Pool chalk comes in small cubes. It is applied as a thin layer to the cue tip. When contact is made between the cue tip and the cue ball, chalk helps "grab" the cue ball and keeps the tip from slipping around the ball, causing a miscue. It is important that the layer be thin and even.
Hitting the cue ball after applying chalk also flings the chalk dust/powder in a thin spray across the table. If you were to use red chalk on a green or blue table, you can easily see just how much of the chalk falls off the cue tip after contact. If you watch serious players play competitively, you will notice that they will consistently chalk the cue tip before every shot. On the other hand, watching bar bangers play makes you think that they are unaware that chalk exists.
Don't grind the chalk onto the tip. Feather the chalk cube across the tip using multiple strokes as you slowly turn your stick. Actually look at the tip to ensure you have successfully chalked it and that the chalk is evenly applied across the whole surface of the tip. Do this before every shot. Properly chalked tips prevent miscues.
Chalk is made from a silicate compound. Different companies have different formulas. Do not purchase inexpensive chalk. You will not get consistent results. Chalk comes in many different colors from tan to red to black. The most common color used is blue. Select a color that will not stain or discolor the table cloth. For a tan cloth, use tan chalk. For red cloth, use red chalk.
Most serious players carry their own chalk in a holder of one style or another. They make a habit of reaching for their own chalk rather than any cubes that are provided by the house. Far too often, old cubes have a deep pit, that when used, also applies chalk to the ferrule of your cue - a messy business.
If you carry your own chalk (on a stick, magnet, string), change it out after the remaining material in the cube falls below the sides of the holder. If you have your own stick, put 3 or 4 cubes in a little plastic bag, and keep it in your pool tool accessory container.
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