How To Hold A Pool Stick Correctly | Guide To Holding A Pool Cue

by | Dec 26, 2023

Ever tried your hand at a game of pool and found yourself fumbling with the pool stick? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Holding the pool stick correctly is a fundamental skill that’s often overlooked.

In this article, I’ll break down the basics of how to hold a pool stick, offering tips and techniques that’ll improve your game. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player looking to refine your skills, this guide is for you.

The Fundamentals of Holding a Pool Stick

As we dive deeper into the intricacies of billiards, our focus shifts to the very grass-root level, the cornerstone of the game, which is how to hold a pool stick correctly. As simple as it might sound, having the right grip, the perfect hand placement, and keeping the right cue balance matter more than you may think. Let’s explore these elements in detail.


Loosen up! Here’s where many players, both beginners and veterans, tend to overlook. Holding your pool stick shouldn’t be a contest of strength. The trick is in keeping your grip relaxed and flexible yet firm enough to maintain control. Imagine the pool stick being a bird: hold it tight enough that it doesn’t fly away but not so tight that it gets crushed.

Hand Placement

Where your hand rests on the cue affects the kind of shot you’ll make. For the majority of shots, you’ll want to position your hand toward the butt end of the stick but remember to give enough room for a full stroke. However, for more powerful shots or break shots, sliding your hand further down can give extra force. In cases where the cue ball is close to the rail, you might want to slide your hand further up for better control.

Cue Balance

Knowing where the balance point of your pool stick is and using it to your advantage can change your game drastically. Hold your pool stick parallel to the ground at its balance point. From this point, move your grip hand towards the rear of the stick about two to three inches. This holds the cue at the optimal balance point and prepares you for the shot. The idea here is to have the cue stick almost level throughout your stroke.

Different Techniques for Holding a Pool Stick

Learning how to hold a pool stick correctly is fundamental to improving your game. It isn’t just about having the right grip or hand placement. It’s equally critical to familiarize yourself with the various techniques that can give you total control over each shot you take. So, let’s explore different techniques that can enhance your pool game substantially.

Open Bridge

The open bridge technique is the most common and arguably the simplest way of holding a pool stick. In this style, you’d place your hand flat on the table, forming a V-shape with your thumb and forefinger. The stick then sits in this V-groove when you are shooting. This technique allows for a greater line of sight on the cue ball, making it popular among beginners.

Closed Bridge

Unleashing more power to your shots, the closed bridge technique involves forming a loop with your forefinger and thumb, providing an enclosed rest for your cue. Although it offers more control, it is typically harder to master than an open bridge. This technique is a go-to choice for many experienced players in high-stakes matches.

Rail Bridge

When the cue ball is too close to the rail, a rail bridge technique comes in handy. In this technique, you’d place your hand on the rail with your thumb up, creating a rest for the cue. It allows you to align your shot accurately without any interference from the rail, thereby improving shot precision.

Elevated Bridge

Sometimes you might find the cue ball blocked by another ball. In such cases, an elevated bridge is your best friend. This technique involves elevating your gripping hand to raise the cue’s butt, allowing for a downward strike on the cue ball. It’s a challenging technique that, once mastered, can give you a significant advantage in complex situations.

Mechanical Bridge

When the cue ball is out of your reach, or awkward angles make it challenging, make use of a mechanical bridge tool. This technique doesn’t involve your hand but a special stick with a groove to support the pool stick. It helps in maintaining stability and accuracy while overcoming distance and angle obstacles successfully.

Tips for Improving Your Pool Stick Grip

In this section, I’ll delve into some fundamental techniques and strategies that can significantly improve your ability to hold a pool stick or a pool cue. Remember: a proficient grip is the backbone of good maneuvering and accuracy.

Exercises to Strengthen Your Hand Muscles

A strong grip isn’t just crucial in activities like rock climbing or arm wrestling. When learning how to hold a pool stick, building up hand and forearm strength can greatly enhance your control over shots. There’s a selection of exercises you can perform to bolster these areas, including:

  • Hand squeezes with a stress ball or hand exerciser
  • Wrist curls with light weights
  • Finger stretches to increase flexibility and reduce strain

Commit to consistent daily practice of these exercises and you’ll be on your way to more stable, accurate shots on the pool table.

Proper Hand Hygiene

Did you know that the cleanliness of your hands can also impact your game? That’s right folks! Never underestimate the importance of having clean, well-manicured hands when holding a pool stick.

