By Eric “The Preacher” Yow
WPA Masse World Champion
There’s an old saying, “different strokes for different folks.” I’ve never heard it used where it actually made sense and honestly, I’m not old enough that I can say I’ve ever used it in any context. However, it is fitting for this article about jump strokes. If you’re like most readers of this publication, you are a serious player, you own several cues, you own at least one jump cue, and you read these articles to educate yourself further in the game. People ask me from time to time how I accelerated in the game at the pace at which I did and I always tell them, “I read as much as I could.” You, like I, want to learn as much as you can about the little nuances of the game and improve your abilities in any way possible.
Part of improving your game means first using the right equipment. You probably already have a good jump cue, but consider the Eric Yow Jump Cue, on which this article is based. It is 9.5 ounces, just over 40 inches, has a stainless ferrule, and has a black phenolic tip. The length and weight of a jump cue are a quality necessary to accelerate the cue quickly while at the same time being able to deflect off of the ball, rather than stroking ‘through’ the ball and causing a masse effect. This way, it rebounds off of the table rather than being ‘squished’ between the tip and the felt, thus prevented from escaping and actually jumping off of the bed of the table. The stainless ferrule and black phenolic preclude the cue from absorbing any of the energy of the strike on the ball, thus transferring literally all of the power of the hit into the ball, making it the most efficient jump cue on the market. With the right equipment, like this cue, your jumps become ridiculously easy to accomplish successfully and consistently.
Now that you have a good jump cue, how do you use it? Some use the overhand grip, which is the appropriate terminology for the grip you use when cueing any normal shot. This is the grip when shooting a level cue shot with the typical pendulum action. Others use the dart style, or European, grip. Swinging like a dart, the reverse pendulum stroke is beneficial particularly when using more than forty-five degrees of elevation, such as when you need to jump quickly over a near object ball. Getting even more technical, where and how you grip the cue makes a significantly greater difference, in my opinion, than whether you use an overhand or dart grip. I prefer the dart grip, but with either, I’ve found that a thumb and 1-2 finger grip, very lightly, is the most efficient and consistent grip to use. In my travels in shows and competitions I’ve found those who use a kung-fu death grip, those who grip lightly, and everywhere in between. My studies have found that the tight grip hinders the deflecting action you want where the tip rebounds the jump cue off of the ball, allowing the cue ball to rebound off of the table. If you use a tight grip, you likely do not hit the ball near center, thus permitting the cue to escape, but you lose power hitting off-center and increase the likelihood of a miscue. If you strike near center with a tight grip, you likely get what I call the ‘sandwich effect’ where the cue ball is sandwiched between the tip and felt, as the tight grip hinders the cue from getting out of the jumping ball’s way. So, use a lighter grip and see what happens. Try one finger and thumb with your Eric Yow Jump Cue. You’ll be amazed at the difference!