PTL1: Beginner Snooker/Pool Coaching Tutorial – The Basics


Our Beginner online Snooker/Pool coaching works interactively with yourself in various ways. If you wish to improve your game, we recommend following it to the full. There will be ways to send us feed back about your game, practise routines for you to carry out and an optional personalised analysis of your game.


Before you play a shot, there’s lots to consider before striking that cue ball.. Besides, after you’ve hit it, it’s out of your control so get it right beforehand! There are many factors that can cause you to miss a shot. The player must minimize those factors as best as possible and reduce unnecessary movement on the shot by having a perfect Stance, Grip and Bridge..

Okay, Walk around the table, select the right shot for you to play. Eye up the angle, maybe even pointing your cue along the line of the desired shot and then step straight forward in to your stance position..


pool snooker stance

Stance is very important! Where your feet are positioned can seriously affect what happens on the table.

For right handed players:
Recommended stance for a right handed player would be to step forward into the shot with your left foot pointing down the line of the shot/parallel to the line of the shot with your knee slightly bent. Let’s say this left foot is now at 12 o’clock.. Your right foot should be at about 2 o’clock, and the leg straight and locked to prevent movement on the shot.

For left handed players:
Recommended stance for a left handed player would be to step forward into the shot with your right foot pointing down the line of the shot/parallel to the line of the shot with your knee slightly bent. Let’s say this right foot is now at 12 o’clock.. Your left foot should be at about 10 o’clock, and the leg straight and locked to prevent movement on the shot.

See the photo above for a rough idea on how it should look. Depending on your height and other physical factors, your stance may need to be slightly different but try to adhere to the above recommendations as best as you can. Nothing is going to feel right at first but getting off to a text book start will hold you in good stead.

ACTION REQUIRED: Get a friend to take a photo of your stance and upload it in our FORUM from the main menu in the category.. LEARNING TO PLAY > STANCE.


snooker pool cue backhand grip

A loose but steady grip on the butt of your cue is needed. The looser the better as when the cue is drawn backwards you sometimes need to release/open your fingers leaving the thumb and index finger momentarily supporting the cue. When cueing off a cushion or playing a light weight delicate shot, it is advised that you move your backhand up the cue about a hands width to help make everything feel more compact.


snooker pool bridge hand

The bridge is the hand you place on the table to slide your cue over. The best was to get started with a good bridge is to place your hand flat on the table with your fingers all wide apart.. Not the Thumb though, keep the thumb touching your index finger. Now, keeping your fingers apart, raise your knuckles upwards to the height required for the shot in hand. Some shots require a higher bridge (Top Spin Shots), Some a lower bridge (Screw Shots). Don’t worry about those for now. With knuckles raised, the thumb should still be connected to the index finger creating a tight locked “V” to slide your cue over. The idea in this is to make sure NOTHING on your bridge hand moves during the shot.. stretched, spread fingers and a locked thumb is the very best you can do to prevent movement.


Okay, so you’ve selected your shot, stepped correctly in to the shot and have a perfect stance, bridge and grip.. All you need now is a nice cue action (Movement of the cue). It is normal procedure to feather up (Practice swings). Move your cue back and forth stopping short of the white ball. Think of each time you push the cue forward on each feather/swing as a practice shot.. Think to yourself “Where will this go if I hit it now?” on each swing. Your eyes should be mostly flicking back and forward from the white ball to the object ball. Initially you should also glance at the pocket to know where your target is. How and when you focus is usually something that comes natural.

We recommend to first focus on the white ball.. Ensure you are aiming bang centre otherwise the white will swerve off course slightly and you will miss the shot. Focus on the object ball at the exact point you wish to make contact with it.. The harder you focus, the better the chance of getting it right.

After a few feathers, you will be ready to play the shot.. Timing this is an art in itself but will become natural with time. As you finally draw your cue back to strike.. Keep everything still and when you’re cue is fully drawn back, try to pause momentarily before pushing through and hitting the cue ball. This pause sometime comes natural, sometimes not. You may not like adding this in to your execution of a shot but most top professionals have a slight pause before they strike.. It simply gives you that extra moment to double check everything is right and that your focus is correct.

Cue action and sighting the ball correctly is key and takes A LOT of practice. We can help you get there with a few exercises throughout this tutorial.. Make sure you do them and keep doing them.

ACTION REQUIRED: Study various professional snooker/pool players on TV or indeed YouTube and observe their cue action and eyes.


Most top professional still practice this routine exercise to help keep things in check. Strike the ball down the centre of the table running over the spots you’d have on a Snooker table or over the Black Spot on a Pool table and see if you’re hitting the white dead centre ! If you are, the white will return to your cue tip as seen in the video below..

 Where to actually hit the object ball in order to to pot it, you need to work out in your head exactly where the white should be as it makes contact with the object ball. To visualize this, place another ball in front of the object ball in line in such a way that it makes a plant to the target pocket. Now cue up as if you were hitting the first red full in the face.. Don’t play the shot, but now take the first red away and again cue up to put the white ball exactly where that red was.. Play the shot and pot the ball !!


