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How you aim with a pool cue makes a huge difference and if held correctly, can drastically improve your game. Of course, you can rely on your instincts but a well-practiced correct way to hold the cue using a good bridge technique will eventually win over.
Professional players have mastered the art of playing snooker and billiards by practicing and perfecting several techniques.
But for someone who’s just starting, holding the pool stick like a pro can be quite vexing. However, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that many novices and (even some pros) play pool incredibly well, but are blissfully unaware of how to hold the shaft properly!
But playing like a pro in real life is a completely different ball game. I’m sure you are here to learn how to hold a cue, chances are you are a complete beginner or someone who just wants to brush up and make sure they are holding their cue correctly. Lucky for you i have give a easy to follow, step-by-step guide on how to hold a cue for beginners, regardless of your playing level, every player needs a solid foundations to build upon, start building yours here!
As a fairly good player myself, I feel confident in showing you step-by-step, but I will use the great pool legend Efren Reyers as a kind of case study to show you what the professionals are doing and how you can then apply that in your own game
Step-by-step guide on how to use and hold a pool cue
If you’re like most other first-timers, you’ll invariably grip the shaft incorrectly as you’ve no idea how to hold it perfectly. But if you’re sincere and keep your focus, you’ll be able to master the technique gradually. Before I make you aware of the basics of ‘how to hold a pool cue for beginners’ let me tell you why it matters.
The pool shaft or stick is the most important component of any pool game, be it billiards or pool or snooker, you need one and you need to hold it right.
So, it is only when you hold a pool cue in a proper way that you can focus entirely on the game. If and when you hold a pool cue properly, you’re able to concentrate on how to strike the cue ball (the white ball) and, hopefully, pot your object ball. On the other hand, if you make the slightest error in holding the cue the right way, your chances of making a perfect shot are reduced.
It may not seem that important to hold a cue correctly, but I promise you its vital in progressing to the next level. If you show a keen interest in the game then it’s always best to follow best practices to improve. Having a solid foundation allows you to build upon it and improve your overall game. So, I’ve broken the steps down for you below.
Follow these steps for correctly holding the pool shaft:-
- Choose the hand that you think will offer you greater dexterity in striking, i.e., the strong hand.
- Clutching the stick at the level of your waist is the norm and therefore, adjust the shaft accordingly
- Mildly hold the stick’s butt end with your strong hand
- Now grip the tip (the cue’s other end) with your other hand
- Open the palm of the other hand and position it on the playfield, at the back of the cue ball
- Maintain a distance of about 6-8 inches when you place your other hand behind the cue ball.
While picking up the ropes and mastering the skill to hold a pool cue, you need to keep in mind two vital aspects- the fundamentals and the bridging methods of techniques, both are equally important.
You’ll need the cue fundamentals to know how to hold a cue correctly. Your stance, your grip and your aim.
The fundamentals are all lost if you cant bridge correctly. To hold a cue in the right way is important to know but equally important is knowing how to bridge, allowing your cue to “rest” on your bridging hand
Correctly hold a cue: The basics
I’ll give you a detailed step-by-step rundown on what to do and things to keep in mind while doing them – don’t worry, I’ll make it easy for you, you’ll hold a cue like a pro in no time!
As I said, I will be using Efren Reyers as a case study from his 2014 CSI Invitational 8-Ball champianship so you can learn from the pros how to hold a cue. I took and studied Efrens shots from the video below:
Step 1: Grip the cue at your waist level with your strong hand
Lower the pool cue to the level of your waist and hold the shaft’s butt using your strong hand. You may be wondering if there’s a way of finding out if you’ve positioned your good or strong hand on the correct section of the cue; yes, there’s a way. Try to locate a taped spot on the stick’s butt side.
Then, move your good hand bit by bit away from the tape. See to it that there is a span of nothing less than 4-5 inches between your strong hand and the tape. Also, make sure your strong hand is perfectly at a perpendicular (i.e., at a 90˚) with the cue.
You’ll know that you’re gripping the cue properly when it is at a right angle with the good hand.
