What Does Chalk Do In Pool? Improve Your Game The Right Way

Chalk And Ball

Do you find yourself wondering “What does chalk do in pool? Is it even necessary?” Don’t worry, because we’ve all been there, and we have the answers.

Imagine this: You take your shot, but the cue skips off the cue ball, sending it spiraling down the table out of control.


Maybe some chalk would have helped?

What Does Chalk Do in Pool?

So, what does chalk do in pool? Simply put, it adds friction between the cue and the ball. That friction stops the cue from sliding off the cue ball when you hit it.

Get this, because the tip of a pool cue becomes worn down with use, the odds of a miscue (sliding off the cue ball and missing your shot) increase. All that hitting renders the cue tip smooth. Chalk is the best way to maintain friction.

How to Properly Chalk Your Pool Cue

Now you know the answer to the question “What does chalk do in pool?” It’s time to go into more detail and figure out how to actually chalk your pool cue. After all, it’s one thing to know, but another to do.

To illustrate, you’ve probably played pool before. And you’ve probably chalked your pool cue by jamming the tip into the little cube of chalk and twisting it around a few times. Maybe you even finished up by blowing on the end like a cowboy blowing smoke from the barrel of his Peacemaker.

But both of those common actions are wrong. Instead, follow some of our tips for chalking your pool cue the proper way.

Light and steady

Ask yourself this: have you ever seen someone putting on lipstick? Or maybe you even wear lipstick yourself?

Likewise, you want to apply chalk to the tip of your pool cue in the same light but steady manner. For example, brush the chalk cube over the top and around the sides of the cue tip. Some other things you want to look out for are large chunks of chalk. You want a light dusting over the tip. If you see any big chunks, flick them off with your finger.

One way to avoid this is to make sure you’re using quality chalk. Master Billiard Chalk is the stuff the pros use, so go ahead and bring your own to the pool hall or the bar.

Check out the video below:

Cover it all

As you’re lightly brushing the chalk onto your cue, you want to make sure that you cover the entire surface. That needs to be uniform. You don’t want half the tip to be chalked and the other half to be bare.

Brush around the edges of the cue as well as the tip, and don’t forget to cover the sides of the tip with chalk.

Now we understand that can be difficult when you’re using a busted-up bar cue. Even the pool hall cues have seen better days. If you’re serious about billiards, then we recommend bringing your own pool cue. Something like the Imperial “Officially Licensed” NCAA 57-inch billiard cue would fit the bill. Just remember not to let anybody else use it.

This way, with your own chalk and your own cue, you’ll own the table.

Chalk before each shot

Finally, don’t forget to chalk before each shot. If you’re following these basic rules and you know what chalk does in pool, your cue will be ready for action. You just need to make sure that you’re applying it consistently.

The best way to do this is to create the habit of applying chalk before each shot.

Don’t Do This!

To recap, what does chalk do in pool? It creates friction between the cue and the cue ball. That allows more accurate shots and reduces slips and jumps.

Next, think back to the last time you played pool. Do you have that vision in your head? Also, do you remember how you chalked your cue? Chances are that you jammed the cue tip into the deep groove left in the chalk cube by every other player. You probably twisted your cue around in there. Finally, you most likely gave the tip a good strong puff of air.

But guess what?

That’s all the wrong way to chalk your cue!

Now that you know the proper way to chalk your cue, it’s a good idea to look at the wrong ways to do it.

Let’s dive right in.

Don’t grind the tip!

First up is what most people do. They jam the tip of their cue into the chalk and grind it around. That’s how those cubes at the pool hall develop deep holes right down the middle of them. This is wrong for many reasons.

  • ​It doesn’t apply a light dusting of chalk
  • ​You don’t cover the entire tip
  • ​It wears the tip down
  • ​Big chunks of chalk get left on your cue
  • ​It powers through chalk

Remember, you need a light dusting of chalk to cover the entire tip. When you grind your cue into the chalk, you end up with giant chunks of chalk. This messes up your shots. Also, it wears down the tip of your pool cue rather quickly. If you’ve dropped $50 or more on a new pool cue, you want it to last years, not weeks.

So stop doing that.

Don’t swipe the tip

Here’s another thing a lot of people do at the pool hall or the bar. They grab the chalk cube, and vigorously swipe the chalk across the cue tip. Back and forth they go like they’re trying to saw it in half. Maybe you’ve even done this yourself.

Do you want to know a secret?

Don’t do that. It doesn’t apply a light dusting of chalk to your cue tip. Instead, it deposits big chunks of crushed chalk to a few random spots. More importantly, it wears your tip down faster than anything else.

What does chalk do in pool? So long as you’re not swiping the cube across the top of your cue, it keeps your cue on the ball. Swiping doesn’t do anything for your game.

Don’t blow on the tip

One more thing a lot of people do after chalking their cue is to give it a good hard blow to the tip. Think about it for a moment. You just spent all that time applying chalk, so why blow it all off?

Sure, it might make you look like a cool cowboy, although we never saw John Wayne or James Dean blow chalk off a cue. Ultimately, blowing on your cue doesn’t accomplish anything.

If you’ve got big chunks of chalk from an improper chalking method, your little breath isn’t going to dislodge them. If you’ve properly chalked your cue then you should have a nice light layer of chalk. Blowing on it will blast away most of the chalk.

So why do it?

Don’t place the chalk face-down

Lastly, something a lot of people do is toss the chalk cube aside when they’re done with it. It’s just a stupid block of blue chalk, right? We get it. Also, it’s dirt cheap. So who cares?

Well, the owner of the pool table might care, for starters.

Did you know that when little grains of chalk get into the felt on the pool table, it starts to break down the felt? And the longer the chalk is allowed to absorb into the felt, the harder it is to vacuum out.

The same can be said for carpets and upholstery. Also, chalk can ruin hardwood and even varnished wood if allowed to sit too long. Chalk is like a cloud of fine dust and makes its way into every little nook and cranny. All of this can be avoided by gently placing the chalk cube face-up.

It’s easy. It’s like not littering out your car window — just don’t do it.

Look Like a Pro

The next time you find yourself in a crowded billiard hall, take a look around. There might be some good players, but watch how people chalk their cue. That’s how pros size up their competition. If you see a pool shark grinding their cue into the chalk cube, or giving a good huff on the end of their cue, you know this is a bar shark and not a real pro. The real pros can answer “What does chalk do in pool?” and show you.

Now you can break out your cue and your own chalk, and lightly dust the tip. Remember to cover the entire tip. Then place your chalk on a hard surface, face-up. If anybody there knows what they’re doing, they’ll instantly size you up as someone who knows what they’re doing.


Because you chalk like a pro. Now go and play like a pro!

Do you have tips on how to chalk your pool cue? Let us know in the comments below!


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