If you dream of becoming a professional pool player and hustling everyone down at your local pool hall, you must learn how to hold a pool stick. The fundamentals are crucial to understand in any sport. Since pool is very simplified, you have to focus on the basics even more.
Don’t look to the movies for advice on your pool game. Hollywood always makes things look easy and if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Stick to our experienced advice so you can practice effectively and start winning more games.
Just don’t forget to thank us when you turn pro.
Step #1: Put Your Hands In The Correct Position
Start with your dominant hand on the butt-end of the pool cue, which controls the strength you want to strike the cue ball with. Make sure to grip it lightly like a paddle. Allow the momentum to be your prime source of power.
Your other hand will act as the bridge. Your bridge hand should be extended, so your elbow is almost fully straight.
Step #2: Find A Comfortable Position
Start by standing up straight and facing the white ball head-on like in other games. Next, turn your body almost ninety degrees, so your bridge hand is now toward the pool table. You can widen your feet to allow your knees to bend comfortably when you lean on the table.
The trick is to have your back elbow bent at ninety degrees while lightly supporting the pool cue with a proper grip. Your bridge arm should be extended on the table with your middle finger pointing forward to provide support. Keep your weight balanced as the only thing that needs to move is your back hand.
Step #3: Make A Bridge With Your Hand On The Pool Table
Ensuring your cue stick is supported properly is your bridge hand. The open bridge is the most popular and starts with your palm flat on the table and your fingers spread. Next, close the gap between your thumb and index finger. Raise your index finger knuckle so you have a valley between your index knuckle and your thumb – this is where your pool stick should go.
Step #4: Hold The Stick With Firmness And Concentrate On Your Shot
Maintaining control of the pool stick is paramount since pool is such a precise game. Your back hand should have a firm grasp while allowing free-flowing motion. Don’t grip too tightly or your accuracy will suffer.
Your bridge hand should also be firm but completely stationary so ensure it’s in a comfortable position that it can stay in while you prepare for your shot.
Step #5: Take Your Shot
The stroke should feel like you’re pushing the cue ball instead of hitting it. Follow-through is crucial for accuracy and will help you improve and start controlling spin. Use your dominant hand to accelerate the pool stick through the white ball and down your intended target line to create shots you would see on home arcade machines.
Cue Ball Control (Spin) On The Ball?
By striking higher up on the cue ball, you can effect top spin, which will cause it to continue moving forward even after it has hit its intended target. This can be useful to place your cue ball for an easier next shot.
Opposite to top spin, if you want to draw the cue ball back to where it started or further, you would use draw-spin. This is created by striking the cue ball just below the midpoint. Imagine the cue ball is planet earth; hit below the equator for draw-spin, hit above it for top spin.
Once you have mastered top spin and draw spin, you can start experimenting with English spin. This is pool slang for side spin. You can cause your cue ball to travel either left or right after it has made contact with another ball. This will help you set up your next shot and prevent your opponent from getting their turn.
Step #6: Learn, Practice And Improve
Where To Hold The Pool Stick
Hold the pool stick so that your arms are not too wide, nor are they too close but with a loose grip. This will give you full range of motion and prevent stress and strain on any part of your upper body, similar to playing a table hockey game.
Rule: Your Forearm Should Be Perpendicular To Your Pool Stick When Hitting The Cue Ball
Use your bridge arm and middle finger to help you align correctly. By using your entire arm, you will effect change on your whole body. Always align with large muscles, not smaller body parts like your index finger or top knuckle.
Where Is The Balance Point On A Pool Stick And How To Grip The Pool Stick
The balance point of a pool stick is always closer to the butt-end. This is where the power comes from, so you want the bulk of the weight to be in your dominant hand.
Rule: Keep Your Grip Natural, Light And Relaxed
Once you have the correct technique and hand positions, an essential aspect to remember is to keep your grip relaxed, unlike in foosball; see best foosball tables here. This will allow your natural instincts to take over and your shots will often find their targets.
Tip: Don’t Hold Your Pool Cue Too Tightly!
Holding your pool cue too tightly will cause mishits and thus missed pocketing opportunities. It will also cause you to hit the ball harder, the number one mistake beginners make.
Different Types Of Bridges
#1: Open Bridge
The open bridge is the most popular technique and the one we recommend. It’s the easiest to learn on any pool table and provides the most versatile support for all levels of pool players when compared to the closed bridge.
#2: Closed Bridge
Beginners usually start with the closed bridge because that’s what they saw on TV. While some successful players swear by the closed bridge, it can cause sticking since your index finger is laid over top of the cue stick.
#3: Elevated Bridge
Use this technique when there is another ball between you and the cue ball. Simply lift your palm off the table and support your bridge with your fingertips. Use your middle finger and index finger as the base support in front of the ball blocking you.
#4: Finger Rail Bridge
You can use one of two bridges when you’re up against the rail. The finger rail bridge is better used when the white ball is very close to the rail. Support your pool stick by having just your fingertips on the rail of the pool table. Maintain a relaxed grip.
#5: Palm Rail Bridge
When you have more space to work with, use the palm rail bridge to add stability to your bridge hand. You can lay your palm slightly flatter than your standard open bridge technique to better line up with the white ball’s equator.
#6: Mechanical Bridge
For longer shots, use a mechanical bridge. This is misleading since there is nothing mechanical about it. It’s a regular pool cue with metal cutouts to act as your bridge.
#7: Wrong Way To Bridge
There are many wrong ways to bridge, but the most common is holding the cue in your hand’s palm. Always have your bridge hand knuckle up so you can support your posture and have a balanced stroke.
Final Tips On How To Hold A Pool Cue
- Use your dominant hand on the butt end of the pool stick.
- Maintain a loose grip.
- Feet slightly wider than hip-width for stable weight distribution. Similar to dart technique. See the best bristle dart boards here.
- Fully extended bridge hand arm for alignment.
- Use a bridge technique that has your palm face down on the table.
- Line your chin up just above your cue for accuracy.
- Only allow your back hand to move and never hit too hard to maintain control.
Frequently Asked Questions
To aim your pool cue, you must fully extend your bridge hand arm on the table perpendicular to your cue. Next, line up your chin just above the cue, so you’re looking straight down the cue at the cue ball. Align the cue tip to the part of the white ball you want to strike for optimal spin.
When playing pool, you always want to look at the cue ball. Specifically, the part that you want to strike. If you keep your gaze locked on a small target, then the chances of you making big misses are much smaller. Take time to prepare for your shot, so you only have to focus on the white ball.
To hold a cue stick like a pro, we recommend you use the open bridge technique. This provides a stable foundation for the cue and prevents your index finger from hindering the motion from back to front. Watch videos of pros to see precisely how to hold a pool stick and examples of rail and elevated bridges.
A ghost ball in pool is an imaginary ball used to help you line up your shots correctly. Imagining where the cue ball will make contact with your object ball is the location of your ghost ball. Use this to help you line up the mid-points of each ball to better predict how the object ball will react in pool and other games. Click here to read about the best multi game tables.
Your cue ball jumps because you hit too low on it. When you want to produce draw spin, you must strike it below the equator. However, if you strike too low, your cue stick will slide under the ball and cause it to elevate off the table and possibly cause damage
To get good at shooting pool, you must know how to hold a pool stick. This is the basis of all your shots and developing a good technique will help you improve fast. All types of shots will need practice, but your practice will be ineffective if you’re not holding your cue the proper way.