How to Hold a Pool Cue A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

How to Hold a Pool Cue: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Table of Content

Table of Content

Learning how to hold a pool cue properly is the first step toward becoming a formidable pool player. A correct grip enables you to stroke the cue smoothly, put some spin on the cue ball, and make accurate shots, whereas a wrong one could send the cue ball flying right off the table.

This beginner-friendly guide covers everything you need to know about proper pool cue grip and form while highlighting common mistakes to avoid. Start by mastering these basic techniques first and you’ll be pocketing balls like a pro in no time.

The Importance of Properly Holding the Cue

Holding the cue stick properly isn’t just about etiquette or aesthetics; it can have a direct impact on your performance and enjoyment of the game

Here are a few reasons why it’s important to hold the cue properly: 

  • It allows you to make a straight hit: Holding the cue improperly often leads you to hit the cue ball off-center, resulting in unwanted spin and poor accuracy that can cost you the game.

  • It ensures control and consistency: A proper grip can give you better control over the cue by ensuring smooth, consistent strokes. This, in turn, makes it easier to control shot power and spin. 

  • It ensures a solid foundation: The way you hold the cue stick as a beginner will influence how quickly you improve at the game. It’s the most fundamental aspect of cue sports, after all. 

  • It minimizes fatigue and boosts enjoyment: An improper grip strains and tires your arm muscles, which can be detrimental to your consistency and enjoyment, especially in long matches. 

  • It reduces miscues: Don’t you just hate when the tip glances off the cue ball rather than hitting it flush? This is often the result of insufficient chalking or—you guessed it—an improper grip. 

  • Summary: A proper grip ensures shot accuracy, control, and consistency; all crucial factors in becoming a strong pool player. It also reduces the risk of fatigue and ensures quick improvement. 

    How to Hold a Pool Stick in 5 Simple Steps

    How to Hold a Pool Stick in 5 Simple Steps

    Now that you know the importance of holding the pool cue correctly, here are the steps you need to follow to achieve that proper hold:

    Step 1. Grip Close to the Hip Using Your Dominant Hand

    First of all, you want to grab the thick end of the cue by its balance point (this varies from one cue to another), using your dominant hand. Your palm should passively face upward, and your forearm should make a 90-degree angle with the cue.

    You should be holding the cue close to your waist in a loose and relaxed manner. Gripping the stick too tightly will tense up your stroke and prevent you from delivering the smooth, pendulum-like motion needed for a clean shot. 

    The number of fingers you should use to hold the cue boils down to your personal preference. You can hold it using only two fingers (thumb and index finger), or you can use your entire hand, as long as you don’t grip the cue too tightly. 

    Step 2. Assume Proper Stance and Bend Forward

    While having the pool cue in hand, make sure that the foot on the same side as your non-dominant hand is positioned in the front. Your other foot should be about 2 feet behind. 

    You should evenly distribute your weight between both legs. Otherwise, your balance will be thrown off. Also, if you need to bend a knee, make sure to bend the one in the front, for maximum stability. 

    Next, slightly turn your body away from the table so it doesn’t interfere with the shot. Then, lower your body toward the table to make it in line with the cue ball. This will make it easier to aim. 

    During a stroke, your head should be low enough so that the cue stick is directly above your chin. This is known as “getting down on the shot/ball,” and it’s a clear indicator of whether you are assuming proper form or not. 

    Step 3. Make a Bridge Using Your Non-Dominant Hand

    The next step is to make an open bridge with your non-dominant hand. Why an open bridge, in particular? Simply because it’s the most common, and arguably the easiest kind of bridge, to make for beginners

    Here’s what you need to do to make an open bridge:

    1. Place your non-dominant hand on the pool table, about 6-8 inches away from the cue ball

    2. Spread your fingers apart, then arch your hand slightly to create a “V” shape between your thumb and index. 

    3. Slide the cue between your index and middle finger knuckles so that it’s supported by the “V” shape. 

    4. Raise or lower your bridge hand’s arch to adjust the height of the cue tip, making it suitable for the intended shot. 

    As you get better at the game, you can experiment with other bridges based on the shot you’re looking to make. Here are a few examples:

    • A closed bridge is perfect for accented shots (shots that apply spin or English). It also helps you look like a pro!

    • A rail bridge is suitable for when the cue ball is so close to the rail that it leaves no room for an open or closed bridge. 

    • An elevated bridge comes in handy when the cue ball is nearly blocked by another ball. 

    • A mechanical bridge (like this one) is useful for shots that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to make with a hand bridge

    Step 4. Focus on the Target and Line Up the Shot

    What you need to do now is focus on the direct imaginary line between the cue ball and the object ball. Visualize how you’re going to make the shot so that you get your head and line of vision into alignment. 

    For a beginner pool player, it’s best to focus on hitting the ball in its center. Once you’re well-acquainted with the fundamentals, you can try hitting the cue ball in other spots for accented shots. 

    Step 5. Take a Few Warm-Up Strokes and Then Shoot

    It’s finally time to take the shot! But before you do so, make sure your body is balanced, your bridge is steady, and your grip is relaxed. You may also want to take 3-5 warm-up strokes until you feel comfortable. 

    Once you’re ready, slide the cue forward, gradually accelerating as you approach the cue ball. The stroke should be smooth and not abrupt, almost as if you’re moving your arm through the water. 

    Note: The longer your stroke, the more momentum you will impart onto the ball. 

    Having hit the ball, make sure to keep your follow-through straight and relaxed. The cue should continue its motion forward after hitting the ball, so don’t try to stop it. 

    Summary: Hold the cue near your waist and gently grip it using as many fingers as you like. Then, assume a proper stance, make a suitable bridge, and finally take the shot

    5 Common Cue Stick Grip Mistakes to Avoid 

    Before putting a period at the end of this guide, we feel the need to highlight some of the common cue-holding mistakes made by beginners, so you can consciously avoid them. 

    These 5 mistakes are:

  • Thumb on the Cue: Resting your thumb on top of the cue stick puts downward pressure on the cue, which restricts the cue’s movement and compromises your control. 

  • Cue Dangling in Hand: A relaxed grip is important for playing pool well, but be careful not to hold the cue so loosely that it starts dangling in your hand. 

  • Grip Twisting: Some players twist their grip on angled shots thinking it will help the ball head in their desired direction. This only pushes the cue off-line, though, resulting in a missed shot.

  • Hand Stiffness: When pulling the cue back before making a shot, allow your hand to slightly open up and your back fingers to relax off the cue to prevent tension. 

  • Squeezing on Impact: Even if your grip is nice and relaxed during the stroke, you might be tempted to squeeze the cue on impact. This generates a lot of tension and pushes the cue off-line. 

  • Summary: Being mindful of common mistakes like cue dangling and grip twisting ensures you’re always in control and capable of making every shot count. 

    Precision in Handling = Precision in Shot

    Mastering proper pool cue technique is the foundation of becoming a skilled pool player. It can be challenging at first, but with practice, holding the cue properly will become second nature. 

    Remember to avoid the common mistakes highlighted above. This will help you establish good habits early on and prevent bad habits that will be hard to get rid of in the future.