Hjorleifson's Debut Article: Secrets of the 9 ball Break

Erik Instructional
Hello everybody it is my pleasure to present you my first article in association with “Straight-Pool”.This series of bi-weekly articles will focus on instructional content aimed at looking at the finer intricacies of all aspects of billiards. Following this weeks article the forum will be open for comments and questions which will be addressed in a follow up piece. Please feel free to respond and ask any questions that will help clarify the concepts that are discussed, as our goal is to raise the knowledge of all our readers.
For my first article I have to chosen to discuss the nine ball break and the different elements necessary to execute a successful break. We will be focusing on the importance of the rack as it pertains to making a ball on the break. Below are some of the concepts that I feel are important.
Knowing which balls we are trying to make on the break:
For the more advanced players, this answer will come up fairly quick in their mind, and for the less advanced players maybe not. The answer is the “wing ball” or in other terms the ball that is on the very outer edge of the rack. If you are breaking from the right side of the table looking at the rack the wing ball is the 4 ball. If you’re breaking from the opposite side the wing ball is the five ball.
How is the wing ball pocketed? Why does the wing ball not go in sometimes?:
rackThe answer to this is explained a little easier with a visual demonstration but I will do my best to explain it with the help of the diagram on the left. Also for our readers to fully understand this concept I would suggest having the article on hand with the balls racked on any size table to fully grasp what is happening on the break.
The first thing I would like people to understand is that the wing ball is caroming into the corner pocket off the ball that is directly below it. In this case (see diagram), if the 4 ball was the wing ball the six is the ball it is caroming off to go towards the corner. Now if you look at the carom angle of the 4 towards the corner pocket it seems as if the ball should go above the pocket or in other words it seems like it should hit the side rail. In fact 95% of the time when it doesn’t go in, that is precisely what happens.
So now the question is, why does it go in? The answer is, and this is the most important concept that I will touch on in this article, the ball which it is caroming off of has to start moving before the wing ball starts moving. The way this happens is known as the “4 ball track”. This has nothing to do with the numbers on the balls just the number of balls involved in the track.
This next part is essential, if the four ball is the wing ball, it is imperative that the 1 is frozen to the 3 and the 3 is frozen to the 9 and the 9 is frozen to the 6. If there are any gaps between the four connection points of any of these balls the wing ball will not go in. If they are all frozen it will always go in. It’s as simple as that.
Big Red taking is time with the rack
Big Red taking is time with the rack
Here are a couple of other spaces that are important
-The 2 should be frozen to the four
-The 4 should be frozen to the six
– The 6 should be frozen to the eight
Spaces that are less important
– The 2 does not have to be frozen to the 3
– The 2 does not have to be frozen to the nine
– The 4 does not have to be frozen to the nine
– The balls on the opposite side of the rack do not necessarily have to be frozen to each other.
It is strongly recommended to break from the side rail using this break, hitting the 1 either square from the angle or more to the side closer to the rail. If you can visualize why this is important from that angle, the most energy is directed into the 4 ball track and away from the track leading to the wing which gives the ball the wing is caroming off of a better chance to be moving first.
This is a lot to remember but as long as you understand the principal of the “4 ball track” your breaking success will improve dramatically.This is now necessary knowledge to compete at the higher levels and was first discovered and explained by Joe Tucker. At the risk of becoming a little long winded I will leave you with this for now, and look forward to your questions and comments.
Have a great week and I hope this helps,  Erik.

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