English Amateur Billiards Association

EABA : The Billiard Monthly : April, 1911

The Billiard Monthly : April, 1911

Handling the Cue and Rests

(Special to The Billiard Monthly.)

The cue cannot be held too lightly for the great majority
of strokes, and it should (except when necessarily and purposely
raised) work as parallel with the bed of the table as
possible, and with a straight, even, and flowing motion.

The act of grasping or pinching the cue alters the stroke
In the same way, the habit of delivering the cue with a
sort of curved motion—perpendicular in plain strokes and
horizontal in side strokes—is destructive of anything like
accuracy or certainty. In all horizontal strokes the cue
should be carried through the ball as far as it is drawn back,
and vice versa. The extent to which the cue is drawn back
should be regulated by the intended length of travel of the
ball or balls, and the bridge hand may be similarly advanced
or retired, as the right hand may also be on the cue.

Make Ready—Present—Fire

There is some difference of opinion amongst amateurs as
to whether, at the moment of striking, the eye should rest
on the cue or object ball. What should be done in billiards
is what is done in rifle-shooting. It should be a case of:
Make-ready; present; fire. To make ready is to fix the line
of aim; to present is to address the cue ball at the part of it
that is intended to be struck; and to fire is to deliver the
cue straight along or parallel with the line of aim, the eye
now, as in firing at a target, being fixed upon the desired

The really vital matter is the direction in which the cue
is actually pointing, as distinguished from the direction in
which it is supposed to be pointing, and accurate aim can
only be taken when the right foot, the elbow, the centre of
the face, and the bridge are in a dead straight line with
the desired movement of the cue.

Light Holding Essential

In the manipulation of a cue there are certain essential
motions which are difficult to describe on paper, but the
value of which is instantly recognised by a player when he
falls into the right method. Approximately, the necessary
cue motions are as follow:—The exact nature of the stroke
to be made having been decided by means of a glance
directed through the centre of the cue ball to or about the
object ball, the player settles to his stroke and takes aim!

He then fixes his eye on the exact part of the cue ball which
he intends to strike with his cue; gives a brief backward and
forward movement to his cue by way of addressing the ball
and putting life into his stroke; and, finally, draws his cue
well back and sends it right through the ball (as it were)
with an easy, flowing motion, in the course of which the
cue either lies upon his fingers, as upon a loop, not grasped
at all, or is just touched by the thumb. To prove the value
of this light holding of the cue, try a few strokes with the
cue held (at the moment of its contact with the ball) sometimes
lightly and sometimes tightly, and judge of the result.

The best practice, for all purposes, is up and down the
centre of the table with the cue working over the spot on
the bottom rail and the arm, body, and bridge, aligned as
before described.

Play with Both Hands

From the commencement of his practice the student should
accustom himself to play with either hand. This is not
nearly so difficult as may be imagined, and soon becomes
so natural that one instinctively uses the hand that affords
the most body-room and gives the most comfort. Precisely
the same sort of bridges should be made with one hand as
with the other, and the student must devote his sole attention
to the movements of the cue, which must be as parallel
as possible with the bed of the table and free from all tendency
to deviate from the perfectly straight line of action.

A good way of securing straight cue action with the left
hand is to place the right hand on the rail and work the
cue to and fro along the line that separates the woodwork
from the cloth of the cushion. The student should begin
by working the cue slowly, taking care to draw it back and
send it forward equal distances. He should then gradually
increase the speed of the movement, and when he finds that
he can keep the cue parallel with the rail and straight along
its centre, he need have no hesitation in introducing ambidextrous
work into his regular practice.

Use of Rests Should Be Cultivated

Another thing to be cultivated from the outset is the use
of the rest, the half-butt, and the long rest. To raise both
feet from the ground in making a stroke is to proclaim yourself
an inexact player. There is really something very
graceful in the use of the rests, although they have sometimes
been described as “necessary evils.” It would, of
course, be an advantage if the rests could be dispensed with,
but, as they cannot, the thing to be done is to master them.

In using the short rest the following three main principles
should be observed:—(1) Advance the head of the rest to
within a suitable distance from the ball; (2) allow the other
end to lie on the table, held in place by the hand; (3) place
the thumb beneath the cue, hold the elbow away from the
body, horizontally extended, and, after the usual preliminary
movements, deliver a clean stroke on the precise portion of
the cue ball that ought to be struck.

In using the half-butt and long rest, it is better to place
the cue tip on the cloth two or three inches from the ball
before placing the rest beneath it, and, in striking, the
student must remember that less power is required than with
the ordinary cue.

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