Draw for Show, Follow for Dough

by Tom Simpson © September 2000 – Al l Right s Reserved – PoolClinics. Com

Everyone loves to shoot draw shots (backspin). They are exciting and showy – when they work, that is.

In golf, there is an old maxim that says “Drive for show, putt for dough.” We have the same underlying problem, and need a similar piece of advice in pool, so I say “Draw for show, follow for dough.”

The problem is, just like in golf, draw shots (and drives) are sexy, but difficult to control.

Follow shots (and putts) are much easier to master, and are what wins matches and tournaments.

You can prove this to yourself. Set up an easy straight-in shot.

Try shooting it with follow, and follow 1, 2, and 4 diamonds forward.

You can probably manage this fairly consistently.

Now, try the same challenge with draw. While you may be able to do it, you’ll never be as accurate or as consistent with draw.

The main reason is that with draw, you have to break the friction between the cueball and the cloth to make it spin backward, and it takes great precision and touch to do it just right.

What really matters is what the cueball is doing at the moment of impact with the object ball.

This is so important, I’ll say it again: What really matters is what the cueball is doingat the moment of impact.

Draw wears off as the cueball travels. Friction between the cloth and the skidding ball takes the backspin off.

Once all the draw wears off, the cueball begins “natural roll.”

Natural roll is actually considered follow.

Most players think follow has to be overspin, but the truth is, you get very little overspin, and it wears off very quickly.

Most follow is merely natural roll, and you get more by hitting harder.

Yes, it really looks like overspin is causing all that follow effect, but that’s not generally what’s happening.

Here is a simple way to think about what happens when the cueball (CB) hits an object ball (OB).

There are two types of force at work (not the full physics, but a useful way to thinkabout it).

The first type is “forward force.” This is what you would feel if the CB hit you inthe face.

It’s the force the ball has in the direction it’s going. The second force is “rotationalforce.”

Rotational force is any spinning or rolling force in the ball. This can be sidespin,draw, or follow.

These two forces act very differently. At impact, the forward force is split between the cueball and the object ball.

When you hit an OB full on (0° cut angle), all of the forward force is transferred to the OB.

That’s why stop shots happen. While the forward force is split between the balls, according to the cut angle, the rotational force does not split. It remainsin the CB.

In other words, the spin stays (for our purposes) in the CB.

So, let’s go back to our easy straight-in shot. If the CB has backspin when it hits the OB, the forward force all goes into the OB, and the CB stops dead.

The rotational force still in the CB spins against the cloth, and as it grabs, it pulls the CB back, away from the collision point.

This is what makes draw shots work.

If the CB arrives at the OB with follow or natural roll (any forward rotational force), the forward force goes into the OB and the forward rotational force grabs the cloth and propels the CB forward, creating a follow shot.

On the other hand, if the CB arrives at the OB with no rotational force (a sliding or “stun” shot), on a straight-in shot the CB stops dead.

This is how stop shots work.

No matter how hard you hit or how much spin you use, what matters is what the CB is doing at the moment of impact.

Is it rolling, spinning, or sliding, and which way and how fast?

Given that draw wears off and turns into follow (while follow is always follow), you can see why it’s much harder to control how much draw is on the CB at the moment of impact.

Look for position opportunities that use follow, and your position play will improve.

When you have ball in hand, consider placing it near a ball and shooting that ball to whatever pocket will let you follow for good position.

It’s better to take these long follow shots for easy position than to take a short draw shot.

Which would you rather do for $1,000 – draw 12” or follow 12”? (Hint: see article title.)

Return From Draw for Show, Follow for Dough To The Home Page