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Does your child watch in fascination while you play billiards and is he squirming in his seat for you to let him play? Children love to copy what they see elders doing, especially if it’s something that looks as fun and colorful as billiards.
Can kids play billiards? Absolutely, why ever not- it’s quite harmless. I say it’s never too early to start. Children are like sponges; they’ll soak up that game before you know it and be better at it sooner than you were!
There are a few insanely talented kids as young as 4-5 years of age out there, who are little prodigies, if you can believe it! If you want to make your kid a pro pool player quick and if they show an interest and knack for it, then start as early as you can.
If they’re strong enough to hold a cue and there’s a table within their reach, they can play. Of course, they will not understand all the rules initially, but you can still teach them to shoot!
At what age should a child learn billiards?
You can start very young too but Ewa Mataya Laurance, world billiards champion, suggests not before 5 years of age. She also thinks initially it’s best to let them shoot without the cue ball and just practice pocketing balls without any rules at all. Once they’ve played freestyle a bit, you can teach them a simple game like straight pool or 8-ball pool.
How to play billiards with kids?
Here are some things that you can practice when letting your kids play billiards.
Get child-size equipment
There are many kinds of mini pool tables available for kids, in a range of sizes starting from toy size! If your child can’t reach the pool table or you don’t want him to stand on a footstool or cushion (which would be very hard to move around with!), then you will need a table which is closer to the ground and smaller too.
You will need a smaller cue stick too, definitely. These too are available in different lengths, as short as 30’’. With their personal sized table and stick, they’ll feel like they really own the game and feel excited and professional about it.
Holding the cue
Initially kids often have some trouble holding the cue. First let them get familiar with it by letting them shoot with it however they like.
Then teach them the proper way of holding it, with one hand as the bridge and the back hand on the cue. Make sure their back hand isn’t stretched too far behind the elbow or a bit too much towards the front.
Then teach them to stroke. At first, just practice hitting a ball with the right cue position and technique, without actually making them aim for a pocket.
If they are finding it hard to memorize where to place the back hand, you can put a marker on the cue for ease. Once they’ve practiced a bit, it will soon be fed into their muscle memory and you can remove the marker too.
Start without a cue ball
While your child is just learning to shoot, it is too complex to introduce the cue ball straight away. Having to shoot the cue ball so that it, in turn, hits an object ball the right way so that it drives it into a pocket is too much to process!
Skip the cue ball. Just let them shoot at the object balls directly and pocket them. Once they get really good with their position and their aim, then it’s fine to bring in the cue ball.
Create an easy game
Don’t bombard them with all the professional game rules. Don’t even explain the actual 8-ball or 9-ball game right away. Make your own simple game with your own rules. For example, you can place 9 or 15 balls around the table and tell them to just hit them one by one into the easiest pocket.
And you can reward them whenever they hit a ball into a pocket on the first shot. You can give them even more extra points when they hit multiple balls in a row!
Remember, without the cue ball first and later with it.
Once they have this down, then teach them a specific game like straight pool or 8-ball. According to Ewa Laurance, this is the best option to start with.
Can toddlers play?
Can kids aged 1-4 also play billiards?
Why not! Let them play in their own way. Get them some harmless rubber balls and a tiny stick. If they’re just 1 or 2 years old, set them on the table and let ‘em loose! You can teach them to put balls into pockets with their hands first! Then try the stick. As they grow older, get them to shoot balls into pockets.
In short, there’s just no age restriction here. Kids will start enjoying at any age!
How can playing billiards benefit your family’s health?
Playing billiards with your family is a great healthy activity. Without even realizing it, in just one game of billiards you will have walked about a mile! That’s a pretty good walking distance you just covered without even stepping out of your home!
Apart from your legs being exercised, repeatedly assuming your shooting position also gives your arms and back a workout. This mild form of a workout is great not just for kids but for elderly people in your family too.
Playing billiards can burn over 200 calories an hour, without you even losing your breath!
Does playing pool make you smarter?
Billiards is also a great exercise for the mind, especially for kids, as it improves problem-solving skills, concentration, hand-eye coordination, aiming skills, and understanding of geometry!
Playing a good shot involves a lot of smart thinking. You have to think about which ball to hit, and exactly where to hit it, at what angle too, so that you can pocket as many balls as possible. This mental calculation definitely works your brain.