How to shoot marbles like a national champion

Angle of first shot.

Caleb Isaacson, of Gunnison, won the boys national championship at the National Marbles Tournament in Wildwood, N.J.

After placing third three straight years at the National Marbles Tournament in Wildwood, N.J., Caleb Isaacson broke through this year to win the championship.

The difference this year? The 13-year-old from Gunnison practiced more, and that, he said, is the key to success in marbles.

But you need to know a few basics before firing away, and Caleb obviously knows what he’s doing.

Here’s what works quite well for him:


There are a variety of ways to hold a marble. Isaacson was taught by his coach to:

Form your shooting hand into a gun (Photo 1).

Tuck your thumb behind the middle finger (Photo 2).

Place the marble by the thumb knuckle. (Photo 3).

Wrap the index finger loosely around the marble to hold it in place (Photo 4).

AIM AND SHOOTThere also are a variety of ways to position the shooting hand on the ground to aim and shoot. Isaacson puts the back of his hand flat on the ground (Photo 5) and braces himself with his left hand. He lines up the trunk of his body with the direction he’s aiming (Photo 6) and gets low to the ground to see the line of the shot (Photo 7). When ready, he flicks his thumb to shoot the marble.


Isaacson honed his accuracy by practicing. He’d place a rectangular check box — remember checks? We used to use them to pay for stuff — on its long side, against a wall, and repeatedly shoots marbles into the box from one foot away, then two feet, then three feet, four feet, you get the idea. As he improved, he started placing the check box on its short side, a much smaller target.

Refining that accuracy, placing that marble in an area a few inches wide, makes for a can’t-miss situation when breaking the rack to start a game.

“I aim at the second one in, and there’s no way to miss,” he said.

His dad, Willie Isaacson, responded, “There’s no way for you to miss. I miss all the time.”

Dad, obviously, doesn’t practice enough.


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