top players have a bridge with which they take a firm grip of the
cloth and provide a channel through which they send the cue on a
a good bridge, you are doomed. You are a no-hoper. An unsteady bridge
will ruin everything. If there is any movement, say with the thumb,
any shot can and will go wrong.
believe that more players should be concerned with getting the bridge
hand firmed up, before considering other more advanced areas of
As a starting point, place your hand flat on the table. Then draw
up all the fingers in a crab-like manner before cocking the thumb
in such a way that you are able to form a 'V' between your thumb
and the top knuckle of your forefinger.
the firmness of the bridge by pressing the forefinger into the cloth.
Anyone who wants to realize just how important the bridge is, need
only try this simple experiment.
along the baulk line making sure that the cue covers the baulk line
itself so that it is no longer visible from above. Now lower the
thumb and notice what happens. The cue goes off line.
that should happen while you are playing a shot, it is one way of
putting accidental side on the cue ball.
Take a look at the strength of the bridges displayed above and to
the right. All fingers are pressed into the cloth and wood, with
particular emphasis placed on the forefinger, the one that is the
real basis of the bridge.
used to be criticised in the old days for the marks left on the
cloth as a result of the pressure placed by their fingers, but this
didn't bother them and it shouldn't bother you.
However, don't drag your bridge hand back, particularly against
the nap of the cloth. There is no advantage in this and it will
create so many furrows that the table will look like a ploughed
field and could also rough up the nap sufficiently to make slow
shots more hazardous.
your shot is completed, just lift your hand from the table.
I believe that players pressing the first finger into the cloth
in the manner demonstrated above, will find firmness along the left-hand
side of the body. The fact that the left side is so firm seems to
make the right hand even freer to get rhythm into the cue action.
reverse is true for left-handed players.
For screw shots the great Joe Davis adapted his bridge by turning
the hand over on to its side just by lifting the left of the palm.
But this is not the only way and today most players today simply
lower the whole hand and still maintain a good 'V' in the bridge.
It is up to you which method suits you better.
For a very deep screw shot Joe would use the loop bridge, which
very few players use today. The real reason he used it even if he
was not aware of the fact, was that he was inclined to lift the
cue when striking the cue ball.
This came about because he had the flourish so many billiards players
have of lifting the cue when playing a forcing shot - sometimes
even striking the light shade with the tip of the cue.
The loop bridge counteracted this by stopping the cue coming up.
Young players today appear reluctant to use the loop bridge, but
my advice is to try it out. It is very useful when the cue ball
is tight to the cushion as shown top left.
solid, firm bridge is essential to become a decent player.
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