Tuition: Cue-Action

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Tuition Stroke 1 Without a really good cue-action no player can consistently strike the cue-ball accurately enough to make steady progress in their chosen game.

The first part of this section then will begin with a few strokes to test your cueing. If your game begins to suffer, some practice at these should tell you what is wrong.

One of the most reliable tests, and the easiest to set up, is the well known shot of playing the cue-ball over the spots.

Place the cue-ball on the centre spot of the 'D', and play it over the blue, pink and black spots to strike the top cushion. If you have struck the cue-ball without side it will return over those spots to your cue.

This stroke is comparatively easy at a slow pace, but try playing it with power to see just how difficult it can be.

Tuition Stroke 2
In this variation five colours have been placed so they are an inch away from the cue-ball when it passes.

The shot is exactly the same as before - but it looks more difficult. This can be enough to affect your confidence, your concentration, and your ability to play the stroke correctly.

Quite frequently there will be little room for the cue-ball to pass another before it reaches the ball you're aiming for.

In these situations, have a good look to satisfy yourself that there is enough space for the cue-ball to pass. Then, when you play the stroke, completely ignore the one that's almost in the way. Don't look at it as the cue-ball travels towards it and keep your eyes fixed firmly on the line of aim. This will help to keep your cue-action straight.

Another excellent practice stroke is shown in the diagrams a, b, and c.

Tuition Stroke 3 In each case the player has to pot the red into the middle pocket, and by striking above centre, follow-through into the same pocket.

Stroke A is for the beginner, stroke B for players who make 20 to 30 breaks, while stroke C is for players who regularly make breaks of 50 or more.

Again, these strokes are comparatively simple at a slow to medium pace. As you increase the power you will see how easily you lose accuracy and fail to pot the cue-ball.

An ultimate test of straight cueing
If you've mastered the exercise across the middle pockets so you can play shot C 8 or 9 times out of ten, then you're ready to try this much harder one.

It's an example of one practiced by Terry Griffiths before he became world champion in 1979.

He would place the cue-ball about two feet behind the blue and have them lined up to one of the corner pockets about eight feet away. As before the idea is to pot both the blue and the white in the same pocket.

This is a severe test that not only demands a perfect cue action, but also a very good table. While you may succeed with shot C across the middle of the table more often than not, you should be very pleased if you can get this just twice out of ten.

Here's something to practice at home.

This exercise will prove how straight your cue action really is.

Cueing Practice Few players can afford a full-sized table at home, yet to practice your cue-action you only need an empty plastic drinks bottle and a table of suitable height. The animation shows the idea quite clearly, and you should practice at the various strengths you would play during a normal game.

If you have difficulty in playing screw you are almost certainly striking the cue-ball too high. This exercise will teach you how to push the cue through straight, and this will improve your entire game.

Historical Notes
From "The Badminton Library: Billiards" by Major W. Broadfoot, pub. 1896. Page 136

For practice: place ball 1 on the centre of the D on the baulk-line, put ball 2 a foot up the table in the central line, play 1 full on 2 with varying strength, at first with strength to carry 2 to the top cushion; the truth of the stroke will be shown by 2 passing over all the spots in the central line and 1 following slowly in the same line for a short distance. When tolerable certainty is acquired play the same stroke harder, and if correctly struck ball 2 will return from the top cushion and meet ball 1, kiss as it is called, in the central line. The stroke can be made more difficult by placing ball 2 further up the table, say on the centre spot, and playing as before, and again by placing it on the pyramid spot. This practice, though it may seem uninteresting, is most useful; it combines and continues that recommended for one ball with that required for truth of stroke on another. It also, as will hereafter be shown, is directly useful in the matter of cannons, hence it should be assiduously praticed.

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