Being able to control the white ball is one of the most fundamental skills that differentiate very good pool or billiard players from just good or average players. There are two reasons this is the case.
Firstly, a very good pool player will leave the white ball in a position on the table that is either good for the next shot (in the case where they are expecting to have another shot) or bad for the next shot (in the case where they expect their opponent to have the next shot).
Secondly, a very good pool player will be able to make their white ball hit the coloured ball they are aiming for, where an average player would not in the same situation.
The reason very good pool players can do these things is because they can make the white spin. They can make it spin backwards, forwards, to the left or right or a combination of these directions (eg, slightly to the right or back and slightly to the left) with various degrees of strength. They can do this at the same time as ensuring that it hits its intended target. They can also make sure the white ball doesn’t spin at all when required.
What does spin achieve? When a spinning white ball makes contact with another ball the spin will influence the direction in which the white ball canons off the other ball. The white will go in the direction of the spin. Pool players who have mastered this art will use this to determine where the white ball goes after it has hit the other ball.
For example, a white ball that is spinning in a backwards direction will roll backwards after hitting the other ball. If it is spinning to the left it will roll towards the left after hitting the other ball, to the right it will roll right and so on. The amount of spin will determine how far the ball rolls. It is therefore possible to leave the white anywhere on the table that is desired for the next shot, assuming other balls are not in the way of course.
Having the white ball in a good position will obviously make the next shot easier than it would be otherwise. Pool players who have this skill will use it to some extent on almost every shot they play.
The other way in which very good pool players can use spin on the white ball to their advantage is to make the ball deviate on its trajectory toward the coloured ball. For example, if there is a ball blocking a straight line between the white and the coloured ball they want to hit, they can cause the white to curve around the blocking ball and still hit their intended target. Weaker pool players would be snookered in this situation and resort to ricocheting off the sides to try to hit the intended ball (or play a different ball).
So, how do you spin the white ball? The trick is to ensure the cue makes contact with the ball off its centre and in the direction of the desired spin. For example, if you want the ball to spin backwards make the cue hit the ball directly below the centre point. If you want it to spin right, hit it to the right of centre and so on. Hitting it above the centre point will cause the white to move forward after contact, so follow the coloured ball.
It doesn’t have to be too far off centre. Too far off centre will make the cue slip off the side of the ball and a poor shot will result. Make sure the tip of the cue is well chalked so it has good grip.
Practice makes perfect with this technique. Once you have mastered it your pool game will improve dramatically. Good luck.