fcsnooker - Top Quality Snooker Coaching and Instruction in association with Mr Frank Callan - Intermediate Level -
"Breaking Off"

The Break Off can set the tone for a whole frame of snooker and at the very highest level can even influence the result. It is therefore advisable to break off in the same way every time rather than experiment.

For those just starting in the game, I would NOT suggest breaking off like the professional player, who uses side on the cue ball to send it round the angle of the top and side cushion and inside the blue, before it comes to rest somewhere near the baulk cushion, (Fig 1).

What I advocate instead is to aim for the outside red at the rear of the triangle with no side at, all (Fig 2) and come back along the same side of the table from where the cue ball was struck to a point near the yellow or green (depending on which side of the baulk line the cue ball was placed).

This will rule out going in- off into one of the top pockets . Later on, when the effect of side is fully understood, the professional break-off can be adopted.

Some players break off with left-hand side and from the left-hand side of the pack because they feel slightly surer using left-hand side. They may also feel their opponent is slightly less sure playing safety shots from the yellow corner than the green.

With this break it is usual to strike the end red. Some players do occasionally aim for the second red, thus opening the pack more. This could be to your advantage if you can get the cue ball tight on the baulk cushion, because your opponent's safety shot might well be more difficult.

It won't be an advantage if you catch the second red too thin because the cue ball would then kiss the end red and finish either in a corner pocket or in a good position for your opponent to begin a break. If you catch it too thick, the cue ball would also go either in-off or in to the corner pocket jaws.

Some players, including Jimmy White, sometimes strike the third red. This is even riskier as it opens up the pack even more. It is a very positive break-off shot if you hit it right, but the odds are against this happening. I'm not sure it's a good idea even for Jimmy.

I think the best professional break is to hit the end red. It shouldn't go wrong very often; you might get your opponent in some trouble if you play it well, and if you play it only moderately he in turn will have to play a good shot to put you in trouble, (Fig 3).

One word of advice on this shot: 'Whatever you do, don't hit the blue.' Make sure you use enough side so that the cue ball comes off the second cushion at an angle, which will leave no risk of the kiss on the blue. That, probably, would leave your opponent with a fairly easy opening red.

However, even top players have been known to make too thin a contact. It is this sort of mistake, which so often sees the cue ball strike the blue on its way back to baulk or pass the blue on the brown side of the table.

If the latter happens it is in the lap of the gods whether the cue ball hides behind one of the baulk colours or sticks out invitingly for your opponent to begin a break or leave you in some trouble with a safety shot.

However, if the shot is played with exactly the same amount of side but back spin as well, the cue ball tends to strike the red thicker and the angle is such that it either hits the jaws of a pocket or goes in-off. But substitute top spin for back spin and it will not be forced off line. The in-off will have been avoided and with measurably judged strength, the cue ball should finish near the baulk cushion, (Fig 4 & 5).

Breaking off with right-hand side and back spin means that the cue ball at the outset moves further to the left, thus producing a thicker contact than intended.

Once you are confident of taking on the professional break, practice whichever method you prefer: just with side, with side and back spin, or side and top spin. But be consistent. Don't change, whatever method you have selected.

I'm sure that in time you will achieve the aim of the professional break whenever it is your turn to begin a frame.


Frank Callan Suite - 282 Ribbleton Lane, Ribbleton, Preston, Lancashire, England - PR1 5EB - tel. + 44 (0) 1772 702211 - info@fcsnooker.co.uk

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