By missing out on the last step, you leave your friend in a perfect position to gain a real edge, even win the game. When it is your break, what can you do to make this an unlikely outcome?
Here is a five step routine which will increase your chances of break success.
First--The most often missed step is the most important--Check the Rack.It is critical that you find a perfect triangle of frozen balls. Are the balls circling the 8-Ball frozen to it? If not your break is in trouble. Also, make sure the head ball and back row are frozen. If they aren't, your success ratio will sustain a loss. This is your responsibility, get it right.
Second--Pick your technique--If you prefer an "off-the-rail break" settle into it and rely on it. If you prefer a table-break lock yourself into your best. The rules are silent on cue ball position as long as it is inside the kitchen and not touching the headstring "line".
Third--Pick your exact spot with care. No problem if you want to change the spot you break from from one break to the next. You will find each table presents different break conditions. I often play a game where losers rotate from one table to another with no time to become familiar with cushions and what break conditions would be like. In such a situation, try to become familiar with table speed and cushions to gauge your break success potential and where your spot ought to be.
Fourth--Stroke, angle and speed. These are involved in every billiards shot and are no less important in the break shot. After an unsuccessful break, one of these three is ripe for change: choose a different stroke; softer or harder to change the speed; or move the cue ball left or right of center.Your goal should be to maintain your best control, not break as hard as possible.
Fifth--Practice. Learn your best break technique. If you find you are better aiming at the headball or the second ball, work on these until you can perfect them. If it is off-the-rail, make it your best. You need to strive for a solid hit. A glancing blow doesn't provide enough energy at the rack to get the job done. This is a product of control. A well aimed slow break will create better ball spread than any massive break that just barely misses the contact point.
Once you leave the table without sinking a break ball, you have given away the best opportunity to gain the upper hand. You will have to settle for what's left, if indeed your opponent provides a table scrap. Make your first shot count.
Even though a heavier break cue feels more powerful, a more powerful break will be achieved with a cue weighing 18.5 to 19 oz.
Most professional players break with a cue that is 1/2 to 1 oz lighter than their playing cue because less weight allows them to generate more cue speed, resulting in greater cue ball speed and a more powerful break