In one of the four weekly snooker support emails I include for my clients as part of any one to one session, I made this reply today to a snooker player who has shown a lot of dedication to his game over the years, but is not showing the improvement that a lot of other players get. Below is the reply I made:
You are one of the few players I know whose reward from the game is not as much as it should be for the work being put in.
And that pains me (as I have been there myself in my own game).
The solution is:
- Write everything down in your head that you want to work on in your snooker – and prioritise the list.
- Working from that list (keep the printed version visible somewhere – which will help you keep all the crap out of your head!), focus on one thing at a time until it is automatic, and only then move onto the next topic. You can then cross the first item off the list with a pen for added satisfaction!
- Reduce variables in your snooker, and your reasons to miss – this will make self diagnosis less a case of guesswork and much more accurate.
- Accept that you may feel you are rubbish at self diagnosis, and accept that you will never be 100% perfect at is – in the same way that Ronnie is not 100% perfect at cueing in snooker. He tries his nuts off (like the rest of us do) to be perfect, but the game is so difficult that he does not always achieve it.
- Get your post shot routine totally automatic and repeatable. This includes watching the object ball all the way to pocket or cushion, and not allowing yourself to stand up or look at the cue ball until this has happened. Refuse to do this, and you are wasting your time playing snooker, as you will never learn the paths of the object ball to the pocket relative to the potting angle you selected, see the result of the shot, or therefore be able to diagnose your misses. Applying the post shot routine is the easiest thing to get immediate and long term improvement – because on half of all shots missed in a club environment, the player has no clue which side of the pocket the object ball went. This is the main reason most club players never improve.
- If you can accurately self diagnose the reason you miss your shots 25% of the time, be very happy with that. Then working on improving that closer to 50% of shots. Pros probably know 75% or more of the time why they miss. Sometimes you will have to guess (this is ok and the pros sometimes do this too), sometimes you will have no clue (as the pros indeed do not always know), and sometimes you will mess up your post shot routine as specified above – in which case (like most club players do all of the time) you have lost the right to learn anything from that shot.
- Keep self diagnosis simple – you can only miss due to cueing or aiming. The reason you want to cue straight is to reduce your reasons for missing down to one thing… aiming. Contrary to the opinion of many club players, there is no magic secret to aiming other than applying the trial and error properly, and pros sometimes do not aim properly – the game is tough enough that no one will ever reach the end of it.
- If you get frustrated, resolve to keep playing until you miss 100 shots with a perfectly straight cue action. If you cannot cue straight and get to your target of 100 missed pots, then you know what to work on. If you can cue straight, then the only reason you have missed will be aiming… making it very easy to improve the only reason you have remaining for missing - your aiming!
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