Physics of Billiards

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Physics can be found anytime, anywhere. Billards is one game where the more you know about physics the better a player you will be.

Some of the main physics principles in Billards are:

Newton's Laws:

1st: An object in motion tends to stay in motion while an object at rest will stay at rest, unless acted upon by an outside force.

2nd: Force is proportional to mass times the acceleration.

3rd: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Conservation of Momentum:

In an isolated system, (a system with no outside force acting upon it) then the total momentum will remain constant.


The tendency an object has to follow the same path all the time and not change its motion.


Sliding Friction: the friction on an object while it is moving.

Static Friction: Static Friction is the friction that acts on an object that is stationary.

There are a few different techniques to striking the cue ball and each will give a different results.

Center ball: When you hit center ball, the cue ball slides for a ways, and then rolls.

Draw: Is achieved by hitting the cue ball below center. First the ball rotates backward. This rotation slows as the ball slides, and then the ball rolls forward as it does on other shots. The harder you shoot, the farther the ball will travel with this backward spin. And the lower you cue the ball, the farther the ball will travel with this backward spin.

Follow: The opposite of draw is follow. This is achieved by hitting the cue ball above center. The cue ball then rotates forward. If the cue ball then hits another ball, it will roll forward after the collision.

Stop shot: When the cue ball is very close to the object ball, this can be accomplished with center ball.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Physics of Billiards." 29 Mar 2017

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The cue ball slides to the object ball and stops dead as the object ball shoots ahead because of the collision.

There are two different types of collisions, elastic and inelastic. In the game of Billiards the most common type of collision is the elastic collision.

With an elastic collision each ball will move in different directions, the trick is to get them to move in the direction you want them to move in.

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