Jan 102011

It’s surprising how difficult it can be to learn how to hold a pool stick properly. It seems pretty straight forward, yet I remember that I had the same difficulty when I was just starting to study how to play pool for beginners. I’ve included a couple pics that show two basic ways of how to make a bridge, and one more giving a general idea of how to hold the butt of the pool stick as well.

How to hold a pool stick with an open bridge:

Pretty much, the ideal way is to place your palm firmly on the table, slightly cupped. Your fingers will be touching the pool table felt (you can dig them, rigid, into the felt for best effect), but you thumb will be raised up slightly and pressed tight against your index finger, forming a V in which you rest the cue stick. Bend your forearm slightly. Don’t keep it fully extended, and you can cock your wrist to the inside a little bit if you want to.

You want your hand stable and unwavering. You create a tight V because you want to reduce the chances of the shaft rolling or wobbling off-line to the left or right. Don’t spread your thumb out wide and try to cradle the cue stick within that shallow curve – it will be very difficult to keep your aim steady. Keeping the cue stick locked onto its line-of-aim is vital to maintaining your accuracy.

How to hold a pool cue with a closed bridge:

This technique is a bit more difficult to get comfortable with, but it has greater stability than the open bridge, thus allowing you to deliver a more accurate strike to the cue ball. Again, start with your palm planted firmly on the pool table cloth. Make an “OK” sign with your thumb and index finger, and then cup your hand tightly (much more than the open bridge). Spread your remaining three fingers out wide and dig them into the cloth. Firm and stabilized! Grip the shaft of the pool stick tightly within the “OK” sign, but allow smooth motion.

With either pool bridge, focus on maintaining an unwavering stroke that does not wobble left or right. You are trying to deliver the cue stick perfectly straight along the line-of-aim without deviation. Which takes us to the back hand, and

How to hold a pool cue with the back arm:

Delivering the cue stick in a straight line – in order to strike the cue ball exactly where you are aiming – requires a fundamentally sound pool stance. Aligning your entire body needs to begin when you are eyeing up the shot from a standing position. Get your head behind the cue ball and look down your line-of-aim. Plant your back foot on that line and step forward. Bend into your stance. Now STOP.

Look at yourself. First, the pool cue had better be exactly centered down the line-of-aim, from back hand to bridge hand. Your back elbow needs to be DIRECLTLY over the butt of the cue stick, as well as your back forearm, back shoulder, and at least one eye to aim with. If you find yourself leaning or twisting awkwardly in such a way as to have pieces of your body torque outside of the line-of-aim, then stand up, step back, and re-approach your shot.

Because, if you want to make sure that you strike the cue ball exactly where and how you want to, the easiest way to do so is to have every piece of the machine lined up properly. Otherwise your stick is wobbling left and right and up and down, or your unbalanced stance is making YOU wobble left and right and up and down. How can you hope to hit the cue ball properly if everything is unbalanced and out-of-line?

Once you are sure everything is as balanced and lined-up as best as possible, give a few practice strokes and be sure you can move the pool cue forward and back nice and straight with no variation. You should keep a loose grip on the butt of the cue, and let your wrist flex naturally.

Finally, in order to keep the stick moving straight (and not dipping down or up), let your elbow drop into the stroke as you follow through. Don’t hold it rigidly in place, because this will cause the pool stick to raise up high on the back end, and dip down at the tip as you execute the shot. This, in turn, can cause you to accidentally miscue off the edge of the cue ball, or jump it up into the air. Both of those things can make you miss an otherwise well-prepared shot.

And there you go, some basic instructions on how to hold a pool cue properly.

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