Introduction To The Cue Grip.
Learning how to hold a pool cue the correct way from day one will save you a massive amount of time and move you on to the next level. The pool cue grip determines the way the cue is delivered when striking the ball.
It is a little difficult to isolate the grip from the stroke as they are dependent on each other.
Both are vital.
How you grip the pool cue has a massive effect on the way that the cue is delivered. Your grip and wrist should allow the cue to move backward and forwards in a straight line. To get the straight line motion players must adjust the wrist. The wrist unfortunately moves in a number of directions.
The only thing that matters is that the cue moves in a straight line through the ball.
How you achieve this is up to you as an individual.
This article goes over in detail grip techniques and general principles that I have learned over the years through coaching experience, trial and error and an in-depth study of the greatest cue sports players in the world.
I see a grip method and then I try it out to see if it can be incorporated into my technique in a positive way. Some things work out well and others are a disaster, some techniques are in sync with my basic timing others are not.
We are all different, however your cue grip needs to include the basic fundamental principles that are common to all good players. Yes, your method will be different no doubt but also the same.
Many snooker and pool players also play golf. It is amazing to me how many golf books have been written on the subject of the grip. Books for basics, books for draw, books for fade, books on driving and putting, hundreds of them all giving expert advice.
I did a similar search in our sport with little luck. There was a book by the late great Frank Callan called Frank Callan’s Snooker Clinic, around the time when Steve Davies was World Champion, which I did study years ago.
There are however some things to bear in mind. Proven principles that should be incorporated into your grip.
The Hand Position.
One of the most important aspects of the grip is the way you hold the cue inside the palm of your hand. As your hand moves forward and backward with the cue, there has to be an adjustment of your hand position in order to keep the cue level.
Ideally, the cue should rest on top of the fingers passing between the thumb and first finger. The top of the cue should make contact with the soft web of skin in between.
The Grip Fingers.
During the stroke, your grip fingers need to open slightly on the backswing and close as the cue moves forward.
The opening and closing of the hand should not be deliberate, or mechanical but a release of the fingers in order to keep the cue on a parallel line. At no time during the stroke should the fingers actually leave the butt of the cue.
You should feel that the movement of the cue encourages the release of the finger pressure rather than a feeling of letting go of the cue.
Develop a Smooth Rhythm.
There should be no tension in the fingers or the wrist as the forearm moves gracefully forward and backward during the feathers and the actual shot.
Have you ever watched a gifted violinist moving the bow across the violin strings? If you have, you would have noticed that there is a smooth transition as the hand changes its direction. There is a change of wrist position to help with the change of direction.
The position of the hand, the wrist and fingers should be a result of your forearm’s position in the arc of the pendulum.
The moving parts will adjust to keep the cue in a level plane whilst staying on the shot line.
Your hand should be slightly open in the back pause position and then it should start to close around the butt of the cue as the tip accelerates towards the impact with the cue ball.
When the cue tip strikes the cue ball, the tip momentarily compresses and the energy is transferred to the ball.
Due to an equal and opposite reaction energy is also absorbed back into the cue shaft.
See Newton’s laws of motion.
Because of this opposite force, there is a tendency for players to snatch at the cue butt in order to prevent it from slipping through the fingers.
As the cue swings backward and forward in a pendulum motion the fingers generally open and close to accommodate and maintain its level movement.
When striking the cue ball the grip pressure is gently transferred from the front to the back of the hand.
In the finish position, the knuckles finish pointing upwards with air to the palm of the hand.
Try To Avoid The Following Grip Mistakes.
- Don’t place your thumb on top of the cue.
- Try not to turn your wrist too far outward or inward.
- Don’t grip the cue between your thumb and fingertips.
- Avoid the death grip, white knuckles.
- Don’t try to crush the cue in your hand.
This can lead to pulling the cue offline, turning the wrist and sometimes a chicken wing.
A chicken wing is when the elbow and shoulder are forced outward to the right causing the cue to move to the left for a right handed player. It looks like something in a bucket from Colonel Sanders.
This snatch should be avoided at all costs.
Try to remain in contact with the cue and control its movement without too much extra tension.
Your hand should then come to rest in the finish position. The finish position can be at the chest or further forward if you drop your elbow on the follow-through.
Delivering the cue in a straight line through the ball is probably the most important element of the cue-action grip. Look at the cue following the shot to make sure that the cue stayed on the shot line.
Any deviations from the shot line need to be corrected immediately to avoid further problems.
Generally, try to include the following good habits.
- The grip should be firm enough to pick up the cue from a table, yet relaxed enough so that the cue moves slightly within the hand.
- Grip the cue so that your forearm is at 90 degrees to the floor at the address position.
- The thumb should point downwards and the knuckles should be parallel to the cue in the set position.
- The shaft of the cue should rest lightly on the pads of your fingers with no pressure being transferred to the butt.
It is a mistake to think that this grip as described above is good for all shots.
Try Different Pool Cue Grips.
There are several different strokes in pool. Each one requires a slightly different grip technique in order to achieve the required result.
- Follow through stroke.
- Draw or screw stroke.
- Punch or stun stroke.
Each Different Stroke requires a slight adjustment to the grip described above.
However the general basic principles of the grip remain the same throughout.