View Full Version : The Flex Break

04-21-2003, 01:45 AM
Okay, this will definately sound like a novice question but I believe it is a question worth asking (I mean, what question isn't?).

When I break, I work on where I place the ball, hitting it solid, having a minor draw to bring it back to mid table. What I don't get is any flex to my shaft. Why?

My buddy has started to do it and its producing some amazing results. I ask him how he does it and he can't really explain. I don't know if thats him holding back or him not quite sure how he does it. Point being.. I don't know how to produce it with my cue and I would really like to form it into my break, consistantly.

Any help would be appreciated, thank you.


04-21-2003, 02:08 AM
I am assuming that you mean by "flex" is the bending of the shaft. This is due to exaggerated follow through. It actually serves no purpose. Mike Sigel had this characteristic in his break, and when asked about it, he said it served no purpose, at all. You should not be concentrating on bending the cue shaft, you should concentrate on hitting the one ball square. I've heard every argument there is about this issue and my favorite is this one:

"It increases the power in my break"

Well then if that si true, let's look at the mechanics of it. Most players shoot "down into the ball" to create this effect, as well as down into the felt. The ball will actully jump up from the table and be airborne for a distance. Tis will have an effect on your accuracy on the one ball. Ideally, we want to transfer the energy from our cue, to the cue ball, and directly into the rack. For optimum energy distribution into the rack, we need to maintain accuracy. We don't get accuracy with a projectile. Well, you do, but it's what I call "Grenade Accuracy". You might hit something, and you might hit a whole lotta something, but you won't hit small target area like that. Also look at the body mechanics of the shot as well. See if you can "flex" the shaft of your cue without dropping your elbow. Also, I see a lot of players that do this "tense" up their bodies for this effect, some even stand up out of their stance on the follow through. A large majority of the time the cue ball flies off of the table when people incorporate this trait into their break. It amazes me how some players completely forget about the fundamentals of the game when executing the break shot. Teh fundamentals apply here as well. I'm also not sure what type of effect this would have on a cue over a long period of time. Assuming you are using a house cue, understand that house cues are not made to "flex". Which brings me to the next point few points of why this should not be done.
1. I have seen guys have shafts snap in their bridge hand. This doesn't look like it is an enjoyable experience.

2. You can and will ruin the playing surface of the table by doing this, and if you have a home table, and resort to using this method, you're going to spend a lot of money on getting your table re-done.

This might look cool, but it's not necessary, it serves no purpose, and it damages all of the equipment involved. Also, I have yet to have anyone provide me with any evidence that this will :
a) help you pocket a ball on the break
b) help you control the cue ball
c) help you win any games

If anyone has anything that says otherwise, I'd be happy to check it out.

04-21-2003, 02:39 AM
I did this type of break for, maybe, 25 years. It does several things: It slows down the speed of the cue ball making the impact a little less than optimum. It looks cool. It puts a little nip in the cloth on the table if you hit too low on the cue ball. It causes you to mis-cue more often. It can break a shaft or even worse, warp it slightly which later comes to be a pronounced bend.

I now contact the one more squarely with less body motion and make as many or more balls and have much better cue ball position on the first shot. I have just about decided that most of the success in breaking is in your wrist, not your upper body.

04-21-2003, 06:17 AM
i've been studying the Break a hell of a lot the last 6 months, sometimes practising it for over 3 hours a day. I've come to this conclusion that it really is a case of different strokes for different folks.

I see the break as this

Getting Power on the break is like 'hotting' up a car. You can increase the power by adding Superchargers or Turbochargers or a bigger exhaust or heaps of other things but the bottom line is you only want as much power as you can control.

Same with the Pool break, you can get more cuespeed from wrist action, from Leg thrusts, from hip or shoulder turns or rapid bodyweight movements but again the bottom line is, as much power as you can control.

