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GET A GRIP! -- By Anthony Beeler

Updated: Oct 27, 2021

Back in 1999, Rack and Cue Billiards in Campbellsville, Kentucky was the setting for the state’s 9-ball Championship. Players like John Brumback Shannon Daulton and Stan Shuffett were all regulars in quest for the title.

At that time, I was beginning to learn more about the little intricacies of the game, such as mechanics and advanced fundamentals. One topic I was particularly curious about was the grip. Mike Blevins was from Somerset, Kentucky and he was an incredibly difficult to beat. In fact, in addition to Gerald Daulton, Mike was given credit by many for teaching Shannon Daulton how to play.

After loosing to Shannon Daulton in the finals the previous year, I soon found myself face to face with Mike in the finals of the 1999 rendition. During our match, I began to pay close attention to Mike’s grip. Mike always seemed to move the cue ball effortlessly around the table and I always believed this was due to the way that he held the cue.

First, Mike had the right idea in that the thumb should be pointed straight to the floor, with the hand cocked slightly to the left if you are right handed. The little finger should not touch the cue, which should be cradled by the front fingers.

It is important to remember that if you hold the cue too tightly there is a tendency to stop your stroke. Mike primarily held his cue lightly, resting it on only the front fingers with the little finger not touching the cue. This light cradling of the butt made it much simpler for him to stroke in a perfectly straight line than with a tighter grip. In fact, some instructors compare perfect grip pressure to that of someone holding a bird. If you hold the bird too tightly you will hurt it, but if the bird is held too loosely it will escape and fly away. It is important to not hold the cue too light or too tight.

When watching Mike play I always imagined an eye on his grip hand directly above the cue (where the “X” is located on the photo). The imaginary eye looks down the butt and shaft of the cue towards the target. Using this analogy ensures that the grip hand is directly over the cue and is not torqued significantly in one direction or the other.

Finally, the last element of Mike’s grip was that he always opened his grip on the backswing and closed his grip on the forward swing. Snooker Champion, Steve Davis has described the perfect grip as being neutral at the “SET” (90 degrees) and open on the “PAUSE” (back swing) and then closed at the “FINISH” (squeezing on contact).

My match with Mike gave me a better insight into how to develop a proper grip. The real victory wasn’t the fact that I won the championship that year. It was that I had learned something far more valuable. I witnessed the elements of a good grip in action, and I had the opportunity to dissect it up close and personal.

To this day, my grip is much better due to the impression Mike Blevins made on me that day. As an instructor, I see many players who have limited abilities because they have a flaw with the way they hold the cue. Don’t let a faulty grip hold you back. Get a grip on your game and practice holding your cue correctly.


Anthony Beeler is the 2017 Pool Instructor of the Year and is a former BCAPL National 9-Ball Champion. He has numerous top 25 national finishes and is one of only 8 ACS Master Instructors in the world. He is the primary author of the National Billiards Instructors Manual and has also authored the book Unstoppable! Positive Thinking for Pool Players. Anthony currently has the highest established Fargo Rating of any Master Instructor. He has won over 300 tournaments and has defeated numerous professional players in tournament competition.

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