If you’re like us, and pocketing balls isn’t a particular strength, the first thing to remember is not to shoot too hard. “Give the shot just enough power to pocket it, or at least to leave it near the intended pocket if it doesn’t drop, so it’s an easier shot next time,” suggests pro billiard instructor Mike Fieldhammer, who’s captained five champion national amateur teams. Don’t slam it—the last thing you want to do is to try and look cool by knocking the shit out of it, just to see it go flying off the table and into your date’s nachos.
As for shooting: “Place your bridge (forward) hand about eight inches from the cueball,” Fieldhammer says, “and cradle the cue in your grip hand so your forearm is hanging straight down from the elbow when the tip’s near the ball. Keep the cue level, and move it in a smooth back-and-forth motion, stopping to aim once or twice. Make the final stroke smooth and accelerate through the ball and stop naturally.”
Other important considerations: First and foremost, be a good sport—in a girl’s eyes, losing gracefully beats tantrum throwing anytime. And don’t flout pool-table etiquette: “No twitching or moving suddenly and hollering, ‘Noonan!’ à la Caddyshack,” says Fieldhammer. Finally, never, ever commit the worst faux pas: putting your drink on the pool table.