How do I aim and get position off rail cut shot?

For general advice on how to aim and pocket rail cut shots, see Section 4.06 in The Illustrated Principles of Pool and Billiards. Also see the rail cut shot handout. People sometimes give the advice that one should hit the cushion and OB at the same time with rail cut shots. This will work if gearing outside english is used; but with no english or with inside inside english, cut-induced throw (CIT) will push the OB into the cushion (causing it to rebound away from the cushion) which will cause the OB to rattle out of the pocket (unless the OB is fairly close to the pocket and/or if the pockets are not very tight). The best general advice concerning rail cut shots is to ignore the cushion and just aim the shot normally (unless CB control is a major factor; or if the cut angle is very large, in which cas you can use a cushion-first hit with running english to help pocket the ball). The following clip from Vol. V of the Video Encyclopedia of Nine-ball and Ten-ball (VENT) demonstrates these concepts well:

For more info, see: “VENT – Part IX: Rail Cut Shot Effects” (BD, June, 2018).

Here’s another good introductory video demonstrating the basics:

When the angle into the rail is very steep, inside (running) english makes the shot much easier, per the following video:

This technique works even with a back cut, where the effective cut angle is greater than 90. Here’s an example posted on Facebook by Max Mu:

impossible rail back cut

Shots like this can be converted hitting the cushion first (as demonstrated above) or by barely hitting the OB first, with the CB hitting the OB again after or during cushion compression. The inside can help swerve the CB into the shot (especially with more cue elevation) to help reduce the cut angle.

Is it possible to overcut an OB frozen to a rail?

Yes. For an example, see:


from Patrick Johnson:

the CB contacts the rail a short distance away from the OB and moves toward the OB while in contact with the rail. Maybe it will help to show a “time lapse series” of drawings showing how the CB approaches the OB while in contact with the rail:

1. Initial contact with the rail. The CB’s “equivalent straight line path” is the same as it’s initial path into the rail.

rail-frozen overcut - part 1

2. Closer to the OB but not yet in contact with it. The CB’s “equivalent straight line path” has changed, but the CB is still moving into and compressing the rail.

rail-frozen overcut - part 2

3. Contact with the OB. The CB’s “equivalent straight line path” has changed more, but the CB is still moving into and compressing the rail.

rail-frozen overcut - part 3

from Bob Jewett (in AZB post):

Here’s a shot that helps to understand how compressible the cushions are. The 1 and 9 are a chalk apart. The shot is to shoot directly at the 1 ball. The 9 goes straight in. Shoot firmly.

rail compression shot

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