The raging debate on whether low deflection pool cues work better than standard shafts never seems to end.
The final choice often depends on your experience level and playing needs.
Although low deflection (LD) pool cues are relatively new, they are beneficial to the average player.
What is a Low Deflection Pool Cue?
Low deflection cues help players lessen their aiming adjustments and improve their accuracies. These shafts reduce cue ball deflection (squirt).
Winning pool games depends on several factors, one being how you control the cue ball’s direction.
You control the ball’s direction by applying a straight shot or an English. The majority of shots you make using English/sidespin tend to miss.
When you apply English, the cue ball goes in an opposite direction to the one intended. Pool sharks refer to this deviation as a squirt.
All shafts cause cue ball deflection. The lesser the squirt, the better.
Players need to compensate for this deflection. Whenever you aim a shot, you either go thick or thin for the ball to head in the correct direction.
When you use standard shafts, you encounter a lot of ball deviation. You have to adjust more to get into shape.
When you use LD shafts, there’s less cue ball deflection. You can quickly compensate and improve your accuracy.
Some pool players alternate between the two styles. The outcome of such a strategy is either under or overcompensation.
It’s advisable to stick to one pool cue shaft.
Also read: Best Pool Cues in the Market
How Low Deflection Shafts Reduce Squirt
The design of the shaft tip influences the extent of the squirt.
A flexible shaft tip is likely to generate less deflection compared to a rigid shaft.
Many manufacturers make traditional cue shafts from solid wood. A rigid, wooden shaft tip translates to more cue ball deflection.
Contrary, LD shafts come with a hollow tip. Hollow tips are more flexible and cause minimal ball deviation. Other designs improve the sturdiness of this tip by filling in carbon fiber or foam.
Cue Tip End Mass
Another factor that affects ball deflection is the shaft’s end mass. This term refers to the heaviness of the cue shaft tip.
A lighter shaft doesn’t push the cue ball sideways. Instead, it bends out of the way.
As earlier mentioned, solid wood is what makes standard cue shafts. Solid wood tips are heavier, push cue balls more, and cause more deflection. The same applies to plastic shafts.
Low deflection cues have light tips which do not interfere much with the cue ball after impact. Most of the designs also feature a cushioned ferrule that absorbs vibrations.
Benefits of Low Deflection Cues
Low deflection shafts are helpful to players trying to up their game. Below are some of these benefits.
When using low deflection cues, you only compensate slightly. The less tip offset you apply on the ball, the less the deflection.
Minor adjustment means your accuracy will be higher. You’re also able to cut on errors resulting from unintentional English.
Low squirt shafts last longer than traditional cues. This is because LD shafts contain quality materials like carbon fiber and radial laminate.
These materials prevent shaft warping over time.
To be a top pool player, you need to be consistent. Consistency involves hitting the cue ball and anticipating its direction.
It requires skill and experience, but without an ideal shaft, you won’t make much progress. With a low squirt cue, you can hit sidespins almost naturally.
This will boost your confidence and improve your game.
Ideal for Beginners
Learning to use the standard shaft takes time. You have to master how to compensate for deflections adequately. For beginners, this whole experience can be frustrating.
The lack of significant squirt makes low deflection shafts ideal for beginners.
Increased Shot Variation
Shot deflection always preoccupies the player’s mind. But with a low deflection cue, deflection is the least of your worries.
The ball is likely to end up in the direction you want. This enables you to hit a variety of shots. A slight aiming error won’t impact greatly on your accuracy.
Disadvantages of Low Deflection Cues
Low squirt cues don’t suit everyone. They feel different and might pose issues to certain players.
Below are the challenges that accompany these shafts.
Difficult to Adjust
Most experienced pool players have honed their skills using standard cue shafts. These shafts cause significant ball deflection, forcing players to overcompensate.
Adjusting from overcompensation to under-compensation might be problematic to such players. It isn’t an arduous task, but it requires lots of practice and may take longer to master.
Issues with Jump Shots
Low deflection cues come with hollowed tips. Executing a perfect jump shot with such a cue shaft is near impossible.
If you intend to execute jump shots, go for phenolic cue tips. These tips are beefier and cause cue balls to spring off at higher speeds.
Standard cue shafts have a basic design and don’t cost much. On the other hand, low deflection pool cues come with a hefty price tag and more complex construction.
Despite the high cost, these shafts have superior ferrules and tips. They also last longer due to reinforcement from materials like carbon fiber.
Will Low Deflection Shafts Make You a Better Player?
A new low deflection pool shaft won’t transform you into a pro-circuit player.
You don’t become a better pool player by purchasing top-end products. Success on the pool table depends on your skills and the effort you put into perfecting those skills.
With that said, an LD shaft is an excellent addition to your pool accessories. It’s the perfect shaft for boosting your accuracy and elevating your confidence.
These pool shafts permit marginal errors and speed up the learning process. Such features make low deflection a better cue shaft for beginners.
Once you opt for a low deflection pool cue, you should stick with it. Hopping from standard shafts to LD or vise versa might affect skill development.
Which Low Deflection Shaft is Ideal?
LD brands make two kinds of shafts. The skinnier pool cue has an 11.75mm tip, while the other shaft has a 12.75mm tip.
The smaller shaft has less end mass, meaning the amount of cue ball deflection will be negligible. Smaller tips also allow you to hit the cue ball surgically.
Despite the many advantages, the 11.75mm tip tends to be less forgiving if you aren’t accurate. You can easily hit the wrong spot and quickly lose ball control.
The 12.75mm tip squirts more than its smaller counterpart. However, it’s more forgiving to inaccurate players.
Picking the right LD cue shaft is a matter of personal preference. Some players feel confident with thicker cue tips, while others prefer slender tips.
Demystifying LD Myths
Given the hype low deflection cues generate, there is a lot of misinformation about their performance.
Contrary to what some individuals propagate, LD shafts don’t add more spin. They have smaller diameters but generate almost equal spins to standard cue shafts.
Some individuals claim that low deflection shafts guarantee better ball control and precision. Although this statement isn’t entirely false, you are solely responsible for accuracy.
Another myth goes that all pros use low deflection shafts. This statement is either exaggerated or a marketing gimmick. Many professionals use pool cues that suit their playing style.
These shafts could be standard, LD, or sometimes customized.
Predator introduced the first low-deflection shaft in 1994. The first model featured a laminated wooden piece and a hollow tip to reduce rigidity.
Initial models had patents, which have long expired. Today, many low deflection models dot the market.
Low Deflection Pool Cue Manufacturers
When it comes to LD shafts, some brands stand tall. Here are the most popular manufacturers.
Few companies match Predator’s reputation in producing high-quality LD shaft cues. Predator has been a hit since building its first model, the 314.
More than 25 years later, the 314 still reigns, albeit with significant technological enhancements. Pool establishments now stock the third generation, 314-3.
Apart from 314, Predator also manufactures models like:
- Predator Revo
- Predator Z shaft
- The vintage shaft
Predator might be a famous LD brand, but it experiences immense competition from OB. The known models of OB are OB-1 and OB-2.
Meucci produces LD models like The Pro, Carbon Pro, Red Dot, and Black Dot.
Cuetec develops carbon fiber shafts that are less hollow compared to competitors.
The most popular models produced by Katana are the K1 and K2. Both models are wooden shafts.
This brand builds low-end LD shafts that perform admiringly well. They are a viable option for players shopping for low deflection shafts on a budget.
When it comes to minimizing cue ball deflection, LD shafts are superior to standard shafts. Practicing with an LD can significantly improve your game skill and accuracy.
Avoid changing pool cues regularly. Decide which shaft suits your needs and stick with it.
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