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One of the most important parts of pool is learning how to hold your cue properly and making the right bridges so your shot can have enough power while also being accurate. There are all kinds of different strategies and techniques you can use and finding the right one will make you a much better pool player than one that has no consistent grip on their cue.
For this article, we’ll go step-by-step through the different types of bridges you can use for different situations. We will also add a few tips and tricks at the end to help bring your pool game to the next level!
How to Hold a Pool Cue Properly
Before going into the individual bridges, though, let’s take a look at how to hold your cue in a way that will maximize the effectiveness of your shot.
Step 1: Grip the Back End Correctly
Hold your pool stick near your hip and make sure you have your dominant hand on the back end of the stick. There is usually a line or piece of tape on the stick where you should put your hand.
A lot of beginners will grip their cues too tight, trying to get some extra control over their shots. This will have the opposite effect though and will make for mishits than better control. The grip on the back of your cue should stay relaxed but not too loose.
Some players will only grip their cues with just their index finger and thumb and add others only if they need more power for breaks or long distance shots.
Step 2: Get in a Proper Stance
You will want to get low for your shot and almost press your chin on to your cue. Look down your stick and try to line it up with the cue ball perfectly. If you are too stiff or standing tall you won’t see the shot as well and likely mishit the cue ball. Make sure your legs are slightly bent, relaxed, and about shoulder width apart as well.
Most importantly though, find a position that you are most comfortable in and that lets you have a good look at your shot. Not everyone has the same exact stance and, with some time, you will find one that feels the best for you.
When that happens, you should stick with it.
Step 3: Make a Bridge
You will make your bridge with your non-dominant hand. Keep reading to the next section to see all the different kinds of bridges you can use and which are the best for certain situations.
The closer your hand is to the cue ball, the more precise your shot will be and you can raise or lower your hand to make the cue tip go up or down. However, in most situations, you’ll want to hit the cue ball as close to its center as possible.
Step 4: Take the Shot
Now that you have your hands in the right place and you have lined up your shot, slide your cue forward steadily and try to hit the cue ball right in its center. It is perfectly fine to take a couple practice shots before actually hitting the ball. You’ll see even professional players doing this before actually taking their shots too.
Keep your grip loose during your shot and follow through rather than pulling the stick back as soon as you make contact with the cue ball.
Don’t worry if the shot misses, what is important when learning how to make solid contact with the ball when you’re just learning how to hold your pool cue. Once you get that down, then you can try aiming different ways and doing different kinds of shots.
4 Types of Pool Bridges
A pool bridge is how you steady the end of your stick closest to the tip. This is an incredibly important part of shooting because it is essentially the way you aim a shot. There are a few different ways people use bridges; let’s go through a few of them below.
#1: Open Bridge
Most beginners will learn this type of bridge first and it is done by placing your hand on your pool table and elevating your fingers to support your cue.
Your thumb’s tip should point upwards and create a “V” with your index finger. Then, place your cue in between your thumb and index finger.
This type of bridge allows for some extra visibility while aiming your shots because it doesn’t obstruct your view of your stick compared to other bridges. Plus, the open bridge has the smallest amount of resistance when shooting and can take a large variety of shots.
If you raise or lower your fingers’ elevation or change the angle which your stick rests on your hand, you can alter how high the cue can shoot.
#2: Closed Bridge
Another common bridge that many beginners learn is the closed bridge. To do this bridge, you have to wrap your index finger around your stick to form a circle around it, while resting your stick on your middle finger.
This type of bridge holds your cue in place firmly and makes it so your cue doesn’t swerve sideways. Thus, you won’t get as many mishits on the cue and your shot will be more accurate.
Furthermore, the closed bridge lets the player have better control over their stick’s speed and power while shooting their shot.
#3: Rail Bridge
This kind of bridge is mostly used when you’re trying to shoot the cue ball but it’s too close to the rail for you to make a proper open or closed bridge on the table.
To perform a rail bridge, you should place your hand and stick on the rail. Then, rest your stick in the space between your index finger and thumb like you are doing an open bridge but with your hand laying flat on the rail.
You can also use a closed bridge along the railing but this usually is only good if there is a little space between the cue ball and the railing. If the railing and cue ball are right next to each other, it is a better idea to use the open bridge rail setup to strike these balls.
#4: Mechanical Bridge
Mechanical bridges come in all different shapes and sizes but, in general, it is a bridge that is attached to the end of a longer pool cue made for taking shots where you need to stretch all the way across the table.
The end looks a bit like deer antlers and you use it by putting the tip of your cue in between one of the circular spaces and this will steady your shot without using your hand.
Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks
There is plenty of room for mistakes when it comes to learning bridges and gripping your cue the right way but, with practice, you will get better.
One thing to remember is to not grip the stick too hard or try to over-control it. Let the stick slide through your grip naturally and, if you aim correctly, you will make good contact with the cue ball.
Also, if you’re just starting out, choose one type of bridge and stick with it. Once you get used to this kind of bridge you can experiment with other kinds but it’s important to have a bridge you can come back to that always feels natural.
On the other hand, if you find yourself in a situation where your normal bridge does not work, don’t be hesitant to try out a different kind of bridge or use a mechanical one. You never know what could work out and you should never give up on a shot just because it doesn’t feel comfortable for you.
Now that you have what you need to know to handle your pool cue and make a bridge correctly, go out there and practice as much as you can.
Try out different things and see what is most comfortable for you, as billiards isn’t a game that everyone plays the exact same way. Of course, keep in mind the tips, tricks, and mistakes to avoid and do your best to elevate your game to the best of your ability!