Tuition: Screw

Snooker Cue

Many who are new to the game find that screw is a complete mystery, yet it is simply a backward or reverse spin given to the cue-ball by striking below centre.

One of the biggest problems faced by those learning to play the screw shot, is that they are almost forced to experiment with it during an actual game when there is so much else to concentrate on.

Practice strokes for controlling the cue-ball with 'screw'. It's best learned by keeping everything simple, so begin by just practicing to strike the cue-ball below centre. Place the cue-ball where you can reach it comfortably, and line yourself up to play towards the cushion at a slight angle. This will prevent the cue-ball coming straight back at you.

Now get in the playing position and lower your bridge so the whole cue is as parallel to the table as possible. Concentrate on striking the cue-ball below centre and push through with the cue when you play the shot. It is this forward acceleration of the cue that applies the backspin.

If you practice in this way, with no object-ball and no pot to worry about, then you can concentrate on the only thing that matters - striking the cue-ball below centre.

Many players lift the cue off their bridge without realising and strike the cue-ball much higher than they believe. This exercise will show if you are guilty of this common error.

Practicing 'screw' by cueing under the 'Spider' rest. Place the 'Spider' rest as shown so you have to cue underneath the handle to strike the cue-ball.

If your cue makes contact with the rest then you're not controlling the cue as it moves forward. You're swinging the cue rather than pushing it through.

You may also be holding the cue too tightly as you're lifting the cue off your bridge. So play the shot again but grip the cue more softly, this makes your wrist more supple and may help you push the cue through with a more controlled forward motion.

If you can achieve this you will strike the cue-ball more accurately and improve not only your screw shots but every single shot that you play.

You may find this exercise useful.

Practice strokes for controlling the cue-ball with 'screw'. Begin from a if you're left-handed, or b if you're right-handed.

You must pot the pink and screw back for a red, pot the red and then replace the pink and the cue-ball. As the reds disappear you have to be more accurate to gain position on the ones that are left. As your skill increases you should try to take the reds in order.

When playing this exercise remember to keep your head down and to push the cue through smoothly. When you need to screw back a little further simply aim lower on the cue-ball. Play these shots at the same strength and with the same follow-through and you will quickly become more consistent.

Place any six balls as shown about a foot away from one of the center pockets. The object of the exercise is to pot the first ball (starting from either end) and screw back for position on the next ball. Then pot that one and screw back for the next. The balls should be potted in order, each time screwing back for position on the next ball.

An advanced practice routine for the screw shot in snooker. The diagram shows the six colours being used just to emphasise the order in which they should be played.

This exercise is much more difficult than it looks, and many of you will find it a severe test.

You will need to play each shot just slightly off straight. This creates the correct angle for the cue-ball to come back into position for the next shot. Strike the cue-ball low, and not too close to the centre.

Great care must be taken to screw back just the right distance or good position for the next pot and screw back will be lost.

See this exercise performed by Willie Mosconi, one of the world's greatest cueists.

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Snooker Cue