How to Hold a Pool Cue: Everything You Need to Know

Before you can impress anyone with your skills in a pool game, getting the basics down, like how to hold a pool cue is crucial. Most new players make the simple mistake of grasping the cue stick incorrectly. However, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about—this guide will make it possible to get your hold right.

Knowing the correct placement and balance of the stick can bring a world of difference to your game. Let’s discuss the fundamentals of holding a cue and getting your accurate shots like a pro!

The Basics

While you can say that holding a cue is like carrying any sports equipment, there are subtle techniques that professionals practice to make the perfect shots. It’s important to start with a good quality cue. If you look after it, then it’ll last for a very long time so invest the money in the beginning.


The first obstacle you have to get rid of is the discomfort from carrying the cue wrongly. To do this, you should hold a pool cue by the hip using your dominant hand. Put it close to the stick’s rear (called the butt), where a tape is usually placed. Keep a 4- to 5-inch distance from the tape marking.

The rule of thumb is to create a 90° angle between your back hand and the cue. Use your index finger and thumb when holding the stick, and place your middle finger if you need to make a powerful shot. 

Pool is an energy-focused game, which means that your grip will dictate how the stick swings and swerves, changing your shot’s angle.


Once you fix your grip, you should keep your body low towards the table. You need to be staring down the cue ball line. Your body should be angled in the direction of the ball to ensure that you’re aiming correctly.

Take a relaxed stance and slightly bend your legs. Keep your feet a few inches apart. Otherwise, you will find it rather uncomfortable to make the shot if you’re upright and stiff. 

“Eye” up your cue ball as you lean forward. It helps you hit the sweet spot so that it goes in the direction you want it to go.

Making a Bridge

Your less dominant hand plays a role in making the bridge. This technique, called bridging, uses the hand as the anchor that will make your shot stable. In general, holding the cue stick that allows enough movement while also providing stability is the key to a great shot.

Developing a good bridge is a skill in itself. You should know where to place your hand and how to position your fingers. It’s easier to focus on hitting the cue ball with just the right amount of power if you have a good bridge. 

It will be challenging to advance your skills in this game if you fail to master the bridge shape. A bad bridging technique will make your shots inconsistent, affecting your gameplay. Getting the most common methods like the close or open bridge is crucial when learning this game. 

Laying your hand flat and doing the V-shape is the most common bridging technique. However, there are alternate ways to create a strong bridge for your cue. 

Alternative Bridge

Advancing your game as a player involves discovering which styles you can master and make your own.  Besides the standard bridging technique, there are a variety of alternative ways to make a bridge.

Rail Bridge

If the cue ball sits too close to the rail of the pool table, a rail bridge will work to your advantage. This technique ensures you can still make a stable shot. To do this, you must lay your palm flat on the rail and make the standard open bridge by placing your thumb slowly over the railing. Your index finger guides the other side of the cue so that it is balanced in between. 

Your index finger should be over the cue and the thumb under it. You can use the rail to make the shot stable, allowing you to line up as needed. 

If you need to make a much closer hit, you can modify the rail bridge. Place the cue tip at the end of your thumb to guide your shot.

Open Bridge

The open bridge is one of the most common techniques in bridging. Here’s how to do this method:

  • Place your less dominant hand around six to seven inches (or 15-20 centimeters) away from your cue ball. You will get a more precise shot when your hand is closer to the ball. 
  • Lay your hand flat on the table, spreading each finger apart.
  • Press your thumb against your index to create a V that serves as a rest for the cue. It’s the stable foundation you can slide your stick on when making a shot. 
  • Adjust the cue tip height by lowering or raising your hand’s arch.

You can bring in the middle finger in play to help adjust your grip. It will help you control your shot, allowing you to center the cue properly.

Closed Bridge

Advanced pool players master the closed bridge technique, which requires more precision. It’s the method that professionals perfect for getting an edge over the opponent. Do it right by following these steps:

  • Make a fist and lay it on the table.
  • Spread your middle, ring, and pinkie finger while keeping your index tucked in, and then place your thumb under this finger. 
  • Your thumb should form a loop along with your index finger. 
  • When making the shot, gently push the cue tip through the loop. The thumb should be pressed securely against the index finger’s end to ensure accuracy.

Using this technique could help you slide the cue stick easily, although you have to ensure a firm grip on it. If it does not allow a smooth slide, you might consider wearing a pool glove or hand chalk.

Mechanical Bridge

When the pool ball target is entirely out of reach, you can perform the mechanical bridge to help with the shot. It’s usually done when playing on a larger and broader pool table. If you’re finding it difficult to stabilize your aim because the cue ball is in the middle of the table, this is the bridge to use.

  • Put the bridge on the table just behind your cue ball, but with about six to eight inches distance to allow a smooth shot.
  • Get a firm grip on the bridge using your free hand. Place the bridge cue to the left of the shooting cue if you are right-handed.
  • Place your stick on the groove that enables the most suitable shot.
  • Hold the cue’s butt cap with your index, thumb, and middle finger.
  • Position your head in the direction of the intended shot and shoot.

It would help if you made the conscious effort to hit the ball by concentrating on the angle. Never mind the names like ‘granny stick’ or ‘crutch’ because even pros need a mechanical bridge once in a while.

Final Thoughts

There are many tactics on how to hold a pool cue, but it all boils down to practice. If you want to become a superior pool player, you need to use these techniques until you get them right consistently. Over time, you will find which methods are most comfortable for you. Invest in a quality cue and look after it. By then, taking a shot and holding the cue will feel natural to you.