Pool Break! How to Break the Balls in 8Ball…

Your pool Break is a massive part of your game. After all, the break dictates the lay of the table and plays a big part in whether or not you can gain control of the table or even complete the 8ball dish.

Mastering the 8ball break-off shot is an art. Your aim is to transfer maximum energy. Firstly from your body to your cue, then from your cue to the cueball then finally, into the pack!

This maximum energy transfer also needs to be delivered accurately to the cueball. Therefore, the timing of the shot is key. You want to achieve a plenty of pace through the cueball but whilst also striking the sweet spots. With this in mind, it’s best to strike the white ball in the centre. Centre-ball striking will avoid any unwanted throw before contact with the object ball.

8Ball Break-off Goals

Let’s take a look at the main aims you want to achieve in your pool break are, in no particular order:

  • Potting a ball – you want to pot a red or yellow in order to remain at the table with a further visit. This further visit gives you the opportunity to either get control of the frame or wrap it up in one visit with the break dish mentioned earlier. Making a ball could well be the difference between winning or losing a frame.
  • Getting a good split – you want the balls to spread nicely all over the table with as few (hopefully none) clusters as possible. The perfect break would likely see you pot 3 or 4 balls and leave either colour set (reds or yellows) with an easy finish. This would result in no balls being tied up and very few (or better zero) balls on a cushion.
  • Keeping the cue ball on the table – there are 2 outcomes to avoid for the perfect break to be achieved. The first thing to avoid is potting the white. The second is to avoid the white flying off the table and potentially hitting your teammate in the face!

The 2 Main Types of Breaking in Pool.

There are 2 favoured types of break-off shot in pool. Both are determined by the starting position of the cueball and which object ball of the rack is struck first.

The ‘Head-On’ Break Shot:

Pool Table Graphic Showing How To Break
8Ball Head-On Break

The first Breaking shot is the popular ‘Head-On’ Break! This one is when the white ball is placed in the centre of the baulk area. Then the first ball (a red in most racks) of the pack is struck first, head on. In turn, this ball will then transfer most of it’s energy directly through the heart of the rack. A consequence of this often results in an effective split.

To avoid potting the white during this type of break-off, ensure you strike the object ball square in the face! To further reduce this risk, deep screw the cueball back along the same line it first took after being struck.

Remember, accuracy is needed so maintain your power but be precise.

The Cut-Break Pool Shot:

The best way to cut break in 8ball pool.
8Ball Cut-Break

The second most popular Break shot is called The Cut Break. The Cut-Break is named as such because the white ball is positioned at either side of the table nearer the cushion. The cueball is then played with pace into the second ball down from the head of the rack.

I’ve known many players struggle to achieve legal break’s with consistency. A high number of these often face the same problem – going ‘in-off’ in the middle pocket.

The Cut Break is a great technique for those who often ‘lose’ the white ball on the break. Once mastered, a successful Cut Break will send the cue ball directly into the side cushion nearest the side of the pack that you aim it at. This method helps keep the cueball under better control. With that, it will also increase the likelihood of keeping the white on the table.

Like the Head-on Break, there is a common issue that players come up against when opting for the Cut-Break. This time the issue is the white ball often flying off the table. The remedy to this is again the same – ACCURACY!

You need to ensure that you strike the object ball as full as possible on the Cut-Break. If you catch it too thin and over-cut it, your white ball will be flying through the air and off the table. You don’t want to be chasing after a runaway cue ball!

In Summary, Which is the Best Way to Break in 8ball Pool?

So.. the Head-On Break is more direct and will potentially produce better splits but there is a higher risk involved. This higher risk may mean an increased number of in-offs, either directly or indirectly (kicked in-off other balls). The Cut-Break means less energy transfer through the heart of the rack and possibly a slightly less effective split. Also, less potential for in-offs but carries an increased risk of send the white ball flying off the table.

All things considered, Breaking is subjective. Some elite players prefer a direct, head-on approach. Others prefer the Cut-Break strategy and some like to mix it up and use variations of both. Which means there is no right or wrong answer. You say Potato, I say Potarto (I don’t really). The point is that every pool player as their own breaking preferences.

With that in mind, my top tip is to try and master both with subtle variations. Then you will see which one you gives you the best results on a consistent basis. I ask all of my players to test their breaks to see which method has the best results over time.

You will then have the ability to change things up if things aren’t going your way during a tight battle. After all, you can never have too many options in your pool weaponry!

Hope this helps you improve your pool breaking successes and Raise Your Game,


P.S Let me know which 8ball break you prefer to use and why.

P.P.S – If you own your own pool table this is for you…

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