What you need to keep in mind at this stage:-
Step 2: Lower your torso in the direction of the table
At this stage, focus your gaze on the playfield and think deeply about how to make the opening shot with perfection. You’ll need to lower your torso or upper body as much as possible in the direction you’re facing the table. You’ll need to drop your torso down while maintaining your strong hand’s grip on the butt with the other hand’s palm holding the tip.
However, you’ll need to be extremely careful to avoid bridging the shaft’s tip with the other hand. If you become even slightly inadvertent, your other hand may slip, and you might end up striking the cue ball.
What you need to keep in mind at this juncture:-
Step 3: Use your other hand for bridging and covering the tip of the stick
This is the most crucial step when it comes to gripping the shaft correctly for taking the shots. Now you’ll need to open the palm of your other hand, bridging the tip and position it on the play area just behind the cue ball. The thumb rule is to place your palm at a minimum distance of 6-8 inches away from the cue ball.
Next stroke the shaft’s tip with your index finger and the thumb after putting the tip in between the two fingers. This technique of stroking is known as an open bridge, but you can use various other bridge techniques. Nevertheless, the open bridge method is the most popular cradling technique.
What you need to keep in mind at this stage:-
Step 4: Hold the stick with firmness and concentrate on your shot
Maintain a steady posture, make a mental note of the object balls you wish to hit, and finally figure out how to strike the cue ball with the shaft for achieving this. Try to map out the shot you wish to play mentally.
What to keep in mind at this stage:-
Step 5: Position the shaft and strike the cue ball
After you’ve made up your mind on how to strike, move the shaft deftly backward and forward so that you feel confident in taking the shot. Readjust your striking stance if you don’t feel confident. Maintain a firm posture and hit the cue ball after moving the stick forward and backward several times.
What to keep in mind at this stage:-
The bridging technique, the most popular of all pool cue cradling tips, can be mastered easily with regular practice. Follow these steps:
Once you are comfortable with the open bridge technique, you can graduate to the closed bridge. A good number of professional players use the closed bridge technique for making shots.
After you’ve mastered both the open and closed bridge techniques, you can practice two other cradling methods used by many pool players; the mechanical bridge and rail bridge techniques.
Cue ball control (spin) on the ball?
Now that you are starting to master how to hold a pool cue, how your stance should be and how to bridge correctly you can move to the next step. This is slightly more advanced, but important to know if you want to improve your overall game.
I want to talk to you a little about cue ball control. Without some form of cue ball control, you can’t improve, so its important to get to grips with the basics. Don’t get me wrong, this is a long learning process that won’t happen overnight, but with continued practice, it will slowly become a natural part of your game.
Some of the more basic ways you can control a cue ball are by:
top spin – hitting the top of the cue ball will put forward spin on the ball. Once the cue ball has made contact with the object ball, it can continue on its trajectory.
Draw – Also know as back-spin, works similar to top spin. Draw is achieved by hitting below the midpoint of the cue ball, towards the bottom of the ball. when struck, it creates back-spin, when the cue ball strikes the object ball, it will reverse the directional spin and return backward.
English – left or right english is applied when you hit the cue ball to the left or right of center, causing the ball to spin. By applying english to the cue ball it will change the direction of the object ball once struck and cause a wider angle than it would without english, this is called the “throw effect”. Using english can cause the white ball to stray from its aiming line, this is called deflection. It can also be applied when you want to control the cue ball of the rails too.
More often than not, you can strike the balls to good effect by resorting to frontward and backward spins. However, there could be situations when forward or backward spins may not suffice for making good shots. During such occasions, you may have to change the shot’s angle off of a rail for taking a perfect shot.
And this is when left and right spins (variously referred to as english) can come to your aid. You can apply a right spin or left spin on the cue ball for altering its direction off of the rail. English (left or right spins) comes in handy when you need to:-
If you follow the steps listed above to hold a cue, you’ll surely be able to master the skill of gripping the cue properly. Remember, the MOST IMPORTANT thing is to keep practicing. Your game will improve soon if you do and you’ll be eyes up the better players in no time. good luck!