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Bridge and stroke length
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skipbales
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Bridge and stroke length - 07-07-2019, 06:57 AM

I would like to start a general discussion about bridge stroke length. I am convinced there are a lot of differing opinions and there is no perfect answer so would like to get opinions and insight.
1. What I observe watching professionals is a very long bridge length in most situations.
2. What is taught by most instructors is a shorter bridge length.
3. A lot of emphasis in teaching is on extended follow through. The other concept is follow through equal to the length of the back swing.

Long bridge discussion: Just because the player takes a long bridge does not necessarily mean they take a long stroke. I see the pros with a 15" bridge take a 1" back stroke and 1" follow through on soft shots. Things I like about the long bridge are that it allows me to get down lower and more behind the ball to aim down the line. Of course I like it for power shots as I can accelerate more slowly and develop the power. I am ok with the shorter strokes for speed control but where I fail with it is in my precise position hit on the cue ball.

Short bridge discussion: As mentioned above I am more able to close my "circle of error" (Jerry Briesath's term for area of accuracy). It also does serve as a way to limit accidentally taking the cue back too far. The short bridge does seem to bring my body up and forward. I am looking more down on the shot than behind it. The perspective is different. This does create some issues for me if I switch back and forth. It is hard to develop two sets of visuals, one from on top and one from behind. But I feel this may be a necessary evil as some shots force you up. Shots like jumps or shooting over a ball, you just can't get way down so have to learn to "see" things from a different angle. I do struggle with all those from the top shots.

Finally follow through. In rotation games it is more common to be forced to shoot a variety of long shots since you have no control over which ball you will shoot next. The long bridge, long stroke and follow through are more common in this style. In games like 8 ball or straight pool where you can often choose a whole rack of short shots it is possible to play an entire rack and never use a full stroke or hit even one long shot. A short bridge, short stroke, limited follow through seem to be the order of the day for these games. I like the idea of an extended follow through for practice and training but in these types of games, especially on a bar box, there is often just not the room. I have literally had a ball come back and hit my stick because I was emphasizing a long follow through and taking the stick to the cloth so much in practice I didn't get out of my own way in an actual game.

I would love to hear from you about how long your bridge, stroke and follow through are, if you consistently use a long or short bridge, stoke and follow through, if you vary them a lot or go with one style more than the other, if you have changed over time or tried different ways, etc.

As for myself, I tend to bridge longer than my instructors suggest. At least two have told me to shorten my bridge. I don't intend to do a long bridge and don't "feel" it is very long but I must just slip into it. I don't do a 13-15" or anything like the pros but I am probably 8-10 vs. the 6-8 the instructors I have worked with recommend for me.

Last edited by skipbales; 07-07-2019 at 07:00 AM.
  
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07-07-2019, 07:12 AM

I used to need to have a very specific bridge length (long), and that length would only work with a narrow range of cues. I kind of couldn't play very well unless I had my cue, or a similar one, with me.

What I have found is that if you 1) grip your cue very lightly, lighter than you think is correct, and 2) match the "energy" (not length) of your backstroke to your final stroke, and 3) mentally focus on tip position landing on the CB on your final stroke, then bridge length and cue type variations matter a lot less.

Number 3 will become more subconscious after you get used to it.

The results of doing this produces the still elbow and fluid motion that everyone talks about.

Match the energy. You'll find what is comfortable.


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07-07-2019, 07:52 AM

Barry Stark has a really interesting video about timing: https://youtu.be/zH2PHaGl8Ik

He has a pro come in and, admittedly subjectively, rate how well he timed the shot while being recorded by a slow motion camera. He then looks at follow through and time the tip remains in contact with the cueball. Pretty interesting results.

I’ve personally found that I need to find a balance between bridge length and follow through that allows me to achieve acceleration of the cue at point of contact that gives me that sweet hit. Of course, that’s all very personal to the player.

