Questions & Answers


What kind of pool cue should I get if I’m just starting out?

Anything that costs less than $100 will do the trick. Don’t go out and buy anything over that price until you have some good pool experience behind you. I highly recommend you go to or and look over some of the “Players Cues” line that I feel are high quality with low price tags. Some of these dealers will actually give you a free case with a cue purchase. Recommended cue dimensions are 19oz weight with 12-13mm shaft and tips come in soft, medium and hard firmness, I recommend you start with a medium hardness and don’t spend any extra money right now on special tips.

What is deflection?

Deflection as it is commonly referred to in the pocket billiard world is when the cue ball moves slightly off the aim line in the opposite direction that it was stuck when using sidespin.

If you hit the cue ball on the right side which you must do from time to time physics demands that cue ball be pushed slightly to the left of the center line or intended shot line. So the real meaning of deflection is actually the cue ball being pushed or squirting off the aim line. That’s why the term deflection is now often referred to as cue ball squirt.

Most all cue sticks that are sold and marketed as Low Deflections cues are actually high deflection shafts but manufacturers don’t want to confuse the public by calling them high deflection shafts. Why they are actually high deflection shafts is because the shafts are lighter and more flexible so when they strike the side of the cue ball the shaft actually gives way more than a traditional shaft might. What that does is reduce the amount the cue ball is pushed off line in the opposite direction. So, low deflection shafts are actually shafts that deflect a lot 😉

Do I need a low deflection shaft?

Yes and no.

Deflection imo is one of the most difficult things for aspiring players to get use to or overcome. All aspiring players will get to a point in their game where they know they should use side spin to gain good position on their next shot. (My students learn this in their very first lesson). Problems may begin here because the player may have previously missed while trying to use side spin and quite often been told that they shouldn’t be using side spin and then they start to shy away from using the sidespin in fear of missing. This phenomenon is quite common and is one of the leading causes for players to plateau out at a certain level.

Low deflection cues can make it easier to overcome this hurdle but even with them you will still have to an educated mind and good technique while using side spin.

On the other hand you may take the path of embracing cue ball deflection, also referred to as cue ball squirt. If you take this path it is neither correct nor incorrect, it is just a different path. When embracing cue ball deflection you will can gain some feel and inner confidence by making what seems like abnormal aiming adjustments.


If you are cutting an object ball left to right with say a 10 degree angle and applying right hand side spin with a firm stroke, you will have to initially aim the object ball for a much fuller hit than you would think, maybe aim it dead straight or as if it were a 5 degree cut shot because the cue ball is going to forced slightly to the left before it gets to the object ball.

Imo taking that leap of faith, welcoming it and observing it can be very beneficial to an aspiring player. It can add a good amount of feel, confidence and knowledge to a player’s game. After experiencing both sides of the coin the player can then choose which kind of shaft they prefer to play with.

With that said, I also believe low deflection cues make our game slightly easier because the amount we as players have to compensate is less than it is with a shaft that causes more cue ball deflection. This can be very helpful when you’re not playing 40 hours a week.

Some other things to consider when it comes to cue ball deflection are the speed of the shot, the distance of the shot, table conditions, the length of your bridge and the technique you’re using to apply the side spin.

What is Swerve?

Swerve is pretty much the opposite of cue ball deflection. When you hit the cue ball on the right it is initially forced or squirted over to the left but what happens next is swerve. The cue ball starts to come back in the direction of the side spin applied; in this case it would start to come back to the right.

Picture a big curving masse shot and you have a great example of cue ball deflection and cue ball swerve. First the ball is struck firmly on one side forcing it outwards and then the cue ball spins back in the direction of the applied spin.

Both deflection and swerve occur on just about every shot struck with sidespin. The problem is they’re both practically invisible to the untrained eye. Even the trained eye doesn’t actually see the deflection but knows it is going to happen or has happened.

What should I work on first or the most?

9 times out of 10 you’re going to here “Fundamentals” as the answer to this question. With me you’re going to hear education. I believe if a player has a clear understanding of how the game really works they’ll get to higher levels a lot faster and more often.

