Sports Engineering

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 227–237 | Cite as

Numerical simulations of the frictional collisions of solid balls on a rough surface

  • S. MathavanEmail author
  • M. R. Jackson
  • R. M. Parkin
Original Article


Three-dimensional simulations of the frictional collision between solid balls moving on a rough surface are analyzed in this paper. The analysis is performed in the context of pool and snooker, two popular games in the pocket billiards family. Accurate simulations of ball motion in billiard games are useful for television broadcasts, training systems and any robotic game playing systems. Studying solid ball collisions in a three-dimensional space requires careful consideration of the different phenomena involved in ball motion such as rolling, sliding and ball spin about a general axis. A set of differential equations are derived describing ball dynamics during collisions. In the absence of explicit analytical solutions to the differential equations, a numerical procedure is performed to determine post-collision ball velocities and spins after collision. In addition, the paper also presents a methodology to analyze the curved, slip trajectories of balls immediately after impact. The results presented here, when compared with some experimental shots, show that the percentile errors in post-collision velocities are reduced by the proposed method. The prediction accuracies for ball travel direction are increased twofold by the proposed impact simulation algorithm.


Impulse with friction Frictional impact Solid balls Billiards Snooker Pool Massè 

List of symbols


Coefficient of restitution between the balls




Moment of inertia of the balls


Mass of the balls


Number of iterations


Accumulated impulse at any time during impact


Accumulated impulse at the termination of compression


The final accumulated value of impulse


Radius of the balls


Slip speed between the balls


Slip speed between the cue ball and the table


Slip speed between the object ball and the table


Incident speed of the ball


Work done due to impulse force


Ball position on the table along the X-axis


Ball position on the table along the X-axis


Ball position on the table along the X-axis


Impulse during a time of Δt


The angle that the common normal of the ball–cushion contact point makes with the horizontal


Coefficient of sliding friction between the balls


Coefficient of sliding friction between the ball and cushion


Direction of slip between the balls


Direction of slip between the cue ball and the table


Direction of slip between the object ball and the table


Angular speed of the ball


Topspin of the ball at incidence


Sidespin of the ball at incidence

\(\dot{\omega }_{r}\)

Resistance of the table surface to ball sidespin



Cue ball


Object ball



Parameters measured about ball centroid


Along normal impulse between the balls


Iteration number of numerical simulation


Common normal at the point of contact between the balls and the table (for forces)


Terminal iteration number of numerical simulation


Along the surface at the point of contact between the balls and the table (for frictional forces)


At the end of the slipping phase of a ball


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Copyright information

© International Sports Engineering Association 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ASML Netherlands BVVeldhovenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Intelligent Automation Research Group, Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing EngineeringLoughborough UniversityLoughboroughUK

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