How to Play Pool Alone (Solo Practice Guide with 6 Games)

Pool is famous for being a competitive sport that requires immense practice and precise thinking before hitting a stroke. Playing pool all by yourself can sound rather incredulous, but it is quite common. Although it’s a two-player game, you can most assuredly play it alone and have a good time, too.

You will need a general but clear understanding of the rules plus these essentials:

  • A Pool Table
  • Cue
  • Chalk
  • and Balls

Once you are equipped, you are ready to play alone. This article will provide you details about all you need to know from playing alone to improving your skills and all the solo game options.

Playing Solo: The Basics

Playing Solo Pool

You begin by racking the balls and putting all of them inside the triangular rack at one end of the pool table. The 8-ball has to be in the middle of the rack. Then, place your cue ball on the opposing end.

Now chalk your pool stick by rubbing the chalk on the tip to add friction to it. Next comes the break. Bring your pool stick back and hit the cue ball to scatter the lined-up balls. Play synchronously and keep shooting until you pocket all of your designated color balls.

The balls are divided into two colors: stripes or solids. You can opt for whichever color you want and begin pocketing them. The quicker they all go in the pocket, the sooner you get a shot at the final 8-ball.

How To Polish Your Skills While Playing Solo

If you wish to refine your skills while going solo, you need to devote hours to polishing them. You can only dominate the game through practice, and since you will not have a competitor to practice with, you must learn some drills by yourself to improve your skillset.

To help with that, we have summed up some stroke drills to give you a better insight into techniques. You can practice them by yourself to become a more capable player.

Determining Your Stroke

First, it is imperative to know if you have what it takes to execute a straight shot. This is where you determine the accuracy of your shot. Position your cue ball on the central spot (at the opposing side from where you bracket the balls).

Once the cue ball is placed on that spot, grab your pool stick, and aim it directly at the rail on the other end of the pool table. Be particular about aiming your cue ball without any spin on it. Just shoot straight and break the balls.

If the stroke is correct, the cue ball will collide with the rail and roll back to the same path it came from, and go towards the head spot where the cue ball originally was. Any issues in your stroke will show instantly after the cue ball hits the rail.

If you provided the shot with any inadvertent spin, it would not come back in a straight line towards its original position on the head spot. Although this drill seems simple enough, the outcome might amaze you.

Hitting the cue ball straight, even from a short-range, can be challenging, which is why it is so vital to practice this drill. It will help if you do this drill 30 times a day until you develop a 90% accuracy rate.

Testing Your Stroke

After you develop your accurate shot, now is the time to test it out with a pool ball. It is a rather tough one, so you might need much more practice and precision than hitting your cue ball on the rail.

Position an object ball on the rail alongside the right corner pocket. Then, put your cue ball on a similar line from the object ball. Take your stick and aim at the object ball. You must ensure there is no spin, just a straight hit. Strive for the object ball’s center, and then hit the stroke.

Much like the former drill, if the cue ball rolls back in a straight, clean line to the standpoint from where it started, then you have succeeded. With this drill, any mistakes you make will be instantly noticeable.

Since you are striking one round ball with another, unless the cue ball collides with the object ball in the middle, it will be inconceivable for your cue ball to roll back in a straight line. Instead, it might scatter in the opposite direction, along with your object ball.

This drill is not a straightforward one, but once you ace it, you achieve a faultless straight stroke. You can try this drill every day until you see an 80% accuracy rate.

Practicing Your Stroke

Now it is time to perfect your stroke. Position the object ball at an eight-inch range from one of the pockets, lining it up precisely with the middle of the pocket. After that, draw one imaginary diagonal string between your object ball and the corner pocket diagonal to it.

Place your cue ball four inches away from your object ball, and try hitting the object ball into the pocket. Proceed with this until you accomplish 100% accuracy. When you master this straight stroke from a four-inch distance, take your cue ball four inches farther, and repeat.

Continue hitting from this eight-inch range until you attain a 95% proficiency rate. After accomplishing aptitude from 8 inches, you should continue hitting from 12 and finally 16 inches.

When you do this drill, no matter the distance, your stroke must encounter very few errors and must knock your object ball into the corner pocket. It is best to note down your misses and work on them.

It is noteworthy to mention that stroke drills require a lot of time to show consistent results, so you must not lose patience or get discouraged. With time and dedication, you are sure to succeed.

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Fun Games for Solo Play

While pool is commonly for two, there some famous solo games to play. These games can help you to stay focused and sharp. Some of these solo games are a twist on the traditional two-player ones, and some work best in honing your gaming skills.

