How do you aim carom and kiss shots?

The following instructional articles explain how to use the 90 and 30° rules to aim carom and kiss shots:

Also, here are some good video demonstrations, the 2nd from Vol. I of the Video Encyclopedia of Pool Shots:

And here are some others:

And here’s another for draw carom shots using the 3-times-the-angle (trisect) system from Vol. II of How to Aim Pool Shots (HAPS):

If you need to plan a carom or kiss shot that cannot be conveniently set up in the 90 or 30° directions, the 90 and 30° rules still give you good points of reference. The amount of cue ball vertical spin (follow, stun, draw) will determine where it goes relative to the 90 and 30° directions. With full stun, the cue ball will head exactly in the tangent line direction. With complete roll, the ball will deflect in the 30° direction. For other shots, called tweeners, it is difficult to reliably know exactly where the cue ball will go, so it is best to not attempt caroms in these cases unless you have no other options. Like many things in pool, all you can do is practice a bunch and develop intuition for how much the cue ball deflects with various amounts of vertical spin. The following video has an example of how to apply this concept to breaking out clusters:

Also, as described in “90° and 30° Rule Follow-up – Part II: speed effects” (BD, March, 2005), shot speed also affects the exact cue ball trajectory. However, the 90 and 30° directions are still good to know to have some definite points of reference.

Other interesting types of carom or kiss shots are herd shots and tickie shots.

Here’s a good challenge drill called “Loop” (“pool” spelled backwards), from Vol. V of the Video Encyclopedia of Pool Practice (VEPP), for practicing carom and kiss shots:

For more information, see “VEPP – Part XIII: Safety and Carom Challenge Drills,” (BD, April, 2013).

PS: Another game called “Loop” is played on an elliptical table and is quite different from the traditional game “Loop.”

With clusters, there is a whole world of possible shots available taking advantage of the concepts above and throw and spin-transfer effects. Many good examples can be found here: throw shot examples, spin transfer shot examples, and NV I.11 – 9-ball/10-ball Advanced Herd and Cushion-Compression Shots, an excerpt from VENT-V.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of stun vs. roll caroms?

One advantage of a tangent line (90°) carom or kiss is that the CB path does not depend on the speed of the shot, assuming the CB has stun at impact (which does depend on both speed and tip position). However, most people have a good feel for stun shots (stop shots at an angle) since they are so important in pool and therefore are practiced a lot.

The advantage of a 30° carom or kiss is that the natural angle applies fairly closely over a fairly wide range of cut angles, so your aim doesn’t need to be perfect. Also, it is very easy to ensure ball roll, by using slow enough speed, or with shot distance, and/or by hitting the cue ball above center. The disadvantage is the CB’s path off the OB curves before heading in the natural angle direction, and the amount of shift down the tangent line depends on shot speed (see cue ball path speed effects for more info). This isn’t a significant factor at slow speeds, but at faster speeds, the shift is significant.

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