There are shots when the cue ball is mid table and you must aim it towards a ball at the opposite short rail. If you are a tall person, the shot might not be difficult to stretch out and shoot. If you are a shorter individual, you can't stretch your bridge hand out far enough to get a stable bridge for your shaft. The cue just isn't long enough to hold the cue in a stable manner that is needed for a trustworthy stroke. Some part of your fundamentals must be abandoned, making the stroke prone to major failures.
Normally, when a shot is just outside of the comfort zone for a normal stance, there are two options. You can stretch out and attempt to force the shot with a longer distance between your bridge hand and the cue ball. This also forces your stick hand to grab at the butt of the cue. Altogether an uncomfortable shooting position. Or, you can get the mechanical bridge out and set up a more stable stance, using proper mechanical bridge stance and stroke. Generally, this is also uncomfortable because you don't do this very often.
Many players opt for the super-stretch stance. This is an invitation to the billiard gods to bless you with a miscue. Yet, despite a failure rate of 50% or more on making the shot - and almost 100% failure on getting position - many players prefer this disaster-in-the-making body position.
When asked why they don't use the mechanical bridge, the rationale: "Don't want to look like a sissy." is common. The truth is - they haven't used the mechanical bridge enough to have any confidence of success.
There is an in-between solution for most of the shots that require a little bit of stretching. Approved for all competition venues, the cue extension is available. It attaches to the butt end of your stick and increases your reaching distance from 6 to 24 inches. You will still have a longer bridge, but you can get a stable grip on the cue butt. This gives you sufficient control to treat the shot as a near-normal effort.
There are a number of cue extension devices available on the market. Some slip onto the cue butt and a simple twist holds it in place. Another type slides down the cue shaft to the butt and then telescopes out to a substantial distance. Several cue companies make an extender device (4 to 12") that screws into the cue butt. Some cue makers create 3-piece cues with interchangeable lengths.
Regardless of which type of extension device you use, a cue extender should be a necessary pool tool. It will require some practice time to test how far it reaches - and how to use it for accurate strokes. This practice time will also tell you when you SHOULD reach for the mechanical bridge. An extension is useful and not expensive. It provides some assurance that you can play an accurate shot with proper cue ball spin and speed.
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