Cue ActionThe most important individual point of the cue sports games is the correct striking of the cue ball by the tip of the cue. This is solely controlled by the cue action. You will need to develop an action that will deliver the tip to the cue ball to send it on the correct path to hit the object ball on the area that will then send it to the intended pocket. Keep in mind – nearly every shot you play, the cue ball has to travel in a straight line. In advanced play, even shots where you intentionally hit off centre of the cue ball, to impart a side spin, you need to allow for the ‘throw” of the cue ball when aiming, but the cue ball still has to travel the line of aim to strike the object in the correct area, (this, plus intentionally ‘swerving’ the cue ball will be covered in a later lesson).

There are some simple practice routines that will greatly assist in developing your cue action to be consistently delivered straight. A good one for the beginner is to put the cue ball on the centre spot of the baulk line and put a piece of chalk on top of the cushion at the opposite end of the table in a straight line. The chalk is to aim at. Try and hit the centre of the cue ball and hard enough so it will rebound to you. The idea is for the cue ball to come straight back to cross the baulk line where you hit it from. If you hit slightly off centre the cue ball will rebound either to your left or right side. This is called unintentional ‘Side’ or ‘English’ that is applied. It is the unintentional side spin that will cause the cue ball to go off line and hit the object ball in the incorrect area, either causing a missed shot or not gaining the position you desire for the next shot. I cannot stress enough the importance of being able to consistently hit the cue ball where you intend to, so you will need to practice at great length any practice routines that will help to develop that straight cue action. The one mentioned above is good for training your body in all facets of the stance, aiming and cue action. You need to keep all your practice routines as simple as possible, particularly while learning, because the more difficult you make the practice, the more chance you will not achieve what you are trying to achieve and will give your practice away for the day through frustration.

Have someone look from behind you to check on your stance and alignment when you are bent over the shot. They can see the line of the shot and see if your back foot, cue arm to the elbow, your head and cue tip are all on the line of the shot. This line of aim goes in both directions, so your observer just has to stand on the line behind you and look over the top of you to see where your alignment is in relation to the shot.  
When you commence cueing, the only moving parts are the forearm swinging from the elbow, wrist and fist and of course the eyes. There is to be no wrist or shoulder movement.
Always try and keep your cue as level as possible to the bed of the table, even firing over a cushion. Try not to raise the butt of the cue up to high because if you do impart any unintended side spin it will accentuate the curving of the cue ball.

“Shots can be missed when it is not the player’s fault! It can happen when a table is not level, allowing a ball to run off line. The nap of the cloth on Snooker tables, running from the baulk end to the spot end, will turn a slow moving ball from its true course, mainly running across and against the nap. Again, balls running around on a dirty table can pick up chalk dust from the cue tips which, having attached to a ball, will cause a ‘kick’ on contact, resulting in the object ball breaking away from the cue ball at an incorrect angle. These few points I mention are all part of the game, and have to be contended with. To play the games consistently well, however, you certainly have to practice to develop a good cue action, and then work hard to maintain that action”.  

Practice hitting the cue ball down the table, putting all the previous lessons into action, aiming at the piece of chalk and see how many times it comes back over the spot you hit it from. If you find the cue ball is coming back off line to your right or left consistently, check your stance to make sure you are lined up properly.

Coming next time:    The Cue Action  cont..