How do you use the bridge?
Having played snooker early in my career, I became quite proficient with the bridge, as I couldn’t reach many of the shots. I also used to practice most days with it. Starting from the feet up, I turn my stance the opposite way around than usual. In other words, my right foot is ahead of my left foot.
This will bring my shoulders around and give me better leverage with the cue stick. My left hand is preferably holding the end of the bridge down on the table or the rail. If it does not fit on the table, I place my left elbow on the table and hold the bridge as close to the table as possible to keep it steady. Now I pick up the cue stick and let it rest in the bridgehead and place the butt end resting on my thumb at the base. I then place two fingers over the cue and two fingers underneath resting against the cue. I lift my elbow so that it is parallel with the table and parallel with my body. It is important to keep your head above the cue, as you will have a better perception of the shot. It is easier to see how far the cue tip is from the ball andbridgehead.
Now I swing the cue back and forth, practicing my warm up strokes keeping the grip loose and letting the wrist open up. This will create more power with less effort and takes away the chance of any shoulder movement. This also allows me to hit the ball like a normal stroke. If you find that you are swinging the cue off to the right, it means you are using too much forearm, and you should try to let the wrist work more. You should use the same routine you have for every other shot. Keep the bridge distance the same as you would to stroke the ball without the bridge being there. Take plenty of warm up strokes and deliver the cue smoothly holding the cue nice and loose. For draw strokes, vary your bridging distance to suit your stroke and with practice you will master it.
Does the rack make a big difference to a game?
Absolutely it does. We were using the Sardo Tight Rack for the last two years on the WPBA Tour, which I liked because everyone is given the same rack. There can be no manipulation of balls, and it is much easier to rack the balls quickly. I think that some people didn’t like it because it was predictable where the balls ended up with a soft, consistent break. This break was useful as we had the 9 ball placed on the spot, and many times the 1 ball went in the side pocket. However, with a hard break, no rack is predictable. It is much more exciting now that we alternate the break, which means if you break, you have to be running out to keep your advantage. Also, players cannot run racks on their opponents without them getting to the table. This makes it more exciting for television. In 2003, we are using a Brunswick wooden rack and placing the 1 ball back on the spot, which is less predictable because it is much harder to rack consistently and get the balls frozen every time. There is also the danger if the balls are not frozen at the back of the pack that the 9 ball will fly in the corner pocket. The fans like to see this, but as a player, whether I make the 9 or my opponent does, I hate to have that to happen. It is no way to win or lose a match!