How To Put English On The Cue Ball?

Putting english on the cue ball is difficult when you are a beginner. So, you shouldn’t learn english until you can consistently make shots and hit the cue ball dead center. How you put english on the cue ball is by hitting different spots on the cue ball with your stick.

If you aren’t accurate, this can result in damaging your table and missed shots.

One method for putting english on the cue ball is hitting low on the ball. This is the main method that will cause damage to your table.

If you hit too low or your stick slips off the ball while aiming low, you can rip the felt on the table. Ripped felt can cost hundreds or thousands to replace, so I wouldn’t recommend learning this until you’re confident in your pool game.

Whenever you’re shooting but especially when you’re putting english on the ball, you want to make sure your stick is properly chalked. This will keep the tip of your stick from slipping off the ball.

What Does It Mean To Put English On The Cue Ball?

Putting english on the cue ball means putting spin on the ball in an effort to better control where the cue ball will end up.

Have you ever wondered why good pull players always shoot easy shots?

It’s not because they’re lucky. Most good pool players know either exactly where or very close to where the cue ball will end up before they take a shot. There are 3 major factors that allow players to do this: English, speed control and The Tangent Line. When you combine these 3 together you can predict the location of the cue ball almost perfectly.

The best pool players know exactly where the cue ball will end up 4,5, or even 7 shots in advance.

In their head, they have already planned out every shot and know exactly how to shoot every shot to get to where they need to be. Billiards is a game that when perfected is 100% skill-based. Yes, everyone makes mistakes eventually, but there’s not much luck involved.

In order to line up every shot perfectly, you need to have proper control of the cue ball. Two major aspects of controlling your cue ball is speed and english. English is the different spins you can put on the cue ball to make the cue ball stop anywhere on the table.

This will be a beginner’s explanation for putting english on the cue ball. If you already understand basic english, stay tuned for my future articles that will be more detailed.

Low English for Draw

Have you ever seen someone shoot a straight shot and instead of the ball following behind it, it immediately comes backward?

This happens when you put low english on the ball. Low english, sometimes called back spin, comes from hitting low on the cue ball so the cue ball has backspin when hitting the object ball.

english draw on cue ball

When the cue ball gets to the object ball, if it is still spinning backward, it will roll backward. The more spin on the ball the faster backward it will roll.

I want to point out that the backspin has to make it to the object ball. Due to the felt on the table and friction, you lose your english over time. So, if you’re shooting a long shot, you may need to put a lot of english for it to make it to the object ball.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hit it harder. It just means you would need more backspin on the ball.

When you get really good at this, you can shoot a shot slow and still make the cue ball draw the entire length of the table. There are more ways to use draw than just pulling the ball back in a straight line but that gets more advanced and will be covered in later articles.

It’s worth noting that to get the cue ball to draw in a straight line, it needs to be a straight in shot. You can put low on any shot but when it isn’t a straight shot you need to look at the tangent line to understand where the cue ball will go.

High English for Follow

High top english is essentially the opposite of draw. For high top english, you want to hit high on the ball instead of the low on the ball.

When you hit high on the ball it causes the ball to have a forward spin. Forward spin makes the cue ball go forward after connecting with the object ball.

high top follow english

If you shoot a straight in shot with high top english, it will follow the object ball into the pocket.

When shooting a straight-in shot, high top isn’t the most useful type of english but if you can gauge the speed of the follow correctly you can use it to line up your next shot.

Straight shots aren’t the best shots for using english but they work as great examples for the basics of english.

Most beginners love straight shots because they seem easy, but they make it really hard to get good positioning on your next shot. I could write an entire article on why straight shots are bad, so, I’ll save that for another time.

Left English for Left Spin

Putting left spin on the cue ball has very minimal effects until it hits a rail. To any more experienced people reading this, yes, there are ways to utilize left english before it hits a rail such as with throws and masse’ shots but since this article is about the basics of english we’re going to only talk about the effects after hitting a rail.

You can put a left spin on the cue ball by hitting on the left side of the ball. Shooting on the left side of the ball may affect your aim at first and will take a lot of practice.

left english on cue ball in billiards

When you put left english on the cue ball it will spin off the rail to the left. For example, if you line up a straight shot of the cue ball at the rail, it will go to the left after hitting the rail. (pictured below)

How far to left it comes off the rail depends on your speed and the amount of spin that is on the ball.

left side english on cue ball

Right English for Right Spin

Right English is essentially the opposite of left english.

You put right english by shooting on the right side of the ball (pictured below). This will result in a right spin on the ball.

right english on cue ball in billiards

When shooting a ball at the rail with right english, it will go to the right instead of coming straight back. (pictured below)

The amount of right spin determines how far right it will go. If you only put a little right spin, it will come close to straight back. If you shoot slow and put a lot of right spin, it will shoot to the right.

Speed is another major factor of ball control.

right english on cue ball

Controlling The Ball

These are the very basics of english. In the examples for high and low english, I used straight shots because those are the simplest to explain but you can use high and low english on any shot. Depending on the shot, it will affect the cue ball differently. I will split up each type of english and explain it in more detail in future articles so, stay tuned.

The basics of english are very simple:

  • high top english follows
  • low english draws backward
  • right english spins to the right when it hits a rail
  • left english spins to the left off a rail

As you get more advanced, you can combine left or right english with top or bottom to make the cue ball do pretty ridiculous stuff. The basic concept of english is pretty simple, but when you apply it to different shots, the ways the cue ball can maneuver the table are endless.

Though english can do some crazy things, controlling the cue ball isn’t just about english, your speed also plays a huge factor in controlling the ball. Hitting at different speeds affects the way your english grips the table. Also, you could know all the english in the world but if you shoot too hard, it still won’t end up where you want it. Also, shooting hard tends to affect your accuracy.

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  1. I use to be really good at pool 40 years ago. Went to a new friend home who has a pool table and I can’t for the life of me draw the cue ball back. What could be the possible problem? Btw he just changed the felt. Tks

    1. A lot of it has to do with feel. I’d say you just need to practice it a few times maybe outside of a game environment where you can do it back to back, but some tips that may help are:

      • you want to hit low on the ball but you still want your stick to be relatively level
      • try following through on your stroke rather than trying to jab the low point on the ball, not saying you do this but just something I’ve observed
      • lastly a lot of it has to do with how much space is between the cue ball and your target ball. If there’s a lot of space you need a lot more spin on the ball in order to get it to draw back, but when the cue ball is close to the target you don’t need as much spin.

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