Everything You Need To Know To Succeed As A Player.
Snooker is a life long journey during which you’ll constantly be seeking to improve your skills, techniques and overall game understanding. No matter how good you get at the game of snooker there will always be things that you can improve; however, this is most evident in the early days!
The learning curve in snooker can feel very steep at times and certainly requires that you can work hard with a focused dedication to achieve the goals you set for yourself. Even though it can be difficult sometimes to keep on working on your skills just remember that everything you learn is building on what you already know.
This means that with a good practice routine and a sensible learning strategy your improvements can start to take the form of a virtuous cycle that constantly incorporates your past hard work.
Master The Basics To Build A Strong Foundation To Build On.
There’s no way to become a pro snooker player overnight because the truth is that to drastically improve your game takes a lot of practice. However, don’t forget that everyone, even the greatest players that have ever graced the snooker table, all started out as absolute beginners. So never allow yourself to get discouraged, even when you feel that you’re not making progress as fast as you had hoped.
Every player needs to build a solid foundation of skills and techniques from which they can continue to improve their game. Think of it as the foundation of a house. If the foundation is weak, or badly constructed, then everything that you build on top is at risk of collapsing in the future!
This is why it’s so important to get the basics right from day one because it will allow you to continue improving on the skills and understandings that you’ve already developed as you continue to progress as a player.
7 Top Tips For Getting The Basics Right In Snooker.
The Grip - It’s Essential To Get Right.
A very common mistake among new snooker players is getting the grip wrong. The ‘grip’, in snooker, refers to the way that your rear hand holds the cue. For example, if you are gripping the cue too tightly then this will significantly reduce your accuracy, even though it might feel like you have more control. Holding the grip too hard can make the cue’s butt rise up when you strike which makes it almost impossible to shoot perfectly straight.
So when you’re working on your grip try to keep a light but firm and flexible hold on the butt of the cue when you’re aiming and striking the cue ball. Ideally, the butt shouldn’t even be touching the palm of your hand when you’re striking the cue ball. This will really help you to maintain accuracy in your games.
Study And Learn The Angles.
In order to be able to secure any pots in snooker you need to be able to understand and mentally visualize the angles involved in the shot. Angles are a huge part of the game of snooker and unless you can learn to read them on the table it’ll take a long time for you to progress as a player.
One way that you can work on your angles is to get some practice balls. These are specially designed training tools that have a grid-like structure on the balls which show you where you need to hit the ball to make it go in a certain direction. These can be a very useful way to get yourself used to reading the angles on the table when you’re lining up a shot. You can also use a practice cue ball which has spots on it to show you where to strike it in order to get the right spin for better positioning on the table.
The Alignment Of Your Body.
When you’re getting ready to take a shot just take a moment to ensure that you’re standing correctly. When you’re aiming for a shot you don’t want to be hanging over the table and struggling to balance properly. You should always have a secure standing position that is thoughtfully aligned to the table and the shot you’re preparing to take.
This will make it easier for you to relax and focus while you’re taking the shot but it will also help you keep your levels of accuracy high, even in an awkward spot! Essentially, you should keep your head and neck low while aiming your shot so you can properly see the angles with your body comfortably in line with the cue.
If possible you should always try to hit the ball from a square on position. This means that if you are a right handed snooker player your right leg should be straight, with your left leg bent into the shot. Alternatively, if you are a left handed player you should keep your left leg straight and your right leg slightly bent to get the correct alignment.
Practice Striking And Shooting Smoothly.
When you’re playing snooker you want to avoid making jerky shots because otherwise you’ll lose all your accuracy and your consistency will drop to almost zero! Instead, you should practice taking smooth, fluent shots which cleanly strike the cue ball at the exact spot you intended.
One of the warning signs that you can look out for to see if your shots are jerky is if you find yourself moving your upper arm while striking the cue ball. Instead, the perfect shot can be imagined like a pendulum swinging from one side to the other; starting with your shooting hand right underneath your elbow and then moving smoothly through the shot. When you’re practicing your swing try striking the cue ball and different speeds and strengths until you start to feel your muscle memory building up to become fluent and smooth.
Take Your Time And Pause Before You Strike.
When you’re taking a cue stroke, always give yourself a moment to pause before you strike. You should pause at both the front and back of the stroke to reduce tension in your body and to give yourself a moment to reflect, concentrate completely and then strike with confidence.
