Learn to Play Eight Ball – Bridges & Rests
The bridge hand however it is made must be firm and unmoving until the shot is completed. The way a player puts his hand on the table is very revealing to an expert eye. One might liken it to a hand-shake when socialising. So often one sees the nervous uncertain player with a soft fidgety bridge hand and vice-like grip on the butt. Precisely the reverse is necessary for smooth relaxed play.
Much to my surprise, bridge hands seem to create many problems for players so that I feel it is worth showing them in some detail. It is the business end of the cue and plays as important a part as the other components in keeping the cue on line besides adding stability to the whole body. The following photographs will convey more than words. So I will only comment briefly on the different bridges shown.
1) The normal bridge hand. The fingers should be evenly spread and the thumb should be well cocked to make a secure groove for the cue. It is important to keep the thumb fairly tight to the forefinger for smooth running especially for players with moist skin. A little experimenting will soon tell you just where to hold your thumb to ensure this.
2) The low bridge. Merely turn the hand over, lowering the forefinger, raising the little finger and applying pressure to it to keep the hand firm and strong. You will need a low bridge for shots requiring well below centre striking of the cue ball.
3) The looped bridge. This can be very useful when playing forcing shots or on many occasions when you feel your cue may escape in a tricky position. I find this especially useful when the cue ball is in that awkward spot off the cushion where there is not enough room for the hand to be placed. Always make sure your fingers are well braced with these bridges.
4) For playing alongside a cushion. The recommended bridge is extremely satisfactory when used correctly. Do not be satisfied with something that looks like it but does not do the job. Remember, like stance these factors are important and must not be skipped over as not so important.
5) The most difficult cueing position, if that phrase need apply, is when tucked up tightly on the cushion. When this happens it is best to shorten your butt hold, slightly restrict your back-swing, and endeavour not to raise your head or move on the stroke. This of course applies all the time but in this particular case you may find that all these things seem to be more difficult to control and this is caused by anxiety to perform the stroke with so little of the ball to strike. If power, or a fairly strong shot is needed, raise the butt slightly, brace your fingers on the cushion rail, and play as smoothly as possible.
When playing over the balls pay attention to your feet for balance, as you are not only generally stretched in body but also your fingers will be on their toes, if you see what I mean! Badly positioned feet because body movement in this stroke resulting in the cue ball being struck in the wrong place and the shot will be missed. Place your left or forward foot a little wider than for normal shots so that the leg will have the strength to resist the push of the opposite shoulder which rises as does the cue butt for this type of shot.