Different styles of snooker break off shots

By Snooker Jim β€’  Updated: 04/02/21 β€’  3 min read

Mark Williams has caused a stir recently with his alternative snooker break-off shots, which has drawn both criticism and praise.

Whether you’re a traditionalist or a stickler to playing the game “the right way”, players ought to be able to play the game their own way. No?

Off the bottom cushion and into the reds

Williams caused quite a stir with his new strategy with a break off shot, where he plays the cueball off the bottom cushion and rolls into the back of the reds.

He says this was because he was growing frustrated about leaving a long red off a conventional break, whereas the nudge into the pack ensures safety.

It’s alright when you do it yourself, but perhaps not when you’re on the receiving end!

Make sure you chalk up before the start of a frame and use one of our recommended magnetic chalk holders.

Hitting it thin

Shaun Murphy’s approach to a break off shot is to hit the reds as thinly as possible. This lessens the possibility of one of the reds creeping away from the pack and over a corner pocket.

But it comes with its own pitfalls too…

Smashing in to the pack

Now, this is more about snooker etiquette than anything else. Smashing in to the pack in the club is majorly frowned upon. But there’s nothing in the rules against it.

And who’s to say you won’t fluke a red and then go on to clear up and win the frame?

There’s a good example of Neil Robertson smashing up the pack in the video below, which also looks at the pitfalls of going for the pot from the break.

Hitting the top of the pack

Mark Williams has turned break off shots in to a bit of an exhibition. Here’s one recently where he hit the pack of reds pretty high up, returned the cue ball to the baulk area, but still managed to sneak a red from the bottom of the pack in to the corner pocket.

A high risk sort of break off this one, as he could quite easily have left the red hanging over the corner pocket for his opponent.

What are the rules?

There are none, really, other than you must start with the cueball in the D. What you’re wanting to achieve really, is returning the cue ball to the baulk cushion as safe as possible; either tight to the cushion or by obscuring anything but the pack with a colour.

A cheeky April Fools suggestion from Snooker.org could have legs!

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How do you break off at the start of a frame? And should everyone stick to the conventional method? Let us know in the comments below.

Snooker Jim

Gone from a 6ft table in my dad's garage as a kid to a 9ft table at the office, with the full-size snooker club visits in between. Hoping one day to get the playing technique right.