Understanding The Cue Ball

Cue ball and object ball weight/size difference effects

Generally, with older balls, the cue ball (CB) will be slightly smaller and lighter than the object balls (OBs) because it takes more abuse and wears faster as a result. However, if a new CB is used with an older set of OBs, the CB will be slightly heavier because only the OBs will have wear. On many coin-operated tables in bars (i.e., "bar boxes"), the CB is often heavier and/or larger than the other balls to help the ball-return mechanism distinguish the CB from the others.


When the CB is heavier, it is easier to follow and tougher to draw. With a cut shot, the CB will go forward of the tangent line; and with a stop shot, the CB will drift forward some. A heavier CB will also squirt slightly less.


When the CB is lighter, it is easier to draw the CB and tougher to follow. With a cut shot, the CB will pull back from the tangent line; also, with a stop shot, the CB will bounce back some. A lighter CB will also squirt slightly more.


When the CB is smaller or larger, the contact point on the OB will not be at the equator, the balls will also tend to hop a little, especially with faster speed. With cut shots, the cut angle will also be off slightly (as with jump shot over-cut), but this is an extremely small effect.


Worn OBs will also not rack as well as new high-quality balls. Slight mismatches in size and non-spherical shape (due to non-uniform wear) will result in less-tight racks and poor break action (bad spread, more clusters, fewer balls made).