls slighlty to compensate for the friction at the point of contact. We all do this without consciously thinking about it.
When cutting a ball to the left and using right side english, we then can hit the true point on the object ball that sends it direct to the pocket. The right english removed most of the friction. It seems at times that we throw the object ball left of the target with side english. This is not actually what happens though. We simply removed all the friction with our outside english while hitting the point on the object ball we usually hit. Sometimes the cue ball may have curved off a touch and actually hit the object ball thinner than we thought.Using side english is a very big risk and reward proposition. It can be used to make tough shots but it also adds many variables to the shot. The cue ball can curve before reaching the object ball, you need to contact the object ball in a different spot, and the cue ball deflects slightly off line at the moment of contact with the cue tip. All of these result in a more precise shot required to make the ball, which decreases the odds of making it.
All good players know how to use side english. The best players though, use it as little as possible to increase the odds of making each and every shot and pocket balls consistently.