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.
Kid Specific Cues
Junior cues are available in many different lengths as small as 30 inches. With their own cue, plant a seed of ownership toward the cue and the game. Kids pool tables are also a great place to start. Kids often struggle to handle the cue at first. Let them play with it for a while and offer to help once you sense the need or interest in some assistance, but not before.
Holding the Cue
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.
It’s 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 too far, and not too far forward as to obstruct their ability to move the cue a few inches past the ball they are hitting.
Back Hand Position
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. To remember the best spot, consider putting a piece of tape on the butt end of the cue when you find this 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. Emphasize and demonstrate that more elbow and less shoulder movement is a good thing.
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.
Create a Game They can Play
One good way is to set all 15 balls on the table and 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 early success. After each shot, remove the ball from the table if it was a missed shot.
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. When they have a pretty good hold on the cue, then you can talk to them more about aiming and looking down the cue. The first step is striking near the middle of the ball. For more information on teaching kids to play, consider Dawn Hopkins’ ‘Kids Learn to Play Pool, which you can purchase here .
Toddlers (Ages 1-4)
Since you can never start too early, a good way for toddlers to learn to put the balls in the pockets, without breaking any windows, is by setting them in the middle of the table and simply letting them play. Invest in some soft rubber balls and let them roll away!