Here is a list of some of these really fun and challenging games to consider while playing solo (Ordered by popularity).

1. Three-Ball

If you wish to improve your mental game skill and be better at reading the table, Three-Ball is your way to go. One quick but fun game, it entails more strategy than accuracy. It includes three balls with the purpose of pocketing them all in the least amount of shots.

To play, you need to position three balls in a diamond arrangement, break them, and then continue to pocket the lingering balls in as many hits as possible. The break itself counts as a shot, while a miss count as two.

You can count the number of shots and try to keep improving your score. While it does not take long, it is a great way to help you plan your shots with the utmost accuracy.

2. Cowboy

It is the game of 8-ball backward. You rack the balls in an 8-ball manner and then progress to break. After breaking, you pocket your assigned balls but not in a conventional way. In the classic 8-ball game, you hit the cue ball first, which strikes your object ball into a pocket.

With cowboy pool, you hit your object ball first, which then must hit your cue ball before propelling its way into a pocket. This style is a fantastic way to understand angles and learn position play.

3. Fargo

Fargo pool is more of a points game than the race to pocket balls. It is also known as a call shot game where you must call your ball and pocket before hitting your shot. You begin by racking all fifteen balls in the 8-ball style. After you break, you continue with the ball in hand.

It doesn’t have any penalty for missing on the break. The game is commonly played to ten racks or ‘innings.’ Every inning has two levels: random and rotation. In random, every ball you pocket tallies earns you a point. In rotation, every pocketed ball counts as two points.

4. The Speed Game

Speed pool is a tremendous strategy to bolster your proficiency to stay calm under pressure. Speed pool is essentially a timed interpretation of 8-ball. You play precisely like 8-ball, except it is a race against the clock.

Rack the balls in an 8-ball style, set a 20-minute timer, and start. Then see if you can pocket all balls in time. If you succeed, curtail the timer by five minutes and accomplish your best time. Keep going with this game, and it will help in your speed timing.

5. Target

Target pool is a terrific solo game that will improve the control you will retain on the cue ball, which vastly affects the quality of the game. Rather than just aiming to pocket your object balls, you will also have to strive toward getting your cue ball to particular areas on the pool table.

The more advanced players can play certain types of shots to get the cue ball to get to a particular ‘target’ area in the aftermath.

6. 15 in a Row

The most popular game suggestion is the famous fifteen in a row. You rack the balls like in a typical 8-ball game. You must pocket one ball or more without a miss; otherwise, it leads you back to the beginning.

Alternatively, if your skill level is advanced, you can create obstacles for yourself by adding any handicap, and whenever you miss, you are back to square one.

Tips for Playing Alone

While it may appear somewhat strange playing all by yourself, it is more common than you can envision. Here are some helpful tips to make your solo game experience more beneficial.

  • Practice Tough Shots: Going solo is the most suitable time to get better at strokes that are challenging. With zero pressure from a foe, you can seize the opportunity and take your time to truly focus on the shots and drill down on your precision. Speculate about the shots you generally miss and work on those to bring some consistency in your shots.
  • Work on your Grip: Getting the right pool stick grip is very crucial. A tight grip significantly escalates your chances of inadvertently shooting your cue ball off the pool table. Therefore, your grip has to be firm enough to hit the cue ball steadily. Hold your stick lightly by resting on your fingers. It should not touch your palm, and your pinky finger should stay free. Try to keep your grip gentle while retaining control.
  • Get Pocket Reducers: To challenge yourself more, grab some pocket reducers. This will decrease the pocket area, making it more challenging for you to knock the balls in the pocket. Pocket reducers help you majorly in improving accuracy. Spending some time with these will result in better precision and game quality.

Conclusion

Practice and precision are the names of the game. While pool is ideal with two players, the massive advantage you can gain while playing solo is undeniable.

Nonetheless, you must dive into solo playing, knowing it will require certain work on your part to refine your game. You can practice your strokes and improve your technique without worrying about an audience. Moreover, the various solo games make it fun to play by yourself.

Hopefully, this article lends you enough insight into what makes a successful pool player. Determining your strengths in solo mode will ensure better performance in a competitive situation.

But playing solo can be hard when your friends just keep showing up. Fear not! Here are some games that might fit the bill. Surely, you’ll find a new favorite game to play with all of them.

Daniel Bouie - SportsDean
Daniel Bouie
Daniel Bouie has been playing and helping others learn the ins and outs of pool for eight years. His profound love for the game inspired him to become a qualified billiard instructor in 2015. He frequently practices in his spare time and teaches private lessons to novice and intermediate players.

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