ACTION REQUIRED: Practice various shots using the method above for about an hour or so until you have a better understanding of the potting angles. It helps to start with, if you can get a friend to remove the first red for you.. Cue up for the plant, then have them remove the first red just as you’re about to strike.. Hey Presto.. You potted it ! Well hopefully :-)


Here’s Mark practicing this technique..



hit a cue ball with top spin

Striking the white higher than centre will cause the white to roll forward after contact with the object ball and travel away from you. The higher you strike the cue ball, the further it will travel. To play a positional shot correctly using Top Spin, you need to judge the height where to strike it vs power. Remember to chalk your tip well and as you strike the white, raise your bridge a little so you’re striking at the right height. Push the cue through in a straight line as you strike the ball.

ACTION REQUIRED: Line the shot up above and try to pot the object ball and cue ball in to the middle pocket with top spin. See if you can do this 3 times in a row.


potting a ball with screw shot

To play a positional shot correctly using Screw, you need to judge how low to strike it vs power. Remember to chalk your tip well and as you strike the white, lower your bridge a little so you’re not digging down at an angle. Push the cue through in a straight line as you strike the ball.

ACTION REQUIRED: Line the shot up above and try to pot the object ball in to the middle pocket whilst screwing the white into the opposite middle pocket at the same time. See if you can do this 3 times in a row.


Another good way to practice is by lining the balls up, evenly spaced down the centre of the table. You can apply various rules to make the exercises fun and more challenging. Eg. Pot them in order, don’t hit a cushion with the white, Always hit cushion with the white and so on.

In this video, Mark has set up a 5 ball line up and potting them in order without the white being allowed to touch the cush..

ACTION REQUIRED: Practice a simple line up exercise – place all the reds down the centre of the table and try to clear them all.. no rules apply.. Just Pot The Lot !!!


Ooooh now it gets tricky ! Side spin is a MAJOR cause of missing a pot. Whether it be intentional or not, if you have side on the cue ball, the pot will go off… Unless you’ve accounted for this :-) That’s why we’re here !!

Firstly, remember that the main reason for wanting to put side on the cue ball is to affect it’s angle once it has hit the cushion.
If you strike the cue ball on the left hand side, it is going to push out to the right.. only fractionally but enough to make you miss a pot. The harder you hit it, the more it pushes out. Hit it on the right hand side and it pushes out to the left.

One of the most commonly asked questions in cue sports is “How do you play with side and still make the pot ?”.
I’m not going to lie to you… It’s bloody hard work and will take years to get it right. I will explain as best as I can.. Playing with side becomes a sort of “A feeling” which you learn how to do with practice..  knowing when everything is in alignment and set to pull the shot off.

The main key to success is changing the angle you step in to the shot. Let’s say you’re playing with left hand side on the cue ball.. The white is going to throw out to the right so step into the shot more from the right.
Try this.. cue up for a ball as if you were going to pot it plain ball (Centre of the white). Don’t play the shot but now adjust and put extreme left and side on the cue ball.. Play the shot and the object ball should miss the pocket to the left hand side as the white was pushed off course to the right !

OK, try that again.. Cue up plain ball, then aim with extreme left hand side on the cue ball but this time move your ass round to the right a little !! Trust me ok :-) Try to make sure your bridge hand and cue line pivot with this manoeuvre.. It will probably now look like you’re going to miss the shot as you’ll be aiming too far left on the object ball..  Play the shot and the white should throw out to the right correcting this and potting the ball.. Or at least be closer ?
HOWEVER, You won’t get it right like this for one simple reason.. The alignment I’m trying to explain needs to be stepped in to ! You CANNOT cue up for a ball then decide to put side on the shot and still get it. You need to step back out of the shot, re-align and visualize and then step back in so that every part of you has been re-aligned.. not just shuffled in to place. The above example was simply to try and explain where your body needs to be.

It will feel funny at first, you’ll think you’re going to miss the shot but then the side will correct it.
There’s one other big factor in all this too.. Power. Remember, the harder you hit the cue ball with side, the more it’s going to push out the opposite way.. This is why it all becomes a feeling in the end.
Also to consider is that at certain speeds and with power shots, the white might push out but during it’s journey to the object ball.. swerve back in again! This is more likely if you have bottom on the ball also.

ACTION REQUIRED: Practice potting all sorts of shots with side to see what happens. Play about with different speeds, angles and amount of side applied. Practice this for around 10-15 years and then get back to us hehe ! It’s seriously tricky business so concentrate on the basics first if you’re not yet ready for side.


In the above video you can see the path the white ball takes on and then off the cushion using no side (centre striking).
potting a ball with no side spin


In the above video you can see the path the white ball takes when using ‘Running Side’ to get position on the red ball for the same pocket. Note that with running side you don’t require much extra power, the side takes care of that. I am aiming just above the centre of the white but on the right hand side (3 o’clock). POTTING A BALL WITH RUNNING SIDE


In the above video you can see the path the white ball takes when using ‘Check Side’. Note that with check side you need to play the shot harder than normal as the white is fighting against its normal path to come back on itself once it hits the cushion (Checking off the cushion). I am aiming hitting the cue ball on the left hand side (9 o’clock).

You’re doing well!

If you enjoyed how this guide was written & put together then why not learn the fancy stuff..

PTL2: Advanced – Improve Your Game