So, after my first two lessons you can stand right and hit the ball straight. All
you have to do now is pot balls! Knowing how to pot a ball is something you
either have or you do not have. Of course practice can help but you really need
an eye for it. When walking to the table after your opponent has missed it
seems he has left you an easy pot on a straight red followed by an easier black.
You get down and miss the red! How frustrating. I have done this so many
times and so do many people.
There are some things you can do to correct this
problem. When walking to the table always walk in to the shot, never approach
the table and then slide round to the shot. This is so you see the real angle
of the shot. Also when you are playing position for the next ball remember
that although it is important to get position, the worst position you can end up
in is in your chair, watching your opponent! Work out the angle for the pot
decide your position, but the last thing you think of is pot pot pot. That is
to say that if you at least pot the ball and run out of position you can still
play safe. When playing snooker for the first time do not try to go all out to
beat an opponent. Try out different things, even if you try things in practice
they still end up different in a match.
Playing snooker is all in the head. If you are confident then you play better.
Be positive, make your mind up what shot and play it 110%. A question I am
asked many times is what ball do you look at when you strike the white. The
answer is always the object ball. This is always for every player. You do not
look at the white or the end of your tip, just the cue ball. In fact if you
look at Hendry if he is trying to pot a
vital ball, he will often watch the ball
until it reaches the pocket. This also helps him stay down on the shot. Mind
you though, Hendry is one of a few players who, although he looks at the object
ball last, watch his eyes when he is cueing up. He keeps looking at the object
pocket as well.
As a routine for this lesson place a Red about two feet from one of the black
holes, leaving the black on its spot. Then try to pot the red and vary the shot
between making it back to baulk and staying for the black. This shot is one of
the most common you will come across. Especially after a player has broken off.
To be good at snooker you must play shots like this in practice time after time.
Another routine is to see how many times you can pot the black without missing
and without moving the white between shots.
Being good at snooker is a real pleasure. After all you practice hard, you reach
a good standard and the game is so enjoyable. However, so many good players I
have seen over the years always practice on the same table week in week out, day
after day. They used to call this onetableitis years ago. These players, who
never play on a different table, often try to play in tournaments around the
country and find it very hard to win. It is vital to play on different tables.
Of course it is good to play a lot on one table because it can give you
confidence but you must get used to playing on all types of tables and
Players often write to me saying they have reached the 70-80 standard and do
not seem to be getting any better no matter how hard they practice. This is very
common because at this stage any improvement is a little at a time and to be
honest there are many who give up at this stage. To be a champion is not just
about talent, it is about dedication and determination. If they get through
these times and succeed in making their first century, many players feel they
have made it. Wrong! I have seen many players who can make centuries who do not
win anything, it is consistency which wins. If you make Eighty break after
Eighty break you can be a winner. Last season
Mark King reached a world final
losing to Hendry. Up to then he had only scored one century break in the later
stages of a tournament which was 102. This season he is ranked No 20. You see
some people are obsessed with making centuries. It is winning which counts. Of
course some players get to the point of making Eighty breaks and go no further
no matter how hard they work, and of course this is because of ability. You
either have it or you do not.
If you compete in tournaments you should be taking them very seriously. For
instance if you are playing on the weekend at a club in another area, make sure
you prepare yourself. Phone the club and see if you can practice before you
play, if not, if it is possible travel down the day before and practice then, as
most clubs will allow this. The night before your first match go to bed early
unless you are playing late, then go to be later and get up later. Do not get up
with hardly any time before you play. Give yourself plenty of time to wake up or
you will be waking up to a nightmare. Do not eat a big meal before a match as
this will sap your energy. Treat any match big or small in all tournaments with
the same importance, you are either a winner or you are not.
As a routine this week try to place yourself in a position with say eight reds
left on the table and all the colours on their spots. Then try to see how high a
break you can make without touching a cushion. Then vary the exercise to only
hitting plain ball but hitting cushions. Then try using no cushions and only
plain ball! These exercises may seem pointless but they serve the purpose of
using angles. Without the knowledge of angles you will never win. Did you know
that John Spencer was a snooker genius when he was a teenager but had not made a
century. Then someone (I forget who) taught him to play billiards. The rest is
history as they say.