Mastering Position Play With The Brainwash Drill

In my estimation, there are two aspects of position play that must be mastered to play at the highest levels.  

The first of which is using the cushions to move the cue ball from one object ball to the next. The second method is simply sliding the cue ball from one area of the table to another without striking a rail.  


In this article, we are going to focus on the latter.  Mike Sigel once said that the key to playing at the professional level is to master controlling your cue ball within a 6-inch radius where the object ball sits on the table.  To play top level position, you must develop the speed control needed to place your cue ball precisely where you want it within that 6-inch area.  If you want your cue ball to move 3 inches to the right, then you should be able to move the cue ball precisely 3 inches to the right.  If you want to go forward 5 inches, then you should be able to do that with both precision and accuracy. 

Obviously, the angle of the shot will dictate exactly where you can place the cue ball within that radius, but ultimately mastering precise cue ball control should be something you spend a great deal of time focusing your efforts on.  You must be able to control the cue ball within the limitations of the shot angle.


To master this, I recommend practicing the brainwash drill.  Spread 15 balls randomly and evenly onto the pool table.  Make sure nothing is touching anything else.  Make sure none of the balls are closer than half of a diamond’s width to the cushion.  The drill will teach you to look for “stop shot” patterns.  However, the term “stop shot” should be taken loosely.  What I am referring to is stopping your cue ball precisely within the 6-inch radius Sigel was referring to.  To do this, you will want to play for “straight in” or “nearly straight in” shots.  Most cut angles will range from zero to 22.5 degrees.  Shots over 30 degrees tend to let the cue ball run too freely and will result in striking a cushion.


Take cue ball in hand and try to run as many balls as possible without striking a rail or letting the cue ball strike another ball.  If you strike a rail or another ball, you should start the drill over.  You should work on this drill exclusively for two weeks and continue with it as part of your normal practice routine after the initial two-week period is over.


It’s not important that you run all 15 balls during the first few times you attempt the drill. What’s important is that you improve over time.  After attempting the drill a few times, focus on where you are at statistically. Write down your high-score and work on improving that score during future attempts.  Set both short and long-term goals. Write them down and work towards meeting your goals.  Before you know it, you will have mastered running all 15 balls.  If that becomes too easy just buy another ball set and throw out 21 balls.  I once ran 39 balls without striking a cushion or another ball.  The key is to assess where you are and focus on continuous improvement.


Mastering the brainwash drill is a critical part of mastering high-level position play and being able to visualize the correct patterns.  Work on this drill exclusively for two weeks and the patterns will be much easier to identify.  This is also a jam up drill for 8-ball.  Make this drill a normal part of your practice routine and your runout percentage will improve significantly.