how to put spin on a pool ball : The Ultimate Guide

Applying spin to the cue ball correctly can add more to your game, whether you are playing billiards, pool or snooker. But it is a trick that requires a lot of practice to perfect it. So a few questions might come to mind, like, why do you need to apply a spin, how to put spin on a pool ball and how does it benefit your game?

Let’s first start with what a spin is. To apply spin to a cue ball is a technique by which the player strikes the cue ball with such precision and speed that it results in the ball spinning in a particular direction.

Next comes the question of why we need to apply spin to the cue ball. The main objective is to gain control over the cue ball. Putting a spin on the pool ball allows the player to manipulate the position of the object ball.

Before we talk about how to put a spin on a cue ball, let’s focus on the requirements. Apart from the quality of the cue stick, the cue ball, the pool balls and the pool table, what matters is the stance and aim of the player and how well they can apply the spin.

If we talk about the most commonly played game of pool, the 8-ball pool is mostly used by the players to show off their spinning talent. However, different techniques for applying spin to a cue ball result in striking performances.

The cue ball spin can get the player out of tricky situations and give them an upper hand. But the key to mastering the technique is following up with proper practice. So today, we’ll be talking about how to put spin on a pool ball.

History of Spin Techniques

A little history about the game. The game of billiards is one of the oldest games known, with the earliest references to it occurring in Europe in the 15th century.

Around the 18th century in Europe, a leather cue tip was developed, which allowed the player to apply spins to the cue ball. One of the first spin techniques to have been developed was the side spin or the ‘English’.

How to Put Spin on a Pool Ball: The Techniques

The cue ball spin can be applied in three different ways. They are top spin, side spin and Backspin. These techniques can be learned from YouTube. 

Using one of these techniques may take your game from 0 to 10. But beware, mastering them won’t be a child’s play. Knowing when to use which spin technique plays an important role in the gameplay.

 Let’s get started with how to put spin on a pool ball in detail.

How to Put Topspin on a Cue Ball?

Top spin is also referred to as ‘follow’; in this technique, the cue ball follows the object ball after the strike. Top spin is applied by hitting the part above the center of the cue ball with the cue tip.

Applying this spin allows the ball to travel further along the pool cloth after the shot rather than stopping abruptly. Top spin also affects the cue ball’s angle after the shot. After hitting the cushion or the object ball, the departure angle widens.

A good strategy to benefit from the top spin will be to hit the ball faster. The faster you hit it, the faster the cue ball will travel. This technique is very useful to ‘clear your way’ if the cue ball has a bunch of balls in front of it.

Top spin also allows you to make multiple shots simultaneously as it travels even after hitting the center.

Bonus tip:- Aim the cue tip at 12 o’clock point above the hitting center of the cue ball for Top Spin.

When to use:-  When you are aiming for a clear straight shot, but there are a bunch of object balls in front of the cue ball, this spin shot can help to clear the way. It might also increase the chance of multiple shots at once, as the cue ball continues rolling after striking the object ball.

Read more How To Level A Table- A Guide To Self-Leveling.

How to Put a Side Spin on a Cue Ball?

Side spin on a cue ball can be applied in two ways- Right side spin and Left side spin. It is also referred to as ‘English’. To make the ball spin in either direction, the player strikes the cue ball in the left or right direction as per the player’s choice.

This trick requires more practice as compared to the other two spins. If not shot properly, it might lead to spotting errors, and the cue ball might not finish the movement where expected. It solely depends on the player’s view of the path where the cue ball might make contact with the object ball.

This spin is said to be the cleverest trick as it collides with object balls more and leads to more movement on the table.

Bonus tip:- Aim the cue tip at the 3 o’clock point at the right of the hitting center of the cue ball for Right Side Spin. Aim the cue tip at the 9 o’clock point at the left of the hitting center of the ball for the Left Side Spin.

When to use:- Side spin is used to change the cue ball’s rebound angle off cushions after hitting the target ball. This trick ensures optimal cue ball control, making the next shot easier for the player.

How to Put Backspin on a Cue Ball?

Backspin is often known as ‘Bottom spin’, ‘Screw’, and ‘Draw’. Backspin is the reverse of the topspin. You strike the cue ball by positioning the cue tip on the lower half of the ball.