I would imagine that teaching the break to beginners would be something of a challenge , why ? because you have to teach them to break differently to the top pros. Scott Lee i know advocates using a good level cue with a firm solid stroke with little excess body movement (correct me if i'm wrong Scott mate /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif )

But then you see the top pros like Bustamante and Shannon the Cannon Daulton who have more animation on their break than a break dancer with fleas in his pants ! The bottom line is that these top pros even with their complicated body movements, hit the ball dead centre or damm close to it(even though often they don't aim dead centre ). It takes a hell of a lot of practice to get this right and keep the ball on the table and so is best not taught to beginners.

i've been willing to put the time in to developing my break. To me it is the 'sexiest' shot in Pool. I do use a knee bend and leg thrust and the source of my power and can now break like this pretty consistently. I do still have in my kitbag a 'backup' break which isn't as powerful but is for when i might be having a severe off day. I'm happy to say i'm having precious few of those off days. I do silly things to test myself at home like setting my alarm for the middle of the night, then going straight to my pool table downstairs to see if i can break well totally cold ! (and half asleep). Glad to see i still break well even in this conditions which i like to believe is a sign of sound technique.

Remember this, my break may not work for you, your break might not work for me, Dalton's break i doubt works for anyone but him so it really is a case of experimenting, putting in the hours and finding out what works for you

The Flex break definitely works for some players. Chris Melling has the best break in UK 8ball pool and he uses the flex break

04-21-2003, 06:20 AM
As a B player trying to make the transition to the next level, I have been working alot on my break lately.

I used to break a-la-Siegel, trying to slam the balls as hard as humanly possible and exaggerating the follow through to the point of bending the crap out of my shaft.

Now I have totally abandoned that method in favor of the following technique:

1. Hitting the ball with approximately 50-60% of full power.
2. Keeping a lower stance and staying low through the follow through.
3. Hitting the one ball perfectly full.
4. Getting whitey to jump back from the rack about a foot and putting the brakes on.

The results? By hitting with less power rather than more power I am now still consistently making ball(s) on the break, but getting a better spread from those left on the table. I am pocketing the cue far fewer times and consistenly leaving myself a decent shot on the one, which tends to come off the opposite side rail towards the lower corner pocket.

04-21-2003, 07:36 AM
Great point, Shoop. 50 to 60 percent power with 95 percent accuracy will produce much better results than 95 percent power with 50 to 60 percent accuracy. I was at a tournament this weekend and watched some of the "break dances" and noticed these guys rarely had the cue ball end up in the same area. The control breakers seemed to put the white ball in the middle of the table much more regularly. Why do you suppose Corey developed the soft break?????

Scott Lee
04-21-2003, 09:55 AM
<blockquote><font class="small">Quote bigbro6060:</font><hr> i've been studying the Break a hell of a lot the last 6 months, sometimes practising it for over 3 hours a day. I've come to this conclusion that it really is a case of different strokes for different folks.

Scott Lee i know advocates using a good level cue with a firm solid stroke with little excess body movement (correct me if i'm wrong Scott mate /ccboard/images/graemlins/smile.gif )

<hr /></blockquote>

BigBro...Absolutely right! Very little body movement and a slow backswing! The other posts I read, about reducing the power of the break, in favor of better control, also are right in line with what I teach about the break. Blackjack Dave and I teach exactly the same theory!


04-21-2003, 12:15 PM
I shared this with the initial poster privately, but it is good info for all to learn when emulating differnet styles that you see the pros use.

It is important to note something very crucial when breaking. When you see players such as Bustamante and Archer leaping into the break, understand that their bodies are moving forward after the tip leaves the cue ball. The pros are not like every day pool hall players. They have the ability to judge and compensate different parts of their game effectively. Strengths and weaknesses are balanced out. I am no different than that, and neither are you. I have posted a lot of things in many forums, and the most important thing about the break is that what works for me (at just under 6 feet tall, 165 pounds) will not work for Mike Massey or Buddy Hall. This is very important when looking at the mechanics of the professionals. Could you imagine what would happen if Mike Massey threw his entire body weight into his break shot like Bustamante does? I'd hide behind some bullet proof glass, and I'd still be scared. I believe that amongst "big men", the late Tony Ellin and Roger Griffis are exceptions to the rule in the power break category amongst big men. I believe that if you were to evaluate Roger Griffis' game closely, you would be amazed at how many times he loses control of the cue ball on the break, or scratches on the break. Because Roger Griffis is a phenomenal player, he can get away with that, in much the same way Tony Ellin did. These guys are exceptions to the rule. Most players can get a good result on the break by watching players like Kim Davenport and Jeff Carter, men of average height and weight, that break at a medium speed and get an excellent result. While I am on the subject, Jeff Carter is the most fundamentally sound player I have ever seen. Get some videos of him at Accu-stats and watch not only his break, but his stance and balance during his break. It is virtually flawless, and is consistent throughout other areas of his game.

