Getting the Win
You know that you just have to pocket the 9 ball in order to win the game. It's that straightforward. Practicing your break shots, stroke speed, and all the other special shots you've learned are the tools that will help you win. You learned about position and safety play earlier in the book, but it will become particularly important in nine ball, when there just aren't as many balls on the table. Sometimes the break shot will pocket three, four, or more balls. Even two pocketed balls leaves only seven balls on the table. So you will have to think about strategy in order to keep yourself in the game. You may even have to plan out the entire rack for yourself before you shoot your first shot.
You can see how critical position play is in nine ball. You want to be able to pocket the balls, but with each shot you want to make sure you have another shot. It's easy to become blinded by one shot. You see it, you pocket it, but you didn't consider the shot after that. With so few balls on the table, you are taking a big risk if you don't strategize each play. You'd think this would slow down the game tremendously, but it doesn't — at least not once you've played it enough. It will become second nature.
If there is no way you can pocket a ball and you know it, you don't want to just hand the table over to your opponent. When you're faced with this kind of situation, it's best to play a safety. Leave the table with the cue ball positioned in an impossible spot for your opponent. He or she can either shoot another safety back at you or can attempt the shot. Hopefully for you, he or she will miss or execute a poor safety and it will be your inning again. But remember, your opponent just played a safety, so you might be left with a tester yourself.
Practicing the Break Shot
Talk about strategy isn't just limited to ball position and safety play. There's breaking strategy, too, so here are some tips that you may want to consider when you practice breaking.
Some pros try to hit the 1 ball into the side pocket by positioning the cue ball along one of the side rails when they break.
A bonus of placing the cue ball along the side rail for breaking is that you may make a wing ball into a corner pocket.
The most important thing to a pro is making sure the cue ball gets a solid hit on the 1 ball when breaking. It's good to know this because as an amateur, you should make sure you're getting a solid hit and then gradually start to increase your breaking speed. If you start out too fast, you'll graze the 1 ball and won't scatter the balls.
Remember: As you play, try to think about patterns. Position the balls on each shot so that they form a pattern of balls that you will be able to successfully pocket.
Once you've worked out your strategies and you are confident in your understanding of the game, it's time to head out and get to it.