How do I get backspin on the cue and improve my draw stroke?

The following videos cover technique advice in detail, and offers several good drills to work on and improve your draw shot:

For more information, see “Top 10 Draw Shot Tips” (BD, March, 2020) and “Top 10 Draw Shot Tips” (BD, May, 2024).

In general, to get good draw action, you must hit the CB both low and with fast cue speed. With longer distance between the CB and OB, you need more backspin (lower tip) and faster CB speed (see cloth drag). Probably the best advice is to keep your grip relaxed and smoothly accelerate the cue into the ball (i.e., don’t jerk or rush the transition from the final backstroke to forward stroke) to create good follow-through. A longer bridge length can help create more power without jerkiness. A longer bridge can also help you get the tip lower on the CB without elevating the cue (which can cause inaccuracy), especially if you have thick fingers. More stroke advice can be found here.

Make sure you have a rounded tip that is textured so it holds chalk. Also, be sure to chalk up before each shot. If the tip does not hold chalk well, you should scuff the tip. If it still doesn’t hold chalk well, you need to replace the tip. You can’t get good draw without chalk on the tip. Make sure the CB and cloth are clean so you lose less sidespin on the way to the OB. If the cloth is not slick and fast (like Simonis), draw can be more difficult.

If you are having trouble with your draw stroke, make sure you are being careful with the following:

  • Don’t elevate the cue more than is necessary. This can make your stroke more awkward and less accurate, and it can reduce the amount of draw (see draw shot cue elevation effects).
  • Don’t rush the transition between the final backstroke and the final forward stroke. This will result in poor accuracy and consistency. Pull the cue back slowly, and accelerate smoothly.
  • Don’t decelerate into the CB. This results in pool speed and draw control. Accelerate smoothly and completely through the CB for best accuracy and power.
  • Don’t tighten your grip during the stroke. This will reduce your power and tip contact point accuracy.
  • Don’t drop your elbow before CB contact. This will make the tip hit the CB higher than you are aiming, reducing draw. Also, when the elbow drops, it can also tend to move sideways, which can throw the shot off line.
  • Don’t jerk the cue back after the hit. Follow through with a smoothly accelerating stroke. You have time to lift, pull back, or move the cue sideways, after you follow through, to get out of the way of the drawing CB.
  • Don’t forget to chalk properly before each shot (see how to chalk properly).

Here are good video demonstrations of draw shot technique advice, physics effects, and game-situation examples:

You can control draw distance by varying the tip height or by varying the shot speed. For shorter distance between the CB and OB, varying the tip height works well. For longer distances, varying the shot speed with a low tip is a better approach. For more information, see stun back and run through, speed control advice, the following video, and the drills in the videos further below:

Excellent drills for working on your draw shot technique and control are demonstrated in the following video:

And here’s a good progressive-practice drill to help you improve your draw shot technique, from Vol. I of the Video Encyclopedia of Pool Practice (VEPP):

Here are two additional good drills for practicing and challenging your draw shot technique:

Here’s a good drill for practicing finesse draw with maximum backspin:

Here’s a good video demonstration for power draw advice, from Vol. I of The Video Encyclopedia of Pool Shots:

Another factor in achieving consistent draw and avoiding miscues is having a repeatable stroke. As shown by the following illustration from Patrick Johnson, a shooter with better tip contact point accuracy and precision can safely aim lower on the CB, and typically get more backspin, than a shooter with less accuracy and precision:

miscue limit tip contact point accuracy and precision

Mike Page’s sense & nonsense of cueball draw video does a good job of explaining this and other factors that limit people’s success with draw.

Anytime you practice or do experiments with draw shots, it is important to verify that you are hitting the CB where you think you are. The best way to do this is to use a marked ball (for example, a Jim Rempe CB or an Elephant Practice ball) or a striped ball, and note the location of the chalk mark on the ball after each shot. Just make sure you align the markings on the ball with the line of action of the cue (for example, see the 9-ball stripe in Diagram 1b). People are often surprised by how high the actual tip contact point is on the ball despite how low they might think they are aiming. Sometimes, people just don’t aim low enough on the CB. Sometimes people drop their elbow during the stroke, before tip contact. This brings the tip up, and you get less draw. If you tighten your grip during the stroke, the tip will drop and you might scoop the CB in the air. Always look at the mark on the CB after the shot … the chalk mark never lies!

It also helps (a lot!) to have a very slick and fast cloth. It is a lot easier to draw the ball on a slick and fast cloth! For more info, see: cloth and cue ball effects.

For more information and advice, see the following series of instructional articles dealing draw shot physics, aiming, applications, technique, and drills:

Also see the physics-based draw shot advice resource page.

from RSB FAQ:

The only real requirement is that you hit the ball low. If the object ball is far away, you will also need to hit the ball hard to keep back spin (also known as draw or screw) on the cue ball, as the cloth rubs the spin off. Some things to keep in mind: You must chalk your tip well; most players don’t. A shorter bridge (hand to cue ball spacing) will let you hit where you want more accurately. If your elbow is pumping up and down, hitting the intended spot on the cue ball is more of a challenge. Do you jump up at the end of the shot? Do you follow through so the tip ends at least a ball diameter or two beyond the original position of the cue ball, or do you jerk abruptly to a stop at the instant of contact?

Why do many pros aim lower on the ball than they actually hit with draw shots?

Some players address the CB lower than they intend to hit the ball to help better visualize the center of the ball. See cue tip height on CB for more information.

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