Is It Good To Rub Your Chest With The Cue Stick?

Matt gets down to business on the cloth
Matt gets down to business on the cloth. Photo (c) Matt Sherman, licensed to

Should you touch your cue stick to your chest on the classic back swing? What about rubbing your chest with the cue on your final forward stroke (“fist to chest”). A fellow reader’s question brings this issue to us, along with the square "snooker stance", in this article.

Chest Rubbing And Square Stancing

"Hi Matt,

There are 2 questions that have been lingering with me lately.

1. Why do snooker players have a dramatically different stance (more square/perpendicular to the cue) compared to pool players? What advantages does this "perpendicular" stance offer (when playing snooker--or pool)?

2. Snooker players tend to align their body to the shot, such that they use the side of their body (ribs area) as a rail/guide, so much so that their cue actually rubs their body as they stroke/execute their shot. Should pool players adopt this alignment style? If the answer is "no," why not?


Generalities Don't Work Like GAPs

Hi Mike,

These are generalities. stand closed, and/or rub your chest with the cue stick. In contrast to your question, there are top snooker players who stand more open, and great pool players who stand more closed and rub their chest.

Understand that all my pool, snooker and cushion billiards teaching--and at the risk of sounding immodest, I'm quite good at teaching cue sports--is based on real anatomy, physics and geometry. All of my students in person or on Skype get dramatically better because I only teach "real" things that work to fill the GAPs in Geometry, Anatomy and Physics pool knowledge, not mere theories. So let me try to explain, as below.

Because Someone Once Told Them To

Most snooker players stand square and scrape their chests because many years ago, there were some great snooker players who did that, too! It's like when some right-handed players asks, "Matt, will I make more shots in if my left foot is pointed at the target?" and I respond, "Good question! Do you tend to hit the cue ball with your left foot very often?"

You get my point? The main thing is to have the bridge and stroke hands on the correct line. The feet matter little, rubbing the chest matters little, etc. A correctly balanced stance, like the ones the pros use, matters. Rubbing your chest on the follow through does nothing and may make your stroke to the ball a wrong attack angle to begin. Rubbing your chest on the backstroke hampers smooth, flowing movement. So what's real?

GAP It Real

What's real is Newtonian physics. Issac Newton said it like this, "Send a pool cue going straight and don't mess with it using an outside force, and it will go straight forever." :) The outside forces would include chest rubbing!

I have a professional, smooth, liquid, flowing stroke because I don't "mess with the chest". A light clasp on the cue and other things make a great stroke.

PS. Since the rail is in the way of the stroke nearly 100% of the time, the forward stroke isn't straight ahead, it's straight and angled a bit downward. Straight and down, straight and down. Many follow through strokes will touch the cloth, with the bottom of the white ferrule, not the tip, rubbing the cloth.

I have so many posts on my site like "20 pool myths" or "stop buying into these 10 pool lies" because everyone has something like "closed stance?" or "rub the chest?" or "dominant eye over cue?" or my (least) favorite, "shoot pool like you're shooting a rifle".

Rifle shooting: Aim at a faraway, blurry target. Look at the sights and make those crisp in your vision.

Pool shooting: Aim at a faraway, crisp target. The sights (the tip and ferrule) will be blurry, if you even look at them, on most strokes.

If you shoot pool like a rifle, cocking your chin, closing one eye, and putting the dominant eye right atop the cue, you will not only miss shots, but you may cut your cheek on the follow through!

How Experts Stroke The Pool Cue

My point is this--a lot of pros have a square stance or rub their chest or chin over cue not because it's ideal, but because they were taught that way. But they play like a pro because they practice thousands of hours with an awkward stance. I'll help you save time and thousands of wasted hours--the grail you seek is not a closed stance or rubbing the chest in pool... OR snooker! :)