Nic Barrow's The Snooker Gym ... "We Train Frustrated Amateurs, To Beat Their Highest Break"

Frustration free snooker?!...

psychology Nov 01, 2018

A frustrated subscriber to the website this week sent me an email saying he had quit:

I've stopped playing competitive snooker now Nic. I don't know if my self expectation is too high or what but the game is making me miserable so I decided not to put myself through it anymore

I started a quick answer, but turned that into a longer reply that may appeal to many players who have been blessed with frustration in their game or life…

Unfortunately for the ego, our misery is not possible without expectation.

Interestingly my client this week is from India and I had this conversation with him just this morning. His highest break is 104, he runs his own business, and plays maybe ten hours per week.

He came over for a ten day training, and I was discussing with him the psychology side of the game. With most players, this is a big topic because our mind does tend to take the easy road to frustration. Chief among the situations that prod our expectations into waking up with a sore head are:

  1. Not playing to a standard that we expect / hope / wish for

  2. Missing a ball we expect to, or ‘should’, pot

  3. Losing to someone we do not expect to

  4. Expecting to know why we missed, but not even knowing the symptoms that caused it let alone the hidden root cause

  5. Expecting to be able to get our form back (‘I was playing well last week, but rubbish this week… AND I AM NOT DOING ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY!), but not knowing how

  6. Playing a great shot (even though, un-knowingly, a few mistakes may have cancelled each other out!), expecting that external form to continue…. but missing an easy sitter on the next shot


This main list of culprits has a greater negative effect on some rather than others, which brings me back to my Indian client. I opened the subject of frustration, having allowed some time for the conversation… but this expectation was broken when he said simply: “I don’t get frustrated with the game at all.” This is not because he is playing well all the time (he isn’t), but because:

  1. He values observation of what he is doing, above judging what he is doing

  2. He gets curious as to the reason for not playing well, and keeps on keeping going until he finds the root cause

  3. He is humble enough to accept that snooker is one of the most difficult games in the world, and that every ball potted is a bonus


I have only met one other client like this – in China, and he also had a solitary ton to his name – a 105. It is important to register that they had not lost their frustration when they reached 100 break standard, as if a ton offers some magic cure.

Rather, having a frustration free mentality helped them reach that standard much more quickly. My other observation was that they were both unstoppable in their personal and professional life too – almost like water being set to flow downhill no matter what… they just did not get stopped by the mental traps most of us fall into and were both very upbeat people who were genuinely happy performing everyday tasks. They have been great examples to me and I occasionally touch their levels of self mastery and unleash my inner happiness too! Just imagine if it was ok to be happy all the time!