A reader's question this week prompts this article…
Hi Matthew, I play in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I'm thinking a lighter cue will allow more finesse to emerge.
I feel a natural precise stroke may come about from a mechanical point of view. If there is less weight, less resistance should follow, reducing errors from ones stroke based on the input of cue weight.
I realize a solid foundation is key as I focus on my mechanics consistently. ...I really enjoyed your article on the classic stroke, one of my favorites.
I can produce a light touch to overkill power with the current weight. I'd like to take my skills to the next level.
A new cue will help, however a lighter cue will put me out of the comfort zone. This should force a new perspective perhaps on the art of cueing, allowing my game to evolve... your thoughts?
1) Our writer is correct regarding errors and cue weight. A heavier cue will cause greater error on a stray stroke or on a sloppily executed spin stroke or sidespin stroke.
But a heavier cue stick will also tend to toward a solid straight-line motion on a center ball hit (or anywhere along the vertical axis of the cue ball-most of your strokes, in other words). most players use too much english and that far too often.
2) As Issac Newton tells us, this is expected due to the laws of physics. Every action tends to generate an equal and opposite reaction. Therefore, a 21-ounce cue stick stroked during a miscued shot, say, to the left of where the player had aimed, will push or "squirt" the cue ball offline to the right. A heavier cue will send the errant cue ball further off to the right than a lighter cue stick.
In the same way, the heavier cue will keep a straight shot moving forward with more momentum (the law of intertia). Beginners seem to find it easier to stroke balls into the pockets using a heavy cue.
Finally, a pro stroke (that most any amateur can learn the rudiments of in minutes) will perform best using a light cue weight. I want maximum feel through the stroke with my hands. This equals a lighter cue stick held in a lighter grip.
Momentum is created when force is enacted upon a mass. Anyone can move a lighter cue with more ease than a heavier cue. For this reason, the average player can crush a powerful break shot with ease using a lighter and not a heavier cue… and can also stroke a regular billiards shot more than adequately using a light cue stick.
Newton also explained that an object set in motion will tend to remain in motion forever unless another force acts upon it. Translation for cue stick weight-a light cue will move through my hand with ease and I'll be less likely to jerk my hand offline to compensate when I feel offline motion.
3) The lighter cue will put you out of your comfort zone as our reader mentioned. One may generate a lot of "touch" and "feel" with lightweight cues, but players using baby weight cues will also lost some of their ability to get draw and follow spin, and sidespin as needed, using the gentle stroke I recommend when using too lightweight a cue.
4) The improvements in speeds of cloth and etc. have moved the pros from near 21-ounce cues to near 19-ounce cues over the last 50 years. You should probably follow their lead and use a near 19-ounce cue in weight like these cues.
5) Rent a cue somewhere or try to use a lightweight house cue somewhere free of charge. Shoot for a few hours with a really light cue. Send me a note and let me know what you discover...
6) Use a lightweight break cue. The lighter, not the heavier, the better, in my opinion, and that of many other teachers. I can demolish racks of 9-Ball with a 15 oz. cue and have been looking for a two-piece 15-ounce I'd like to own for a while now. The truth lies in physics as force equals mass multiplied by speed. Since the "factor" is multiplication, not addition, a lighter cue can be sent far faster than a heavier cue for a super-powerful break. Most pros now break with light, not heavy, cue sticks.
Using A Light Billiards Cue
In sum, the average beginner or intermediate should use a 20-ounce or so cue when first learning the game, but move as soon as possible to a 19-ounce or 19½-ounce cue stick.
And just as important if not far more important, the beginner should make every effort toward a very light clasp on the stick and a very light stroke with as little muscling/leverage as possible, as I teach consistently throughout this About.com GuideSite to pool and billiards.