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Tricks of the Trade

Maybe its that association that playing pool has with smoky bars and disreputable hustlers that resulted in fancy pool shots being christened "tricks." The implication of "trick" of course, is that something dodgy is happening; that what you are seeing is not what is actually occurring; i.e. sleight of hand. With trick shots in pool, however, what you are seeing is a triumph in physics and geometry; they are actually complex mathematical equations. Billiards at its most basic is an exhibition of mechanics in action, demonstrating rotational dynamics, elastic collisions, linear and rotational kinetic energy and linear momentum.

If you do a Google search, you will find a plethora of sites talking about billiards and physics; there are books, videos, articles and even college courses. Of course, most of us aren't physicists (binge watching The Big Bang Theory doesn't make you a Ph.D.) and most "trick" shot practitioners aren't either. But they have managed, through trial and error and expertise, and through lots of practice-practice-practice, to understand and intuit those scientific principles behind why this ball goes there and they use it to their advantage.

Since the 1990's, work has been done to promote trick shot pool and to imbue it with professional standards and expectations. Accordingly, "trick" shots are also known in professional circles as "artistic" shots, putting to rest that notion that something suspicious is happening behind a curtain or underneath a table. In 2002, "Artistic Pool" was officially recognized by the World Pool-Billiard Association as an official sport discipline. So we get to watch the jaw-dropping, mind-boggling merger of "art" and "science" at venues such as ESPN's "Trick Shot Magic" and the "World Cup of Trick Shots."

trick shots

Trick shots are not just for professionals; you too can amaze and delight your friends and family by mastering a few of these phenomena of physics. There are tons of instructional videos on the internet as well as websites like trickshottim.com. Or go old school and check out "Trick and Proposition Shots" an article with illustrations by Colorado State's "Dr. Dave," a professor, mechanical engineer and author of The Illustrated Principles of Pool and Billiards. If you really like to read, there is Byrne's Treasury of Trick Shots in Pool and Billiards by Robert Byrne, 320 pages of everything you could possibly ever want to know about the subject.

And if you need new or better equipment to become the next YouTube sensation, check out Family Leisure's amazing line-up of pool tables and accessories HERE.


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