Pool for Kids is written with parents or other adults in mind. There is nothing more enjoyable than watching the wonderment in the eyes of a small child when they get to see the game of pool for the first time. In this article, "toddler" generally refers to a child between the age of 1 to 4. "Kids" are children in the age range between 4 to 8.
If you have a Toddler that is interested, consider setting them in the middle of the table and letting them play. Get some soft rubber balls nearly the same size as pool balls and roll away. This is a good way for them to learn to put the balls in the pockets, without breaking any windows. It is true that they can never start too early. Even allowing small children to watch others play will help them when they get big enough to hold a cue. Find a special chair that is tall enough for them to see. Keep in mind that small children have sensitive ears and the noise made when breaking a racked set of balls may be uncomfortable for them.
Short Cues for Kids. Small shorty cues are available in many different lengths as small as 30 inches, such as the Players Baby Series BCC-16 Pool Cue. If you get them their own cue, you will have planted a seed of ownership in them, to the cue and the game. Also consider getting a Kid's Pool Table if you have space limitations, or just to protect mom and dad's pool table. When kids first handle a cue it is usually difficult to get them to hold it properly. As long as they are not using it as a baseball bat, just let them play for a while with it. Offer to help once you sense the need or interest in some assistance, but not before. When teaching and demonstrating I like to get a small stool or bench for them to stand on so they can really see what you are doing.Holding the cue: The main goal is to get them to keep the bridge hand on the table and find a location for their back hand on the cue. First teach them how to hold the back of the cue while using your hand to do the bridge. Second, have them do the bridge and you stroke the cue. Repeating this a few times does wonders for them. See the photo to the left of the kid's bridge hand. Its ok if they want to rest the cue between the index finger and thumb or between the index and middle finger. The back hand should be positioned on the cue so that they are not reaching back behind their elbow to far, and not to far forward as to obstruct their ability to move the cue a few inches past the ball they are hitting.
Where they should place their back hand? . Regardless of the height or angle of the shoulder, the elbow should be bent at close to 90 degrees when the tip of the cue is within an inch or 2 of the ball. Consider putting a piece of tape on the butt end of the cue when you find this spot. This will help kids, and parents remember the best spot. With a little trial and error you will see them get comfortable when the back hand is consistently in the right spot. Try to have them move their elbow when stroking the cue. More elbow and less shoulder movement is something that usually has to be pointed out to kid's. You will have to demonstrate this. Be prepared to hear that their shoulders are tired. This is normal at first. Kids' hands are often sticky or clammy. Be prepared to help them with some hand talc or baby powder on the bridge hand. If they are having trouble with that it's important you show them a solution. Remember to focus on one thing at a time. This week maybe just work with their bridge hand and the handle of the cue the next session.
Create a game they can play. I like to set all 15 balls on the table. Place them in order around the table close enough to the rail that they can reach them. Shoot each object ball directly, using no cue ball, into the easiest pocket. The goal here is to simply help them learn to hit the center of the ball. That is one of the biggest issues with their early success. After each shot remove the ball from the table if it was a missed shot. Remember to let them win.
Shooting when you are 4 feet tall is quite different until you are tall enough to hold your back hand straight down from your elbow. They will have to sometimes have their elbow up as high as their ear unless they have a platform or stool to use. Let them do it as their size or height allows. When they have a pretty good hold on the cue, then you can talk to them more about aiming and looking down the cue. None of that matters if they cannot strike near the middle of the ball.With small children you must let them play. One of the best books ever written for children is Dawn Hopkins' Kids Learn to Play Pool. Help them for a short amount of time and then leave them alone. Small successes will keep them interested for a short time. Keeping it fun will keep them at it for a long time.