Breaking is the most important shot for table domination in most pocket billiards fame.
Having a strong, controlled break is at times, the determining factor in whether you win or lose a match. It can be assumed that speed equals energy when striking a cue ball, therefore the more speed, the greater the energy when striking the rack. The more energy transferred to the rack the higher the probability that you will pocket a ball.
In my opinion, this is essential to winning.
For me and most of my friends, working on improving our break was nothing more than trial and error based on guess work. We never had a point of reference or measurable goal. How would we know if a different stance, grip, bridge or cue is making a difference at all other than a few lucky rolls?
At least not until the creation of this smartphone application. Break Speed: Powered by Predator was developed by Paul Nettle and Craig York.
The first thing I noticed was that the application is beautifully designed in the color palette we have come to associate with Predator products. There are four main pages to the application and all are user-friendly. They allow you to start the speed reading as well as give you access to previous readings. It allows you to set up and virtually simulate the table size (6 – 12 fit tables) and cue ball placement before your break and speed reading.
My first attempt was abysmal! What? I’m almost 300 pounds! Am I really that weak? (17mph) That can’t be true!
It was, but that’s okay. Here I am and I now have a benchmark. My trial had started. A goal!
I needed a goal, so I went to the best shooter in my local hall (and a monster breaker).
He breaks—26 mph! He is half my size!
Not discouraged, I went back to my table and started making adjustments. First it was my stance, then my follow-through, then the break cue itself. By the end of teh night I had managed to get to 21.75 mph. This was progress.
The app works! I love it and so does everyone else, because a secondary use for the app is that it is a great conversation starter.
If I had to note some downsides, it would be hard. the app is really good at what it does and what it claims to do. Overall the benefit is that here is now a measurable way to improve your break, to see if that break cue you bought was worth the $400 or to know if that tip your friend gave you was helpful. At $49.99 it would be amazing but for $4.99 it’s a steal!
Photo: Jeff M for Short/Flickr Editor: Dana Gornall