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

‘To play on bad snooker tables, or not to play... That is the question!’

match play snooker tips Aug 03, 2017

A player in The Snooker Gym Community on Facebook asked:

"Should you risk playing poorly on a bad table? Or stick to a good snooker table (the one you practice on the most) and play well???"


My answer was that learning to adapt to different tables is a vital skill. So, because 'a lesson in life keeps repeating until you don't need it anymore'... keep playing on as many 'sub-optimal' snooker tables as you can until you can adapt to them without complaint or annoyance.


The main variables to adjust to with snooker tables are: Pocket size, ball weight, cue ball size, ball cleanliness cloth speed, cushion speed, table level, do the spots jump, and humidity (which also effects how the cue moves through the hand).


The first main reason there are a lot of kicks on TV are that the cloth is thinner so an extra friction between two balls more easily overcomes the friction from ball to cloth... giving a distorted object ball throw.


The second main reason is that the snooker referees wear gloves and keep the balls to clean. 'Clean', does NOT mean less kicks - in fact it contributes to kicks because the ball surface is totally dry and the friction between the balls becomes much higher, leading to a 'heavy contact'. This is why in English Billiards, as opposed to snooker, players rarely get kicks because the players are always handling all three balls as they go in off (and pick the ball out of the pocket on their own to save the referee from doing so).


Then, when you feel you can play your best in any condition, you can progress to better tables all the time which will help your match preparation - if indeed you will have a decent table to play on in your match, which is not always the case! Of course, slower tables etc do REDUCE the range of shots you have and the balls open less easily so your break building will reduce even if you play at the same skill standard as on a quick table.


The biggest mistake I see with players (and I did this myself for many years until I learned to enjoy adapting to different conditions) is importing their expectations and how to play shots from a good table onto a bad table...
In effect, they are trying to play one type of snooker on a table that plays differently, so are guaranteed to be upset and have broken rhythm and poorer precision.


A friend of mine saw an exhibition with a top snooker player in social club once, where a seating bench the length of the table with a 20cm high step was less than a metre away from a side cushion. For most of his shots on that side of the table, you had to have one or both feet on this step. However, it did not stop him making a number of centuries and a host of other breaks in the evening. Discussing the difficulties afterwards, the pro said: ‘I bet you are glad I can adapt to different conditions!’


So remember the old adage when you see a table you don't like: 'What you resist, persists.'... then learn to enjoy the challenge of adaptation like golfers, tennis players, and motor racing drivers do - all of whom are much more greatly effected by weather and a wearing field of play then us insulated cue sportists!