Math Billiards

Last night I enjoyed a few games of pool with friends. I must admit that every time I play I am reminded of the movie, Donald in Mathmagic Land. This movie is a classic I remember from my own school experiences. Take a look at the excerpt below:

Now, I wasn’t playing three cushion billiards like Donald, but I definitely recognized the benefit of thinking through a shot before making it.

I spent time before each shot trying to figure out where to hit the ball so that the motion would send it into the designated pocket. My method needs a lot of perfection, but it is mostly based on angles.

I did a quick search on the internet for the math behind billiards to see what I could learn. Take a look at these sites:

The Angle on Pool – Great video demonstrating the basics of pool and using geometry to make a better shot.

Geometry and Billiards – This video shows how you can use congruent and similar right triangles to help plan your shot.

The Math and Physics of Billards – Since pool contains a lot of movement when the ball is in motion, it should come as no suprise that vectors and physics are involved. This site contains technical equations that include vectors for anyone in pre-calculus wondering how vectors are used in the real world.

I’m eager to get out and play another game of pool and apply what I have learned from my quick search. Wish me luck and I am open to advice! Leave me a comment if you have any additional resources that have helped you become a better pool player or have resources you use with students.

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Today, I’m linking up with 4mulaFunThe Teacher StudioTeaching to Inspire in 5th, and MissMathDork for a look at how math is used in the real world.  You might want to check out their Pinterest board to see previous Math is Real Life posts.

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Angela Culley

Angela Culley

Owner & Tutor at Math Ninja, LLC
As the founder of Math Ninja, Angela provides online and in person math tutoring for all ages including those studying for the GRE, GMAT, SAT, ACT, PPST, and other math specific subject assessments. Prior to launching her business, Angela coached K-12 educators on effective teaching strategies, curriculum writing, and assessment development.As a classroom teacher, she taught math to students ranging from grade 5 - 12. She has also taught both undergraduate and graduate math courses as an adjunct professor at the University of Virginia and Mountain State University.
Angela Culley
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4 thoughts on “Real Life Math – Billiards (Pool) Edition

  • January 15, 2017 at 7:29 pm
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    Not just math, but physics too. Newton’s laws are all teachable by billiard. Practical application helps solidify a topic so much. Great post.

  • October 17, 2016 at 4:51 pm
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    I never thought of pool requiring math, but it totally makes sense.
    Thanks for the great read!
    Melissa

  • November 9, 2014 at 10:44 am
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    I absolutely LOVE Donald in Mathemagic Land. I’ve played the VHS so many times that I’m just waiting for the tape to disintegrate! Thanks so much for linking up!

    Jamie aka MissMathDork

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