Taking a moment to pause at the front and back of your strike also gives you a window of opportunity to change your mind about the shot you’ve lined up. However, there is a fine balance to be struck because you don’t want to be doubting yourself too much while you’re playing a game.
Create A Strong Bridge.
In snooker, the ‘bridge’ refers to your non-shooting hand which you place on the table to secure and guide the cue into the cue ball. Learning to create a firm bridge is a vital part of shooting accurate shots in snooker and until you can rely on your bridge you’ll struggle to improve.
To create a good bridge you should try to use an approximate ‘V’ shape on the table using your thumb and forefingers. To place your hand on the table, when forming a bridge, you should start by putting your fingers on the table and then positioning your thumb apart from your first finger.
After you’ve placed your bridge on the table you can modify its shape and exact position until you’re perfectly satisfied with your stance. Don’t be afraid to take your time because getting this right is crucial to getting an accurate strike on the cue ball.
When you’re practicing your bridge it’s a good idea to get in and out of position several times to help you build up that all important muscle memory so that eventually it will be absolutely second nature to you to lay down a perfect bridge without a second thought!
Don’t forget to train your bridge for different types of shots. For instance, you should be practicing your corner shots, mid-table shots and cushion shots so you’re prepared for anything that comes your way in-game.
Invest In A Snooker Table Or Join A Club.
One of the best ways to hone your skills and keep your practice consistent is to invest in a good snooker table. You can set up your table in your front room or, if you don’t have room, you can place it in your garage. If you don’t have space for a full size snooker table then you can still use a small sized table or even a pool table to practise on.
However, if you can’t fit a snooker table into your home then you certainly need to join a snooker club where you can practice on a regular, if not daily, basis!
Professional And Practical Tips To Take Your Snooker Play To The Next Level.
Mastering snooker requires you to put in the hours of practice but it also involves keeping a careful eye on your actions in a game situation. It can sometimes feel like you’re making slow progress but don’t be put off! In reality, although you should aim to achieve a steady learning curve, you will notice that your improvements will tend to follow a ‘stepped’ pattern.
This means that your game play will improve significantly in repeated bursts over time. The main reason for this is that all aspects of snooker are intrinsically linked and so when one area of your game improves it will have a knock effect throughout your overall skills and understanding.
Spend Time Practicing Your Straight Cueing.
One of the most essential skills to master in snooker is being able to cue straight because until you can cue a perfectly straight shot you’ll never be able to use the angles on the table as you intended!
To see if you’re cueing straight you simply need to set up a shot on the table. You can use your cue to line up the cue ball with the target ball to ensure that it really is a straight shot. Then strike the cue ball and see if you pot the ball! To save time you can set up multiple straight shots and then try each ball, one by one.
Once you begin to get your straight shots into the pocket you can take your training to the next level by controlling the cue ball to position it for the next shot. This type of practice will immediately start to benefit your in-game play. After you have built up the confidence in your own abilities to guarantee potting a straight shot you can start to focus your attention on building up larger scores in competitive games.
Hold Your Head Still While Striking The Cue Ball.
It’s very important to learn to keep your head absolutely still while you’re striking the cue ball. This will help you to maintain consistency in your shots and improve your aim. It can be harder than it sounds though because there’s always a temptation to raise your head up to watch the cue ball after you’ve struck it but this type of jerky, sudden movement can have a disastrous impact on your aim!
Learning to keep your head still and down until you’ve completely finished your cue strike will take a little while to get used to but it’s vital that you do so. Raising or moving your head in mid-strike will take the cue out of its proper alignment and lead to unpredictable results which is the very last thing you want in a game of snooker.
Watch The Ball Right Into The Pocket.
Just as it's essential to keep your head motionless while striking the cue ball you should actually keep your head down and watch the ball until it drops into the pocket. There’s several reasons why you should always watch the ball right into the pocket.
Firstly, it reduces the temptation to lift your head too early during the shot once you’ve trained yourself to keep your head down and eyes focused on the ball until it reaches its final resting place - ideally in the pocket!
Secondly, if you watch the ball right into the pocket you’ll get a much clearer idea of how well you’re cueing. You’ll be able to tell if you’re cueing straight and how your calculations are panning out in reality on the table. Watching the cue ball and the target ball right through until the end of the shot from your vantage point on the table will allow you to better calculate future shots and make any adjustments to your striking in the game.
Cue All The Way Through The Ball.
