We've all been there. You're lining up your first shot in a round of pool, but something doesn't feel right. Your cue seems off. You wonder if there is a standard pool cue length? Or is it a free-for-all? The truth, like with all things, lies somewhere in the middle.
You see, it's important for your game to have the right-sized pool cue. And if you're stuck using something too short or too long, good luck. There are three things that can ruin a good game: alcohol, warped cues, and the wrong cue for your body.
Does Size Matter?
To start off, do away with any silly notions that size doesn't matter. Because when it comes to your billiards game, size does matter! The standard pool cue length you'll find at pool halls and bars is usually the wrong length for you.
Get this. The average length of a pool cue is between 57 inches and 59 inches. That's what you'll find at most pool halls. But, if you're a shorter person or even an average-sized woman, these lengths are not going to be right for you. Sure, you can still shoot, but you won't be playing your best game.
Instead, you should have something smaller. The opposite can be said for the really tall among us. Also, did you know that almost all pro leagues have no maximum standard pool cue length? It's true! While most tournaments specify a minimum length of 40 inches, there are no maximums.
Standard pool cue length
So what is a standard pool cue length, then? After all, if bars stock an assortment of lengths, and tournaments have no maximums, can you just use any cue?
Funnily enough, the answer is no. According to pro pool ace and professional billiards trainer Tom Simpson, there are things to look for. You need to stroke in a straight line without having to move your body around the cue. If you end up contorting your body or stretching too far, then it's the wrong size.
Give it a lift
Another aspect of pool cues that not many people consider is weight. Obviously, longer cues will be heavier, but many short cues will include weighted butts for extra heft. How well you handle weight depends on your strength and also on your abilities.
For example, did you know that most professional players use lighter cues? The average pro cue is 58 inches long and weighs less than 19 ounces, like this Viking Valhalla 2-piece cue with Irish wrap. But here's the kicker: lighter cues are hard to work with. If you're a casual player or new at pool, you should go with something around 21 ounces.
Size it up
What have we learned thus far? Well, we know that there is no standard pool cue length. We also know that what works for you is largely dependent on a variety of factors. Your body size is one of those factors. Taller people, heavier people, and those with broad shoulders should definitely use a longer cue.
If you can find something above 59 inches that would be perfect. That being said, shorter people shouldn't avoid longer cues. Smaller players will often assume they need a smaller cue, and then end up stretching and contorting their bodies just to line up a shot.
The average woman may not need a 60-inch cue, but a good 58-inch cue will work fine. Check out the Viper Sinister 58-inch cue, made with natural ash. So when you're choosing your cue, remember to match it to the size of your body.
How We Researched
In order to bring you the most factual information we could, we scoured as many of our sources as possible. We hit up Pool Dawg, one of your favorite authorities on the game. They have more than a dozen pro players writing and working with them. We always learn something new over there.
Also, we dug into our own expertise. For example, I've personally been playing for over 20 years. I've played in a few local semi-pro tournaments. I've even won money at tournaments! Am I the best? Definitely not! But I can give another good player a run for their money.
We here at letsplaybilliards.com are passionate about the game and know a thing or two. Using all that information, we were able to come up with some ways that you can use to choose the right-sized pool cue. That alone will improve your game.
How to Choose Your Own Standard Pool Cue Length
Next, you need to find the right cue. While there's no standard pool cue length, there is a standard pool cue length for you. That's the cue that fits your body size perfectly and weighs the right amount for you to use.
What's the catch? For starters, you need to spend some time trying out different cues until you settle on one you like. Don't worry. You've got this!
Step 1: Guesstimate
Now you know that you need to find the right-sized cue for your height. If you have a good eye for measurements, you can scope out the right-sized pool cue. However, if you need to guesstimate, then you'll want to make sure your hand isn't touching the rubber bumper on the bottom of the cue when you're taking a shot.
Here are some very loose guidelines:
Step 2: Weigh your options
Next, you'll want to make sure that the cue is the right weight for you. Because weight plays a huge part in your game, your cue needs to weight right for you.
All things considered, most people can play with a 20 or 21-ounce cue. That applies to both average-sized women and men. However, smaller people may prefer less weight, especially if they're not seasoned players. On the other hand, if you're a shark, you'll want a lighter cue, around 18 ounces or even less.
Balance the cue in your hand. See how heavy it is. Because most of the weight is in the butt, hold it with the same hand, you'd use on that part of the cue when taking a shot. Does it feel too heavy? Go with a lighter cue.
Step 2: Weigh your options
Next, you want to check the cue for warps. Even the slightest warp, which you can barely see, will cause your aim to be off. We all know how frustrating it is to miss shot after shot.
To make sure that's not how your game turns out, lift the cue up to your eyes, and look down its length. Slowly rotate the cue as you look. Do you see any bulges? Any noticeable warping? If so, opt for a different cue.
One thing a lot of people like to do is roll their cue on the pool table to check for warps. This isn't effective. That's because the table itself might be warped, especially if you're at a public pool hall or bar where the tables get lots of action. Even if the table is fine, the building could be on a slight slope, which can affect the roll. Instead, just hold up it up and check it the hard way.
Step 4: Chalk it up to skill
Fourth, you want to chalk the tip. The reason for the chalk is to create friction between the cue and the ball. That will send the cue ball in the right direction without any skidding or bouncing. But there's an art to chalking that not many amateurs know.
For starters, you don't want to grind your tip into the chalk cube. That just layers chunks of chalk on it and messes up your shot, as well as ruining the tip of the cue. Instead, lightly brush the chalk cube back and forth over the tip. You want a thin layer of chalk, not a continental crust.
Next, don't blow on your cue tip. You're not a cowboy, and that's not a Peacemaker. Blowing on it removes most of the chalk you just added, so that's not very smart. Instead, once you've finished dusting some chalk on the tip, take your shot.
For best results, bring your own chalk instead of using the same chalk every other player has used. Impress your opponents with Predator 1080 Pure Performance chalk in a funky octagon-shape.
Step 5: Ready, aim, fire!
Finally, if you've found the perfect standard pool cue length for you, you're ready to line up your shot. You want the butt to be held with your dominant hand, at hip-level. Lay your other hand flat on the table and make a bridge between your thumb and forefinger. Keep your hand about six inches away from the cue ball. You're going to slide the cue in the V of the bridge you made with your hand.
Also, keep your body low to the table to help you take a straight shot. You want the cue to glide back and forth in a straight line. You don't want the tip to be wobbling about. Visualize a straight line from the tip of the cue, through the cue ball, and to where the cue ball will travel. Keep that line in mind as you take your shot.
Don't Be a Shark!
There you have it. Although there is no standard pool cue length, you can still find the perfect cue for you. Once you've got that part down, you'll notice a huge improvement in your game. But remember that nobody likes a shark. You may be good, but don't forget to share the table, and only take your friend's money. If you clean out a stranger, be a generous winner and let them keep their cash.
There may be no standard pool cue length, but there are definitely standard rules for billiard etiquette. Now that you're rocking the right pool cue, you'll be a pool hero. Enjoy! Do you have any standard pool cue length stories or tips to share? Let us know in the comments.