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How to hold a pool stick

Struggling to hold a pool cue well enough to make a good break? Constantly hitting the ball way off the mark? Not able to pot your target ball? Don’t worry, you are in the right place. Soon enough, you will hold a cue perfectly to be shooting like a pro!

There are many ways to hold your cue, and this article is going to take you through the following:

  • The basics
  • The stance
  • How to grip the cue
  • Balance
  • The various grip techniques
  • Advanced ways to hold a pool stick. 

Let’s take a shot at it (excuse the pun).

The basics on how to hold a pool stick

Don’t be the typical ‘new player’ that holds the pool stick incorrectly. Learn the basics for consistently accurate shots.

 There really isn’t one particular way to hold a pool stick. This is different for every player due to various factors. However, there are some basic rules applicable to all pool players, beginners, and pros. 

Hand placement

The key to striking the cue ball and making an accurate shot is holding the pool stick correctly. Focus on the looseness of your hand around the cue butt and how straight your back is when you hold a pool cue.

Where to hold the pool cue | Grip 

Your dominant hand holds the butt of the cue at waist level. Think of yourself like a WW1 soldier charging the enemy. Hold the cue a palm length from the butt. This is referred to as the grip hand. 

 Your non-dominant hand will be placed on the pool table to give the pool cue a steady base to aim from. This is referred to as the bridge hand. 

A rule of thumb is to make sure your grip/dominant hand is at a 90-degree angle with the cue stick. This is an ideal way to hold a pool cue. 

Both of your hands play a role when you take a shot. One directs the cue while the other drives the cue. Gently grip the cue with your gripping hand, do not over grip the cue stick. 

Firmly gripping the cue restricts the movement of your elbow; maintain a loose grip with control. This will give 100% control over the amount of power you can release. You want to avoid the common mistake new pool players make using the Death Grip. This usually ends up with a pool player spinning the ball off the pool table. 

The cue needs to have room to move back and forth when you grip. The right way is a relaxed grip, with only the thumb and index finger anchoring the cue. 

Some players use the index finger, middle finger, and thumb for more power. The other fingers, like the ring finger, should provide reinforcement without affecting the cue’s movement. It is not necessary to squeeze the cue stick with all 5 fingers. 

Align your body with the cue ball; this position enables you to follow through with your shot. Check if your arm creates a 90-degree angle with the pool stick. This will confirm if you are holding the pool stick. 

With practice, you will have a perfect hold on the cue. 

No rule says if you are right-handed, that is your dominant hand. Experiment with hand placement; at times, the opposite is true. You may get a better grip from your other hand. The important thing is that you are comfortable. Below are the standard right/left-hand placement; use the one preferable to you.

Right-handed placement

If you are right-handed, that is your dominant and more assertive hand. Grip the cue at your waist with your right hand, and your left hand becomes the bridge hand. 

Left-handed placement

Those who have a dominant left hand use it as the grip hand. Use your left hand to grip the butt of the cue. Your right hand becomes the bridge hand.

Stance

Since you now know how to hold the cue, you need to position your upper body to take a shot. Stand where you plan on taking aim from. Maintaining a comfortable cue grip with your dominant hand, lower your upper body towards the table. Keep your body in line with the cue ball; this makes it easier to make a good shot. 

Your non-dominant hand wields the cue tip in its palm. Exercise caution while doing this. Do not bridge your other hand yet; any slight movement could result in the cue tip accidentally hitting the cue ball. This automatically messes your shot.

 No rules are set when it comes to taking your preferred stance, as this differs from player to player. 

Balance

Falling over is the last thing you want while trying to take your shot! To use the cue properly , you need to balance yourself. 

Your legs need to support your upper body for perfect balance when you want to hit the cue ball. Your weight needs to be spread evenly, about hip-width apart. To avoid any movement other than swinging the arm to hit the cue ball. Your feet should be in the same direction as the shot you are taking. 

When you lower your upper body brace your back leg, lean forward, and bend your front leg. This enables you to move into the shot. You should be well-grounded while holding the cue, keeping your legs relaxed. 

The Bridge 

How to make a bridge

Your grip is perfect; you are balanced and have taken your stance to hit the ball. But how do you do this?  

Many new players do this the wrong way, and it affects their shots. The bridge is there to provide stability to the cue stick and guide it to the desired shots.  

Place your non-dominant hand on the table. You will use this hand to cradle or bridge the tip of the pool cue. You will now position your bridge on the table behind the ball. The tip of the cue should align with the cue ball. 

Many bridge techniques are used for different circumstances.

The generic bridge techniques for new players; the open bridge and the closed bridge. Some pool players quickly master both methods and use them as needed. Let’s take a look at them.

Open Bridge

The open bridge is the prominent bridge used by many players to hold a cue for a game like billiards.

With your hand placed palm down, about 8 inches from the cue ball. Spread out your fingers, press your thumb onto your index finger to create a V shape. Slightly raise your knuckles. Reinforce your bridge by spreading your fingers and pushing them into the table. Maintain your grip on the cue stick and stance while doing this. 

