Snooker cue tips come in many different guises, depending on the type of cue you have, from a simple plastic tip for the really cheap cues that come with the cheap folding tables to the screw in tips that are so convenient that are the next step up in tip design, to the glue on tips that the pros use but are a pain to replace. The plastic tipped cues are just toys and are definitely not for the serious player and are near impossible to get chalk on for playing the game properly. The screw in tips are very much better and can be chalked just like a regular cue and have the added benefit of being very easy to replace. Just make sure the tip is securely screwed in place before you take a shot, or the results could be embarrassing!
The best snooker cue tips though are the glue on ones that the pros use. They are made from animal hide from leather to elk hide depending on the manufacturer. These are the best and choose the type you are most comfortable with. Both these types of tip hold the chalk well and give good control for the side and backspin shots.
A more recent development in the snooker tip world is layered tips, typically made from pigskin and as the name suggests the tip is made up of layers of pigskin. One of the advertised benefits is that you can choose the hardness level of the tips from soft to hard and they are supposed to last longer and be more consistent in their response when striking the cue ball. I haven’t tried them myself but they could be worth a go.
The drawback to glue on tips is replacing them, it is a bit of a chore, but quite simple; you just need a Stanley knife and a tip shaping file or some sandpaper. Basically, cut off the old tip with the Stanley knife back to the ferrule and then rough up the top of the shaft with some sandpaper to give a good surface for the glue. Then use some superglue gel which is best, and apply the glue to the top of the shaft, spread it out to cover all the surface and then place the cue tip onto the top of the shaft. The tip should overhang the cue by a mm or so all the way round. You can then use the knife to trim the tip to the same diameter of the cue (or leave it, depending on your preference) and finish off to a good shape with the sandpaper. Leave for 10 minutes for the glue to cure and you are ready to go. Ronnie O’Sullivan famously changed his tip several times in the same day when playing a tournament, as he was unhappy with his play, so the tip was blamed for his poor performance and he lost.
Author Steve McRea who has changed many Snooker Cue Tips in his time