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Help solve a dispute!

  1. May 26, 2007 #1
    ok - a question for you boffins out there!

    playing snooker / pool, will a smaller or larger tip generate more spin?

    logic tells me that the point of contact is larger on a larger tip but that the time in contact with the white is greater with a smaller tip. which matters more? (i know as a player the answer is the smaller tip but i would like to know why!)
  2. jcsd
  3. May 26, 2007 #2


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    Welcome to PF, Adr. I used to use an 11mm tip for years, and was irritated that my new stick was available only with 12 or 13. A couple of my more professional friends (one's a ref; one an instructor) insisted that a larger tip was better. Now that I'm used to my 12, I tend to agree. I can see the logic of it. For a given amount of offset on the cue ball, there is more of the tip in contact, as you mentioned. The duration of that contact has nothing to do with the tip size; it's all in the stroke. Of far more importance is the material of the tip. You'll get the most grab from a very soft one, but they don't last very long. A hard one can last a couple of seasons, but doesn't hold chalk very well and can tend to skid off of the ball. Most of us around here use Elkmaster medium hardness, which is a really good compromise.
  4. May 26, 2007 #3
    Theoretically, it does'nt depend on how large the tip is. Because spinning depends on the friction force, the friction force in turn depends only on the tip's roughness, not its area.
  5. May 26, 2007 #4
    for american pool 12mm would be my choice (talisman soft not an elkmaster!) - i am aware of the materials issue etc and have to say i play to a high standard and sell the equipment for a living but given the following were the case which would generate more spin?

    the cues are identical
    the distance the cue travels through the shot is the same
    and its speed and angle are also identical
    so the only variable is the tip size and shape. (a smaller tip by its nature will be more rounded)
  6. May 26, 2007 #5

    so its the same, but we find it easier with a smaller tip? - the firmness of the tip makes a big difference the softer the tip the easier it is to generate spin.
  7. May 26, 2007 #6
    I said theoretically.
    You are right when saying the softer the tip, the better, because that softness plays a buffer role for the tip to 'grip' better to the ball. So may be the smaller tip is a little bit softer and that answers your question.
  8. May 26, 2007 #7


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    I beg to differ. The contact area does affect the friction force. Obviously, every mm^2 has a certain amount of friction. The more mm^2, the more friction.

    edit: You guys slipped in a couple of extra posts while I was composing this. I've never heard of Talisman; where are you, Adr?
    Last edited: May 26, 2007
  9. May 26, 2007 #8

    so assuming the tips are of the same hardness where are we now!! - my physics is not up to this but i KNOW from playing its easier with a smaller tip.
  10. May 26, 2007 #9
    No, I don't think so. Friction force = Force*C (C is the dynamic friction constant). The force here depends on how strongly you push the ball and the ball's weight.
  11. May 26, 2007 #10

    i am in scotland - you?

    all other factors remain constant, cue ball weight etc.
  12. May 26, 2007 #11
    I am in the Netherlands. I just play snooker now and then and not good enough to see the difference in tip size.
    If you say all other factors remain constant, I should say the softer the tip, the better because logically, it is softer and then easier to grab the cue.
  13. May 26, 2007 #12
    but we need to assume that the hardness of both sizes is the same.
  14. May 26, 2007 #13
    So again, they are the same theoretically. Just one thing I can guess : the smaller the tip, the better for the player to hit exactly at the point he wants. And that is the advantage.
  15. May 26, 2007 #14
    this was my thought but i am not sure the physics prove it.
  16. May 26, 2007 #15
    does tip thickness have any relation to weight class of the cue?

    It could also be a psychological thing...some epeople feel more comfortable with the aim of a smaller cue..OThers like putting more power with a thicker cue.

    May also be dependent on the ball size, since if i remmeber correctly snooker plays with a smaller radius on the ball.
  17. May 26, 2007 #16
    The physics is just above: dynamic friction force does not depend on the surface area.
    And with smaller tip, surely you can have more points on the cue to hit (this may not be physics).
  18. May 26, 2007 #17
    again we would have to say they tips have the same thickness although in reality thats not likely and i suppose you would automatically make the smaller tip softer if it were the same thickness.

    its definately easier to aim at the point you need so mentallly thats a done deal.

    a snooker ball is 2.25" so yes its smaller - as are the pockets but the table is a lot bigger!
  19. May 26, 2007 #18
    another thought - the smaller tip is in contact with the cue ball for longer as you push through the shot so has less of a 'slapping' effect on the cue ball?
  20. May 26, 2007 #19


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    I have to leave for work now; I'll log back in when I get there (unless some damned client shows up). In the meantime, I'm in Canada, near Calgary. From my personal experience, I find a larger tip to be better in this matter. I was about to mention the aiming aspect before you guys beat me to it. I can't do that 'line your chin up with the cue' crap; I sight down the cue like a rifle. It was indeed my problem in switching to a wider tip that it took a while to extrapolate the edge contact as referenced from the centreline of the stick. I had the same problem when we switched from using an oversize cueball to one that's the same size as the object balls. Be back in a bit.
  21. May 26, 2007 #20

    lol - i think we will not get to the bottom of this there are too many variables.
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