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.....When I was learning how to play pool there were no books, no videos, no instructors and no leagues to play in. The best way to learn was to watch. I was privileged to see some of the greatest and some of the not so great. My purpose for publishing my pointers instructional column is not only to impart pool knowledge to my viewers but to share with the public what these great players from the 1980s and 1990s looked like. Through my trusty Canon, for a moment in time they are immortalized. Some are still here and some are gone and I still remember the joy of watching them play.


Making a comfortable hand bridge when near the rail

.....MOST EXPERT pool players will agree that the inability to form the proper hand bridge hampers beginners more than any other factor. Cicero Murphy, a former World Champion, demonstrates one of the most difficult bridges to make, what I call the "half-bridge". So called because part of your hand is on the rail and the rest of it is on the table bed. There are two types of half bridges, the closed half-bridge is discussed in this article and the open half-bridge will be shown in a future column.

.....In order to increase your accuracy in shot making, your bridge should be planted solidly on the table. After you've followed through completely you should be no more than six or seven inches back from the cue tip. Because the closed half-bridge is awkward to make, a lot of players would rather keep their hand on the rail and extend their stroke to about a foot. This puts a lot of play in the front of their cue stick and causes them to accidentally hit the cue ball in the wrong place. Remember, if your cue tip strikes the cue ball right or left of center at a slow- to-moderate speed, you are applying spin, or English, which must be compensated for when you contact the object ball.

If you think you're hitting the ball center but actually hit off-center, that is, apply accidental english, you may not pocket the ball. Be patient. If you don’t feel comfortable on the shot, raise up, reorient yourself and get back down on the shot.

…..The secret to making this bridge is to drop your thumb and index finger almost underneath your middle finger and slightly shift your finger tips in toward your body. (A right-handed bridge shifts left and vice versa for left-handed.) A close look at the side view of Lou Butera, pictured on the left, making a closed half-bridge shows all of these elements exhibited. Also, his left arm is slightly curved to accommodate the shift of his fingertips.




.....Pictured below, both former World Champion, Ray Martin and WPBA player Sheryl Cohen exhibit a relaxed and easy familiarity with the closed half-bridge. An important aspect to note is that all four players approach the cue ball with a level cue despite being near the rail. With practice this closed half-bridge will become a comfortable part of your game.

........Check out Cool Cat as he deftly handles a different situation.


.....Pool Pointer Archives

.....1. Closed Half-Bridge




.....Tune in for more Pointer articles coming your way each month.