Just because Roger Griffis blasts the balls to pieces, does not mean that emulating his breaking style is going to help you any more than emulating the stroke of Allen Hopkins would help your shot making. No doubt, Allen Hopkins is a phenomenal pool player, but his stroke is ugly, not recommended, fundamentally aweful, but WORKS FOR ALLEN HOPKINS, and only Allen Hopkins. He's a legendary player with awesome shot making ability, but he gets the job done with an aweful stroke that is uniquely "his".

This is why it is important to consult a competent instructor when looking at changing things in your game, especially when you start toying with the fundamentals.

04-21-2003, 12:44 PM
When I first started playing I thought the harder I break the balls the better off I was /ccboard/images/graemlins/crazy.gif As a result of this I had the CB leave the table alot and hardly ever got decent shape. After a while I realized this method wasn't working and re-built my break from the ground up, instead of trying to break the balls like Lennox Lewis throwing a right hand I broke them like Ned Flanders throwing a right hand /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Although I wasn't pocketing as many balls this way I consistently got the CB to the middle, I broke this way for about a year until I felt I was ready to up the power dosages a bit. So I started hitting a little harder each time I played while controlling whitey, sometimes I had to go backwards with the power but I was learning how to hit harder with control. As of now I hit the balls at about 80% and get the CB near the middle of the table about 80% of the time.

What I'm trying to say is that beginners should start off breaking lightly and wait till they know how to control it properly before going for the "thunder break", this is just my opinion but I don't think anyone should start off trying to kill the balls, it just doesn't work.

04-21-2003, 01:32 PM
Another wise man. I agree and it's not just beginners. As noted Golf instructor Harvey Penick use to say, "The woods are full of long drives".


04-22-2003, 01:34 AM
if you want a small guy who can just crush a rack or use med. power just look at Alex"the lion".if you want to break like Sigal ,i hope you have lots of money for shafts.

04-22-2003, 01:37 AM
&gt; Long before I started to play seriously,I went to tournaments and watched tv matches. Whe I first started playing 9-ball,I automatcially broke the balls as close to the way that Mike Sigel broke them in his prime as I could. At the time,Sigel was the radar gun champion,averaging 26 mph,a full 2 mph slower than the AVERAGE for pro's which is said to be in the 28 mph range. The thing that made Sigel so overwhelming in his prime was his practically flawless control over that 26 mph,killing the cue ball between the side pockets the vast majority of the time. Gradually,I got to where I not only felt natural about breaking like that,I was getting great results as well. Using this type of break stroke,your grip hand stays behind you bridge hand,like a normal shot and is best executed when the tip goes straight through the ball,then dips to the cloth. The grip hand forward "big" break was probably pioneered by Earl Strickland and Johnny Archer,who both hit down on the ball more,with a normal length backswing and a hyperextended stroke,with the grip hand passing the spot where the bridge hand sits. This break is MUCH harder to control,and can take a while just to get it popping,but it works so effectively when properly executed that just about all the pro players use a grip forward style. Instead of killing the cue ball in the center of the table,they bring the cue ball back further,still out in the open,but closer to where they were standing when breaking. The cue ball often jumps higher and further,and lands closer to them when struck dead full. The one ball often comes short of the side pocket opposite whatever side they break from,and diagonally towards the corner. With the cue ball coming back further,and the one ball taking this type of path,they are actually playing position on the one,which with good players,often leads to stringing racks. The side rail power break is also a variation of this technique,as far as how I execute it.

&gt; Jumping up is a common problem with players trying to improve their breaks,as well as players that seem to get a thrill out of just breaking the balls hard,with no actual plan. One thing that had helped my break greatly is the technique I employ with my bridge hand. I use a real firm bridge,and as I reach the top of my backswing,I press down on the table with the heel of my hand,and hold it down rather forcefully all the way through the stroke. It forces me to stay down. Another common problem with inexperienced and/or players eager to improve,is trying to get too much body motion into the stroke,and you can watch them stand pretty much straight up in their stroke. All body motion,good or bad,must be directed FORWARD,not straight up. Bert Kinister's "Big Bang" teaches these advanced breaking techniques. Tommy D.

