Snooker Skills & Techniques

Updated February 21, 2017

Snooker is a two-player game popular in England and other Commonwealth countries. Similar to billiards, players strike cue sticks against the cue ball, which then hits the scoring balls. Players try to sink -- or "pot" -- scoring balls into side pockets of the table. Practicing snooker techniques and mastering basic skills gives you an edge over opponents and can help you triumph in snooker matches.

Put a Spin on the Balls

Side-, top- and backspins, help you control the cue ball, better pot scoring balls and give your opponent a difficult set-up for his shots. This is also called putting English on the balls. Picture the cue ball face as a clock. To side-spin, strike the cue ball either to the left or right of centre at the 3 o'clock or 9 o'clock position. The side-spin sends the cue ball spinning into the scoring ball, which can knock the scoring ball off its expected path.

To topspin, hit the cue ball at the 12 o'clock position. This makes the cue ball travel faster following its impact with a scoring ball.

Backspins are achieved by striking the cue ball at the 6 o'clock position. A back-spun cue ball reverses course after hitting a scoring ball. Do not hit the ball too low, or it will jump, which is illegal in snooker.


Hit the cue ball just below the centre point, but not low enough to create a backspin. The cue ball will stop moving after it hits a scoring ball, but the scoring ball will continue to travel forward. This can put the cue ball in a better position for the next shot.

Special Stunning Shots

There may be times when you want to stun the cue ball, but have it move forward or back just a bit after hitting the scoring ball. These shots are called stun run-throughs and stun screws. Both shots give you the benefit of a stun while moving the ball into a better position for you or a worse position for your opponent.

The stun run-through is accomplished by striking the cue ball just above the centre point. Properly hit, the cue ball will stop and roll forward a few inches after hitting the scoring ball.

To perform the stun screw shot, line up your shot as you would a stunner -- with the stick tip just below centre. Aim just below that point and strike the cue ball. This will cause the cue ball to stop and reverse a few inches after hitting the scoring ball.

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About the Author

Tallulah Philange has worked as a journalist since 2003. Her work has appeared in the "Princeton (N.J.) Packet," "Destinations" magazine and in higher education publications. She also has edited and produced online content for those publications. Philange holds a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from American University and a Master of Arts in communication, culture and technology from Georgetown University.