Tuition: Swerve

Snooker Cue

Adding the swerve shot to your game will prove to be of immense value. It allows you to escape from snookers which could otherwise be almost impossible, and will occasionally let you pot a ball that you might otherwise leave for the next player.

Showing how top and bottom is played when striking down on the cue-ball. To play a swerve shot you must raise the back of the cue and strike down on the cue-ball to the left or right of centre - depending on the direction that you want the cue-ball to take.

By striking down, most of the power that would have become forward motion is absorbed by the table, and this gives the spin more time to grip the cloth and pull the cue-ball away from its original line of aim.

As you raise the back of the cue the central line of the cue-ball also changes for the purpose of playing with top or bottom. It is above centre or below centre from the direction of the cue. You should practice individual shots using side and top and then side and bottom and watch the cue-ball as it travels to discover the slight differences that will add to your knowledge and control of the shot.

A long distance swerve with the point of aim shown close to the intervening ball. The diagram shows a swerve shot played with left-hand spin, played around the right-hand side of the blue. This doubles your chance of success. You may still hit the red even if you strike the side cushion first.

Playing around the left-hand side of the blue would be too risky, you may foul the green if you don't use enough side.

To play the shot you must first find your point of aim and this must be fairly close to the blue as less spin is then required. But don't aim too close or you'll increase the chance of hitting it.

You must also raise the back of the cue so you are striking down on the cue-ball. You will find this much easier if you hold the cue a little further away from the end than normal.

Strike the cue-ball on the same side that you want it to curve and play the shot firmly, but with little follow-through of the cue - you don't want to miscue or damage the cloth!

The 'secret' of the stroke is to always play at a speed that allows the spin enough time to work - don't make the mistake of playing the shot too fast!

Practice strokes for the 'swerve' shot. Shot A in this second diagram gives three positions of the cue-ball. With the cue-ball in the centre the swerve is a very difficult proposition, and one that most experienced players would probably avoid. The back of the cue must be raised well above 45°, and even if the red is struck there is a great danger of following-through for an in-off and a foul.

The swerve is much easier from the other two positions and you should practice these until you are able to play them confidently.

Stroke B from the corner pocket, although a full-ball snooker is a little easier than the one across the centre of the table because it's over a slightly longer distance.

But it does require some thought. Play around the left-hand side of the pink and you will probably hit the red even if you strike the cushion first, but you'll have little chance of potting it. If you play around the right-hand side of the pink there is less margin of error, but you stand a very good chance of potting the red if you play it correctly.

All the above shots should be practiced seriously until you become confident enough to play them in competition. They are easily set up and you will learn a great deal if you haven't yet mastered this particular shot.

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Snooker Cue