First of all, hybrids refer to pool cue shafts that are not the traditional solid piece of hard rock maple.
More and more are flooding the market, but the main and most popular models are the Predator 3142 & Z2, OB-1 & OB-2, McDermott I-Shaft, G-Core, and there are others that have not gained that much popularity.
My personal favorite is the OB, because of the way it “feels”—but that doesn’t make me right by any means—a personal preference always trumps opinion. The bottom line to every one of them is this: they all promote “low cue ball deflection” or “less cue ball squirt,” same thing.
Many players think this terminology refers to the shaft itself—not true.
The shaft only makes contact with the cue ball for 2/100th of a second and that isn’t enough time for much of anything to happen to the shaft itself. Deflection refers to how the cue ball reacts when struck.
The principal behind a low deflection shaft is this: the shafts are made from multiple pieces of wood in order to strengthen the shaft wall because they are cored out down the center and the wood that is removed and replaced with a lighter material, i.e., different wood, foam core or some other high-tech material. The multiple pieces of wood are needed to increase the structural integrity of the shaft wall to prevent warping and breaking. It also gives the shaft a stiffer feel.
By reducing the weight in the front end of the cue, you reduce the mass of the cue and mass reduction makes the cue ball “deflect” or “squirt” less than a solid piece of wood because the mass of a solid piece of wood is greater than the technological components used in the hybrid. Whew! That was a mouthful. What that really means is that your accuracy improves because the ball has a better chance of going where you are aiming due to less deflection/squirt.
I think of it as a compensation for human error.
If you decide to add this weaponry to your arsenal, be prepared to make a few adjustments to your game. Every player is different, but it will mess up your game for some period of time until you get used to it. It can take anywhere from one day to two months, but for many players, the increased performance is well worth the investment.
Some players are old school and understand the deflection of a solid piece of wood just fine and have no intention of messing with a good thing that works—either that or we are just too old, stubborn and set in our ways. Either way, as with everything else, it is always personal preference and choice. If you want to feel the difference, stop by your local billiard store and ask to test drive one. Most stores will have demo shafts to try so you can compare them and decide if that journey is right for you.
Until next time, if you know how to play with your shaft, you can create magic on the table, old school or hybrid style.
Editor: Dana Gornall
Photo: Stuart Conner/Flickr