Sean Murphy, who has been known forever to have a “Rolls Royce cue action, had a very long bridge for years. He recently shortened his bridge significantly, still has a smooth cue action with a great follow through, but apparently finds the shorter bridge gives him more accuracy.

I don’t know, there’s so much variation in cue action between great players. I think vital things are straight delivery of the cue at point of impact and timing (acceleration and follow through), but everyone get’s there differently. Compare Bustamante to Melling; they both hit the ball beautifully but with completely different cue actions.

I personally only really shorten my bridge when I need to play a delicate draw shot. I want maximum acceleration of the cue without power; enough acceleration to get work on the cue ball while moving the cueball a minimum distance. Shortening my bridge helps me control the power and still get a good follow through. Otherwise I probably have a standard bridge length,
  
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07-07-2019, 08:00 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shuddy View Post
Barry Stark has a really interesting video about timing: https://youtu.be/zH2PHaGl8Ik


Otherwise I probably have a standard bridge length,
What do you consider a standard bridge length?
  
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07-07-2019, 08:10 AM

a long bridge comes to me naturally..I've always liked the way it looks, and feels.
that said, I've come to sense that while the concept might not change a lot, every shot is completely unique, and should be treated as such.
so, I think it's best to be as fluent and comfortable with as many ways of shooting as possible..
long, short, fast, slow, top, bottom, left, right, this angle, that angle, all combinations thereof, etc...

edit: I do like a loose cue grip tho..for me, that stays pretty consistent throughout.


peace & love
  
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Shuddy
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07-07-2019, 08:18 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipbales View Post
What do you consider a standard bridge length?
Thatís the thing. For me itís standard. I know when itís short and when itís long, but thatís based on my stance and body. Giving you a number is so pointless that itís not worth the effort getting off the couch, pausing Stranger Things, and measuring my bridge length.

And I donít think players are oblivious to this. Using Melling again as an example, I think he knows full well that he has a long bridge, but heís able to time the ball well, get the power he needs, the touch he needs, maintain accuracy, etc. Mark Allen, a snooker player, has talked about his short bridge and jabby cue action and admits it lets him down when he needs power.

So when I say standard, I mean that for me itís not short or long. Does that make sense, or am I speaking rubbish?
  
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07-07-2019, 08:35 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shuddy View Post

So when I say standard, I mean that for me itís not short or long. Does that make sense, or am I speaking rubbish?
If you know anything about me it is that I never dis anyone's honest comments. I appreciate them all, so no way it is rubbish to me. It is input. I listen to it all and choose what works for me.

Instructors often are very opinionated in what they believe. Observation leads to different conclusions. I watch Tor Lowry use a "compact stroke" very effectively then I see Bert Kinister with a long bridge giving lessons to Neils and they both have a long bridge. I am concerned that, like in politics, it becomes popular to preach one particular perspective and block out all other input.

Thank you for your comments.
  
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Styles - 07-07-2019, 08:36 AM

First, pivot point be damned, most amateurs use too long of a bridge. I tested at a pool hall, bangers to shortstops, without telling people what I was testing. Everyone that looked at the object ball last didn't hit the cue ball exactly where they wanted to. Interestingly, those that knowingly looked at the cue ball last hit exactly where they meant to, even a banger.

The closest thing I had to a mentor was back in the seventies. He was an old shortstop who owned a hall. He said only shoot with a closed bridge and only use a four to six inch bridge unless the shot demanded a longer bridge. I shot over ninety percent of my shots with that bridge for a couple years. Takes a little getting used to with the hand keeping you from having that long straight piece of shaft to line up but eventually the shaft with the hand there becomes like the front and rear sights of a gun, you don't really notice in between. I decided I liked an open bridge on some shots and went back to the open bridge for about 25% of my shots.