The follow-through of your shots has a massive influence on the way your cue ball interacts with the other balls on the table. To get the proper spin and be able to better control the cue ball it’s vital to cue all the way through the ball. This doesn’t, as some beginners think, mean you have to strike the cue ball hard. In fact, you should be training yourself to strike the cue ball hard and soft while still maintaining a tidy, controlled follow-through.
To see how far you’re following through on your shots you can place a piece of chalk on the table next to the cue ball. Then, once you’ve struck the cue ball you can easily see how far you’re following through. There’s no way to get better at this part of the game except through trial and error. Remember, not every shot requires the same amount of follow-through so you’ll have to practice in many different situations and positions on the table.
Pro Techniques And Methods Of Improving Your Practice Sessions.
Good practice is the only way to improve to your full potential; in fact, bad practice is actually worse than no practice at all because all you’ll do is ingrain the wrong habits in your muscle memory. That’s why understanding the best ways to practice is extremely important for you to grow as a player.
As a snooker player, the vast majority of your time will be spent on the practice table so it’s really the foundation of your entire game play. That’s why it’s a great idea to introduce some basic rules and techniques into your practice routine if you really are serious about achieving your full potential as a snooker player.
The 30/70 Training Rule.
Many snooker players, particularly in their early days, don’t spend anywhere near enough time practicing on their own at the table. Of course, it’s always valuable to play against opponents of all abilities but you should also be setting aside regular time to play solo on the table.
Most experts and professional snooker players advise that you spend at least 30% of your practice time working on your own. This enables you to focus on the areas of your game which need a little more work without being restricted by the limitations of a game or the needs of your training partner.
For instance, you may choose to spend several hours just practicing your straight shots, corner shots or cushion shots. Making sure that you set aside enough time each week to address areas of your own game that you feel could be improved on is a much better use of time than simply playing games with an opponent.
Creating a structured routine during which you can work on specific technical areas of your game is really worth its weight in gold. So when you’re scheduling your training time, always be sure to include plenty of time for solo work.
Practice With A Wide Range Of Other Players.
Another aspect of training that is often overlooked by new players is the need to practice with a wide range of other people. You should try to set up training sessions with other players who are approximately as good as you are as well as players who are better.
Playing with different people is a great way to learn about new in-game strategies and techniques but it will also build up your confidence. It will also maximize the benefits that you get from your valuable training time and help you to keep improving at an optimal rate.
When you’re practicing with different players you’ll always be able to pick up tips and tricks that they are putting to good effect. Keeping an open mind while spending time on the table with other players will help you to learn and develop your game. Of course, they too will benefit from playing with you so it's a practice method that has mutual benefits for all involved.
Keep A Practice Diary.
One of the best ways to keep your practice productive is to keep a snooker diary. This is because it’s easy to forget specifically what went right and what went wrong during a game or a practice session. You can divide your diary into a couple of different sections to make the most of it.
For example, you can just quickly note down a few things at the end of a game; focusing on what went well in the game as well as making a note of the things that you need to practice later on. Secondly, you can use your diary to keep a log of the outcomes of the games that you’ve played. This will give you a great overview of how you are progressing as a player over time.
Keeping a diary is also a good motivational tool. There are bound to be times when you feel frustrated or despondent about your game and how your skills are progressing over time but when you look back over your diary you’ll be able to appreciate how far you’ve really come! In this light, you should record your top scores to inspire yourself further down the road as well as the things you did right in play.
Your diary can also be used to divide up your practice time. In this way you can make sure that you’re getting a good balance of solo practice and competitive games throughout the weeks, months and years. Otherwise, it can be difficult to properly manage your practice without the help of a diary.
Carefully Structure Your Practice Sessions.
When you’re planning your practice time it’s always best to structure your time carefully so you can optimize your training. This means that you should have several distinct parts of any training session that could include, for example, straight shot practice, positioning of the cue ball and then a couple of solo games at the end.
This will help to keep you focused during your training and will stop you from wasting your time at the table. Another important aspect of structuring your training is to incorporate specific goals and objectives that you can strive towards. Having solid goals in mind while you are practicing will not only help to keep you focused but allow you to make the type of progress that you want to make to achieve your potential.
Take Your Practice Time As Seriously As A Game.
To really get the maximum benefit from your training you should try to get into a mindset where you take your practice sessions as seriously as you take a competitive game. Staying focused on the table, even when you’re training alone, can be difficult and there might be a temptation to slack off and relax but if you are serious about becoming a better player then your practice time is, in many ways, even more important than your competitive games.
