Enhance Your Pool Bridge With Matt's Favorite "Loop Touch"

This Is The Bridge Trip You Ought To Try Next

pool bridge, dead zone, billiards bridge, pool hand bridge, bridge in pool
The loop touch enhances and strengthens the pool bridge every stroke. Photo (c) Matt Sherman 2008, licensed to About.com, Inc.

A Strong Pool Bridge - The Base For Good Play

You need to know a great pool bridge to play great pool, Fast Eddie. Come fast to dead stroke, the land of pool excellence, with a loop touch in your pool bridge, the cradle your non-shooting hand provides for the cue stick. A great pool bridge is a requirement for great pool.

As pictured here, I am using a firm snug billiards bridge. Is there space between my forefinger and the cue stick? Yes, some. Is there some flexibility in there? Certainly. A too-tight bridge can work against you. Don't go to extremes. I can't "feel" my pool bridge during play, which is to say I'm not focused on it. However, I would hold my hand in a bridge position even while not playing to train my hand to be right for the tables.

Get In Dead Stroke With A Dead Solid Bridge

There is one bridge aspect in which I will never budge my mind. And this is one key to playing in pure, "dead" stroke...

The loop formed by my thumb and forefinger always, always, always touches my middle finger on the table. Most players including me, should curl their forefinger in the loop until its tip rests somewhere near the second knuckle of the middle finger.

A loose loop, the loop hanging off the rest of the hand, creates problems as it sways right and left during the classic pool stroke and destroying the correct body alignment to the shot.

The loop touch is so important a facet of pool, when I was learning to play I'd set both hands in a closed bridge loop for minutes, even hours a day while walking, reclining or sitting. Most players give up on the closed bridge as unnatural and difficult to learn--and their games never progress as one result.

To help enter the mystery kingdom of "dead stroke", where the mind is facile, the body fluid, and all the balls sinking at will, all starts with a bridge hand that is wrapped beautifully about the cue stick. I take no conscious thought for placing the bridge hand on the table and wrapped around the stick for most shots. We all want to be, of course, in dead stroke, the magical place where shot making is effortless, the mind relaxed, the balls moving at will as we direct.

Are You The Exception To My Rule?

I used to play with one hustling rascal (when he left town he took his favorite cue with him--it wasn't his cue) who was quite a fine shot and with an unusual bridge. I thought about what he would do just the other day--spread his fingers apart loosely, almost making a "V sign" or peace sign with his thumb and two fingers--and just slide the cue through.

He could run many racks using this method and also found it convenient for holding a lit cigarette during play. Not that room owners appreciate ash burning holes in their table cloth!

You might be the exception to the rule, however, if you want to move beyond hustler level to that of the top pros, learn how to form solid open and closed bridges with my loop touch rule of (pardon the pun) thumb.