The Short Rest
It is rare to see a snooker player who feels completely at ease with the short rest. Many players who come to me for coaching mention that they need to see some improvement with this implement. With the introduction of mini butt extensions and the popularity of ambidextrous cueing, many feel that the short rest is not as important as it used to be.
This maybe true to some extent, but it is still an area where many players (especially young players) can seek improvement that will allow them to take their overall game to the next level.
Common faults with the short rest
Shown below in green italics are a number of faults I see when coaching with the short rest. A suggested correction is shown underneath each common fault:
Poor shot selection (not accounting for the difficulties involved in using the short rest)
You should be aware that your chances of success maybe reduced when using the short rest. This, along with your confidence and ability level with this implement, must be accounted for when making your shot selection. Do not be too aggressive.
Using the high side of the rest head
Use the lower side of the rest head whenever possible as this makes it easier to avoid hitting down on the cue ball (high side of the rest can be used for top spin if preferred).
Rest head too close to the cue ball
This fault tends to encourage a raised butt (especially for back spin) and in turn means the player is striking down on the cue ball. Striking down on the cue ball decreases the chances of accurate striking. The rest head should be placed, and remain, somewhere between 250-300mm (approx. 10-12 inches) from the cue ball.
Cueing forearm too far forward in the address position
After you have placed your tip as close as possible to the cue ball (the address position), you need to be looking to get an 'L' shape for your cueing arm. Your forearm should be as close as possible to 90 degrees to the line of the shot in the address position. This gives you the best chance of maintaining a straight line of delivery through the cue ball.
Tip too far away from the cue ball in the address position
Tip must be as close as possible to the cue ball to give best chance of correctly assessing line, spin application and centre striking. If you are having difficulty in seeing how far away your tip is from the cue ball, try dropping the tip down on to the cloth to give you a better idea of the distances involved.
Head (chin) restricts longer backswings
The head must be raised slightly to allow the butt of your cue to pass under your chin as you complete your feathers (if applicable) and final backswing.
Hitting across the cue ball
This is caused by not dropping the tip and butt of your cue on to the correct line for the shot. Having the shaft of rest in line with the cue (and hopefully in line with the line of the shot) can help with this problem. Getting the tip right up to the cue ball to ensure centre ball striking is also important to help with this fault.
Grips that place the butt of the cue into overactive fingers can lead to delivery problems with the fingers tending to pull the cue off line. I suggest that the cue should be placed in to the palm of the hand (thumb and forefinger of the grip nearest to your head) with all your fingers wrapped around the cue. The grip should be dominated by the 'ring' formed by your thumb and first finger.
Dropping the butt of the cue down during the delivery
The plane of the cue should be maintained through the delivery. Dropping the cue as you deliver will give you problems in positioning the cue ball (as your tip is likely to strike higher than intended on the cue ball) and could also cause problems with delivering the cue along the chosen line.
Grip or forearm pulling the cue off line during delivery
Curtail the follow through to help with this problem. Try using the grip described above to seek improvement in this area.
Trying to follow through too far
The longer your follow through with the rest then the more chance you have of your cue deviating from your selected line. The follow through with the rest should be curtailed when compared with the follow through of your normal action.
Failure to practice with the short rest
Many of our students claim that they have major problems with the short rest. However, even though they have admitted it is a weakness in their game, they give little or no time to practice with this implement. To improve with the short rest you must look to avoid the common faults outlined above and you must introduce it as part of your solo practice sessions. Give some time to just setting up and trying different shots with the short rest so that you become more confident in using it.
Aim to replace your common faults with some of the suggestions I have outlined above and you will almost certainly see your short rest play improve.