CueTips Billiards Instruction – Track Line Banking

Posted on by Mark Finkelstein

By NYC Grind Contributor, Mark Finkelstein

Well, I got some real bad news the other day!  I applied for Medicare and the US Government accepted me!  It is really depressing when your government says that you are officially old.  In the past people would tell me age is just a number, it is in your head or it is how you feel, and I agree with that, but, when the government sends you a Medicare card, you are old.

The good thing about being old though, especially in the pool world is that you collect odd bits of information that can help you play better.  I want to share with you a banking system that I think comes from Jerry Briesath.  You will learn a lot from his DVD and Jerry is a great guy to talk to if you have the chance.  Tell him Mark says hello.

One problem with bank shots is that all rails play a little differently.  Trying to adjust for different rails makes geometric banking systems less than useful in most cases.  Add collision induced spin on banks that you cut and you have some real tough problems to figure out.

What the track line banking system does is take a lot of the rail variability out of the bank shot!  When the rubber on the rail compresses to its maximum, all rubber rails play essentially the same!  What that means is that on most banks if you hit the ball hard, the rail rubber compresses and the object ball follows a predictable path.

Let’s learn how that path works so we can get a little better at bank shots.

The formula for the bank is to take figure the half way point of the bank, keep this point and add one third of a diamond to the start point.

In the diagram we see the cue ball at one and one third diamond and the object ball at 1/2.  Hit this shot hard and full in the face, and magically, the object ball goes in the side.

You have to figure what speed you need to compress the rail enough to make this system work, but once you have the speed, these banks are hangers!  The next track line is from the second diamond to the first diamond on the opposite rail.  We add 2/3 of a diamond to our original point and get the second track line.  Two and 2/3’s to one.

This is what this track line looks like.

The third track line to know is from the corner pocket to 1 and 1/2.  Here is a diagram with the third and fourth track line.

Now every thing is great when the bank you are shooting falls exactly on a track line, but what do you do if you have a shot that is off the line a little.  How do you make adjustments so that you still have a high percentage bank?

In this diagram, I have put all the track lines for you.

So from the one ball to the 4 ball we have our four track lines, 5 to 2, 4 to 1/12, 2 2/3 to 1 and 1 1/3 to 1/2.  This looks like a lot of numbers and such, but take the minute to learn this and you will be glad you did.

In our final diagram, I want to show you how I figure out a bank that isn’t on these lines.

Please notice that I over cut this bank slightly to compensate for collision induced spin.  There is an art to this that you can only learn from practicing.  The spin tends to shorten the angle a little in this case, so I over cut slightly.  Notice the 9 is about half way between the two track lines.  On a straight bank, I would aim half way, but on banks that are cue, I like to compensate for the collision induced spin.

Try this banking system and let me know how it works for you.


One of my students has started to play in tournaments, and felt a little frustrated.  His problem was he knew he needs to think about what he is doing before he shoots, but then when he gets down to shoot, he still is thinking, and doesn’t play up to his potential.  He wanted to know how to fix this problem.

I think the best way to describe this is from Tom Simpson.  We have a thinking position and a shooting position.  When we walk around the table looking over the shot, figuring out our pattern, and how we want to get on the next ball, we are thinking.  Shawn Putnam never gets down on a shot unless he can see it clearly in his mind.

Once you can see the shot, you get in to the shooting position.  You already know what you want to do, so there is no more thinking.  Work you pre-shot routine and take a pure  swing at the shot.  That’s all you do.

Most of our misses come from not having a clear picture in our mind of what we want to do from the thinking position, so we start trying to fix things when we are shooting.  Disaster!

Next stop is Philadelphia this weekend.

See you on the road.

Mark Finkelstein is the House Pro at Slate Billiards on 21st Street in Manhattan.

If you have questions, or would like to see a particular topic addressed, you can email Mark at

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