Building up your ability to stay focused during your training will inevitably translate to every aspect of your snooker game. As you train yourself to stay focused in your practice you’ll quickly notice that your in-game concentration and performance is improving and enhanced.
Having a training schedule will certainly help you to stay focused on the goals you’ve set for yourself but so will getting a good night’s sleep and eating a healthy diet. Remember, that a single hour of high quality, structured and focused training is worth 20 hours of unstructured practice with a low level of concentration and focus!
That’s why taking your practice seriously is the only way to really improve as a player. There are no shortcuts in snooker and so your progress and development is entirely based on how seriously you take your practice time. Of course, natural talent is important but the truth is that if you don’t put in the work you will never reach your full potential as a player.
While you’re training you should also try to mirror your competitive match rhythm and tempo otherwise it’s not going to help you improve when you’re on the table in a serious game. This includes your physical game play but it should also include your mindset; therefore, taking your practice as seriously as any competitive match is the only way to consistently maximize your improvement throughout your career.
Common Practice And Preparation Mistakes And How To Resolve Them Today.
To maximize your development as a player you need to learn to constantly improve your practice sessions. There are many common mistakes that players make but these can be easily resolved with the awareness to spot them in your own routines.
It’s inevitable that you cannot resolve problems that you aren’t even aware of so it’s crucial to look at your play from an objective stance and try to spot the things that you can improve on.
One of the most common mistakes that people make is thinking that snooker doesn’t require the type of dedication and strict training to achieve results that other sports such as swimming or cycling do. However, once you start to take your training more seriously these false beliefs that are holding you back will evaporate as your game play improves.
Playing With The Same Players All The Time.
It’s easy to get into a routine of practicing and playing with the same people over and over again. There are social reasons why this can be fun but if you really want to take your game to the next level you need to be strict and try to schedule games with as wide a diversity of people as you possibly can.
This includes playing with people who are of a higher and a lower standard to you. If you’re playing with an unequally matched player you can introduce a handicap to even things out a little and keep things interesting.
Playing with a good mix of abilities in snooker will increase the rate of your learning curve and help you to become familiar with a broader range of styles, strategies and approaches to the game; all of which are essential to becoming the best player that you can possibly be.
Set Tangible Goals To Keep Your Motivational Levels High.
If you haven’t spent the time to consider and plan your training sessions it can be a lot harder to maintain your levels of motivation over time. This is one of the main mistakes that beginners make which leads them to giving up the game because they aren't able to see the progress they are making.
There’s nothing worse than becoming disillusioned with your progress and without any goals or targets to reach it’s almost impossible to accurately gauge how you’re doing. Your goals should always be carefully thought out otherwise they won’t indicate your progress and can actually end up being counterproductive.
All of your goals should be easily measurable, realistic, specific and, most importantly, fun! For example, if your top break is 25 points then you could set yourself a target of making a 40 point break within the next month. This will give you something to work towards and once you achieve it you’ll have a well earned sense of personal accomplishment.
Another objective you could set yourself for a practice session might be to pocket 5 straight shots in a row. Once you have achieved this you can raise the bar further and practice until you can do 10 straight shots in a row. In this way you’ll not only be having fun but you’ll be able to clearly measure your progress as you improve.
Failing To Introduce Pressure In Your Practice Routine.
One of the hardest things to overcome in any competitive game is the inevitable pressure of the situation which can lead to you performing well below your abilities. The mental aspects of snooker are often overlooked but it’s absolutely vital that you learn to handle pressure without it impacting on the quality of your game play.
Therefore, you should try to introduce an element of pressure into your training sessions. It’s not always easy though to introduce a genuine sense of pressure into your practice games but there are still ways to do so.
One way to introduce pressure into your practice is to discipline yourself to immediately repeat an exercise if you make a mistake. This might feel boring but knowing that you’ll have to start all over again if you make a mistake or aren’t concentrating well enough will give you a good motivation to get it right! Although this might seem a little artificial it really does work and will help you to make the most of your time at the table.
Another way to introduce pressure into your practice sessions is to take the goals that you’ve set for yourself seriously. In this way you’ll inevitably feel the pressure build up as you start to near your objective.
