Light Or Heavy Cue Weight?

Let Sir Issac Newton's laws of physics guide you.

Savan Sekhon/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

You're ready to buy a new pool cue, but you're unsure whether to purchase a heavy stick or a light one. It's an important decision because the cue is essential to the game. And, while you can pick up a cheap stick for $15 or so, a good pool cue will set you back well over $100 or more. Turn to the legendary British mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton to answer the age-old question of the billiard player: Is a light cue or heavy one best?

Newton's Laws of Motion

Newton, who lived in the later half of the 17th century and the early part of the 18th, set forth what are known as the laws of motion. He said that for every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction. He also said that a body that is set in motion tends to stay in motion -- that's called inertia -- unless it's slowed and stopped by friction or by crashing into something else. In pool, the two "bodies" are the cue and the cue ball.

Determining how the two will react when they meet will show you the best weight for the stick. You can't change the weight of the cue ball, which is always about 6 ounces, according to "Mass of a Billiard Ball," an article published in the online source, "The Physics Factbook." You have flexibility only in determining the weight of the cue.

Lighter is Better

Per Newton's laws then, if you use a heavier cue, and you shoot a bit off-center, you'll send the errant cue ball farther off course than you would have if you had used a lighter stick. You can also move a lighter cue with more ease than a heavier one.

Even a beginner can crush a powerful break shot using a lighter cue and can also stroke a regular billiards shot using a light cue stick. Additionally, a lighter cue will move through your hand with ease and you'll be less likely to jerk offline due to the friction caused by the grip of your guiding hand.

Cue Tips

Pros use cues that weigh about 19 to 19.5 ounces, but you can buy cues that weigh as little as 15 ounces or as much as 27 ounces. As you're learning pool, you can generate a lot of "touch" and "feel" with lightweight cues, but if you buy a cue that's too light, you will lose some of your ability to get spin and sidespin on the ball.

So, when choosing a cue:

  • Use a 20-ounce stick when you are first learning the game, but move as soon as possible to a 19-ounce or 19½-ounce stick.
  • Try a lightweight house cue, which you can generally use for free, to see how it feels.
  • Remember the physics: You can send a light cue farther faster than a heavier one for a super-powerful break. And, that, ultimately, is what you want to improve your pool game.