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

How Professionals Play Snooker….

This week I had a great weekly email from a client in our Platinum Partner Programme client... Eric Oostergo from Belgium

It showed very clearly the difference between how most club players play snooker, and the extra efforts and routines that professionals have to apply to play well. I have included the email and my responses below, but it is important to realize that professionals are not good enough to play snooker at a good standard WITHOUT applying these fundamentals.

I hope you enjoy the article, that it adds something to your game, and that you can leave us some comments with your thoughts.

 

MY REPLIES ARE IN BLUE and CAPITAL LETTERS.

 

I went to the European Masters for three days and saw a lot of pro’s in action, sitting almost on the front rows. It was quite odd to see that it’s not at all how it looks on TV.

 

Some observations I made:

  1. As you said last week, they’re very process focused.

  2. They really commit.

YES – WITH TOTAL CONCENTRATION. VERY DIFFERENT TO CLUB PLAYERS.

  1. Most of them stay down longer when in doubt, or when they are missing the pot, but not all of them.

THIS IS THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE TO CLUB PLAYERS AND I WISH I COULD JUST PRESS A ‘STAY STILL FOR 3 SECONDS’ BUTTON ON EVERY PLAYER. IT IS SO DIFFICULT FOR ME TO CONVEY HOW IMPORTANT IT IS AS THE CLUB PLAYERS BRAIN WILL ALWAYS TAKE THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE AND SAY ‘I PLAYED THE SHOT ALREADY SO WHY WASTE TIME STAYING DOWN LIKE A POSER’

  1. Their “bridge – cue – chest”- system of delivering the grip hand into the chest is always the same (except for awkward bridging and of course that system is person specific). For awkward bridging their stance may vary a bit (stand-leg vertical or slightly off vertical), so they slide into position until they are at the correct bridge distance from the cue ball.

  2. Some grip loose, some more tight (especially the Chinese players) and those gripping loose are more able to cue flat, those who don’t sometimes have a pendulum-like cue action – starting high, hitting at the bottom of the pendulum and one Chinese player (very tight grip) I saw just bend the cue against the chin where the cue is pulling up to the chin with a lot of force.

YES SOME OF THE PROS DO THAT TOO WITH THE TIGHT GRIP HAND. THAT INTRODUCES HUGE TENSION WHICH CAN PULL THE CUE OFF LINE AND THE VERY BEST PLAYERS DON’T DO IT.

 

  1. Quite a lot of shots I would go for during a match, they refuse… very interesting. They’re very disciplined to wait for the right opportunity;

VERY INTERESTING! THIS IS VERY COMMON THAT CLUB PLAYERS FOR POTS THAT ARE MORE DIFFICULT THAN THE SHOTS PROS GO FOR! IT IS USUALLY BECAUSE THEY FEEL THEY ARE BEING NEGATIVE AND ‘NOT A GOOD PLAYER’ IF THEY WAIT AND ONLY GO FOR EASY SHOTS.

  1. They also miss quite a lot of balls. They’re very successful because they wait for the correct opportunity and control the white very well once they get in.

OUTSTANDING OBSERVATION – WELL DONE. IT IS OK TO MISS AND CLUB PLAYERS GET WAY TOO UPTIGHT ABOUT MISSING. MUCH MORE SO THAN PROS DO, AND IT HOLDS BACK PROGRESS AS THEY CANNOT SEE PAST THE MISS SO CANNOT PAY ATTENTION TO SELF DIAGNOSIS AND ASKING THEMSELVES IF THEY MISSED THROUGH CUEING OR AIMING.

 

  1. They play much softer than it actually looks like on TV, and the balls just keep rolling. Quality of the cloth and table I guess. Still, I know I play with too much speed most of the times and I should work on that.

THESE ARE INCREDIBLE OBSERVATIONS… AND I THINK YOU WILL AGREE THAT YOU SIMPLY CANNOT OBSERVE THIS FROM WATCHING ON TV. IT NEEDS A LIVE SESSION TO VIEW CLOSELY HOW THE BEST IN THE BUSINESS, GO ABOUT THEIR BUSINESS.

 

 So… to do for this week in my game are:

  1. Keep focus on a consistent Chest Stop Point for the grip hand, which results in flatter cueing.

  2. Focus on cueing straight, not on potting balls.

  3. Stay still on the shot and stay down after for good post-shot analysis.
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