A very common complaint I hear from snooker 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:
…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 snooker professional 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 in built elastic band (or ‘thermostat’) that says when we are a long way in front we don’t need to put in the effort anymore as the winning result is certain. In this situation, you can use that time (when you are ‘guaranteed’ to win) to practice putting in effort even when you don’t need to. This will build up your mental discipline very well and remove a big mental weakness from your game.
The other way to manage this is by ‘re-framing’, where your target is not to win the match, but to win 5-0. Or where your target is not to win the frame against a weaker opponent, but to win without them scoring a point. You can then record these ‘nil frames’ and ‘nil matches’ with pride in your diary.
In the same way, use the time when your mind is convinced you will lose the frame or the match to give it 100% regardless. I have helped pro’s win tournaments with this mind set shift. It also helped me for years as a competitor not to get too down on myself. I found when I was 4-1 down, that it was very difficult to convince myself I was going to win. Instead, I just used that situation as an opportunity to practice giving my all even when all seems lost.
This meant that even if I lost the match I still had taken away ‘a win’ - character building by strengthening the mental effort muscle.
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