Unlike the top spin, applying the bottom spin can also lead to a stunning shot. A stunning shot is where the cue ball stops immediately after hitting the object ball. If played properly, it reduces the angle of departure.

While applying the back cue ball spin, the lower you strike the ball, the faster it spins. Therefore, it is the best way to break in, in a game of 8-ball pool.

Bonus tip:- Aim the cue tip at the 6 o’clock point at the bottom of the hitting center of the cue ball for Backspin.

When to use:- Using a backspin gives you the advantage of timing your next shot. The cue ball considerably slows down and sometimes makes an unpredictable bounce. It allows you to keep the ball in for a longer play, increasing your chance of scoring more.

The three shots mentioned above are the basic techniques to master the game of billiards, pool or snooker. Of course, there are variations to these techniques with different gameplays. Sometimes the desired result is not achieved if the cue does not strike true to the cue ball.

A combination of spins can be applied for different effects on the shot. For example, if you strike between the lower and the side of the cue ball, you get a combination of lower and side spin.

The spin techniques can give you an upper hand in the game if applied properly. But a slight mistake can cost you a handsome shot and give your opponent a greater advantage. So, the spin must only be applied where the control of the cue ball needs to be manipulated.


How to Put Spin on a Pool Ball: Tips to Perfect the Spin Techniques.

There is no one way to perfect the techniques. It also depends on the resource one is learning these methods from. But here are some standard tips to help you master the cue ball spins.

Ø Get better with practice. The sure way to successfully learn these skills is to practice them.

Ø With more gameplay, you can recognise which spin shot is required in a particular situation.

Ø You should keep in mind that different tables can affect the performance of your spin as different pool cloths determine the speed of the spin.

Ø The quality of the cushions- is it hard or soft, also determines the performance of the spin. It is advised to practice a few shots on the table beforehand to get accustomed to the effect the table might have on the cue ball.

Ø Poor judgment of height might lead to incorrect spin shots, which may cost you the game. So, strike at the clockwise quarters of the hour on the ball to get a more accurate spin shot.


Few Things to Keep in Mind

how to put spin on a pool ball

A novice player should keep these things in mind while playing the game.

  • Make sure your stance is stable and comfortable.
  • Keep your grip on the cue stick relaxed.
  • Do not try to hit faster than required for the shot.
  • Make sure your vision center is aligned properly.
  • Make sure your cue tip is well chalked for smooth acceleration.
  • The 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock aim at the cue ball, ensuring right and left side spin.
  • The 12 o’clock aim on the cue ball ensures top spin.
  • The 6 o’clock aim at the cue ball ensures Backspin.

Bonus Trick: The Massé

The massé shot is a technique that allows the cue ball to follow a curved path. It can be used to make a sharp turn around the numerous object balls to hit the target. The massé is a complicated shot and hence requires a lot of practice.

In massé, the spin is imparted through the horizontal and vertical axes. This gives a higher degree of spin so that the cue ball reverses its direction and makes a tight curve.

Massé is banned in some gameplays as the novice player might rip the pool cloth while trying to make this shot. Instead, the massé is mostly used by pro players to flaunt their talent in the game of pool or billiards.


Practice makes perfect. Any game, skill and technique can be mastered if practiced properly. Applying either the spin technique or a combination of the techniques can weigh the chances in your favor. The top spin, side spin and back spin techniques are a trump card if used properly.

 Moreover, they are easy to learn and can be accessed through various YouTube channels that teach these techniques. These techniques make a game of billiards or pool all the more compelling. This is all you need to know on how to put spin on a pool ball.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.  How do I know what spin to put on a cue ball?

Ans. The only way to know what spin to use on a cue ball is by practice. Once you start playing the game and get familiar with different effects on cue balls of different spins, you start recognizing which spin to use and when.

2.  How do you curve a pool ball?

Ans. To curve a pool ball, elevate the cue stick and strike the cue ball below its hitting center. If you want to curve the ball to the left, then hit the ball on its left side. To curve the ball to the right, hit it on its right side.

3.  What does the red dot on the 8 ball do?

Ans. The red dot on the cue ball of the 8-ball pool allows you to see the spin of the cue ball. The red dot signifies in which direction the cue ball is spinning.

4.  How can I improve my pool fast?

Ans. Some ways to improve in the pool area are by practicing the game and by learning the correct methods of playing. Stance and aim are two very important requirements of a pool. So make sure to focus on them equally.

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