of the essentials that Joe Davis and other top players of his time,
Walter Donaldson, John Pulman and Fred Davis, all adopted was to
have a straight bridge arm, (Figures 1 & 2). In my opinion, this
does not suit many players and now-a-days very few leading players
play like this.
One moment they talk about bending the front leg to move into the
shot, and the next, when referring to getting down at the table
to address the cue ball, they advocate a straight bridge arm. In
my opinion this is a huge contradiction. First they are saying move
into the shot, then they recommend holding off by having a straight
why not bend the elbow as you are bending the front knee, in order
to get better stability with your forearm? (Figure 3 & 4)
of today's top players are adapting to bending the left elbow in
order to have a steadier bridge. Strangely,
when Joe Davis was playing a shot near the cushion and was not adopting
his usual stance, he did himself actually bend his left arm.
player who bent his arm more than anyone else is ex-world champion
Cliff Thorburn. I wonder how many other players around the world
have a similar action?.
the back, or cue arm, Joe claimed that his forearm was completely
vertical from the elbow to the wrist when the tip of the cue was
in the address position at the cue ball. But I know that he was
inside the vertical.
of three pictures taken from Joe Davis's book Complete Snooker confirms
Figure 5 illustrates, Joe is inside the vertical at the address
From the final back swing in Figure 6, he therefore raises his body
slightly in order to complete the shot in Figure 7.
If he didn't, his backhand would hit his chest and prevent the cue
following through. This entailed him dropping his elbow as he came
through so that his cue hand finished towards his chin. Very few
top players play like that today.
The trace is taken from pictures specially posed for his book. Joe
was not actually playing in a match, but nevertheless he is doing
something he never realized he did.
When I tried to put into practice what Joe advocated, especially
the cue action with one's forearm acting as a pendulum, I found
it difficult because I couldn't get my hand past my chest. I began
to experiment to prevent this happening. At first I started to turn
my body in every conceivable direction in order to cue along a straight
line and get well through the ball.
I found that with my left arm straight, I always felt I was holding
myself off the ball. The time had come to experiment with my left
arm bent, which meant I could get the whole of my forearm on to
it came home just how important it was to have a very firm bridge
hand (Figure 8). I got into the habit of not only having a firm
base for my bridge hand but also pressing my first finger into the
cloth. I realized that a firm bridge hand was a great asset to straight
cueing, and this is where the baulk line came into the picture.
far as I know, no one writing about snooker has used the baulk line
before as a guide to straight cueing. Amazing, really, a straight
line across the table, which has been there for everyone to see
since snooker was invented!
this there came a time when friends at my club noticed that on cueing
at the cue ball - when I was doing the preliminary waggles - my
right elbow was gradually moving over. At first I didn't believe
them. In the end to prove what was happening, a friend stood with
a cue up - right to one side of my elbow. As I proceeded to waggle
my cue, I noticed that my elbow was brushing against the other cue.
began to work on the problem but found out that I just could not
stop moving the elbow. Then it suddenly hit me that while I was
dropping my elbow I was still potting balls. Now I returned to the
baulk line and to start with put my elbow in the position in which
it finished up after completing the waggles. In other words, I was
purposely playing like Ray Reardon does - with my elbow well over
to the right - and I was still able to make the cue go through straight.
The next stage was to try to play with my elbow tucked in like Fred
Davis, exactly the opposite of Ray's stance. What happened? In both
cases I was able to pot balls, and this told me that my cue was
still going through straight on line despite the elbow being bent
one way or the other.
I am convinced that it was not a question of where my elbow was
that helped me to pot balls; it was all about sighting. As long
as I looked at the correct spot on the object ball, it didn't matter
whether my elbow was sticking out right or left. It was not important
Figure 9, 10 and 11 shows the three different positions of the elbow.
In Figure 9, the elbow protrudes to the right, a style adopted by
Ray Reardon and Cliff Thorburn. Even John Parrott's elbow is slightly
to the right. In Figure 10 everything is in line - elbow, left eye
and cue, while in Figure 11 the elbow is leaning in towards the
body, the style of Fred Davis.
A straight left arm seems to encourage a tendency for the elbow
of the cue arm to fall inwards to the body. Strangely enough, having
accepted that my elbow was moving, it was not until a good while
later that I realized I was no longer doing this, and I haven't
done so since.
Steve Davis in the early 80's, developed a good straight cue action.
He held his cue with his wrist slightly bent to the right; which
took the grip more into the fingers. He continued playing like that
until he had won two, possibly three, world championships.
Then Steve actually straightened his hand and everything was in
a straight line - wrist, forearm, elbow.
just proved that while Steve's wrist was cocked slightly to the
right, he was still able to send the cue through on a straight line.
I have often been asked why Steve changed his grip if it was good
enough to make him world champion. It was because, as he learnt
so much about the game, he realized that if he was to become the
perfect model and absolutely in line with his cue action, the one
thing wrong - if you can
call it that - was his wrist being slightly cocked outwards.
Steve has so much knowledge and talent that he was able to adapt
without any trouble. To us lesser mortals this would have been a
problem, but not to him. Everything fell into place and it was easy
for him to change.
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