Nic Barrow's The Snooker Gym ... 'Improving Your Game, From Every Angle'

Do you think you are good at the yips?!

May 16, 2018

Many players over the years have come to me staking a claim to the greatest case of the yips the world has ever seen. Very rarely, though, are they any good at demonstrating the yips! 90% of the time, there is a hidden cause in technique or thinking they are not aware of, which is where a coaching session is useful. On the assumption their technique is set up correctly and they still cannot hit the ball smoothly, then it is likely to be shot anxiety that is the cause of imperfect cueing.

 

A client of mine emailed this week to express concern at his ‘yips’, and I offered a couple of ideas which I have seen help others over the years….

 

“To get the release of the cue working to your satisfaction I would say will need a quarter of your total playing time devoted to drills that focus only on delivery.

Ultimately, if you can deliver to your satisfaction with no cue ball in the way, then the only reason the release is not to your satisfaction is that...

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Reflections on the 2018 World Championship Final

May 13, 2018

On May 7th 2018, I witnessed the greatest, most impressive snooker match I have ever seen.

The epic world final saw Mark Williams stave off the heroic attempts of John Higgins to overturn him. Even four immense, once a tournament, clearances in eight frames was not enough to knock the unflappable Welshman.

Whilst still fresh in my mind I wanted to capture my observations in the match, having had the added fortune of front row seats with my wife.

 

Technique

Both players have technical ‘imperfections’ that are not ‘textbook’.

For example John pulls his cue back onto his bridge, and Mark cues on occasion very close to his hip. But in the same way that sprint sensation Michael Johnson showed with his startlingly upright running method, performance at the top level is not only about mechanics. Dedication, passion, temperament, experience, and grooving a method that works for you are key components in competing at the highest level.

Both players have...

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Your New Year Snooker Resolutions – updates, feedback, and ideas… (Part 2)

Feb 17, 2018

2. Commit fully to a line of aim

Feedback from Patrick H.

Hi Nic,

I was having a miserable time last week. After a month off snooker, I seemed to have gone backwards – despite improving last year, largely down to more focussed practise – often using your tips and techniques.

Then I read Number 2/3 and everything changed. I started to commit to the line of aim and balls started to go in. Then I managed to keep my eye on the object ball consistently as well, and suddenly I made a total clearance with the line-up. This is the first time I’ve done this in about 25 years (I think I managed this two or three times when I played a lot in my late teens). Needless to say, I was over the moon!!!

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Your New Year Snooker Resolutions – updates, feedback, and ideas… (Part 1)

Feb 14, 2018

I hope you enjoyed the TSG New Year’s Resolution in January.

In summary, the 3 resolutions were:

  1. Watch the object ball properly all the way to the pocket – even if you don’t want to.
  2. Commit fully to a line of aim – even if you are not sure the ball will go in.
  3. Focus on cueing more than aiming – because without good cueing, good aiming won’t help you.

You can read them in full detail here:

Resolution 1
Resolution 2
Resolution 3

 

I thought you may be interested in reading some of the responses to that series of emails, and I am including those below…

 

1. Watch the object ball properly all the way to the pocket

Here is one from Will F about the power of watching the balls properly:

Thanks Nic,

I tried this (striking the ball on the third stroke) -plus staying down in the shot, watching the object ball into the pocket and my success increased markedly. I won man of the match! No big breaks yet - but concentrating on my cueing to...

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Top 3 Snooker New Year Snooker Resolutions: Number 3/3

Jan 11, 2018

Continuing our New Year Snooker Resolutions, here is number three:

New Year’s Resolution number 3: 
Focus on cueing more than aiming.

Your problem is CUEING, not AIMING!

90% of players who tell me they have trouble aiming or sighting the ball actually have trouble because of their cueing errors. Aiming becomes EASY when your cueing is perfect, but almost all club players want to bypass that step and ‘get on with the business of potting’. Snooker is NOT a game of potting or positional play – it is a game of CUEING… the balls just act as feedback for what your cue has done on every shot. There is more over-emphasis on aiming in snooker than any other topic… where the target should instead be to deliver the cue straight, and consistently. What you can try is to focus NOT ON POTTING the ball, but on HITTING IT WHERE YOU ARE AIMING (whether you pot it or not). So, you are downgrading your expectation from POTTING THE BALL, to HITTING THE BALL...

