I have always had a bit of love/hate relationship with bank shots. Years ago, long before I learned to see the edge of a ball, I would bank everything, and do it all based on gut feeling. I made a lot more banks than I missed during this time. Then I learned things. I learned about spin-banks, I learned about opening up a bank, shortening/stiffening banks, cross-banks, straight backs, speed sensitive banks, opening the pocket banks. I learned how draw/follow affect banks, left/right open/close banks. And I could no longer bank anything. I couldn’t make a bank to save my life.
Obviously, I lost a LOT of one pocket games due to this problem. I bought Freddy The Beard’s “Banking With the Beard” book, but since his descriptions were utterly foreign to how I saw balls, it never really helped. I don’t think about shots as 1/2 ball, 1/4 ball shots. It’s just not how I see them. I think of only 2 things: “Where do I cut this ball into the rail to bank it?” and “What kind of spin will help me get shape on my next shot and how does that affect this bank?”.
Using highschool Geometry, it’s clear that a ball on the line from the 2nd diamond should go into the opposite rail at the 1st diamond to go into the pocket, but that almost never works. So, I began hitting that ball with a bit of outside spin to help it in. Of course, this improved my “straight in” banking, but it killed me when I had to cut the ball into that path.
Over the years, I watched where 1p players would bank balls, more importanly, I’d watch the cue ball (another reason I adore the measle ball). I noticed they weren’t banking at the diamond, they were banking just short of the diamond, on the side closer to the target pocket. I took this to the table and noticed that on that 2-1 diamond path, if I aimed about a ball’s width past the diamond, the ball went with more regularity. So, I extened this to the 4-2 track and again noticed that if I aimed at around 2-ball-widths past the diamond, the ball would drop!
Fast foward about a year, during which my eyes got better and cuts got sharper – meaning I had to bank less and less. I hadn’t been playing hardly any one pocket so banking was all but foreign to me again. I always had a good eye for those reverse long-rail banks, but anything on the short-rail cross-corner was a 30/70 to miss.
Then I found Michael Reddick’s blog Angle of Reflection. More importantly, I found his drill section on banking. It was a godsend. I did my best to memorize those reference lines and try to adjust to the tables I most frequently played on. I really came in handy for my 1p game, obviously. But after a few months of not playing 1p, I again lost the eyes for banks.
Each time I was faced with a bank, I tried to remember those numbers, then I would add english and CIT into the equation. Sometimes, the ball would hit the 2nd diamond on the short-rail, others it’d come straight across as if I hadn’t cut or spun it at all. It’s incredibly disheartening to watch the local 3’s and 4’s in league bank balls like nothing when I, a 7, can’t make a “straight in” bank. Then a teammate posted Ralph Eckert’s Bank Shot Reference Lines video and it contains nearly identical information on the offset of the diamond-to-diamond paths. Ralph’s is less “fine-tuned” than Michael’s, but it is likely the more versatile. His formula is simple: 1/4 diamond at medium speed, for every 2 diamonds on the starting path. (or 2/8ths of a diamond for every diamond)
That means that a ball on the 2-to-1 line should be cut to the .75 diamond, not the diamond itself. Extrapolate to the 4th diamond, instead of the 2nd diamond being straight in, it’s actually straight when it’s in the 1.5 diamond path (4/8 or 2/4). In the middle, the “normal” 3-to-1.5 line is actually the 3-1.12 path (3/8 diamond adjustment). On the 6th diamond then, instead of the 6-to-3 line, it’s actually 6-to-2.25 that’s a “straight in” bank. Similarly, a ball on the path from the corner pocket to the 3rd diamond (8 diamonds = 1 full diamond adjustment) is a straight-in. And lastly, a ball from the 1st diamond to the .38 diamond is a straight in and medium speed.
Of course, as with every system or reference line, your mileage may vary. And also, speed plays a huge factor. If you hit a ball on the 2-to-.75 at slow speed, it will open up more and you’ll go wide of the pocket. Spin also plays a huge part of banking. Experiement at first with just nailing stop-shot banks, straight-ins. Then try cutting the ball into the path with no side spin. And lastly, trying spinning banks in. If you take the time required to master these “feel” shots, you’ll be a lot more deadly in both your banking and kicking games.
Now I need to follow my own advice and just spend some quality practice time at the table building my own feel for these shots. 😉