I would consider snooker to be one of the most skillful cue sports out there. The size of the table, the size of the pockets and balls makes it an extremely difficult game to master.
The precision the professionals can pay at is remarkable, when you play snooker you can fully appreciate just how skilled professionals are at snooker.
As one of the hardest forms of cue sports, it requires one of the hardest openings to master.
So, how to break in snooker like a pro will take some time to master, but, I assure you it is possible to achieve.
Once you understand the lines, speed and physics of the perfect break in snooker, mixed in with practice and dedication, I’m confident you can also achieve a perfect break
How to break in snooker
The perfect break in snooker is no easy feat to achieve, there are multiple aspects to get right in order to break the pack, without opening up the reds too much and leaving the cue ball in a safe position.
A snooker break is a defensive tactical break, we don’t smash the balls as you would in pool. We are looking to leave the cue ball in a safe position while limiting the number of reds ejected from the pack. This is to leave your opponent in a difficult position in order to gain the advantage.
The first thing you need to make sure is, to have you set up the snooker table correctly and are the reds packed tightly together in the triangle.
This is extremely important as the perfect break is about energy transfer. If the balls are not tightly arranged in the triangle, it will produce an unpredictable scattering of reds from the break.
Having the balls tightly together will help transfer the energy from ball to ball where only the final ball in the path will be fully ejected from the pack, keeping the other balls relatively close together.
How to break in snooker is a balancing act of power, accuracy as well as angles. If you overcompensate or undercompensate any one of these then the whole break will fall apart.
To sum it up, how to break in snooker will require you to hit the cue ball with enough power to make contact with a red ball and not scatter the pack while bringing the cue ball off the cushions and have it rest on the baulk cushion behind one of the three colored balls on the baulk line. Done right, this can give you the advantage.
sounds easy right?
So how is this achieved, lets run through it step-by-step.
STEP 1: Place the cue ball in the right position
After setting up the balls correctly, place the cue ball on the baulk line. Where you place it will be up to you. I would suggest either a couple of inches to the right of the green ball or a couple of inches to the left of the yellow ball.
How to break in snooker has a lot to do with consistency, if you find a comfortable cue ball position, I suggest you master breaking from that position as any changes in cue ball position will need to be accounted for in pace and side-spin (english) applied.
With the cue ball on the baulk line, take aim at the red ball on the corner of the pack. You want to aim to hit about a quarter of the object ball with some side-spin applied. Depending on where on the baulk line the cue ball is placed will determine how much side-spin is needed.
For the above snooker break, I have…
the cue ball on the baulk line about 2 inches to the left of the yellow ball.
a little right side-spin to help the trajectory of the cue ball.
Hit with enough power to get it off three cushions and land on the baulk cushion
Aim to hit about a quarter of the red ball
You will need to balance where to place the cue ball and how much side-spin and how much contact on the red is needed for the best break. Use my directions as a guide that you will need to fine-tune.
STEP 2: It’s all about, speed, accuracy and object ball contact
There is a fine line between a good break and a terrible one when breaking in snooker.
The skill in making a good break is to avoid hitting the central blue ball. If your speed, side-spin, contact on the red is not perfect then you can leave your opponent in an easy position to break build, and you could lose the game there and then.
STEP 3: Leave the cue ball safe
When all the different elements are introduced into a snooker break and executed correctly, you should achieve a very tactical and defensive break.
One that leaves your opponent in a difficult position as the red balls are hampered behind one of the colors on the baulk line. This will require your opponent to reply with an equally impressive shot to put you at a disadvantage.
There is no question about it, how to break in snooker like a pro will require a lot of practice and failed attempts before you can be confident in producing the goods time and time again.
One thing is for sure, when you do master the break, you will be giving yourself a huge advantage right from the off.
Can I smash the red balls on the break in snooker
Would breaking all the reds in snooker, similar to a pool break, be a legal break? Yes, it would.
But if you want to learn how to break in snooker like a pro then I wouldn’t recommend this type of aggressive break.
If you have the idea of aggressively breaking the red up, hoping that a red will pot then you need to consider a few things before attempting this.
Firstly, the table is a LOT bigger than a pool table, therefore the reds will need to travel further to make the pocket so more force will be required.
To apply such force, you will need to hit the reds head-on, to transfer as much energy as possible. The problem with this is, the apex of the red balls is behind the pink ball. Meaning to make the shot you will need to hit the ball the reds at the side. The chances to transfer enough energy are greatly reduced.
Another consideration is the size of the balls and the size of the mouth of the pockets. The balls are smaller and the pocket mouth is narrow meaning there is less room for error. Snooker pockets are notoriously unforgiving so a high degree of accuracy is needed.
When you scatter the balls from the break they will shoot off in all directions, and no doubt send some colors flying around too. The problem now would be if you pot a color off the break, resulting in a foul. Your opponent would also get added points because you fouled. The number of points awarded would depend on the color potted.
What happens if you don’t pot a red off the break, then you are likely to have left the cue ball with an east red for your opponent. Given the skill level of some players, this will probably be an easy win for them.
Learning how to break in snooker will take a lot of practice to get right. Youll need to adjust the parameters of side-spin, speed and contact on the object ball to perfect the break. Once perfected, being consistent is the next key requirement to make the perfect break.
Once you know all the parameters required, Rince and repeat until it becomes second nature to you. Best of luck!
Rob is an avid player and fan of all cue sports, particularly 8-ball, and snooker. He has competed in a few local 8-ball tournaments and although he is not a professional, he can compete with the best of them.