Today we are going to discuss a sometimes overlooked, but very important piece of equipment that every pool player should have -- a break cue. There’s a wide variety of break cues on the market today, and it can be hard to know what makes them different. We’re going to talk about the attributes of a good break cue, as well as a few things that you should experiment with to see if they can help you increase your power and timing on this critical shot.
Best Weight for a Break Cue: Heavy or Light
Remember Isaac Newton and his Three Laws of Motion? Well, understanding the 2nd law is crucial to having a solid break shot.
There are the folks who prefer a heavier cue because when a cue has more mass, it’s able to pick up a lot of momentum and deliver a crushing blow to the rack, sort of like a sledge hammer. With a heavier stick you can use your normal, firm stroke and let the weight of the cue do the work of creating more cue ball speed while you concentrate on being accurate. This makes a heavy break cue perfect for players who aren’t able to achieve a fast stroke while maintaining accuracy.
The opposite theory takes a page from golfers where you often hear terms like “club head speed”. The idea is that the lighter the cue, the faster you can swing it. And the faster you can swing it, the harder you can break. Because this theory revolves around acceleration and speed, lighter break cues are good for players who are able to be accurate with a fast, athletic break stroke.
Both theories are valid and I suggest experimenting to see which way works best for you. I personally like a lighter break cue because it compliments my timing on the break, but I know professional players who prefer super heavy break cues. Everyone is different! Almost every break cue has an adjustable weight bolt system, which makes it really easy to dial in the weight of your cue. Find out what weight works best with your stroke for maximum cue ball speed and accuracy.
Best Cue Tips for Breaking: Leather VS. Phenolic
In recent years phenolic tips have become popular on break cues, replacing classic hard leather tips for many players. Phenolic resin tips are good for players who want to add more power to their break because they can transfer the maximum amount of energy from your cue to the cue ball. When a phenolic tip hits the cue ball, it simply does not give and the cue ball springs off the tip with great speed and power. That makes these tips perfect for combination break/jump cues because jump shots benefit from that instant POP that you can get from an extra hard phenolic tip. My friend, mentor, and 8-time World Champion Nick Varner prefers a phenolic break tip and they are by far the more popular standard option on break cues. One important thing to know about phenolic tips is that they cannot be scuffed and you need to thoroughly apply chalk before every shot to avoid miscues.
Leather tips also have their advantages. Hard leather tips also do a great job of transferring energy from the cue to the cue ball, and because leather is scuffable, these tips take chalk very well and can help with control and accuracy. I learned to break with a very hard leather tip and still do to this day. I just prefer the way it feels and sounds compared to the phenolic. I would try out both and see what suits you best before making a decision.
Frank Says: "If you can’t decide between leather and phenolic, why not go with both? The Tiger Icebreaker Tip has a leather core and a phenolic outer layer. It’s the best of both worlds!"
Accuracy: Even more important than ball speed
Breaking well is about more than just speed and power. Great players know that the most important aspect of a good break shot is accuracy. Accuracy means hitting the ball that you’re aiming for (usually either the head ball or the second ball), hopefully sinking something, and leaving yourself with good shape for your next shot. If you don’t start with an accurate break shot, all of the force you’ve built up will not transfer correctly to the rack. No matter where you’re aiming, make sure that when you’re focusing on power you aren’t sacrificing accuracy.
The break is the only shot that is guaranteed to take place during a match, and a good break shot can be the difference between winning and losing. It’s so important, and you should really take the time to think about how you can improve this aspect of your game. Probably the easiest way to improve your break is to use a cue that has been engineered and designed to perform that shot with maximum results. Break cues come in all shapes, sizes, weights, and price ranges so you might need to try a few.
Remember, the best choice for you is the one that’s in your price range with the specifications you prefer. If you’re not sure about purchasing, don’t worry! PoolDawg has a 60-Day Satisfaction Guarantee, which means that if you’re unhappy with your purchase, you can send it back within 60-days and receive full credit, even on chalked cues! Take a look at the break cues section on the PoolDawg website and let them know if you need any further help finding the right break stick for your game!
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