04-22-2003, 05:59 AM

Great Post!!!

04-22-2003, 07:24 AM
it's really not a good idea, to do that i once say a guy in the poolhall who broke so hard he broke the cue ball and the 15 ball without breaking his shaft. i was amazed, and when i tired it, yea i cracked the hell out of the eight ball, but i also destroyed my shaft to the point where i had to send the entire cue away for repair. it was'nt worth it, how i have a break stick and i only break dead center with complete follow throught, and i drop 3 balls on the break almost every time. dont destroy your cue.

04-23-2003, 06:00 AM
...the break Shot is comparable to a golfer's drive, in that the body has a wide range of motions. If a golfer never went to the driving range, only to the Putting Green where his putting stance is basically motionless except for the swinging stroke of the putter, he'll be a mediocre golfer.
Same scenario can be applied to the Pool Player. The shooting stroke is a motionless torso &amp; head with a moving right forearm (simplified description), but the Break shot employs lots of body motion. All that motion requires practice to develop precision muscle memory, especially for the B, C &amp; D players. Obviously the A Players have a good Break Shot Stroke &amp; when they are on... they win. When they get out of sync they don't. The Break Shot for the A player is very important, breaking the rack up for the other player to run out or gain Table CONTROL isn't very profitable.
Every Stroke has a beginning &amp; an end. The good follow thru is the mark of a good player. Since IMPACT of the Cue Ball &amp; Cue Stick happens in a millisecond, perfect timing of the hit is very difficult. A good stroke, with a good follow thru, down the line of aim will produce the desired results.
Most of the authors, instructors &amp; top notch players try to impart center ball english (meaning none) on hitting the Cue Ball into the rack. The resiliency of the ball causes it to snap back toward the center of the table, the square hit robs the Cue Ball of any energy &amp; so it stops where it lands. Practicing the Break Shot should incorporate different speeds &amp; done from different locations across the headstring (looking for the sweet spot).

Fran Crimi
04-23-2003, 06:32 AM
Not sure if this is what you mean by flex but are you referring to the bent shaft on the table after the break?

The bent shaft is nothing more than the player leaning on the cue stick after the shot has been struck. I think your comment about it relating to how the player stops themselves is close to the mark.

Many players like to kick off their back leg when they break to generate more power. That raises their body up and what goes up must come down. If they keep their bridge hand on the table, the result will be their weight bearing down on their bridge arm and hand. Other players, like Strickland, like to release the cue from their bridge hand in their follow through and allow the cue to thrust forward and upward in their finish.

They're just two different ways of directing the force of your body motion after the break. The first way is much harder on your shaft.


04-23-2003, 06:53 AM
Thanks for the explaination Fran, 2 questions for you though (or anyone else who's witnessed it). Have you ever seen a shaft break in competition? Have you ever seen cloth tear in competition? I only ask because I'm absolutely amazed at I've never seen it before. Surely someone has. I'm kind of comparing the breaking of the shaft or tearing of the cloth with a back board breaking in an NBA game a la "Chocolate Thunder" Daryl Dawkins.


9 Ball Girl
04-23-2003, 07:30 AM
My shaft on my breakcue broke right after a break once. The wooden threading inside must've been going 'cause it shredded/chipped off which resulted in a wobbly shaft. The cue repair guy asked me who'd been breaking with it and I told him a couple of people who'd broke with it and he said that those guys usually bend the shaft when they break which resulted in the chipping of the threading. I was puzzled because if it's a break cue, why shouldn't it be able to sustain the flex break? Anyway, its since been fixed so if someone wants to break with it and tell them ahead of time to not bend the shaft.

Fran Crimi
04-23-2003, 08:30 AM
Hi Kato,

I've heard stories about shafts snapping but I've never witnessed it myself. I don't think it's probable that a player would rip the cloth if there's a decent tip on the cue, because if the palm is down and the bridge is a closed bridge, the angle of attack won't be severe enough.

However, if you grab a house cue off a rack with a poorly installed tip with a piece of the ferrule exposed, you should probably get your checkbook ready. /ccboard/images/graemlins/grin.gif


04-23-2003, 08:49 AM
LOL Fran, in retrospect after reading what you just posted I agree. I however don't use the "flex break" so I'll just as soon keep my check book at home.