How To Make the 8 Ball on the Break? Strategy and Examples

In games of 8 Ball Pool, where players adhere to APA or bar rules, the breaker can win the game if they legally pocket the 8 ball. To do this, they would have to take a shot that follows all break rules, does not cause a determination, and the cue ball is not pocket with the 8 ball. If all goes according to plan, the breaker can win the game before it even had a chance to start, but how can they successfully pull off such a shot?

In this article, we’ll discuss the proper strategy for pulling off this devilishly tricky shot and successfully pocketing the 8 ball on the break. Our guide will take ambitious players step-by-step through the process and cover everything from hand placement to cue ball positioning and more.

Have Realistic Expectations

We know many of you were hoping we’d jump right into the strategic side of this guide in terms of ball and hand placement, etc. Still, pool is very much a mental game as much as a physical game. So, it’s important you have the right mentality and expectations before performing this shot.

Pocketing the 8 ball on the break is an extremely difficult shot that no pool player can make with 100% accuracy every time. While you can definitely learn techniques that will increase your likelihood of making this shot, it is important to remember that a fair amount of luck is involved, and if you miss this shot, you need to set yourself up for an entire game of 8 Ball Pool.

If it were easy to pocket the 8 ball on the break, every pro pool player would do it. The fact that most don’t proves that it isn’t an easy feat to achieve. Plus, if you happen to miss this shot, your risk giving your opponent a significant advantage and might be gambling away your potential to win.

Therefore, it is important to recognize that while you can practice the techniques for this shot repeatedly, using it in an official game is ultimately a gamble.

Analyze the Rack for Any Gaps

A skill pool players acquire over years of practice and experience is the ability to analyze the rack for any gaps and recognize what they can do with it, depending on how tight the rack is, maybe if gaps are present and where the gaps are located.

In order to pocket the 8 ball on the break, you’ll want to ensure the rack is tight except for one gap. If you see there is a relatively small gap between the 8 ball and one of the other two balls in its immediate row, this is the prime opportunity to attempt this shot.

Ideally, you would want the gap to be on the opposite side of the cue ball, and we’ll discuss cue ball placement momentarily. For the most part, players prefer to take this shot on the left side of the table from the breaker’s perspective. Therefore, the gap would be on the right side of the rack.

It is best to avoid this shot if the rack is packed since there will be too much kiss upon the break, and you would need infinitely more luck to be successful. Of course, you don’t want too many gaps within the rack, or the energy from your break won’t transfer properly.

Place the Cue Ball on the Opposite Side of the Rack Gap

Once you’ve identified the gap within the rack, you can confidently place your cue ball and begin setting up the shot. As we mentioned previously, a gap isn’t essential for this shot, but it will significantly increase your odds of pocketing the 8 ball.

The cue ball should be placed about a ball’s width from the side rail and as close to the headstring as possible without fouling.

This placement gives you the best chance of hitting the proper target ball for 8 ball contact. However, many players, especially in the beginner or intermediate levels, find they frequently pop the ball off the table when they pair this cue ball placement with its adjoining hand and stick placements.

Therefore, to reduce the likelihood of this foul, you can opt to place the cue ball about two ball widths from the side rail.

Lay Your Cue Stick Flat on the Rail and Shoot as Low on the Cue Ball as Possible

With your cue ball in place, you can now get into position and place your hand and cue stick in the optimal position for your shot.

If the player has chosen to place their cue ball a ball’s width from the side rail, they must lay their cue stick flat on the rail with their hand on top of the cue stick. When in this position, you want to aim as low on the cue ball as possible.

Alternatively, if they have opted to place the cue ball two ball’s width from the rail, they should put their hand out on the table with the palm resting on the rail and the rest of their hand under the stick.

Always refrain from placing your hand under the stick if you are shooting off the rail, as this will cause them to shoot at an angle, which will drive the cue ball into the table and cause it to jump off the rail.

Aim for The Second Ball on the Rack, Opposite the Gap

By this point, everything should be in place for your shot, and all you have to do is aim at the right ball, so the eight ball flies into the side pocket without causing your cue ball to scratch.

For an 8 ball break shot, you must aim for the second ball on the rack that is located on the same side as your cue stick and the opposite side of the gap and intended pocket.

With this target ball in mind, you must now choose the contact point. The goal here is to hit the target ball fully without making any contact with the front ball. Hitting both balls will result in a significant loss of energy from the target ball to the 8 ball, most likely resulting in a missed shot.

In addition to hitting the target ball fully, you must hit it head-on rather than aiming at its center. If you hit the center, you increase the chances of your cue ball scratching in the side or rear pocket, which would result in a loss of game or your loss of turn, depending on the game rules.

Ideally, if all of your calculations are correct, you’ll hit the target ball head-on without contacting any other ball in the rack. The contact energy would then be transferred fully and drive the 8 ball off the tightly packed balls behind it and through the gap we discussed earlier. Your cue ball should contact the side rail and bounce back into the rack while the 8 ball soars into the side pocket for the win.


Benny is the owner of Supreme Billiards and has been shooting pool and teaching people how to shoot pool for a few years now. He enjoys showing new players techniques and drills to improve their pool game.

Recent Posts