Billiard Cue Tips & Tip Size

Pool stick and cue ball image by Jim Mills from

The selection of a pool stick usually isn't a big deal when playing a casual game at a bar or pool hall. If you're looking to take your game to a higher level, either in a league setting or even professionally, the quality of pool cue can make will impact your play.

The two main parts of any cue are the shaft and the tip. And with several different tip sizes available, it's worthwhile to shop around.

Cue Tip Wear

No matter how gifted you are with a pool cue, you won't reach your true potential on the table without having a cue tip that accentuates your style of play. If you prefer hitting shots with little spin, you will need a different tip than if you use spin more frequently. Because the tip makes contact with the cue ball on every shot, it becomes worn, smoothed over or cracked over time. You should replace the cue tip under any of these conditions. Let a professional install a new tip so that you can ensure it is done properly, even if it costs a little more than doing it yourself.

Smaller Tips

Smaller tipped cues are commonplace in the game of snooker, where the tip diameter of an average cue is around 10 millimetres. The smaller tip is ideal for someone who is looking for plenty of action on the cue ball. Because smaller tips are usually found on smaller cues—which are easier to control than their longer counterparts—they can help you hit the cue ball where you want it easier. This accuracy is critical when you're looking for topspin (hitting the upper third of the cue ball), backspin (hitting the lower third) or sidespin (hitting the left or right third.) It's a valuable tool in nine-ball, where cue-ball placement is important when setting up the next shot. The downside is that a smaller tip will produce less force on impact, thereby reducing the amount of power in each shot.

Larger Tips

Most standard pool cues are equipped with larger tips, which usually measure around 13 millimetres in diameter. They're most useful when a player is attempting a straightforward shot with little spin, since the hitting surface is so large, it's hard to miss the centre of the cue ball. This is most useful in eight-ball, where players have multiple shot options and therefore don't need to rely as much on spin. Larger tips also generate more force, which means more power through each shot. The drawback comes when attempting to hit a shot with spin. Larger tips are generally attached to larger and heavier cues, which are more difficult control. As a result, it's easier to miss a smaller target like the top or bottom third of the cue ball, making mishits more common than with a smaller cue tip.

Custom Tips

For those who are looking for something in-between, there are custom options that fall between 10 and 13 millimetres. Players can opt for an 11- or 12-millimeter cue tip that will offer more spin but less force. This tip is ideal for a player that want more force than a smaller tip provides, but better ball control than a larger tip. Some players will even add a cue with a 14-millimeter tip to their collection. This cue would be used almost exclusively for breaking, with the large tip ensuring solid contact and maximum power. The player could then switch to a regular cue for the remainder of the game.