How To Improve Your Billiard Skills Fast And Become A Pro

It’s safe to say billiards are popular all across the world. While snooker and pool are more widely known, there are many different types and formats of billiards. The game can be referenced in history as early as the 15th century though the exact date and place of origin are still uncertain. From pool tables in bars to dedicated snooker clubs, many people to this day can still be seen playing billiards leisurely and recreationally. While the game welcomes everyone who wishes to play, many newbies jump into the game without mastering the basics that are important if you want to play well. Whether you want to improve to beat your mates or because you aspire to play professionally, here are some tips that can be helpful.

Cue Stick Grip

There’s more to the cue stick grip than just grabbing it by one end. The way you hold it greatly affects how you land your shot and how it plays out. Fundamentally, you should use your dominant hand to grip your cue stick, as it ensures that you use the hand with the most dexterity and power. The bottom part holds the cue, which is often thicker and heavier and called the butt. Since cue sticks are manufactured in a wide variety, some can have a grip made out of leather or any other material, while others will just offer a smooth end. A grip just ensures a firmer grip, especially if you have sweaty hands causing them to slip. Otherwise, the general tactics of holding the cue stick remain the same.

Once you know what stance you prefer and are comfortable with, it will, in turn, dictate your grip on the cue stick. Your grip is more than just your wrist and fingers. The shooting arm should work as a pendulum moving at the elbow and below. Both your upper arm and forearm also affect how you play your shot. The main idea is to keep your arm bent at a right angle at the elbow with your upper arm parallel to the stick while the forearm remains perpendicular. The cue itself must be kept as close to parallel to the groups as possible since it greatly enhances the accuracy and power of your shot. Your hand should firmly but comfortably grasp the cue stick at waist level. Generally, players hold the stick between their thumb and either the index or, in some cases, middle finger while the rest loosely support the cue without gripping it tightly.

Bridge

The bridge is the third of the three basic mechanics a beginner must master. Without a good bridge, your shots and hence your performance in any billiards game would be very difficult to improve. It is essentially made by your hand that isn’t holding the cue stick; it is where the end of the stick rests so you can move it back and forth to hit the cue ball.

Bridges are of many different kinds depending on the shot, the player, and the situation. The bridge is made with your hand and an effective pool bridge has simple characteristics. It must have a firm base and should keep the cue movement smooth and in an accurate straight line. You can choose whatever form of the bridge you feel comfortable with that allows you to hit the cue ball accurately and consistently. Since pool tables can come in various sizes, as comprehensively described by an avid pool follower from Pool Table Master, sometimes you can reach a cue ball if the table is large for you or if it’s too close to other balls. Players then tend to use the rest as a bridge, however, the bridge is made by your non-cue hand for the most part. The easiest to learn, especially if you are new, is an open bridge. It is created by placing your palm on the table and squeezing your index finger and thumb to create a pocket of sorts for the cue stick. It is easy to set up and gives a firm foundation and doesn’t impede much in terms of visibility for the cue ball. The index finger wraps around the cue stick in a closed bridge and presses lightly against the thumb. This bridge has the disadvantage of partially restricting your view and if you squeeze too much, it might affect the movement of the cue stick. However, it can work for those who feel comfortable with this bridge.

Shooting Stance

The basic mechanics of nailing your shots at any billiards game boils down to three things; your shooting stance, your cue stick grip, and your bridge hand where your cue stick rests on the table. To know your stance, you must understand how you are built and what suits you. Try not to mimic others in how they stand because what works for them may not work for you.

The key idea behind a good stance is comfort, stability, and balance. To make yourself comfortable, relax your legs, being mindful not to lock any joints and ease your stance, removing any tension or unease felt in your legs, especially your hamstrings. Stand by planting both your feet firmly on your ground and both your legs must equally support your body weight. Do not shift your weight on either leg or you might have a nonsecure stance, risking throwing you off balance. Keep in mind a posture that will allow you to stand or bend easily and ensure you don’t weigh down on your bridge hand, which would cause it to shake unnecessarily. A shaky bridge hand would completely mess your aim up. If you find yourself bending a knee, make sure it’s the front one that would give you a more secure and balanced stance.

Body Alignment

The directions that each part of your body faces are collectively referred to as body alignment. It plays a major role in potting the ball and an improper body alignment can result in an inconsistent shot that you might miss. It is essential that you spend time developing your body alignment naturally as you step into it. You can check your body alignment by setting up a straight shot that lands the ball in a side pocket. Once you are sure of your aim and stroke, make the shot and without moving your stance, stand up straight. Take note of your body’s direction. If you find your body aimed in its direction and you feel confident, you have nailed the alignment. If you don’t feel confident, you might want to adjust your position and alignment and try again till it feels right. It might be helpful to take every shot from the back as opposed to the side to keep your alignment right. You can also gauge body alignment by the direction your cue stick faces as you follow through. With proper body alignment, you greatly improve your chances of successful shots.

Pre-shot Routine

As you play any billiards game, be it pool or snooker or any other, you will frequently come to the realization that every shot is different. The variables that affect how to play it change after the preceding shot and so players practice a routine of steps before playing each of them. This is called the pre-shot routine and it greatly improves a player’s accuracy and performance. It also inculcates the right habits which in turn enhance your game consistently. Before any shot, every player must remember to survey the current layout of the table as the balls change positions. You must identify your goal for it and how other balls might affect that outcome. This will determine how you set up your shot. Next, remember to chalk your cue stick up; the benefits are twofold. First, it prevents the tip of the cue stick from slipping off the cue ball, resulting in a miscue. Second, it conditions your brain to focus itself for the next shot. Next, get in your stance and align yourself in line with the shot you have chosen to take. Make sure your aim line is correct according to the goal you wish to achieve; double-check if you have to. Next, take your time to do some practice strokes. These strokes help you get in motion of the shot you are going to take and allow you to correct your stance or aim line in case something doesn’t feel right. Once you are absolutely sure of your stance, aim line, and stroke, it’s time to pull the trigger. Make sure you follow through as the cue stick hits the cue ball instead of just a jab stroke, as it builds your accuracy.

These tips will help you understand and work on the basic mechanics of playing any billiard game. Once you have mastered these mechanics, you can move on to more advanced tips on various types of shots and how to best other players. You might also be interested in understanding how different types of equipment, like various cue sticks or different surfaces of the pool table, factor into your performance.