I was wondering how to improve hitting the cue ball when it’s frozen to the rail. How do you adjust your stance and bridging?
The first thing you have to realize is that you can only make contact with the very top of the cue ball, which means you can do very little as far as position play goes. The most important thing is to make the shot you are going for, whether it is pocketing the ball or playing safe. The first thing to do is to make a steady bridge. The best bridge you can use is the rail because it is solid and will not move; therefore, we are going to make use of it. Lay the cue on the rail and then position your hand around the cue. This can be done two ways:
• Using an open-hand bridge with the fingertips of maybe two or three fingers pushing against the table. Even though the cue is resting on the rail, part of it will cross over the thumb and index finger where the “V” is created.
• Lay the cue down crossing the rail and then place your index finger over the cue and rest the other side of the cue against your middle finger and thumb. These two fingers will create a straight line for the cue. A good visual for this is to imagine an open-hand bridge with your thumb going underneath the fingers resting against the middle finger.
As far as the body position goes, the most important thing is to make sure that your back hand still falls at 90 degrees from the elbow. Obviously when we are bridging from the rail with the cue ball frozen, we cannot swing the cue back very far; therefore, we have to move our back hand farther up the cue to create a well-controlled swing. Whenever you move the bridge hand closer, you must also adjust the back hand so that you are always accelerating on the shot. The body position is a little closer to the table, and I like to keep my left arm bent.
The cue stick should remain as level as possible without creating a miscue. Remember, only part of the tip is contacting the ball on a shot like this, so naturally we have to raise the butt end slightly and make sure to chalk the cue tip. If you raise the butt too much and have slight left or right english on the ball, the cue ball will curve off in that direction. Make sure to really look at the contact point on the cue ball.
A good practice for this shot is to place balls around the rails and practice shooting them into different pockets. This will help you build up your confidence and develop a good stroke.