players realise that the game becomes much harder when playing shots
off the cushion.
In the first place it is impossible to use back-spin if the ball
is flush against the cushion. This immediately limits the range
of shots that can be played, forcing the player into above centre
it is possible to get some back-spin on the cue ball if it is an
inch or two away from the cushion, this can only be done by raising
the butt of the cue high in the air. Accuracy suffers when the butt
is raised and this apsect of the chosen shot should be taken into
consideration before attempting to do so.
Cushion heights can also alter the degree of difficulty of the shot
that the player is faced with. All tables differ slightly in cushion
height, some more than others.
So what can be done to increase the success rate of shots off the
Firstly, like every other shot, preparation is vitally important.
This is heightened when faced with awkward bridging and cueing.
In addition, the player must realise that not too much should be
attempted when the cue ball is stationed close to the cushion.
In The Bridge, I have stressed the importance of the first finger
of the bridge hand being pressed firmly into the cloth when placing
the hand on the table. The same applies when playing from off the
with the other fingers the bridge hand should be raised slightly,
so that when you proceed with the waggles the cue is kept clear
of the cushion. Fig 1 shows the player at address, and Fig 2 shows
the same cueing position, with the player about to strike the cue
first this may feel uncomfortable but with practice you will soon
begin to feel that more movement is possible. This in turn will
lead to a smoother stroke through the ball.
addition, experiment with a lighter grip than normal. This will
facilitate a smoother action and assist the delivery of the cue.
Only practice however can improve your accuracy and consistency.
As mentioned, cushion heights vary marginally, but whatever the
circumstances there will not be much of the cue ball to hit when
it is tight against the cushion.
A method that Steve Davis operates very well is to raise the bridge
part of the hand very slightly as it rests on the cushion rail.
If you watch Davis in a situation like this you will notice that
he can cue freely without the tip of the cue coming into contact
with the cushion.
you shouldn't try to do anything very ambitious with the cue ball
when it is tight to the cushion, but if you do need more power,
raise the bridge slightly higher, as shown in Fig 3.
again firmness of the bridge hand is essential. These shots do mean
you have to hold the cue at an angle instead of near the horizontal
- which in itself is not a good thing - but smooth cueing and I
repeat, not attempting too much with the cue ball will help to even
will at least be more positive on the shot if you are actually coming
down on the cue ball rather than trying to strike it by scraping
along the cushion rail.
When playing unusual shots most people fail because their preparations
lack rhythm or are otherwise incorrect. If they knew how to prepare
properly their apprehension would disappear. It is all a question
of practice and making the correct choice of bridge, though you
can practice as much as you like and some positions will still be
a lot more difficult than others.
Remember to keep your bridge hand as firm as possible, your head
perfectly still and the cue as close to parallel with the table
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