A very common question I get asked is whether the bridge distance should remain consistent or not.
In my own game have always used the same bridge distance, although some pros get benefit from closing up the bridge distance on short range shots as they feel their positional play accuracy is better - however their aiming will be compromised as they see less of the cue. They will also have less power available without having to over accelerate and snatch.
For me, the only exception to this is when I have a very short range shot where the pot is not in doubt (eg a 3/4 ball black off the spot with the cue ball 6-12 inches away) AND I have to play a soft screw shot to avoid cannoning a red in order to get ideal position. I used to subconsciously dip the tip of the cue to 'make sure I screwed back enough to avoid the cannon' which led to miscueing that shot from time to time. So I have found that going down to about half my standard bridge length on this shot has helped me reduce any dipping error on this shot and I don't think I have miscued once in a game after doing so many years ago.
Adjusting the bridge distance all becomes quite complex and sensitive to apply unless one is at 80-100 break standard and very fluent in executing their technique.
I personally advise, as a rule, to all players under 50 break standard that they keep the same bridge distance with 11-12 inches from bridge 'V' to cue ball being an ideal balance. If someone is struggling with accuracy or is a beginner then 10 inches is ok, but as I said they will struggle with aiming if they go below 10.
When someone has ingrained a repeatable technique, THEN we can think about testing and layering on top of that an adjustable stance distance to the shot. I say 'stance distance' as it is the ENTIRE stance and upper body as a fixed unit which remains IN EXACTLY THE SAME FORM whatever our distance to the cue ball... to adjust the position of this technique form, we are effectively standing on a conveyor belt that moves us closer to or further away from the cue ball.
This means that from a side on view the cue arm angle relative to vertical, our forwards lean, our stance, and our bridge elbow angle all remain the same. It is only the cue ball's distance to us that changes.
Knowing this distinction is important because the issue I see in players who adjust their bridge distance is that some (or all!) of the variables mentioned also change when they adjust their stance distance. This tendency reduces the better the player is, though, and once they are at 100 break standard they are a safe bet to adjust their distance properly without falling for these pitfalls.
Please comment below if you have any questions or feedback…
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