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The Jump Shot

Updated: Mar 19, 2023

Coming Soon

This lesson is not complete, but feel free to read through what we have so far.

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Planned Topics

What is a legal jump shot

The benefits and perils of jump shots

Equipment requirements for jump shots




Controlling the length and height of the jump with speed and angle of elevation

Cue Ball Control on jump shots

Determining how high the cue ball needs to jump (full ball, half ball, quarter call)

landing on the object ball

jumping an object ball over another object ball

When not to shoot a jump shot

Progressive Drills for learning/practicing jump shots


Introduction

The jump shot adds an entirely new dimension to the game of pool. It is almost as if you wield the power of an interdimensional being. The cue ball passes through a third vertical dimension bypassing any obstacles laying on the two dimensional landscape that is the pool table. If you are to reach a competitive level in the game today, you will need to dedicate some money to purchasing a jump cue and time to learn how to use it. The purpose of this lesson is to teach you everything you need to know about the jump shot to help speed up the learning process.

Legal vs. Illegal Jump Shots

First, it is important to establish what a legal jump shot is. It is quite common to see a player who isn't familiar with the rules surrounding jump shots perform what is called a scoop shot. In a scoop shot, the cue strikes the cue ball below the miscue limit causing the cue ball to pop up in the air. Usually, when a player shoots this shot they purposely hit the felt of the table with the tip of their cue prior to striking the cue ball, guaranteeing the miscue. This is an illegal jump shot and is considered a foul if done on purpose. A legal jump shot is when the cue strikes down on the cue ball causing the cue ball to bounce up off the slate of the table.

Equipment

While it is possible to jump the cue ball up into the air with a standard playing cue, it won't be nearly as effective as a purpose made jump cue. These cues have hard tips, stiff shafts, and are shorter which makes it easier to elevate them into the air. They are made for a single purpose which is to perform legal jump shots. Earl Strickland might be able to jump a ball full table with a Meucci, but he wouldn't be able to jump a ball that is only a few inches away from the cue ball due to limitations with the equipment he is choosing to use. A standard playing cue simply isn't capable of producing the instant acceleration that is needed to jump a ball that is such a short distance away.


If you want to jump you will need to fork up the money and buy a specialized cue. If you don't want to purchase a separate jump cue, you could opt to purchase a jump/break cue which is decent at both tasks. Since the requirements for a break cue and jump cue are so similar (stiff shaft / hard tip), cue manufacturers started making break cues that had an extra joint which also allowed it to act as a jump cue. These cues work well for both tasks and are a great option for players who don't want to purchase two separate cues. I used a jump/break cue for years, but decided to purchase two separate cues because I found that my cue ball jumped a bit more than it should during my break which made it more difficult to control the cue ball on my breaks.


Table Considerations: slate vs wood beds, thin felt

Controversy

The jump shot has become an integral part of today's pool scene. At least one of these shots is bound to make the highlight reel of every major event. The issue with jumping is that it is almost too easy due to the modern day jump cue. Before jump cues gained popularity, the primary tool players had in their arsenal to escape good defensive plays were kick shots. As you have read in the previous less and surely experienced personally, kicks require a vast amount of knowledge and skill to execute. Modern day jump cues have made jumping so easy, that professional level players are expected to pocket the majority of the jump shots they shoot. Today's professional players, like Fedor Gorst, are able to accurately draw the cue ball a full table while shooting a long distance jump shot into the heart of the pocket.


Old school players feel that a very interesting dynamic of the game has been lost to jump cues. The intricacies of a defensive battle where the players spar back and forth kicking multiple rails delivering return safes are of old. New school players on the other hand argue that jump shots are a completely new skill that punishes weak defensive shots. Kick shots still have their place in the game, but they are not as prominent as they once were. To whatever side of the fence you find yourself on, the modern day jump cue is here to stay. So if you can't beat them, you should probably join them.

Standard Technique, Form, & Setup

If you have ever elevated to dig into the cue ball to hit a stop or draw shot when the cue ball was left close to rail or another object ball, then you already know how to jump the cue ball. Change out your playing cue for a jump cue, and its essentially the same shot. The primary skill needed for both of these shots is the ability to aim and stroke through the cue ball accurately while elevated.


