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How to Strike a Billiard Ball

Oct 9, 2007
There are very few people who have a natural cue action which enables them to strike a billiard ball properly without any training. This applies to about one player in a million, I should say, the remainder have to be taught how to hold a cue and swing it to advantage, as well as how to stand properly. The first thing I want you to understand is that you must strike your ball so that you make it both move and spin.

For plain ball shots, the spin will be directly forward. If you put side on your ball, the spin will be in the direction of the side imparted. Should you use screw, you will require backward rotation. These ball movements are often seen in combination, and there are others I might mention. But I have said enough to make my point clear, which is that for the vast majority of billiard strokes your ball must spin as well as move in any required direction.

It will not do if you merely move your ball from place to place like a curling stone skidding over ice.

There are a few strokes, stabs, stuns, and the like, where inert running of the cue-ball is essential. These can be treated as exceptions; for the rest, which will comprise by far the greater number of your strokes, some form of lively rotation is necessary.

Cue Delivery

Now, if you think for a moment, you will see that you cannot make your ball spin by pushing it or poking at it. By using force, you may propel the ball a fair distance in either of these ways, but there will be no life in it.

Your stroke will be dead and of no account in a true billiard sense. Consequently, you must allow your cue to go through the ball to impart whatever spin you may require, and it must go through with freedom or spin cannot result. Like every other teacher of billiards, I am constantly telling my pupils to "let the cue go through the ball".

Never be timid about relying on the cue to do the work. Remember that it weighs a pound or more, and that its sheer weight is sufficient to send a billiard ball anywhere you wish it to go, and at the same time to impart whatever rotary movement may be desired. There is no need for you to use distinct muscular effort; in fact, it is fatal if you do. All you need is a smooth, swift, accurate forward movement of the cue, and this is gained by light handling.

Correct Stance

It may seem rather strange to say so, but the first thing you must do to handle a cue correctly is to get your feet in the right position. Stand firmly yet comfortably on both feet, throwing the left leg well forward to give you plenty of support when you lean over the table to get down to your ball.

The main weight of the body should be on the left leg, which should be slightly bent, the other should be straight. Stretch your left arm as nearly straight out as you can to provide a firm and steady base for your bridge hand and generally to solidify the whole of your stance.

Your height will decide the exact distance your feet should be apart, as it is very obvious that a tall man will want more space between his feet than a short man will to enable him to "get down to his work" in the modern way.

The old style players favoured the upright stance, but the leading cuemen of today bend their body so that their chins nearly touch their cues, except when playing short range shots. I advise you to do likewise, as there can be no doubt that this low stance gives you the best obtainable sight of the balls.

With correct cue delivery and stance, you natural ability will have a chance to start to shine through.
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