Is a longer bridge and stroke better?

Bridge length issues are described and demonstrated in the following videos:

Generally, the bridge length should match the stroke length, using a longer bridge and stroke for a power shot and a shorter bridge and stroke for a finesse shot. However, using a standard bridge length, and just varying the stroke length, can be comfortable for some. Also, using a fixed bridge length, varying the stroke length based on shot speed, can also provide a benefit of automatic stroke-error correction as a result of back-hand english (BHE) squirt compensation.

A longer bridge and stroke length can help create more power with a smoother stroke; but with more bridge length you will generally get less tip-placement accuracy (see TP A.10). This can create unwanted sidespin, which can result in unwanted squirt (cue ball deflection), swerve (cue ball curve), and throw.

A short stroke can require a jerkier (less smooth) motion, especially for faster-speed shots. This can result in less accuracy and less effective speed control; although, some people can do better with a shorter bridge and stroke, especially if they have trouble keeping a longer stroke straight and accurate. Every individual will have an optimal length where these trade-offs are balanced.

Bridge length can also affect how you apply sidespin and compensate for squirt. For more information, see aim compensation for squirt, swerve, and throw. For example, to use the System for Aiming With Sidespin (SAWS) effectively, you must use a consistent bridge length for every shot.

For more info on how bridge length can affect draw shots, see the draw shot cue elevation effects page.

More information about bridge length effects can be found in “Bridge Length Effects” (BD, July, 2024) and “Fundamentals – Part IV: bridge length” (BD, December, 2008). Below are concise summaries of conclusions from the articles:

Disadvantages of a longer bridge and stroke:

  • Stroking errors result in larger tip position errors.
  • If the length is not needed for power, the longer stroke might allow more room for error to be introduced during the stroke (i.e., a shorter, more compact stroke might be more accurate).
  • If a player has a long bridge but is not using the full length on the back stroke, the bridge length (and associated tip position error) is larger than it needs to be. However, if the extra length is helping with sighting and aiming, it might be justified.
  • A small change in bridge position creates a larger change in cue tip position. If the bridge hand shifts accidentally or deforms during the stroke, or if the cue shifts slightly within the bridge, larger errors will result.
  • For soft touch shots, a shorter bridge and stroke is usually more effective.

Advantages of a longer bridge and stroke:

  • Smoother acceleration is possible, especially when using more power. Not as much force will be required over the longer distance to achieve a desired cue speed. The stroke will tend to be jerkier and usually more susceptible to errors with a shorter bridge, requiring larger forces over the shorter distance to achieve the desire cue speed.
  • A person with large and/or inflexible hands might need to elevate the back of the cue more with a shorter bridge, and cue elevation can reduce accuracy by creating more swerve when sidespin is used (intentionally or not). Using a longer bridge can help some people keep their cue more level, especially with draw shots.
  • A longer bridge can help improve visual sighting because your eyes will be farther from the CB with more of the cue length available to help with visual alignment.
  • A longer bridge makes it possible to reach shots farther away (which is especially useful if you are not very tall).
  • A longer bridge might better match the natural pivot length for your cue (especially low-squirt cues). This can help reduce CB direction errors when unintentional sidespin is applied (e.g., due to stroke swoop). It can also be important if using the back-hand english (BHE) method to compensate for squirt when applying sidespin intentionally.
  • A longer bridge and stroke might help some people gauge the speed of the shot better; although, this might not apply for soft touch shots (see above).
  • Some people just feel more natural and comfortable with a longer bridge and stroke, and shortening it will feel too uncomfortable (even after practice), and their overall performance will not be better with a change. Like many things in pool, personal preference and comfort is often an important factor.

Does bridge length and tightness have any effect on CB deflection?

No, per the info here:

bridge length effects on squirt (CB deflection)

The following video shows and explains why visually (at the 2:32 point in part 2): NV B.96 – Grip and bridge technique and advice.

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