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Can You Lean On the Pool Table? (There’s a Better Solution)

We’ve all been in a situation when playing pool where you need to attempt a difficult shot. This difficult shot might not be due to the technical aspects but rather due to the fact that you can’t reach the cue ball!

In these situations, amateur players will always lean on the table to get a better reach. I’ve even seen some players basically lying down on the table in order to make a long pot, however, is this actually a legal move that’s allowed in pool? 

In this article, we’ll look to answer the question – “can you lean on the pool table” to decide whether this is a good option for pool players or whether you are actually breaking the rules when attempting to do this. 

Don’t worry, we also have a professional recommendation that will enable you to make these difficult shots without needing to resort to leaning or sitting on the pool table. 

Can You Lean On the Pool Table for a Better Shot?

Legally, you can lean on the pool table during a game provided you keep a minimum of one leg on the ground at all times during the shot. As a professional recommendation, players should avoid leaning on the table due to a loss of balance and should instead use a bridge cue to reach difficult shots instead. 

What Do The Rules Say?

Although you may want to have a leg up on the competition when playing pool, according to the Professional Billiards Instructors Association (PBIA), etiquette states that you should minimize leaning on the table and always keep at least one foot on the ground. 

As the old billiards saying goes, “don’t aim your shot while shooting, do it while standing.” Keeping both feet planted on the ground will give you stability and better balance to effectively aim your shot. If you have ever tried to hop on one foot you will understand.

Does Leaning on it Damage a Pool Table?

If you have ever helped move a pool table, you might find it hard to believe that it can be damaged by someone leaning on it to take their shot. A lean here and there won’t do much, but over time if repeated the table’s balance will be compromised. 

Some tables are made with one single slab of slate which is very heavy and helps keep it not only leveled but in place once set. Other higher professional grade tables are made up of several slabs of slate and can be shifted or moved if it is leaned against multiple times.

Can you Sit on a Pool Table?

Something that goes hand in hand with leaning on a pool table is sitting on a pool table. This is a strategy used to get some extra leverage and attempt to hit those hard-to-reach shots. You’ll even have some players adopt this approach to perform trick shots, however, the issue with this is it’s difficult to pull off, and technically it’s a foul shot. 

If one leg is not touching the floor during a shot then it’s a foul shot. 

There’s also the fact that you can damage your table by sitting on it. Pool tables are set up to be level and provide a flat surface so that the angle the balls travel is not influenced by gravity or a slope. By sitting on the table, you risk causing an uneven surface with the end result being that you need to spend time leveling your table again. 

How to Level Your Table?

What happens if you have been leaning on your table and notice the table has shifted or is lowered on one side or corner? Time to hang up the cue for a second and grab the tool belt. 

Take out a level, there are lots of new fancy digital levels or smartphone app levels, I still prefer the old analog “bubble in the center” method. 

Put the level in the midline of the table, running lengthwise. If the level indicates your table is off-kilter, locate the area needing to be raised by placing the level on the outside midlines close to the bumpers, then narrow it down to one side or corner of the table.

Before making any adjustments ensure that all the screws and fasteners are tightened. Any shifting of the table could cause further problems otherwise.

Once you have found the side or corner of the table that is lower than the rest, raise the leg(s) and place a wooden wedge or makeshift shift shim underneath to even the pool table out.

To confirm you have done a proper job, employ the following tests:

  • Roll a pool ball down the table and see if it rolls straight or has a curve to it.
  • Place a flat glass plate in the center of the table and then put a marble in the middle of the plate. If it stays centered, you are good.
  • Finally, take the level out and measure all around the surface of the table to ensure accuracy. 


Will Leaning Compromise Your Technique?

There are many techniques in the game of pool to increase accuracy, power, and angles of attack. What all of these techniques have in common are stability and balance. Once you lean on the table you instantly compromise your overall form so don’t overdo it. 

Only lean on the table when necessary. Some common mistakes made by players seem to be on display when lifting one leg and getting more level with the surface of the table. 

Bad Form Looks Like:

  • Angling your elbow outward, or “chicken wing” 
  • Relying on the pool table as your fulcrum of balance
  • Losing shot power makes for a slower, more hesitant shot overall 

How to Use the Mechanical Bridge?

Take the high road, or in this case, bypass the road altogether and use a shooting aid. There is always a workaround, and the game of pool is no exception. 

In pool, the form your hand takes for the cue to rest on while shooting is called a bridge. A mechanical bridge is a cue stick that has a notched attachment on the end. 

Think of brass knuckles but less scary.  Rather than wobbling up onto the table to take a long shot, you can use the mechanical bridge, also known as the “rake”, or “bridge.”

The time to use the bridge is when your shot is out of your reach and requires you to lean on the table. Most pro players will forgo the use of a mechanical bridge, but success here comes from many years of practice. 

To get it right make sure you place the bridge six to eight inches before the cue ball, aim your shot, and deliver an accurate and steady strike while following through with your shot. You don’t look as cool as you would half-straddling the table, but cool doesn’t count in sports, only winning does.

For more tips on using a mechanical bridge, check out this video below:

Final Thoughts

When playing pool, you’ll always look for ways to gain an advantage. Sometimes though, modifying the way you take a shot comes about due to necessity rather than trying to sneak an advantage and one of the causes for this is having a cue ball out of reach for a shot. 

This then leads to pool players trying to find a proper angle and many newer players wonder – can you lean on the pool table for a better shot? 

This is a fair assumption and the answer is yes, you can lean on a pool table to take a shot but you need to ensure that one foot is always touching the floor for the duration of the shot. It’s worth noting though that this is not an efficient shot due to balance and you would be best positioned using a mechanical bridge cue.

Learning to take difficult shots is all part of the game and while leaning on the pool table is not considered to be cheating, most amateur players don’t have the skill to pull this off and would be better using a mechanical bridge cue or simply opting to take a different shot – sometimes you just need to accept that the given shot is not going to be a good one no matter how you try to attempt it!