Mastering the two-way shot
Updated: Mar 22, 2020
This is probably the most important shot in pool, so if you don’t know what it is, please take some time to understand and make it a part of every shot you make. First of all, a two-way shot is where you attempt to make your ball but leave the Cue Ball safe so your opponent does not have a good shot. This may seem obvious, but I constantly watch beginner to intermediate players not make it part of their routine on EVERY shot. You can not assume you will make every shot you take. In fact, it is best if you assume you will miss every shot you take. Don't let your ego cause you to lose! Yes, you can make that shot. Can you make it every time? If not, look at where you plan to leave the cue ball on your next shot. Does your opponent have an easy shot if you miss? Then try to find a better spot to leave the cue where you can make yours and your opponent can not make his. If this isn't possible, maybe it's time to look at something safer in case you miss. Even if it's just as simple as leaving the ball long for you opponent, it's important you at least try to make it hard on them for every shot.
Using the odds... My general rule for a beginner is if you can not make the shot 50% of the time, then focus more on the cue ball leave than making the shot. That number goes up or down depending on the situation. If your opponent is on the 8 ball, and it is hanging on a corner, you must absolutely control the cue ball leave on every shot unless it is a 90% shot. If you opponent has balls frozen and not makeable, then you can go for a shot with a 10% chance of making it, as long as you leave it in a better spot than where it started, and obviously not break his balls apart.
I promise if you start looking at the probability of making your shot (realistically) and play the odds, you will radically increase your win percentage. You do NOT need to make every shot to be a good pool player. This is the hardest thing to convey to a new player.
So bottom line, if you have a 50% shot, leave the cue ball where you can make your next shot and your opponent can not. If this is not possible, then you need to take a hard look at playing a safety, even though you feel you can make the shot. You will start taking pride in missing and hooking your opponent just as much as making it. I promise you will win more games, and maybe your opponent will get so frustrated at your seemingly "lucky" leaves you'll break his confidence, or better yet, want to gamb