Why Do We Use Chalk Anyway?
Chalk is bar far and away one of our top selling products at Billiards Boutique it is safe to call it a consumable as you lot go through so much of it every year.
Buy why is it that we chalk our cue tips?
I wanted to have a look at both the science and maybe the psychology behind it.
So What Actually Is Chalk?
Most of us know of chalk that is formed naturally, this is calcium carbonate a sedimentary rock.
In the chalk we use to play pool and snooker there is actually no natural chalk at all - although it would essentially still do the same job - what billiard chalk is made from is micro fine abrasives from generally a silicate base that are then compressed into the blocks that we know.
What does it do?
What chalk does is prevent slippage (what we call a miscue) between the contact of the cue tip and the cue ball. It isn't really about applying a layer of a substance to the tip although that coating does help.
What chalk is really doing is roughing up the surface of the cue tip so that it grips the cue ball better when playing off-centre shots, which to be fair is probably most of them to some degree.
If we chalk regularly then it stops the cue tip from glazing over and causing more miscues.
Does the type of chalk matter?
Although the experiments were not conducted with 'snooker' chalk Dr Dave Alciatore of Colorado State University in the USA has conducted numerous scientific experiments using various brands of chalk to see what difference they make.
The basic results of his experiments concluded that:
"If you chalk properly before each shot, and clean the CB (cue ball) often, it doesn't seem to matter which brand of chalk you use."
This is very interesting considering the number of premium chalks that have now come to market like Taom and Kamui.
If you are interested in finding out further information about the experiments then head here >>> Billiards Colostate.
The Psychology of Chalk
For me there is also a psychological element to the use of chalk.
If you are serious about playing pool or snooker then you will know in order to improve success that there should be a very succinct pre-shot routine to get you in the frame of mind for each shot.
Chalking can be one element of that.
And based on the study by Dr. Dave perhaps should be a major element of your pre-shot routine.
Knowing you have chalked eliminates that seed of doubt in your mind that you may get an unwanted miscue and if you then do get one you know something else mechanically has gone wrong so will need to be addressed.
I hope you enjoyed the article, please leave a comment or drop us an email if you have any thoughts.