When I came back to pool after a long layoff I went with the long open bridge style but I do know that while it is comfortable I would play better with a shorter bridge. Earl and other pro's used a long bridge so the amateurs jumped on it too. The amateurs don't begin to put in the hours on the table and they aren't shooting to eat. Few amateurs wouldn't benefit from a shorter bridge. Most people that play even several times a month know what they need to do, misses are usually a matter of failed execution. A big reason for the failed execution is not being able to deliver a cue tip accurately with a long bridge 100% of the time. Less than five percent of the shots in a match usually determine the winner and loser. It doesn't take many unforced errors to change wins into losses.

Hu
  
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07-07-2019, 09:19 AM

A player needs to be able to use any bridge distance. Why, cause there are shots where you can not use what some might consider a standard length.

Like shoting over a ball, or the CB close to a rail and need to use the side of the table for the bridge.

Hereís a little exercise.........set up a shot, get in your ďstandardĒ shooting position with the cue tip almost touching the CB. Now, stroke forward.....no backstroke.

Do the setup again, now use a 1 inch backstroke, then stroke forward.

Repeat this adding about a 1 inch to the back stroke each time.

I found out that you really donít need a really long backstroke. And a longer backstroke also allows for more stroking errors.

You can also can control your follow through better with a short back stroke.

Now.......what about the distance from bridge hand and grip hand.....does that matter? Is there a sweet spot distance based on a person body build?
  
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Shuddy
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07-07-2019, 09:35 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ShootingArts View Post
A big reason for the failed execution is not being able to deliver a cue tip accurately with a long bridge 100% of the time.

Hu
To add to that, and discuss the problems of a long bridge for beginners more specifically, I think thereís two problems with inexperienced players having a long bridge. One is, as you mentioned, not having a straight enough cue action over a long distance (and I think this problems still exists with amateurs). The second, and I think this might be the biggest problem with inexperience players (bangers?) and contributes to the first problem, is that they have a long bridge without bringing the tip of the cue to the cueball. So they end up contacting the cueball way after their cue arm has passed the fulcrum point, and their body is too far from the cueball, etc, etc, blah, blah. I donít need to explain it.

For more experience players, I wonder if rather than focusing on bridge length, they should experiment with extending their follow through by bending the bridge arm a little more or looking at the distance from the fulcrum point of the cue arm to their chest, which also obviously affects follow through.

Just my rambling thoughts on the topic.
  
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07-07-2019, 09:39 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by duckie View Post

Now.......what about the distance from bridge hand and grip hand.....does that matter? Is there a sweet spot distance based on a person body build?
Oh, I just posted a comment about bending the elbow and the clearance from the grip hand to chest. /agree that itís also worth discussing.
  
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07-07-2019, 10:22 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shuddy View Post
...the distance from the fulcrum point of the cue arm to their chest, which also obviously affects follow through.
So I can understand, what's the "fulcrum point of the cue arm" (and how does it affect follow through)?

Thanks,

pj
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07-07-2019, 10:30 AM

Mike Sigel always promoted a shorter bridge....Especially on a 7 foot bar box....8" to 9" max he said.........If you watch him he has a short bridge....

But that doesn't mean it works for everyone....Sometimes when I'm struggling I'll go to a shorter bridge....
  
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Shuddy
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07-07-2019, 11:14 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Johnson View Post
So I can understand, what's the "fulcrum point of the cue arm" (and how does it affect follow through)?

Thanks,

pj
chgo
Yeah, I didn’t describe that very well. I just mean the point where the forearm of the cue arm is 90 degrees vertically to the floor/table (which is generally considered the ideal point at which to contact the cueball and is thus the point from which your follow through could be measured). I’m sure you know what I mean. I guess I was imagining the elbow as a fulcrum point, and meant to describe the point at which the forearm is aligned with that.

I didn’t mean that affected follow through. I meant that point in relation to your bridge affected follow through, as does the distance from that point to your chest, or anything else impeding your cue arm from moving forward.

Last edited by Shuddy; 07-07-2019 at 11:20 AM.
  
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07-07-2019, 11:45 AM

I use all different types of strokes and bridges for all different types of shots, all sub-consciously (at this point.)
  
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