How to Hold a Pool Cue

Two Parts:Getting the Basics DownMastering Different Bridges

If you want to be a pool shark, or just to impress your lady with your skills on a date, then the first thing you have to know is how to hold a pool cue properly. If you don't hold it correctly, you can end up hitting the ball way off the mark or even off the table, so it's important to get the basics down before you become a pro.

Part 1
Getting the Basics Down

  1. Image titled Hold a Pool Cue Step 1
    Hold the pool cue at your hip with your dominant hand. Place one hand at the point on the stick close to the rear where it is balanced. There will usually be tape there. Place your hand approximately 4 to 5 inches (10.2 to 12.7 cm) back. Ideally, your back hand should be at a 90-degree angle with your cue.[1]
    • Most beginners start off by gripping the cue too tightly. Your grip should be relaxed and yet controlled.
    • Your body should be in line with the cue ball. This will help you aim your shot correctly.
    • Hold the stick using your thumb and index finger and add your middle finger if you'd like a bit more power.
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    Lower yourself to the table. Once you grip the cue with your dominant hand and find your shot, you should lower your body toward the table, so you're staring down the line of the cue ball. You won't be able to make your shot if you're stiff and upright.[2]
    • Keep your legs relaxed, slightly bent and at least a few inches apart.
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    Make an open bridge with your other hand. Place your other hand about 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) away from the cue ball down on the table. The closer you are to the ball, the more precision you'll have with your shot. Once your hand is down, you will make a bridge, or a cradle with your hand that will allow you to balance the cue on your hand and hit your shots. Though certain bridges work better in certain situations, it's best to be familiar with the most common bridge, the open bridge, first:[3]
    • For the open bridge, a bridge is formed by placing your hand on the table and spreading your fingers apart.
    • Slide the cue between your index and middle finger knuckles or in the "V" that is formed between your thumb and index finger.
    • The pool cue is supported by the "V" between the index finger and thumb.
    • You can adjust the height of the cue tip by raising or lowering the arch of the hand.
    • This allows the cue to slide as you aim it at the ball.
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    Hold the cue steadily as you "eye" up the target ball. Lean forward and mentally place the cue on the spot on the cue ball that you want to hit. Techniques for hitting the cue ball in the right spot for specific shots can be perfected later. Ideally, you should hit that cue ball in its center, or on the "sweet spot" of the ball, so it goes where it needs to go.
    • Make sure you can see a direct line between the cue ball and the object ball (the ball you're aiming for).
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    Hold the pool cue at the balance point and take your shot. Slide the cue forward while aiming steadily. If you feel uncertain about the shot, then you can gently move the cue back and forth on your bridge to feel more steady and balanced before you take your shot instead of trying to take your shot right away. Remember that you want to stroke the ball, not poke it. Follow through with your shot by continuing your motion slightly after taking the shot.[4]
    • Keep your body low to the table until you've finished taking the shot.
    • Grip the pool cue in a loose and relaxed manner. Don't tighten up during the shot. If the grip is too tight, the cue may jerk and change the direction of your shot.
    • Hold the pool cue with your hand gripping it from the outside and use your thumb on the inside as support. This provides you with better control. Use your thumb, index and second finger of the other hand to hold the cue in place.

Part 2
Mastering Different Bridges

  1. Image titled Hold a Pool Cue Step 6
    Use the closed bridge. The closed bridge is a more advanced technique that can be used for more accented shots. Needless to say, it will also help you look more like a pro, but it's important to do it right. Here's what you need to do:
    • Place your front hand on the table while making a fist.
    • Spread your pinkie, ring, and middle finger while leaving your index finger tucked.
    • Lift your index finger and slide the thumb underneath it.
    • Slide your index finger over your thumb to create a loop.
    • Place your cue through the loop, while keeping the tip of your thumb pressed against the tip of your index finger.
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    Use a rail bridge when the cue ball is 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) away from the rail. This bridge can be helpful when you don't have enough room to make a traditional bridge because the ball is too close to the end of the table. Here's how you do it:
    • Place your hand on the rail itself.
    • Lift your index finger over your thumb and place it on the other side of the cue stick, so that your thumb is on one side of the stick and your index finger is on the other.
    • Use the rail for bottom stability. Take your shot.
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    Use a rail bridge when the cue ball is just 1-2 inches or so (2.5-5 cm) away from the rail. If the ball is so close to the rail that even the traditional rail bridge is not possible, then you can use a different version of the rail bridge to make your shots. Here is what you can do:
    • Place your palm against the edge of the rail.
    • Place your index finger flat over the rail, guiding the cue on one side.
    • Place the tip of your thumb on the other side to guide the cue on the other side.
    • This time, your thumb and index fingers will be in their normal positions, with the cue in the middle.
    • Take your shot, using the rail for bottom support.
  4. Image titled Hold a Pool Cue Step 9
    Use an elevated bridge to elevate over a ball. This can help you hit that cue ball when it is being nearly blocked by another ball. Here is all you have to do to hit this shot:
    • Plant your index finger down on the table, almost perpendicular to it.
    • Plant down your pinkie finger while tucking your middle and ring fingers under, forming a tripod.
    • Lift your thumb upwards, forming a v-channel between your thumb and index finger in the air.
    • Place the cue between your thumb and index finger and take your shot.
  5. Image titled Hold a Pool Cue Step 10
    Use a mechanical bridge. The mechanical bridge is perfect for shots where the ball is too far out of reach; they can be much more useful than trying to overreach and missing that shot because you're off-kilter. Don't be discouraged by the affectionate alternative names, "crutch" or "granny stick"—there's absolutely nothing shameful about using a mechanical bridge! Here's how you use it:
    • Place the bridge flat on the table, behind the cue ball.
    • Place the cue in the groove that will give you the best shot.
    • Hold the butt cap of the stick with your thumb, index, and middle finger.
    • Place your head down into the line of the shot and take your shot.


  • Make sure that the pool cue is the correct weight for you. It should feel light in your hand and balanced and should not be too heavy for you to handle.
  • Keep your pool cue clean by wiping down the shaft with a cotton cloth. Do this each time you finish playing. There are various more involved methods of cleaning as well, such as using a pool cue burnisher or pool cue smoother, which provide a more thorough cleaning.
  • Keep a consistent height from the table for greater accuracy when using a bridge. Raising the pool cue even slightly can alter the direction of your shot.
  • Be mindful of others around you when bringing the pool cue back to shoot to avoid injuries.

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Categories: Cue Sports