Alignment:

To maintain accuracy, the first step in getting set up for a jump shot is to align your body and cue on the shot line. I start out behind the shot as I would for every shot. Depending on the amount of elevation necessary, I will adjust how I do this. If only a slight amount of elevation is necessary, there is no change to my pre-shot routine from any normal shot. If elevating a significant amount, I start a bit closer to the shot with both of my feet on the shot line. This is necessary to prepare your body for the modified stance discussed next. I always get down on the shot and aim down the shot line before I start elevating to check my alignment.


Stance:

If you only need a slight amount of elevation, there isn't much that you need to change. Simply lift your back shoulder and shooting arm up a bit and you'll be fine. For more elevation, you will need to change your stance. Instead of placing your shooting foot on the shot line, you will lead with your non-shooting foot on the shot line. This frees up your back leg to straighten out and even stand on your toes if necessary. Generally, the front non-shooting foot is on the shot line and slightly bent while the back shooting foot and leg are fully extended. This angles your hips in a way that prepares your upper body for the elevated shot.


Bridge:

If shooting off of a rail, this is one of the rare times that it is okay to use a standard bridge off the rail. This will feel comfortable and familiar. If you need more elevation or are bridging off of the bed of the table, you will need to use the elevated open bridge. This is the same open bridge used when shooting over obstacle balls.


Grip:

Based on the amount of elevation, you will need to change where you hold your cue. At slight amounts of elevation, the jump cue can be held near the back end. Some jump cues have an extension that you can use to hold the cue ever farther back when less elevated. If you have to elevate a significant amount, you will need to choke up further on the cue. At max elevation, I hold the cue near the forward joint. The general rule of thumb is that your arm should be about 90 degrees perpendicular to the cue at address with the cue ball. I tend to hold the cue slightly tighter when jumping to make sure it is secure from all sides. Where we previously had gravity to hold down our cue from the top, it is now up to our grip hand to hold the cue in place. Don't use a death grip, but do grip just tight enough that the cue can't move around on its own.


Elevate:

Once you feel comfortable with your alignment and you have modified all of your fundamentals for the necessary amount of elevation you will being elevating the back of the cue. Without practice, this will be nearly impossible to do accurately. Dedicate some time to this in practices sessions so you are ready when real-world situations arise. It is very easy to come off the shot line in this step. Even a slight change in angle will result in a missed ball. Check your alignment again once you are fully elevated and make sure everything feels right before you shoot.


Where to Strike the Cue Ball

When elevated, you will be aiming at the cue ball along the same axis of your elevation. This means that striking the cue ball at the same location that would have been center if your cue was level, is now bottom. From your elevated point of view, you can start the center of the cue ball, stun, will still look like the center of the cue ball because your vision has elevated with the cue. This is hard to explain in words, so if this doesn't make sense, see the graphic above. From here you can aim higher to get a a bit of follow on the cue ball or lower for draw. You can aim about as low as you could on any other shot, but you will be limited to about a tip of top. Any higher and you risk the cue being in the way of the cue ball when it bounces up.


Stroke:

The stroke on a jump shot is similar to a standard shot. You will want to use the same fundamental principles of a pause, slow back swing, and a smooth transition to forward swing. The primary difference with these shots is that your follow through on the shot is limited since your cue is angled down towards the table. What you'll find is that with higher elevation you will have a naturally shortened follow through as your arm will quickly run out of room to move forward. You run out of room more quickly because you have to choke your grip up on the cue the higher you elevate. The result is a naturally shortened follow through that won't damage the table so long as you don't make an unnatural attempt to follow through the cue ball by dropping your elbow.


Get Down:

When jumping, you almost always want to ensure that the cue ball strikes the intended object ball while in contact with the bed of the table. In other words, you almost never want to land on top of the object ball. The obvious reason you want to make sure that the cue ball is back down on the table by the time it reaches the object ball is to ensure that you don't jump over it. There are also a few, not so obvious reasons players may not be aware of. When cutting an object ball on a jump shot, even if you strike the object ball on the exact intended shot line, the cut will be thinner if the cue ball is in the air at contact with the object ball. If this happens, you also run the risk of losing control of the cue ball and object ball; one or both of the balls could be jumped off the table.

The Dart Technique

While I personally don't use it often, many players find success with the dart technique. The main problem that I find with this method is that you are using a movement that you rarely practice. To me, it is the equivalent of using the bridge when you don't need to. There are sometimes that the only option available is the dart technique. It is sometimes impossible to shoot a jump shot with the standard jump technique when the cue ball is too far away.




When to not jump, cue ball and object ball too close, object ball and


Practicing jump shots: Piece of felt under


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