Quite often players are accidentally misguided into believing that if their stance, grip, stroke etc are perfect they’ll become run out players. I’ve seen it a thousand times and what we end up with are stick figures that usually can’t run 4 balls in row. These poor people would be capable of so much more if they were simply asking the right questions of themselves.

Fundamentals are important and I will go into them with you but to me you have to understand how the game really works if you want to run racks. If you can identify what shot should be played, how the shot should be played, understand the tiny details that are going to occur during the shot, you will be able to add the skills required quicker and more effectively than the player in the corner that thinks his perfect stance is going to make him a run out player. I don’t mean to make it sound like I’m bad mouthing fundamentals and I apologize for making it sound that way. I have to use it as a counterpart to an educated mind to help you realize there is more to pool than perfect fundamentals and I’m doing so in an effort to help you invest your time wisely.

Your time is the most important thing there is when it comes to learning pocket billiards and I HATE to see it wasted. We will work on your “personal” fundamentals all along the way.

How should you go about gaining this education?

You’re starting in a good place here because I will not be blowing any smoke in your direction. Simply reviewing the material here and listening to my explanations of how shots and variables work will automatically put your head in the right place. After this initial education you will look at the game with pool eyes and a pool mind. When something happens on a pool table you should be able to judge it based on facts or at least an educated opinion. I’ll make sure that happens for you.

Watching high levels players complete with professional commentary is one of the best ways to gain proper education. Accu Stats video production is the industry leader in this area and I can’t recommend them highly enough. Youtube is also full of high level play but in this day and age with everyone streaming, these matches may or may not come with the high quality commentary. There are simply not enough quality commentators to go around. I’m going to beat on this commentary drum because I truly believe it is one of the key reasons that helped me reach a professional level of play. Billy Incardona, Grady Mathews, Danny Deliberto, Buddy Hall, Nick Varner and many other old school players helped me shave years off the learning curve by telling me WHY a player was shooting a certain shot, HOW they were shooting it, WHAT they were considering while shooting it, what they liked about it, what they feared about it and what their overall mindset was like while shooting it. To me this was GOLD and for years to follow I would hear the voices of these players commentating in my own head when I was out learning and competing. I’ll never be able to thank them enough.

Getting started on the educated path will not only help you get what you want but it will also save you a lot of time, money and frustration while getting there. I’ll help you start right away by bringing your attention to certain variables and tiny but beautiful details that will get you asking yourself and maybe others the correct questions.

When asking other players about the game I want you to do so with an open mind, open ears and in a polite manner but by no means take everything you hear as gospel. Take it in, evaluate it for yourself and maybe get a second opinion. A lot of the stuff I’ve heard passed around pool over the years can make my ears bleed.

I really miss hearing Billy and Grady debate which shot to shoot and why.

What’s more important, Aim or Cue Ball positioning?

This is kind of a useless debate that can come up from time to time or even be a crossing thought in your own mind. I like to have fun and come with my short answer when asked this question with the reply of “I’ve never met a “B” level player that had a great cue ball but I’ve met quite a few that were great shot makers”. In case you’re not familiar with pool’s rating system it typically goes; Pro, Semi Pro, A, B, C, D and social. So in my response what I’m trying to say is that if you have a great cue ball you’re usually a higher ranked player.

Obviously both are important; the debate could be classified as useless as both should be studied hard. Imo your focus should be on learning how to move the cue ball around properly “While” you’re working on your accuracy (and your fundamentals). Too often a player’s mindset will be on pocket the ball, pocket the ball, pocket the ball and this initial mindset can block the player from reaching higher levels. The goal has to be on both 99% of the time. That is what pool is about, pocket the ball and gain position on the next shot. Great players do become great shot makers but that is not what got them to great status. Staying in line, recovering to get back in line ASAP got them there and the great shot making helped along the way.

If you learn to recognize and play the right shots, with the correct speed, spin and path you will increase your chances of reaching higher levels.