Nothing will help your pool game more than understanding position play, often called shape on your next shot. In this article we assume you have mastered the stroke, sidespin, draw and follow and we will focus on where you want to position the cue ball. Position for your next shot is always an area that is shaped in a triangle.
A common misconception is that you want all shots to be easy or nearly straight on. This is true to a certain extent, but rarely does a straight on shot give you the options you need to gain position on your next shot, or shots. In fact straight on position usually makes shape on your next shot very difficult.
Almost all positions for a shot at your next ball have a large area that the cue ball can be in order to execute the shot. Where you attempt to be in this area is key to your success. The following diagrams show examples of the area where you can make your next shot. These areas are the triangle shaped areas on the table. You will have a much higher percentage of success if you aim for the larger areas in the triangles.Diagram 3 below, is an example that I see all the time. The width of the position area changes immensly if looking at the area near the striped ball, compared to the width of the area up table. This is a really good example of closer to the ball not being a better position play. Your odds of position up table are about 10 times what they are near the striped ball. The path of the cue ball shown in yellow is the most common shape players try for.
The cue ball path shown in blue is by far the better choice. The width of the shape area is bigger but also the path the cue ball travels also covers a larger area of the triangle. Many shots we take present a similar position problem. The key on each shot you take is to identify the position triangle and select the area of that triangle that will provide the best odds of success. You will be surprised how clear it becomes once you find the triangle for every shot.