Browse Quick Guides by Subject

Billiards 101: How to Do a Bank Shot

Billiards 101: How to Do a Bank Shot

Share this with your friends

A bank shot looks simple, and it can be defined simply enough. A bank shot is hitting an object ball into a cushion, from which it bounces off and goes where you want it to go: in the pocket, into another ball, or into a safe place where your opponent won’t be able to hit it. As easy as it seems, a bank shot still takes a bit of skill. Here’s how you do it.

Bank Shot Lingo

There are a couple of types of bank shots:

There are three foolproof ways to pull off a bank shot; they all take a bit of visualization, but once you get the hang of it you’ll be able to make the shot every time.

The Ghost Table System

The easiest way to sink a bank shot is to visualize a ghost table. Just imagine another table, set parallel to your table, with the closest cushions overlapping the real table and the pockets fitting in the real pockets. Then find the same pocket on the ghost table that you want to bank the ball into on the real table. (Hint: That pocket will be on the far side of the ghost table.) Just aim your object ball to that pocket. That’s all there is to it.

The ghost table.

The ghost table.

Suppose that you’re going to bank a ball across the table (a cross-table bank), into the center (side) pocket. Stand on the cue-ball side of the real table—the side you’ll be shooting from—and picture the hinge and the ghost table opening up. Picture the far side pocket of the ghost table; then get down and hit the object ball to it. The ball will, of course, hit the real cushion and bounce back into the side pocket on your side of the table.

You can do the same thing with the corner pocket (also a cross-table bank). If you have a long bank (length of the table rather than across it), you can put your ghost table end to end with the real table, once again with the pockets overlapping. The system works just as well this way as it did on the cross-table bank shot.

The Parallel Lines System

Figuring out parallel-lines banking is easy and works pretty well. This system is easiest to use if you suspend your cue over the line and then move the cue to the object ball.

The Parallel Lines Banking System.

The Parallel Lines Banking System.

In the illustration, the goal is to hit a ball cross-table and bank it into the center pocket near you. I’ll call that pocket B, and the center pocket directly across from it is pocket A. Draw an imaginary line from the object ball to the pocket that you want it to go in (B). Find the halfway point. Suspend the butt of your cue at that point (a few inches over the point), and hold the shaft end over the opposite pocket (A).

Now move your cue to the object ball, but make sure that you keep the cue oriented in exactly the same direction. The result: Cue position 2 (in the illustration) is parallel to cue position 1. That’s why the system is called the parallel-lines banking system. The point where your cue crosses the cushion is where you want the object ball to hit if you want it to go into pocket B. That point is marked in the illustration with a little X.

The X System

The X system is fairly easy, and some people believe that it’s a little more accurate than the preceding two, although it looks a tad more complicated. It’s similar to the parallel-lines system, but you don’t have to depend on your ability to keep a cue aiming in the right direction as you move it.

The imaginary lines for the X System.

The imaginary lines for the X System.

Draw a line from the object ball to the middle of the opening in pocket B (line 1), which is the pocket across the table from where you expect to make the object ball (pocket A). Draw a second imaginary line straight to the cushion from the object ball (line 2). From that point on the cushion, draw a line to the center of the opening in pocket A (line 3). The X where the two lines cross may be hard to find, because the lines are invisible. Some find it easier to visualize the other lines if they use their cue to make line 1 (the one to pocket B), and with the tip in the pocket, then after they find the X, draw a final line straight to the cushion. That point is where you aim the object ball to make it in pocket A.

With these techniques and a little practice at your local pool hall you’ll be making bank shots like a pro. Have fun!

From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pool and Billiards, Second Edition, by Ewa Mataya Laurance and Thomas C. Shaw