Place the cue tip between your index finger and thumb. You may use your middle finger for gripping if you need to. Move the cue slowly between your thumb and index finger. You are now ready to take your shot and pot your mark!

You can raise or lower your hand to modify the height of the cue stick to gain better control for your shot. 

This bridge technique is used by players new to playing pool. You get a full view of the pool cue and the cue ball with the open bridge. 

Closed bridge

This is a more complex bridge technique. Once you have mastered the open bridge, the closed bridge seems less daunting. Several professional players have been known to use this bridge to take winning shots. 

Make a relaxed fist with your bridge hand and place your hand on the table. Next; release your pinkie finger, ring finger, and middle finger from the fist. Spread these 3 fingers out onto the table. Lift your index finger, then press your thumb into your middle finger. If you prefer, place your index finger on top of your thumb or middle finger, creating a space ample enough for the cue stick to fit through.  

Put the cue stick through the space you created. Make sure there is no space between the index finger and the cue stick. Your index finger should not apply too much pressure onto the cue; this reduces the range of motion and control. 

 The closed bridge also creates a V shape similar to the open bridge, except for the index finger above the pool cue. Your middle/tall finger will provide most of the support under the pool cue. 

The closed bridge provides a stable guide during the stroke. This type of bridge is perfect for pool players who tend to drop their elbow when making shots. 

Rail bridge

Sometimes you will have to take shots from the rail or close to it. There isn’t enough space to form a bridge.

To make a shot, you need to use the railing for balance.

With your palm on the rail, place your fingers on the playing surface. Depending on your preference, you can create an open or closed bridge using your thumb and index finger. 

At times there will not be enough space to place your fingers on the playing surface. Another rail bridge should be used. Place your non-dominant hand on the rail, and your fingertips will go just over the edge onto the playing surface. Place your index finger on the rail; the cue tip will rest on your thumb to assist with guiding the shot. This rail bridge technique makes for a stable shot.

 Mechanical bridge

The cue ball can be far out in the middle of the table, and it becomes difficult to lean forward and make a stable bridge. A mechanical bridge will provide stability required to take a shot like this. 

Place the mechanical bridge on the table where you need the bridge to be. Make sure to secure the mechanical bridge with your non-dominant hand, make sure it does not move. There will be an indentation that you use to guide the tip of the cue. Make sure your index finger and middle/tall finger of your grip hand hold onto the butt cap of the pool stick. Create a straight line with your forearm across your chest, just below shoulder level. Make sure your elbow stays up; this gives you a straight follow-through at the ball. Keep your eye on the object ball when you take your shot. 

Raised bridge

When playing a game of billiards or pool, you may need the hit the cue ball from a steep angle. Most times, it is because there will be a ball preventing you from making your usual bridge. 

For this type of bridge, you need to create a tripod to get over the ball. Place your index finger and your pinkie finger on the table. Tuck your ring finger and middle finger under your palm and plant them firmly on the table. This will form the tripod. Push your thumb out to create the V shape in which the cue tip will sit. Move the cue back and forth to get comfortable before you take your shot.

The stroke

Now that you know how to hold a pool stick correctly, you need to hit the cue ball and make your shot. The stroke is directly related to the grip and bridge technique you use. The way a player strokes affects a player’s skill significantly. If you accidentally hit the cue ball too hard or miss the shot altogether, the shot is ruined. 

A beginner’s ideal stroke is the pendulum stroke. This stroke uses the forearm like a pendulum while the elbow acts as the hinge. This stroke involves using your forearm only and keeping your upper arm completely still.  

Create a right angle with your forearm and back arm. Your upper arm and your chest should not move at all. The tip of your cue stick should be close to the table, mainly because the backhand position naturally goes down. Movement should be from your elbow going down in smooth and steady strokes. 

Follow-through

It is essential to follow through; the aim is to shoot through the cue ball. Since it is natural to slow down when colliding with an object, it is usually difficult to grasp this. Once you take your shot, stay low. Imagine your pool cue hitting the object ball; let the pool cue carry on towards the object ball. That would be an ideal follow-through. 

Holding the cue safely.

Exercise caution before you take your shot. Make sure that nobody is behind you or very close to you. You will injure the person when you stroke, and it will F&^K up your shot. 

When you hold a cue stick to take a shot, you want to make sure you keep it parallel to the ground as much as possible. Steeper shot angles tend to be less accurate and powerful than when you hold the pool cue level to the ground. 

While waiting for your next turn, your pool stick should be held vertically, with the bumper down. This avoids accidentally hitting other players or passers-by. 

Conclusion

Well, there you go, all the fundamentals on how to hold a pool stick the right way! When you have mastered the basic rules and techniques, the more advanced techniques become easier to adapt. You should be able to pot like a pro in no time at all, as long as you practice!