The 7 Fundamentals of a Good Cue Action

Cue Sports are fantastic, they are accessible to a huge variety of players from young children right up to the older generation. However, to gain any semblance of real enjoyment or success out of pool and snooker the first thing you are going to need to improve is your cue action.

At a professional level cue actions vary but they all follow the 7 fundamental principles that I have laid out below.

1. Stance

Stephen Hendry Snooker Stance

The stance actually starts with how you address the ball. Walking into the line of the shot before setting yourself into a balanced stance is important. See how 7 times world snooker champion, Stephen Hendry, is lined up above.

A decent stance will see you addressing the ball square on. For a right-hander (like Hendry above) the right leg will will be straight with the left bent at the knee to allow you to get closer to the cue and allow the shoulder to come through on the shot. A left-hander will just be the opposite.

In snooker we find players very low down on their cue to minimise any unwanted movement.



2. Grip

The grip is very important to how you actually play your shots. If you hold the cue too tightly then you will put unwanted movement into the shot.

Too loose and the cue will fly out of your hand. You need to find the happy medium but it does need to be loose and relaxed in your hand for the best results.

One analogy I have seen was that the position of your hand in your grip should be the same as when you pick up a hammer.

3. Bridge

Open bridge hand

Looped or open it doesn't matter as long as it is solid, smooth, and nice and loose to allow the cue to move freely. If you have problems with sticky hands then consider playing with a billiard glove, I have seen people using talc but it makes a right mess and could do long-term damage to your cue shaft.

The image above shows the most popular open bridge. By bending the fingers or flattening them out you can play a vast array of shots whilst keeping the cue parallel to the table.

There should be sufficient cue in front of the bridge hand to allow you free movement, some coaches suggest around 12" (30cm) but less advanced players will probably want to make this amount smaller as they build their action.

In this video former World Champion Shaun Murphy talks about all three of the fundamentals above.

4. Front Pause

Having a pause at the front of your stroke before pulling the cue back allows you to visually see whether you are going to be hitting the ball in the correct position after your 'feather-strokes' (of which you should probably do 2-3 but this is entirely up to you).

It also allows you to pull back knowing you are in the correct position whilst moving your eyes to the potting angle of the object ball.

5. Back Pause

A perfect cue action will undoubtedly have a period of pause at the back of the stroke before playing the shot.All of the top professional snooker players do it, as do the majority of top English pool players.

Why have the pause?

Having the pause helps you with the timing of your shot and makes sure you are completely set before delivering the cue nice and straight.

6. Follow Through

One of the most important facets of success on a pool or snooker table is the follow through.

The fastest part of any shot should be at contact with the cue ball, so with that in mind you should always be hitting through the cue ball.

Whether you are playing gentle or powerful strokes there should always be an element of follow through. It means that you can be loose and relaxed through the stroke and are not snatching at the cue ball which can cause secondary movement and unwanted spin.

The only way to truly generate powerful back spin shots is to hit right through that cue ball so go and practice now!

This mesmerizing video below show what happens to the cue ball on the follow through:

7. Isolated Movement

During your cue stroke the only part of your body that should be moving is your cue arm.

Your head should be still, your feet should be planted and firm, your hips and bridge arm should be still.

No other movement is needed.

In fact any other movement can cause your cue to go off line, put unwanted side on the ball or generally cause you to snatch at the ball. Try to keep your head still all of the way through the stroke and only move your head once the ball has been potted.


Snooker and pool are great games for anyone to just have a go, they are very accessible to a  great range of people and can be fun and rewarding.

However, once you want to start taking things seriously you are going to have to make adjustments to your cue action in order to see sustained success, whether this be in your local league or moving up through the amateur tournaments.

The first thing in my opinion that you need to rid yourself of is any head movement. Keep still and your success will improve, then start to take little points from each of the 7 fundamental principles above to take your game to the next level.

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Donovan - July 24, 2018

Hello from America.

I enjoyed your article and really likes Andy Allan’s comment. Whatever stance, grip or stroke you use, doing it the same every time will allow you to make adjustments and fine-tune your approach as you get results: making or missing the pot and white ball control.

It may be going too deep but mentality has a lot to do with the outcome of a good or bad shot in snooker. I have noticed that if I think I’m going to miss I usually do. If I think I’m going to miss I am best off standing back up, re-chalking and reexamining my line of aim.

If I adhere to these basics and run the colors for about 30 minutes, I generally get to a point where, unless I’ve left the white badly, I know that I’m not going to miss and my stroke becomes more confident, my stance more solid…

And then it’s just a matter of playing smart and not letting a miss cloud my mind.

Thank you for the article and I hope snooker catches hold in America some day. I’d love to see an American in the top 16.

Pete (Billiards Boutique) - March 12, 2018

Thanks very much for all of the comments, they are appreciated I will try and answer a few queries below:

@Chris very good advice, is there a link to this video anywhere? I know Nic has done some videos in the past.

@Adrian Always try and stay as still as you possibly can

@Graeme we don’t actually sell that ball and have never even found one other than in this type of video, there is a Nic Barrow ball on our website though. As I write though we are out of stock.

Andy Allan - March 12, 2018

After 52 years of playing I am still learning new stuff, most of which I wish I had known 50 years ago!

About 20 years ago I started to develop serious astigmatism in my right (aiming) eye. This means that the brain is constantly reconciling two different retinal images of the same reality. I now remember that my father used to watch snooker on the television; I once asked him why he didn’t play and he told me that the frustration of not being able to pot any more had put him off.

Here is my advice for what its worth. If you have a handicap like me, then adherence to a carefully planned approach is absolutely vital. The essence is repeatability; same stance, same view angle, same head position. Everything about the shot should be as near standard as possible. Don’t play using vari-focals as it will drive you crazy. For around 80 odd quid your high street chain of opticians will sell you some snooker specs. Get a single focus pair. Personally I like to play pool as it is less challenging for me these days; even on a pool table the long straight shot is difficult though. I get down low for these but for mid range cuts I get best results with my head about a fore-arm’s height above the cue. Be careful though as high altitude aiming introduces parallax error; the only fix for that is absolute consistency. And practice. I am going through the process of re-educating myself on how to play because I was going out of my mind missing easy shots.

Oh and by the way – talc, if used a lot, is actually harmful to your skin. Get a glove! And like Adrian Walsh posted NEVER give up.

William Gardner - January 26, 2018

this for me has been very instructive and I will endevour to put into practice . Thank you.

reg Watts - January 25, 2018

Well put, need to see more of this. It’s amazing how complacement sets in and you forget the basics…..

Graeme M Lewis - January 24, 2018

Do you sell that Black/White practice ball ?
If so, how much is it ?

Chris Gaynor - January 24, 2018

One thing you forgot to mention is the post shot routine. Nic Barrow makes it one of his most talked about points on his Youtube channel the snooker gym.

You need to stay down on the shot and assess what happened after you played the shot. It’s something that has really helped improve my game because you get to see whether you missed the shot through aiming issues or cueing issues.

Also, even if you pot the ball, you can still learn whether you need to improve your stroke or whether you hit it too hard or not.

Graeme M Lewis - June 16, 2017

I have read your excellent article – but have no valid comment to make. Sorry !

Adrian walsh - June 14, 2017

Been playing since mid 70s and I still can’t get the basics wright lol ?
Any advice for us oldies ? 62 now still play in the Southampton super league .

Cheers Pete keep up the tips lol ?
Kind regards … from a snooker fan that will never give up ?

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