How to Be Better at Playing Pool – Blatt Billiards

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How to Play Pool Better

by David Roeder |

When you want to learn how to play pool better, you need to work on developing essential fundamental pool skills. Practice is necessary to develop these skills. It can be tempting to jump to more complex concepts like learning how to spin the cue ball, draw shots, or combo shots. However, learn the fundamentals first, as they make it easier to learn advanced techniques later.

#1: Develop a Loose Grip

Young man playing billiards in the dark billiard club

Most beginners will grip the pool cue too tightly. This makes it hard to control the cue ball and make accurate shots. Plus, the odds of shooting the cue ball right off the pool table are much higher.

The best way to develop a loose grip is to practice holding the cue while bending over like you were lining up a shot. Instead of gripping it as tightly as possible, as you would with a baseball bat, loosen your grip so it is just resting on your fingers.

You want to grip it as lightly as possible and still be able to move it back and forth easily. Another tip is never let the grip on the cue touch your palm. If it does, then you are gripping the pool cue too tightly.

#2: Practice Your Stance

man play snooker

Your stance affects how well you will shoot the ball. For starters, you want to make sure you are comfortable in your stance. The ideal pool stance is where your dominant hand’s foot is about two feet behind your non-dominant hand’s foot.

For example, if you are right-handed, your left foot would be the front foot closest to the pool table and point forward. Your right foot would be about two feet behind and slightly turned to the right to about a 45-degree angle.

You should also be able to bend over easily without straining your back and make a bridge with your hand. Your right arm should create a 90-degree angle as you lightly hold the cue. Your head should be held down so that you are looking directly down the pool cue with it just below your chin.

Practice your pool stance around the entire pool table paying close attention to the stance. You want to find a comfortable stance that allows you to line up shots accurately.

#3: Practice Your Aim

A hand holding a cue stick about to hit a white cue ball, playing pool.

When you hit the cue ball, your objective is to have it go where you want it to go. To achieve this, practice your aim and understand the concepts of shot line and point of contact.

Shot Line

The shot line is the imaginary aiming line you make using the pool cue as a guide. The line should run directly through the cue ball and continue toward the object ball you want to hit.

Point of Contact

The point of contact is the contact point on the object ball that you need to strike it with the cue ball to make it go in the direction you want. Many players use the “ghost ball” technique to help improve contact point.

“Ghost Ball” Technique

This technique is where you picture an invisible ball next to the ball you want to hit. To learn this skill, take your cue and hold it above the ball and point it in the direction you want the ball to go. Now move your cue back slightly to the contact point the imaginary ball must strike the ball.

Last, keep the cue stick over the center of the imaginary ball and carefully move it left or right until it is directly over the cue ball. You now know the angle of the point of contact and aiming line you need to make the cue ball hit the object ball in the desired direction.

#4: Practice Your Swing

Woman playing billiard game on a pool table

How you swing the pool cue is just as important as how you grip it. You want to swing the cue back and forth like it was a pendulum moving gently back and forth under a clock.

As you move backward, the movement should be slow and steady. Then, as you move forward toward the cue ball, you can adjust the swing’s momentum to make the ball travel the desired speed and distance.

#5: Practice Your Bridges

Close up photo fragment of the pool billiard game

It will not matter how good your stance, swing, and aim are if you cannot maintain consistency with your bridges. Two of the more common bridges you use in pool are the open bridge and the closed bridge. You also need to know the elevated bridge, rail bridge, and mechanical bridge when making tight shots.

Open Bridge

Position your hand on the table, ensuring your thumb is elevated off the table. Place the pool cue between the “V” your thumb and index finger make. You can raise or lower your other fingers as needed to help you line up your shot.

Closed Bridge

A closed bridge is where you take your index finger and gently wrap it around the pool cue, so it creates a circular opening. Then, the cue stick can be slid over the top of the middle finger for better control.

Elevated Bridge

An elevated bridge is the same as an open bridge, except that you use your fingers to create a “tripod” to elevate your hand off the table to help you line up your shot when there is an obstacle in the way.

Rail Bridge

A rail bridge is for shots when the cue ball is too close to the rails and there is insufficient room to place your hand on the table. Instead, you lay your hand flat on the rail and use either an open bridge or a closed bridge to take your shot.

Mechanical Bridge

A mechanical bridge is a special pool stick that you use for shots out of your natural reach. First, place the mechanical bridge on the table with your non-dominant hand. Then you use your dominant hand to place the cue on the bridge and take your shot.

#6: Practice Breaking

Blue billiard table with colorful balls, beginning of game, slow motion

Breaking is an essential part of the game that can allow you to continue playing when you pocket at least one ball. Your objective is to adjust the speed and power you use on your forward cue swing when striking the cue ball.

You also want to practice hitting the top ball in the racked balls at different angles to determine how it affects the break. After each break, pay attention to where the balls go. Rerack the balls and practice again until you find a break shot with the right amount of speed and power that allows you to pocket one or more balls.

#7: Remember to Use Pool Chalk

Chalking the Cue-Stick

Pool chalk is an essential part of your pre-shot routine. You want to always make sure the tip of your cue is chalked. Chalk helps increase the friction between the cue and the ball to ensure your shot contacts at the right point and does not slip off the cue ball when making impact.

#8: Practice Post-Shot Follow-Through

pool break with focus on the balls

Beginner pool players have a bad habit of standing upright as soon as they hit the cue ball. For starters, this can affect the follow-through part of the shot. You want to be able to stop the cue just short of touching the table after it strikes the cue ball. If you were to stand up right away, you could alter the forward motion and contact point on the cue ball.

Secondly, remaining in place makes it easy to see how the balls move after making your shot. When you stand up, you change the viewing angle, so it can be more difficult to grasp how the balls move based on the contact point the cue ball made.

#9: Understand Your Angles

Pool table with cue ball hitting #2.

To become a better pool player, you need to understand how angles work since you will often make bank and kick shots.

  • Bank shots require using the cue ball to cause an object ball to bounce off a rail and go into a pocket.
  • Kick shots are where the cue ball is bounced off a rail to strike an object ball at the correct contact point to cause it to move into the desired pocket.

Furthermore, angles are crucial for other types of shots to get the balls to move in the desired directions. You will also find that angles are vital when you need to make shots using the cue ball to strike an object ball and then have that object ball strike another ball into a pocket.

#10: View Shots from Different Perspectives

Young Women Concentrate On Ball

Take time to walk around the pool table to view shots from different perspectives. Sometimes a shot can be made from a different position, making it easier to pocket a ball. Remember also to consider the angles of the shots to envision where the cue ball and object ball will travel.

#11: Use the Right Pool Cue

Snooker Cue Sticks

Pool cues come in different lengths and weights. You will want to try out different ones to determine which one feels the most comfortable and that you like the best. In addition, your swing span and size of the room will determine the cue’s length. Once you figure out which cue you like, you will definitely want to invest in your own quality cue set.

By using these tips, you can learn how to play pool better and improve your pool playing skills.

Quality Pool Cues and Equipment Sets

blatt platinum accessory package

It is easy to find quality pool cues and equipment sets at Blatt Billiards. Explore our selections to find everything you need to play pool. Be sure to check out our handcrafted pool tables for your home. If you have further questions, require additional information, or want us to build a custom pool table for you, please feel free to call us at 212-674-8855 today! 

How to Play Pool Better infographic