Playing Pool – The Follow Through and Bridges
The Follow Through
My ‘Stance’ lesson continued with another ‘but’ from my friendly expert.
“Although I said there are no rules for your stance, there is an essential rule for following through. Pool is like most ball sports whether it be tennis, golf, hockey or even polo, you must follow through. Consider a golfer about to drive off from the tee; does he swing the club back behind him and then swing it down and suddenly stop it moving when it hits the golf ball? Of course not! The club follows through where the golf ball used to be. The follow through directs the ball in the proper direction. It is exactly the same with snooker, billiards, 8-ball and 9-ball – You must follow through. Have a look at the accompanying photographs.
The cue ball has been placed on the spot, and you will be able to see how far forward the follow through should be taken.
1 Align the cue for the shot.
2 Pull the cue back for the stroke.
3 Making the stroke
4 The Follow Through is almost as far as the bridge is from the tip – 8 inches.
The Open Bridge
The open bridge method is mostly favoured by beginners, but often it is necessary to use an open bridge. As you can see, the open bridge method contains the cue in a lateral position, but will not prevent the cue from any vertical movement, especially if you are sawing the cue. Keeping the cue level using an open bridge requires extra concentration.
The Closed Bridge or the Loop
This method is the method favoured by most players; not only does it contain the cue laterally, but it also contains it vertically. Your bridge hand actually helps you to keep the cue in a level position.
The Rail Bridge
As you can see from both of these bridges are known as rail holds. The first one is for when the ball is a few inches away from the rail, and the second one is for when the ball is touching the rail and all you have to aim at is the very top of the ball; a difficult shot with the possibility of miscuing.
The Knuckle Bridge
This is a bridge position often taught to small children, who cannot quite get the hang of an open or closed bridge. Most children grow out of it, but I know of one extremely competent player who still uses this method. It appears that players with ‘fat’ hands have trouble using this method as there is less of a ‘V’ for the cue to sink into, however thin people, whose knuckles are more prominent, seem to adapt to it more easily. (If you look at the end of the mechanical bridge, you will appreciate why children are taught to use their knuckles. Not only does the end of the rest look like a closed fist, it also has the same number of grooves.)
This is a bridge that I find very difficult, and I'm quite sure so do a lot of other amateur players. I find myself being so careful about not touching the ball I'm bridging, that I end up just hitting the cue ball and praying.
This mechanical device, which I have seen advertised on Amazon, clamps over your thumb, or presumably any finger you want it to clamp over, and has a ‘V’ which not only guides your cue, but swivels as well. I don’t know if it works. My friendly professional player had never heard of these, and was doubtful if they would be allowed in league or tournament matches.
The Mechanical Bridge
The mechanical bridge, or rake, crutch, or rest, as it sometimes called, is not a favourite of any player, but it is necessary. If you grumble when you have to use the mechanical bridge whilst playing pool, spare a thought for snooker players. Snooker tables are much longer than pool tables; hence their rakes are much longer.
The rest is an absolute must when you would need to stretch to make your stroke. Even although you know this instinctively, you will still stretch and even stand on tiptoe rather than employ the use of the rest. You know, as you’re stretching, that you should be using the rest, but whether it’s because of sheer stubbornness, an ego trip, or perhaps downright laziness, you won’t use it. After you’ve muffed the shot you will shake your head and say, ‘I should have used the rest.’
If you do decide to use the mechanical bridge, please use it sensibly. Try to ensure that the handle of the rake stays on the table, and make sure you hold it there with your hand – it is hard enough keeping a cue steady without also having a moving rest.
Hold the cue in the same manner as the player is holding it in the first 2 photographs - you will have a smoother stroke and you will find it easier to follow through.
Do NOT hold the cue the same way as the player in the 3rd photograph. If you hold it this way, you (the way most players hold it) you will tend to jab at the cue ball
Implausible though it may seem, the biggest problem you will have when using the rake, will be one of perspective. Because you cannot see how far the tip of your cue is away from the cue ball, you will miscue often. You will appreciate this point after you’ve miscued a few hundred times as you try to judge distances at the end of the rake.
If you have dry skin and find the cue sticking on your bridge hand, do yourself a great favour, and invest in a glove. These three fingered nylon gloves are a Godsend, and I know lots of players who would not be able to play pool at all if it wasn’t for their 3-fingered gloves.