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Top 3 New Year's Snooker Resolutions: Number 2/3

Jan 07, 2018

Continuing our New Year Snooker Resolutions, here is number two:

New Year’s Resolution number 2: 
Commit to the line of aim before you get down.

Lack of a proper pre shot routine is just as damaging to our snooker hopes as lack of a proper post shot routine. A great exercise that my coach of twenty years (Frank Adamson – who also worked with Ronnie for ten years and Steve Lee when he was provisional world number 1) showed me and many other professionals is ‘Stop & Go’:

  • Select a straight pot that you would pot maybe 6/10.
  • Stand behind the line of aim of the shot.
  • Get down to the shot.
  • With NO ADJUSTMENT OF THE CUE and also NO CUEING ACTIONS OR FEATHERS at all, just gently pull the cue back straight and push it through straight.
  • Stay in position until BOTH BALLS STOP.
  • Check that your cue delivered STRAIGHT TO THE POCKET.
  • If the cue was straight, then you have discovered where you were aiming the object ball.
  • If the cue was not delivered...
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Top 3 New Year's Snooker Resolutions: Number 1/3

Jan 04, 2018

Do you have any New Year’s Snooker Resolutions?

If not, this week I will be offering The 2018 Top Three Resolutions that can help you get back to basics and enjoying the game a bit more.

With one resolution per blog post, I would be keen to hear feedback on each one and what effect they have in your game.

New Year’s Resolution number 1: 
Watch the balls properly, and in sequence.

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Watching the ball is more important than potting the ball!

Most players don’t believe this statement… until they try it out. Especially with players who do not make regular 50 breaks (and very often with players who do), the fixation and obsession with potting the ball is so great that they lose focus of the PROCESS required to pot the ball. Part of this process is an effective post shot routine – which involves watching the ball all the way to the pocket (or to the cushion when you miss). To help you stay down properly and watch the ball, try calling a...

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Giving your all, even when all seems lost.

Sep 21, 2017

A very common complaint I hear from players is: ‘I was playing really well, my break had reached 40, and then I started speeding up and missed an easy red!

Or: ‘I was leading 2-0 in a best of five, and I was so confident that I started going for more difficult pots. But I missed a few and he came back to win that frame and won the last two frames easily to take the match.

 

Part of being a successful snooker player is learning how to keep the:

  • The SAME body language
  • The SAME technique & cueing
  • The SAME tempo & rhythm
  • The SAME shot selection

 

…REGARDLESS of whether you are:

Winning / Losing

Playing your best / average / worst snooker

Break building a lot / having to play safe a lot

 

As commentator Phil Yates so accurately said about Kyren Wilson: ‘He gives 100% effort, 100% of the time’.

This is the case even if he is going to win by a mile, or lose by a mile. But it is easier said than done. Many of us have an...

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‘I simply cannot recognise the potting angles!’

Sep 14, 2017

This is a not uncommon complaint amongst players from 20-40 highest break level.

If the headline is what you think then I have a feeling you are trying to recognize the angles consciously – if that is the case you have no chance of progressing as aiming does not work like that!

I could not aim like that myself, and made a 147 over 25 years ago. I certainly could not ‘remember’ any potting angles which is what a lot of players also try to do. Each pot and its potting angle must be started as a new shot without trying to ‘remember’ a similar shot from last Wednesday! So, we have to guess from new on every shot – which is a process or learning potting angles that cannot be taught, only learned.

Where you need to get to is a place where you can recognize that you are aiming WRONG – this will reduce aiming errors.

So set up a blue in the middle, black off the spot, or any pot you struggle with. Then EITHER set up the Cue Action Trainer ‘The...

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Are you so frustrated with snooker that you want to give up?

Sep 07, 2017

Ultimately if we are struggling with consistency and cannot see why, we are FOR SURE doing something different from one day to the next – and just need to identify what that is.

Also, remember that the balls will be in different positions from one day to the other so even if we are exactly the same in our execution, on table results can be hugely different from one day to another.

It is up to you to self diagnose whether it is cueing, aiming, or concentration that is causing the fluctuations. This is the reason for drills that demand precision (eg potting blacks / pinks / long blues off the spot and seeing how many times out of ten you can follow the cue ball into the same pocket), as they bring into awareness the micro mistakes we make which in turn will prompt us to self prescribe the micro solutions that we need to apply.

Sometimes, we will also have no clue whatsoever what our issue is – so get ready to accept that you won’t know around 25% of the time why you...

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