If you came to read this article expecting me to tell you how to shoot a jump shot, I apologize in advance. That is not the intention of this post. However, I won’t leave you high and dry, dear reader. I am including a couple of wonderful videos at the end of this article that should impart the knowledge you seek.
Instead, I want to focus on what the jump shot is, and why (and how) you should practice it.
What the Jump Shot Isn’t
Most of us have experienced this: you’re shooting a game with some amateur player for a beer, and you have left him safe behind your ball. He calls the 8-ball in the corner, lines up for a jump, and then scoops the cue ball over your ball, pocketing the 8. He claims to win, and if you don’t want his buddies to talk to you privately in the back alley, you pay up. But inside, you are seething!
Of course, we know that scooping the ball with your stick is not a proper jump, and is in fact a foul. You run the risk of ripping the cloth, which is why most pool rooms don’t allow jumps.
What the Jump Shot Is
Essentially, it’s a bounce. Try this: Take a billiard ball, and toss it onto the table. Did you see it bounce? That is basically what you are making the ball do when you make a jump shot, by striking down on it into the slate.
With the right speed, using a light stick with a hard tip, you can easily make the cue ball bounce over another ball.
Here is a really cool slow-motion video that captures it beautifully.
Yes, I know, most of my articles encourage you to practice. This is no exception. The dilemma here is that most pool rooms won’t let you do jump shots, because they don’t want torn cloth. I am fortunate; my pool hall (Crown Billiards in San Ramon, CA) does not forbid jump (or massé) shots. However, they do have spare cloth remnants at each table, used to place under the cue ball when breaking, and I strongly encourage you to use one to practice your jumps. If you obtain your own (try asking a local table maintenance guy or pool room operator for old cloth), you may find that pool room operators will allow you to practice if you promise to use it.
Of course, if you have your own table, you can practice all you want. Just be careful not to rip your cloth!
Earl Strickland, if you are reading this, feel free to move on to the next section. I know you hate jump cues. 🙂
For those of you not in the Earl Strickland camp, I strongly suggest you consider obtaining a jump cue. If you have your own cue stick (and most league and tournament players do), then a jump cue is a sound investment.
If price (or space in your cue case) is a factor, then you may want to consider using a break/jump cue. This cue has a standard shaft, usually with a hard leather or phenolic tip. The butt is in two parts. Connected, you use it to break, or you can remove part of the butt and use the stick to jump. If you are a league or tournament player, be aware that some leagues and events ban the use of phenolic tips. Personally, I prefer a Kamui hard tip, but that’s just my preference.
You may also consider obtaining a proper jump cue. They are made to more exacting standards, and there are many to choose from. My cue of choice is the Frog Jump Cue (mainly because I won it in a raffle). It comes with a second shaft with regular tip, for use in rooms where you need a short stick because a wall or column is in your way. Most jump cues are made in two pieces, with a normal shaft and short butt. If you have a case with a large pocket, you can usually fit the butt in the pocket.
If you have any questions, or feel I have left any information out, please feel free to let me know in the comments, and I will update this article to include it.
How to Jump
As promised, here are some good jump shot videos to get you started… make sure you practice!
I would be remiss if I did not mention Robin Dodson’s wonderful video, Mastering the Pool Jump Shot. I was lucky enough to win her DVD and a Frog Jump Cue last year at the BCAPL National Championships. It’s a great DVD, and she breaks it down for you very nicely. Here is the promotional video for it: