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.
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.
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.
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.