| by Jim Meador
If you are just learning the game of pool, you should develop a good bridge. By being able to wrap your index finger around the shaft of the cue stick, you will be able to restrain many of the vibrations of the shaft, as well as prevent the tip from deflecting off the cueball when using top or side spin. This may not seem important now, but as your game improves, it will become increasing critical. Here is one way to start.
1) First, place your hand flat on the table. Turn your hand so that your fingers are pointing toward one o'clock. (These photos were taken from the side. Your view will be different.)
2) Lay the stick across your thumb knuckle, and across the second knuckle of your middle finger.
3) Now try to curl your index finger around the shaft, and spread your fingers. This may be the most difficult part since some people find that their joints are too stiff. But, keep trying. It may take a little practice, but in time you will be able to do it.
4) Now, simply slide your thumb up to the tip of your index finger, creating a complete circle around the shaft. Keep the cue stick as level as possible to the surface of the table. Now, straighten your arm as much as possible. Try to lock your elbow. Your hand will have to turn counter clockwise. This will tighten the grip around the shaft, so be prepared to loosen the grip by adjusting your index finger.
The stick should slide easily through your fingers, but still be held firmly. If the shaft does not slide smoothly, you might need hand chalk, or try a pool glove.
Bottom english is applied by spreading the fingers out and as flat as possible on the table.
To shoot a center cue hit, cup your palm by pulling the fingers toward the heel of your hand.
Top english is applied by pulling your fingers further toward the heel of your hand and forming a bridge on your finger tips. Always keep the heel of you hand on the table.
It is important to raise or lower the tip of the shaft by adjusting your bridge, not by elevating the butt of the stick. See "KEEP YOUR BUTT DOWN" story in this issue. If this bridge is too difficult, develop a solid open bridge. Happy Shooting
Some people have a lot of difficulty making a closed bridge. It does require supple joints in the fingers and wrist. Additionally, there are shots where a closed bridge is not the best choice, such as when shooting off the rail, over balls, or reaching for balls. In these situations the open bridge is preferable. Many (if not most) snooker players use the open bridge exclusively because aiming is so important and the open bridge offers an unbroken line of sight down the shaft. Many top pool players also prefer the open bridge for the same reasons.
To make an open bridge:
5) Start with the same hand position described in figure #1.
6) Now, instead of wrapping the index finger around the shaft, simply raise the end of the thumb to create a "V" between the thumb and index finger and you have completed open bridge.
7) To raise the tip of the stick, simply pull the fingers in and cup the palm. To lower the tip of the stick, flatten the palm.
8) I have seen some shooters fold their fingers (except for the pinky) under as shown. I do not know why and I think it is a bad idea, but enough shooters use this bridge to show it.
When shooting over a ball, use the open bridge, but raise the shaft by creating a "tripod" with the tips of three fingers. Maintain the "V" by folding the index finger under and using the thumb as explained. The "tripod" is thereby created with the remaining fingers.