The Pinching Pockets Pool Technique

The Pinching Pockets Technique really sets apart the pool beginner from the experienced pool veteran. For all players aiming to reach their peak performance, this an important skill to master. So let’s start by discovering what Pinching the Pocket actually means:

Pinching the Pocket, also known as Cheating the pocket is when you aim to pot an object ball in a specific part of the pocket. Ordinarily, to give yourself the best chance of potting any ball, the best place to aim for is right in the heart of the pocket (the middle). We all know that this gives the biggest margin for error since it has some room for a slight deviation either side, and away from the jaws. Therefore, pinching a pocket to either side of the middle decreases this margin for error and will mean you will have to deliver the shot with more precision.

All elite pool players use this skill regularly. Pinching the pocket is most often used to manufacture an angle for position. It can also be used when a ball “only just goes” into the pocket, past an obstacle.

3 Ways to Pot 1 Pool Ball

You know I like to keep things as simple as possible. Firstly, split up into three sections; the left section (L), the centre section (C) and the right section (R). The diagram below is not to scale but will help you visualise a pocket pinch in action on a half-ball cut shot.

Pinching Pockets in Eightball Pool
Diagram Showing How to Cheat the Pocket in 8Ball Pool

As the diagram states – All 3 variations of this shot result in the red object ball going into the pocket:

  • The Yellow lines pot the red into the left section of the pocket
  • The Green lines will make the red ball into middle section of the pocket and
  • The Blue lines will sink the red into the right section of the pocket.

You can also see why there is far less room for error on the pocket pinching shots (Yellow and Blue). A fraction off and you hit the jaw of the pocket and fail to make the pot.

A beginner will often pot the easiest ball available and worry about the next shot when they arrive there. The Professional will plan each positional shot in advance. This is the reason that sometimes you need you make a shot slightly more difficult. I refer to this as “Bigger Picture Thinking”. When deploying “Bigger Picture Thinking” and figuring out your pool patterns there is one angle that is the most important to consider.

The Deflection Angle

Pinching (Cheating) the pocket allows you to manipulate the angles of any given shot. You now know that playing a ball to one side of the pocket changes both the line of the shot and the line of the pocket. There is however, another angle at play when pinching pockets. This other angle is the reason most players utilise this technique and is known as the deflection angle. The deflection angle, or angle of deflection is simply the angle at which the cue ball comes off at, after contact with the object ball. The deflection angle is the one that will help you achieve perfect position on your next shot.

Like a Domino Effect, manipulating the previous 2 angles also results in a manipulated angle of deflection as shown here:

Pinching Pockets Pool Ball Angle of Deflection
Diagram highlighting the Deflection Angles of the cue ball in 8-Ball Pool

How to Pot a Pool Ball that Won’t Pocket

Here is another instance that pinching pockets is an important skill to have in your weaponry. We all know that the pool table can be tough to navigate when there is traffic in the way. There’ll be times when you need to use every piece of space available to you.

Let’s take a look at the following example. Cheating the pocket can be used when your opponent’s object ball is blocking the pocket pathway for your red ball:

Cheating Pockets Forced Pocket Pinch
Potting a Ball in Eightball when the pocket is obstructed by another ball.

As in the Angle of Deflection example, if you play the shot to pinch the right hand side of the pocket you can still make the ball. You can also see that, when you play the shot to the centre or left side of the pocket that your red will collide with the yellow and result in your ball missing the pot – and also the end of your visit.


Hopefully, you now understand the concept of Pinching Pockets and when you will need to use this technique to better your 8-Ball Pool skills. A quick rundown of the primary features of this post are:

  • Pinching a Pocket is simply playing an object ball to a specific part of the pocket.
  • You will pinch a pocket either to change the angles of your shot to gain a positional advantage or
  • Pinch the pocket to overcome a blocker (another ball in the way of your intended route)
  • Pinching Pockets requires more accuracy on your pots but will result in more positional play precision.

Disclaimer: All diagrams in this post are not to scale and are included as references. Simplifying the skill of Pinching Pockets and understanding when you may need to do so is their primary purpose.

Hope you this helps you Raise Your Game,


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