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Why Do People Chalk Their Pool Cue
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To anyone who has played pool or billiards for any length of time this might seem like a silly question. In fact most good pool players will almost instinctively pick up the chalk and ‘chalk their cue’ every other shot. But there are probably a lot of beginners out there, or people who play occasionally in social situations, who don’t worry too much about the game and give little if any thought to chalking up the cue.

Well chalk performs a very simple, but extremely important role in pool and billiards. It ensures good contact between the pool cue (which transmits the force of the shot) and the ball being hit (the white ball in almost every case). Without this the likelihood of the cue slipping off the white ball, or mis-cueing the shot, increases dramatically.

Good contact means a couple of things. It means that there is good traction, or friction, between the tip of the cue and the ball. This is crucial when you are trying to spin the white ball by hitting it off centre. Without the grip provided by the chalk the pool cue would most likely slip off the side of the white ball and your shot would be horrible.

Good contact also means that the force of the collision between the cue and the ball is spread across a slightly wider area than would otherwise be the case, and hence the contact produces a more reliable and consistent result.

To imagine playing pool without these things, try to imagine that you were hitting the ball with a cue that had a four inch nail on the end (pointy end of the nail towards the ball). The nail would have to hit the absolute dead centre of the white ball or it would slip down the side of the ball. Even if the nail did hit the white ball well, the player would have almost no ability to control where the white ball went and absolutely no ability to make the white ball spin.

On the other hand, imagine the cue had a one square inch piece of flat wood as the tip. The white ball would go absolutely straight forward every shot and the player would not be able to impart any spin.

Remember too that the tip of the pool cue gets hard over time after repeatedly being hit against a hard white ball. This makes the surface or the tip hard and shiny and round towards the edge. It starts to resemble a nail! Chalk minimises this effect, plus you can change the cue tip from time to time.

Have a look at the great pool players when they are playing tournaments on tv. They will have a chalk in their waistcoat and chalk their cue before every shot. If you are just learning how to play pool you could do worse than pick up this habit from the greats.

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