A pretty and useful kiss stroke is obtained with the object ball against a cushion and the cue ball at right angles to the object ball and the pocket or cannon required. The aim is dead central with check side, and played gently.
The habit of striking the cue ball high for all manner of plain shots should be overcome. “Top” is only necessary when plenty of rotation or travel has to be got on to the cue ball. Remember that cueing with top can never be so accurate as dead central striking.
Practise assiduously gentle strengths, but without hesitancy. Unless gentle striking is done with confidence a freer stroke pays better.
Have two identical cues if you can afford it and never play (if avoidable) with a cue other than your own. Handling your own cue should give you the same comfortable feeling as grasping an old friend’s hand.
Don’t pride yourself on bringing off a series of short jennies into a middle pocket. More than one in succession argues bad play, as the contact, in the first instance, should have been made fuller in order to leave an ordinary in-off.
It is usually sound play to go out for the all-round cannon when the white is within a few inches of a baulk corner.
The full run-through from hand into a corner pocket with cue ball clinging to the side cushion should ordinarily be slow and that down the table fast for position purposes.
Get used to a set series of strengths by playing up and down the table both without and with an object ball. For example: Play first from a little wide of the centre baulk spot over the centre table spot with two length strength and then use the same strength full on a ball placed on the middle spot, and note how far both balls run. Afterwards try one length strokes similarly across the table.
Sometimes better play than losing one for a miss is to cue your ball gently in front of, and close to, your opponent’s.
Some characteristic features of slow “side” should be closely studied. For instance, when playing half-ball up the table the cue ball is influenced both before and after contact, but when playing dead across the table it is only influenced after contact. Down the table the side must be reversed or thick aim exchanged for thin, and vice versa. The allowance (roughly) is ¼ inch for ¼ length, ½ inch for half length, and so on.
The great art in the use of side is (1) to do without it whenever unnecessary; (2) to use no more of it than is actually required. Superfluous side may hide its hurtfulness in a pocket and even look pretty, but on the completion of a cannon it may easily ruin position. Remember that, apart from the actual cue delivery many degrees of side are obtainable between centre and edge of the cue ball.
The crowning error of many good amateurs is the frequent endeavour to quickly force position by a difficult stroke when a series of easy scores would bring about the desired result naturally.