I picked up this nifty little gadget from the Super Billiards Expo. The purpose of this product is to provide a consistent, smooth stroke without the need for a glove or messy powders. The bottom line is that this may take a bit of getting used to, but it does deliver as advertised. One of the things that surprised me about this product was that it is made out of a plastic with a rubber exterior as opposed to fabric. Given the taper on a cue, I was wondering how that could work, however, once I opened the package I realized the unique engineering that went into it.
The Sleeve consists of 5 smooth as silk plastic concave strips, with a rubber coating on the outside which assemble into a tube shape, held together with specialized rubber bands.
Here is an image of the smooth plastic inside of the sleeve
The rubber bands provide the give that allow the sleeve to expand as necessary to accommodate the taper of the cue. The following is a picture of the sleeve after I used it on a break. At the start of my break, the sleeve was positioned about 3 or so inches from the ferrule. You can see that after the break, the sleeve position was towards the joint of the cue. Notice the rubber bands provide the appropriate give to allow the sleeve to easily expand down the wider portion of the shaft.
When you slide the sleeve back up the shaft towards the ferrule, the rubber bands pull it snuggly back into place.
The sleeve can be used during normal play as well as on the break. As for normal play, in my experience, it is more effective for a closed bridge vs. an open bridge. I can see this being a very effective training tool for beginning players using a closed bridge early on as it is tricky for beginners to use a closed bridge and get a smooth stroke. This product will really help in that regard as it is darn near impossible to use this and not get a smooth stroke.
Having said that, I am an open bridge player and found the sleeve too bulky to be comfortable. I also like the feel of the cue gliding over my bridge. The bottom line is it is going to come down to personal preference.
Where I absolutely love using this is on the break. I break from the box (kind of in the middle of the table behind the spot) using a closed bridge. Using the sleeve for this kind of break works really well. It seems to give me more control of the cue while accelerating faster through the cue ball. It also seems to keep me down more consistently as I accelerate through the cue ball. I tried breaking from the rail using this, but I found it too bulky from that position.
Overall, I really like this product for breaking and will now be using it regularly. Personally, I don’t see myself using it during normal play but this will come down to personal preference. The sleeve is definitely worth trying for players of any skill level. For you beginners out there learning how to use a closed bridge, I highly recommend this product, it will really help you.