Why does this matter, you might ask? An excessively greasy or sweaty hand will slip easily, stymieing your attempts at precise shots. In contrast, rough, dry skin can cause friction and disrupt the smooth glide of the cue stick. Solve this by:

  • Washing hands before each game to make sure that they are not slippery or sticky.
  • Regularly applying a good quality hand moisturizer to keep your skin in optimal condition and prevent calluses that could hinder your ability to grip the cue stick.

Using Chalk for a Better Grip

Another indispensable tool in enhancing your grip on a pool stick is billiard chalk. Applying chalk to the cue tip helps prevent miscues and maintains a smooth, predictable cue ball spin. I suggest:

  • Make sure the entire tip of the pool stick is uniformly coated with chalk.
  • Apply a fresh coat of chalk before each shot.
  • Use only quality chalk that offers optimal friction.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When improving our techniques on how to hold a pool stick, it’s crucial to identify common pitfalls that may hinder performance. By avoiding these mistakes, you’ll advance your control and precision, enhancing your overall gameplay.

Gripping Too Tight

A prevalent misconception about how to hold a pool stick involves the level of grip intensity. Players often believe a tighter grip equals better control – this isn’t correct. Overly tight gripping can actually lead to erratic movements of the cue.

To remediate this mistake, engage in strength exercises for your hand and forearm. As mentioned previously, hand squeezes, wrist curls, and finger stretches are excellent workouts to consider. With the correct strength built up over time, your grip won’t need to be forceful, allowing the cue to move smoothly and precisely.

Remember: a relaxed grip helps in making accurate shots, so keep the pressure light!

Holding the Cue Too Far Back

It’s easy to wrongly assume that grabbing the cue closer to the back might give you more power in your shots. However, this can drastically limit your control and cause inconsistent shots. Ideally, the grip needs to be towards the center of the grip area.

Incorporate frequent practice into your routine and soon enough, locating the optimal grip spot will become second nature. The perfect balance between power and control lies not too far from the center.

Not Maintaining a Consistent Grip

Consistency is key in many aspects of pool, and learning how to hold a pool cue is no different. Regularly changing your grip can lead to inconsistent shot power and direction.

Create a routine for handling your pool stick. You need consistency at every phase. The act of setting up your shot, taking aim, and executing without varying your grip are among the essential elements of this routine.

Overall, the art of holding a pool stick may seem simple on the surface. Yet, it’s a skill that requires attention to detail, practice, and dedication. As you build more experience, you’ll discover the subtle nuances that can improve your game exceptionally. Meticulous hand hygiene, dedicated training, and strategic use of billiard chalk are just a few other aspects that contribute to superior cue control.


In essence, holding a pool stick correctly is a blend of the right technique, physical preparedness, and mindful practice. It’s not just about the grip but understanding and applying a comprehensive approach that enhances your overall skills and enjoyment of the game.

With continuous practice and attention to these details, you’ll see a notable improvement in your gameplay, turning each shot into an opportunity for excellence. Remember, in billiards, as in many skills, the mastery lies in the nuances.


How to hold pool stick for beginners?

Grip the stick near the butt end with your dominant hand, loosely like holding a pen. Use your other hand to form a stable bridge on the table, spreading your fingers and resting the cue between your thumb and index finger.

How do pros hold a pool stick?

Pros often use a relaxed grip with their dominant hand for better control and a more stable bridge hand, varying between open and closed bridges based on the shot.

How to hold a pool stick right-handed?

Place your right hand towards the rear of the stick for gripping, and form a bridge with your left hand on the table, aligning the cue between the thumb and index finger.

How to hold a pool stick left-handed?

Grip the stick with your left hand near the end, and use your right hand to form the bridge on the table, guiding the cue between your thumb and index finger.

What is the recommended tool to improve grip and prevent miscues?

The use of billiard chalk on the cue tip can greatly enhance your grip and help prevent miscues during a game.

What are some common mistakes to avoid when holding a pool stick?

Common mistakes include gripping the cue too tight, holding it too far back, and failing to maintain a consistent grip. These errors can negatively affect control and precision in the game.

What is notable about the grip when holding a pool stick?

The grip should be relaxed, and you should locate the optimal grip spot on the cue. Consistency in these aspects can greatly improve your control and precision during the game.


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