Picking out a good pool cue can be a surprisingly tricky task, especially for a novice player. Of the many factors that go into the decision, the cue’s weight is among the most important – and confusing – aspects to consider.
Beginners often assume (if they give it much thought at all) that a heavier cue is a superior cue. The truth is, it’s not nearly so simple. Since there are so many conflicting views on the subject, my aim with this article is to finally answer the question: Are Heavier Pool Cues Better?
The answer is yes and no. The general consensus is that heavier cues are better for shots requiring greater force (i.e. break shots), but are less effective for delicate shots. It’s unfair to say they’re objectively better or worse, however, as a player’s ideal cue weight is a highly personalized determination.
Getting To Know Cue Weights
Pool cues typically range in weight from 17 to 22 ounces, though some special-use cues are heavier or lighter. Most players use something in between. Cue weights go up or down by half-ounce degrees, but you probably won’t see a .5 on any of the cues in your local pool hall – unless some seasoned player brought their own.
The house cues in bars and smaller billiards rooms are usually limited to the 18-20oz range because that’s what the vast majority of players (especially newer ones) are comfortable with. If you’re fairly new to the game, it’s best to stay right in the middle and use a 19oz cue. Here’s an example of a good medium starter cue.
Why Beginners Should Use Medium-Weight Cues
Once you’ve developed a greater understanding of the game and a solid foundation of ability and technique, experimenting with other weights can prove beneficial. Before that, moving up and down the weight range may hinder your performance and interfere with your learning process.
This is partly because using different weighted cues is all about finding subtle improvements in your already-solid game. For a beginner, this level of nuance can be overwhelming or simply invisible.
Using heavier or lighter cues can also be deceiving to the new player. Many beginners select a heavy cue because it feels solid and sturdy and packs a powerful punch. The drawback here is that the extra weight tends to help cover up slight errors in form such as elbow flare and wrist flexion. So while you may be jazzed about how well you’re playing with a 21oz cue, you might be unaware of some major flaws in your technique.
That being said, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of using a heavier cue, and why some players may have better luck than others.
Related Article: Does Pool Cue Weight Really Matter? Light Vs. Heavy
How Does Cue Weight Affect Your Game?
A basic understanding of the physics behind cues and cue balls is essential to appreciating the impact of cue weight on your stroke. But don’t worry – I’ll keep it simple and I won’t pass out any tests.
The key principle here is that the speed of the cue ball is a direct function of the speed, acceleration, and mass of the cue. A heavier, more massive cue typically won’t allow as much speed or acceleration during the stroke. A lighter cue can produce a faster stroke, but the lower mass often creates a tendency to decelerate before impact.
The Rule of Thumb For Cue Weight
In general, since it requires more force to move, a heavier cue will mean a slower cue ball but a faster object ball. This means that a forceful stroke from a heavy cue can put too much heat on the object ball and cause it to bounce between pocket edges instead of going in. Conversely, a lighter cue will produce a faster-moving but less forceful cue ball, resulting in a slower object ball that may lose momentum over a longer distance.
Different Cues for Breaking and Playing?
Some veteran players use a different cue for breaking than they do for playing. This is partly to keep from wearing out their primary cue with high-impact break shots, but there’s a little more to it than that.
Should You Get a Heavy Break Cue?
While their break cues often happen to be heavier, weight isn’t always the deciding factor. Shaft stiffness and tip efficiency, or hardness, (among other things) are big parts of the equation. Some players even use combination jump-break cues that are a little more advanced. It may be worth it to purchase a basic, inexpensive break cue to see how you like it, but don’t feel like you need to – plenty of players do fine using only one cue.
That being said, many players find that lighter cues are harder to control on break shots due to the high stroke speed necessary to generate sufficient breaking power. A heavier cue may improve accuracy on breaks, but there’s no guarantee it will work for everyone. If you can achieve powerful breaks with a lighter cue – without sacrificing accuracy – then there’s no need to change anything.
Brute Force Vs. Finesse: Controlling the Cue
The most common complaint people have about heavier cues is that they are not as effective in finesse situations. Rapid deceleration is harder to achieve with a heavier cue, so stroke control may suffer. Attempting a pendulum stroke, for example, may result in an unintended push shot or double-hit.
Further, adding spin or “English” to the cue ball is a more precarious proposition with a heavier cue; a hit that’s too far off-center can cause major squirt (ball deflection), resulting in an errant cueball.
A light or medium cue will likely offer more precise stroke control on softer shots, draws (with the possible exception of power draws), and when applying sidespin. If you’re having trouble in areas that require a surgical approach, it’s worth experimenting with a slightly lighter cue.
A Word On Physiology
One more crucial aspect to consider is that no two players are built the same. Height, build, shoulder width, arm length, and strength all play a role in the effectiveness of one cue versus another. Even the predominance of fast-twitch or slow-twitch muscle fibers will affect a player’s stroke dynamics and, in turn, their favored cue weight.
As you’ve discovered, heavier is not necessarily better, and determining an individual’s ideal cue weight involves a complex equation with myriad variables and nuances. But in the end, the right pool cue weight is the one that you find most comfortable and that improves, rather than hinders, your performance. Even most pros will tell you that personal preference is the ultimate criterion for selecting a cue.
It’s important to remember, however, that cultivating understanding, skill, and sound technique will do more for your game than any cue. Experimenting with different weighted cues will simply help you to find that slight edge. Experience is the best teacher, so keep playing and be patient to find what cue weight works best for you!