Casual trick shot artists often have a few jaw-dropping trick shots up their sleeve. Using a cue stick and perhaps some props, he or she can force the billiard balls to move in seemingly physics-defying motions. However, professional trick shot artists or artistic pool players practice more than just a couple setup shots and skill shots. Competition requires them to master an arsenal of tricks that are divided into eight shot disciplines or categories — trick and fancy, prop/novelty/special arts, draw, follow, bank/kick, stroke, jump, and masse.
Trick and Fancy: In general, these shots are setup shots, meaning the multiple billiard balls are arranged in a specific manner such that a single cue stroke can pocket all the pool balls. A popular trick and fancy shot is the Just Showing Off shot.
Prop, Novelty, and Special Arts: Also known as the general amusement category, these shots are a mix of shots that use props such as the rack or bridge, require multiple balls to be shot within a short period of time (speed shots), rely on shooting balls with one hand, or contain some other criteria. A well known the Over and Under shot.
Draw: The basic premise of the draw shot is to hit the cue ball below center to give it some backspin. These shots require the cue ball to return towards the shooter after colliding with the object ball. The Cowboy Jimmy Moore Circular Draw shot is often seen on television competitions.
Follow: Follow shots are the reverse of the draw shots. The cue ball is hit above the center so topspin propels the ball along its original path after striking the object ball. An example of this type of shot is Hug the Rail.
Bank/Kick: In bank shots, the object ball has to hit at least one rail before sinking into a pocket. Kick shots, on the other hand, require the cue ball to hit a rail before contacting the object ball. One especially famous shot is the Hustler Bank, which was made popular in the opening scene of the movie The Hustler.
Stroke: Mastering any trick shot requires a good stroke or good technique, but the shots in the stroke category are particularly challenging and test both technique and control. In some of these shots, the cue ball is very close or even frozen (touching) the object ball. The (Hundred) Dollar Bill shot, which is used as a tie-breaker in ESPN’s Trick Shot Magic, is an example of a stroke shot.
Jump: In the jump category, the cue ball usually jumps over an obstructing pool ball, but they can also jump directly into another ball, creating unusual or surprising results. This discipline is one of the more exciting disciplines to watch. The One Handed Jump is very impressive.
Masse: Perhaps the most unbelievable category, masse shots involving putting an extraordinary amount of spin on the cue ball so that it moves along a curved path. This discipline is arguably the most difficult artistic pool discipline to master. A crowd favorite masse shot is the Rocket Masse.
Once you’ve mastered several shots from each of these categories, why not test out the competition circuit? There are several professional and amateur trick shot competitions held every year for you to compete in or just to watch.