Pool Terminology 4

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The "rails" are the four sides on the bed of the pool table that the cushions are attached to and the pockets are cut into. Bouncing the cue ball off the cushion before hitting the object ball is referred to as hitting it "off the rail". The "rack" is the plastic or wood triangular frame that holds the balls in the correct position as they are "racked" for a game. "Running" the table in eight ball is when the shooter breaks the rack and proceeds to pocket all his balls, including the eight ball, in one turn. "Rotation" is when the balls are pocketed in numerical order, as in the game of nine ball.

A "scratch" occurs when the cue ball is pocketed or knocked off the table during the game. Depending on the game, it is either given to the opponent as ball-in-hand or placed behind the head string of the table for the next shot.

A pool "shark" is someone who is usually very proficient at pool. A "safety" refers to the practice of shooting the cue ball to a location that is inconvenient for your opponent when you cannot make a shot for your desired object ball. The "shaft" of the pool cue is the more narrow section that slides throught the bridge hand and ends in the cue tip.

The "solids" are the stripe-less 1 through 7 balls. The "stripes" are the striped 9 through 15 balls. The "spot" is the location on the table where balls are placed that are accidently knocked off the table or are removed from the pocket. There are often actual paper "spots" that are stuck on the table cloth - the foot spot and the head spot. The "slate" is the smooth bed or playing surface of the pool table that is actually made of slate on better tables. Because it is so heavy, this slate is often made into three pieces for ease of handling.


"stop shot" is one where the cue ball is made to "stop" in its tracks as soon as it contacts the object ball. This is usually done to align the cue ball optimally for the next shot. The "stance" refers to the position of the body for shooting pool. In the ideal "stance" , the feet should be shoulder width apart and the body bent over at the waist, with the dominant eye directly over the pool cue. "Straight pool" is another popular game where the shooter pockets the balls in any order, with the object of the game to be the first to pocket a set number of balls.

"Topspin" or follow is achieved by hitting the cue ball above center with the cue tip. This causes the cue ball to spin in the direction of travel and is used for cue positioning. And finally, the "tip" is the cue tip - the crown-shaped leather piece that is glued to the ferrule and contacts the cue ball when a shot is made.

I hope this list clears up some of the confusion beginners to the game may have over what some of the jargon and slang means. This is by no means a definitive listing, but it should give folks a good foundation to understanding pool and billiards terminology.

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