Introduction to the game
Here is some basic terminology dealing with a cue and a pool table:
and here is some terminology related to a pool shot:
Here's a good introduction to the game from Mike Page's "Learn How to Play Pool in Ten Minutes" video:
Here's a concise rules summary for 8-ball and 9-ball (based on the WPA World Standardized Rules ). Information on rules for different leagues, along with a video-based rules quiz, can be found here: pool rules resources .
Here are some useful documents and resources for helping you diagnose problems with and improve your fundamentals (grip, bridge, stance, and stroke) and pre-shot routine:
Here's a video describing recommended "best practices" for the stance:
Here is a video demonstration of the generally-recommended pendulum stroke:
A good drill for learning to improve your stroke is called MOFUDAT. MO st F amous and U seful D rill of A ll T ime. Here's a video demonstration:
How to Aim
Here is some terminology related to aiming a pool shot:
The biggest challenge of pool is visualizing the necessary shot line that sends the cue ball (CB) to the ghost-ball (GB) position to contact the object ball (OB) at the point where the line of centers through the GB and OB heads to the target direction (e.g. to a pocket). Here's a video demonstration showing a relatively easy way to visualize the line of aim at the pool table:
And here are some other resources that can help you learn and practice the ghost-ball aiming method.
More information about various aiming methods can be found here: Aiming Systems. How to Aim Pool Shots (HAPS) covers the basics of aiming along with aiming systems for all sorts of pool shots.
A key part of aiming is body and head alignment. If your vision is not centered properly, you won't perceive the line of aim of the shot correctly:
A good pre-shot routine can also help your aiming accuracy and consistency:
Adjusting Aim for Throw
It is important to understand how friction between the CB and OB can change the direction of the OB. This effect is called throw. Throw is not very large with fast speed shots,
and it is less when the CB has topspin or bottom-spin, but the effect can be significant with slower-speed shots, especially with stun. When throw is due to cut angle alone, the effect is called cut-induced throw (CIT):
Many important throw effects are demonstrated in the following video:
Examples of how throw can be used to your advantage can be found here: throw shot examples
And a summary of how throw varies for different types of shots can be found here: squirt, swerve, and throw effects
One way to deal with throw is to eliminate it with "gearing" outside english. as covered in the following video:
Cue Ball Position Control
Once you know how to aim and execute basic shots, the next step is learning and controlling where the CB will go for the next shot. The most important goal in pool is to pocket the OB, but the 2nd most important goal is to leave the CB in a good spot to allow you to pocket the next and remaining OBs. It is also important to predict CB motion when needing to detect and avoid a scratch, plan position routes, avoid "traffic" (obstacle balls), and to aim carom (kiss) shots and break-out (cluster separation) shots.
Below is an illustration of reference directions useful for predicting the path of the CB. For more information, examples, and video demonstration links, see: Fundamentals - Part V: CB position control (Billiards Digest, January, 2009).
Here's a good video demonstration of the reference directions predicted by the 90-degree rule (for a stun shot), the 30-degree rule (for a follow shot), and the trisect system (for a draw shot):
Shot speed has a significant affect on the path of the CB. For more information and demonstrations see: speed effects.
The CB reference directions are also very useful for aiming carom shots. as demonstrated in this video:
and for aiming break-out shots:
A big part of controlling the position of the CB is developing a good feel for shot speed. Here's a drill that can help you develop good speed control .
Here's a good drill, from Disc II of the Billiard University (BU) Instructional DVD series. for practicing cue ball control:
More drills and advice can be found here: cue ball control resource page .