What should I consider when planning a safety shot?

Vol. III of the Video Encyclopedia of Pool Shots, Vol. III of the Video Encyclopedia of Pool Practice (VEPP), Vol. III of the Video Encyclopedia of Eight Ball (VEEB), and Vol. IV of the Video Encyclopedia of Nine-ball and Ten-ball (VENT) dedicated to safety play and strategy.

Here’s a useful safety challenge game and drill from VEPP-III:

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

Here’s another useful drill for practicing safeties, from Vol. III of the Billiard University (BU) Instructional video series:

When playing safeties, always try to come into the line of the blockers to help increase the effectiveness of the safety and the margin for error with speed. Here is an example from Vol. III of the Video Encyclopedia of Eight Ball (VEEB):

For more information, see: “VEEB – Part V: Coming Into the Line of Blockers” (BD, March, 2016).

It is also important to know what to do after getting ball in hand after a well-executed safety. Here are some examples from Vol. IV of the Video Encyclopedia of Nine-ball and Ten-ball (VENT):

For more information, see: “VENT – Part VIII: Ball-In-Hand Options” (BD, May, 2018).

from Neil:

  • Look at controlling either the cueball or the object ball. Trying to control both makes the safety much more difficult.
  • It’s generally easier to control the cueball. So learn your tangent lines and speed control so you can put the cb where you need it.
  • If possible, try and freeze the cb to another object ball. But, unless you are at an advanced level, or actually, your opponent is, you generally don’t need to freeze the cb, just get it stuck behind another ball but too close to jump.
  • When using the cb for the safe, see if you can hit the ob into a cluster to break them up. That way, you can run out when given the opportunity.
  • Try and leave as much distance as possible between the cb and ob.
  • Don’t put the ob near a pocket, and try not to put it on a rail. If ob is within about 6″ of the rail, it can become what is called a ‘big ball’ to hit. That means that you can hit it directly, or come off the rail and hit it. If it’s farther off the rail, they pretty much have to hit it directly on their kick.
  • If possible, try to plan it to where they will have to kick 2 or more rails to hit the ob.
  • Don’t put ob too near any money ball, they just might get lucky.
  • If you can’t break out a cluster with the ob, try and put the ob in a general area that you can break out the cluster if you get ball in hand.
  • Sometimes your only safe or best safe is to just tie up several balls to make his run-out difficult. When doing this, don’t tie up say the 6&7 if the 5 is right there to break them out. You can also put another ball on the same rail as a ball already on the rail, with the higher ball nearer the pocket.
  • Don’t take the safety shot for granted. Take the same amount of time you would to make a difficult shot. You are going for precision on one or both balls here. It’s not a shot to be taken too lightly. Give it it’s due respect.
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