English Is Side Spin
While many people will call any type of spin put on the cue ball English, strictly speaking, it is only side spin. Top spin is called follow, and bottom spin is called draw.
Side spin is caused by striking the cue ball with the cue tip along the horizontal axis of the cue ball. The further the tip hits from the center of the ball, the more spin is achieved.
The diagram shown represents a cue ball. The smaller circles show the cue tip, and where it will hit on the ball. Because the cue tip is a domed shape, the small red dots are the actual point on the cue tip that will strike the cue ball as it hits further out from center.
The purple section is the area on the cue ball that may be contacted without a miscue occuring. If the cue is hit outside of this area, there is a good chance the cue tip will slide off the ball and foul up the shot.
When the cue ball is hit with side spin, little difference will be noticed until the cue ball hits a rail. After bouncing off the rail, it will have a different angle of travel than it entered at, depending on how much spin is applied. When the cue is hit into the rail without spin, it will bounce off the rail at the same angle it went in to it.
A cue ball with spin applied will also affect the object ball it contacts. If the cue ball is spinning in a clockwise direction, it will cause the ball it contacts to spin in a counter-clockwise direction. This is known as the gear effect, and operates the same way that one gear will turn its neighbor in the opposite direction.
The use of English is a fairly tricky thing to master, and for this reason, it should avoided by beginner pool shooters. However, once a person has perfected their stroke and aiming abilities, the use of spin can be a real help in achieving excellent cue ball placement and position play. Again, practice makes perfect.
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