© Mike Stooke
Many who are new to the game find that screw is a complete mystery, yet it is
simply a backward or reverse spin given to the cue-ball by striking below centre.
One of the biggest problems faced by those learning to play the screw shot, is that they are almost forced to experiment with it during an actual game when there is so much else to concentrate on.
It's best learned by keeping everything simple, so begin by just practicing to strike the cue-ball below centre. Place the cue-ball where you can reach it comfortably, and line yourself up to play towards the cushion at a slight angle. This will prevent the cue-ball coming straight back at you.
Now get in the playing position and lower your bridge so the whole cue is as parallel to the table as possible. Concentrate on striking the cue-ball below centre and push through with the cue when you play the shot. It is this forward acceleration of the cue that applies the backspin.
If you practice in this way, with no object-ball and no pot to worry about, then you can concentrate on the only thing that matters - striking the cue-ball below centre.
Many players lift the cue off their bridge without realising and strike the cue-ball much higher than they believe. This exercise will show if you are guilty of this common error.
Place the 'Spider' rest as shown so you have to cue underneath the handle to strike the cue-ball.
If your cue makes contact with the rest then you're not controlling the cue as it moves forward. You're swinging the cue rather than pushing it through.
You may also be holding the cue too tightly as you're lifting the cue off your bridge. So play the shot again but grip the cue more softly, this makes your wrist more supple and may help you push the cue through with a more controlled forward motion.
If you can achieve this you will strike the cue-ball more accurately and improve not only your screw shots but every single shot that you play.
You may find this exercise useful.