Other players like to introduce incentives to help to keep them focused. For instance, you could give yourself a reward, such as eating out at your favorite restaurant, if you hit a goal. Conversely, you could deny yourself a treat if you fail to hit the targets that you’ve set for yourself. This will take personal discipline but without trying to introduce pressure and consequences into your practice sessions you won’t be prepared for upcoming competitive games.
Be Prepared To Face Any Situation That Might Come Up In A Match Game.
When you’re training you should always be preparing yourself to face anything that might come up in the match. Learning to overcome good and bad luck, external distractions and the conditions of the environment are essential to becoming a well rounded snooker player that can handle anything which is thrown at them.
You should train yourself to have the confidence to change your strategy mid-match and hold your cool under pressure even if you’re a few frames behind your opponent. You need to be adaptable in your strategy and not let the match pressure overcome you so you can out play your opponents even when things aren’t going your way.
Remember, that there will always be things in a match situation which are outside of your control and the quality of your performance will be largely determined by your ability to overcome these external elements of the game. This is especially true if your opponent is quite experienced and won’t crack under the pressure or be put off their game by the external distractions which might be affecting you.
How To Improve Your Concentration And Your Snooker Game.
One of the most valuable things that you can do to improve your overall snooker game is to increase your levels of concentration. If you can’t properly concentrate for the entire match then you’ll be dropping shots and losing points that you should otherwise have been able to secure.
Any competitive snooker match is as much a battle of wills as it is about your talent, skills and training. This means that until you can guarantee that your concentration won’t wax and wane throughout the game you’ll never reach your potential as a player.
However, there are many ways that you can actually improve your concentration although it will take time, dedication and self discipline. Nonetheless, it’s such an important aspect of snooker that you’ll immediately start to notice the difference in your results as your powers of concentration increase.
What Exactly Is Concentration And What To Avoid To Improve As A Snooker Player.
Concentration is the ability which allows you to focus your mind and remain crystal clear even under pressure. To concentrate requires that you are able to block out all external distractions and keep yourself absolutely focused on the task in hand; such as potting a ball or adapting your strategy in mid-game. You need to learn not to allow other thoughts, feelings or emotions to creep into your mind and cloud your judgment so that you can keep your game consistently improving.
The 3 Major Causes Of Poor Long Term Concentration In Snooker.
Lack Of Sleep.
One of the most common causes for poor levels of concentration in snooker is not getting enough sleep! Insufficient sleep will make it impossible for you to concentrate fully and your game will seriously suffer. Of course, many players struggle to sleep before a match because they are nervous or worried about the game but this is something which you must overcome to improve your game.
A lack of sleep affects every aspect of your concentration and makes it harder to remember things you’ve learned, will negatively impact your muscle memory and in extreme cases can even make you confused and muddled. This is an absolute disaster for a snooker player so you need to work on creating a regular sleeping pattern which will keep you feeling refreshed and alert for important game days.
Not Enough Physical Activity.
Even though it might not be immediately obvious a lack of physical exercise has been shown to reduce your concentration. This is something that a lot of snooker players overlook but actually all the top pros have a fairly rigorous exercise regime that they use to keep up their levels of concentration, even during long, drawn out matches when the stakes are very high.
If you aren’t doing enough physical exercise you’ll find that your muscles become tense which will also impact your accuracy in snooker. Therefore, it’s important for you to try to get at least 20 minutes of moderate exercise each day, even if it’s just a brisk walk around the block each morning.
The quality of diet has a significant role in determining your concentration and mental acuity. This means if you’re eating a very unhealthy diet then your snooker is bound to suffer. A lack of the necessary nutrients in your body will lead to memory loss, mental fatigue and poor levels of concentration.
Eating a good, well balanced diet doesn't have to be expensive but just like your practice sessions it will require some planning. You should avoid starting a restrictive diet before a big match though because this can cause hunger pangs and cravings which will make it much harder to concentrate in game.
How To Improve Your Concentration - Tried And Tested Techniques For Snooker Players Of All Levels And Abilities.
Turn Off Your Phone.
One of the most distracting things in the modern world is the constant buzzing and alerts on your phone! This means that if you have your phone in your pocket while you’re practicing or playing a game your levels of concentration will be badly impacted.
Therefore, before you start playing or practicing snooker you should turn your phone off and leave it outside of the room. You could leave your phone in the locker room or, better yet, just leave it in your car! This will remove the temptation to check your notifications and stop your phone from bothering you mid-game or during a practice session.
Mindfulness And Meditation.
Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help to promote better concentration and focus. If you spend just a few minutes meditating before you start a practice session or play a competitive match you’ll find that your body becomes more relaxed and your mind can focus much more clearly on the task in hand.
Meditating is very simple and doesn't need to get too complicated. All you need to do is spend a few minutes before you play snooker focusing on your breathing and considering the game ahead. This will give you a chance to think about your strategies, areas of your game which need a little extra work and the ways that you can use your strengths to their full effect.
Take Short Breaks During Your Practice Sessions.
No matter how good your concentration is it will start to wane if you’ve been focusing on one task for a long time. This can end up being counterproductive and slow down your learning during a practice session.
A great way to break up your training sessions is to take a short 5 minute break for every 40 minutes of focused practice. During your break you can take a little walk to refresh yourself and get your circulation moving or, if you prefer, you can just have a quick coffee and read the newspaper.
It’s important to do something unrelated to snooker during your breaks so you can give your mind a chance to rest and relax before you get back to the intense levels of concentration and focus that it requires for you to make the most of your time on the table.
Taking a short break will dramatically improve your concentration and help you to focus, retain knowledge and keep your performance at its peak, even over a several hour training session.
Train Your Brain With Problem Solving Games And Activities.
A powerful way to improve your concentration is to take up a new hobby that involves logical problem solving. For example, you could learn to play chess, sudoku or any type of brain stimulating computer game. This will help you to develop your problem solving skills but, just as importantly, it will strengthen your concentration and improve your in-game focus.
Listen To Music During Your Practice.
Another way to keep yourself focused during your practice is to listen to music. Of course, you need to select the type of music quite carefully because you don’t want music that will be distracting. Research has shown that certain types of music, particularly classical music, can be an extremely valuable tool to aid your concentration.
So avoid heavy rock and roll or other high tempo genres of music and play some classical music - even if it’s not normally what you would listen to. The complex patterns of classical music have been shown to light up neurons in the brain which help you to concentrate and focus better.
Set Yourself Priorities In Practice Sessions.
When you start your practice session you should already have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish during the time that you have. You can use your snooker diary to plan your sessions and set your priorities for the session. Having clear priorities and objectives for a practice session will help you to remain focused on the tasks in hand and make it easier to concentrate on completing your objectives.
It’s also useful to break your session into bite size pieces with specific priorities for each part of your session. This will give you a better sense of achievement as you work through your goals but it will also help you to stay focused and concentrating on accomplishing your predetermined objectives.
Use A Timer Or Alarm Clock During Training Sessions.
You can keep your mind hyper focused on a given task by setting a timer to set a limit on the activity. For example, if you’ve decided to spend 20 minutes of your training session working on your straight potting you can set the alarm on your phone to delineate this part of your session.
At the end of your time for a specific task you can take a short break to refresh yourself, analyze how well you’ve done and then start on the next activity. This is one of the best ways to ensure that you stay focused on each task while still giving yourself a little time to rest your mind in between objectives.
Similarly, ensuring that you have a good variety of tasks lined up for your practice session will help your brain to remain focused during each exercise. This means that you should never spend hours and hours practicing the same aspect of your snooker game and instead you’ll be much better served by breaking up your several hour session into 5 or 10 separate activities with their own goals and objectives.
Shot Selection - The Key To Getting Great Results In Snooker.
Shot selection is one of the hardest aspects of the game for new and aspiring snooker players. Until you learn to pick the right shot during a game you will never be able to make high scoring breaks and you’ll always find your cue ball out of position on the table.
Once you learn to select the right shots you can start to build up big scores and will be able to place your cue ball in the correct positions to continue potting balls. Even as a beginner, you can actually win games against stronger players by choosing the right shots; incorporating strategy, tactics and your own personal playing style into the selection process.
All players can improve their shot selection but for beginners it’s an essential milestone that must be overcome before your game can start to radically improve! There are many common mistakes that players make during the shot selection process which will hold back your potential but once you recognise these faults you can quickly put them right.
Common Shot Selection Mistakes In Snooker And How To Address Them.
Not Having A Thoughtful Method In Your Shot Selection Process.
Most snooker players, particularly beginners, think that they can get away with making shot selections based on their instincts alone. However, this is a serious mistake that will hold you back as a player. Shot selection needs to be much more strategic and thought through in order to take your game play to its full potential.
Although you shouldn’t view shot selection as an exact science neither should it be the result of an instinct or a whim!
To really master shot selection you need experience and plenty of time on the table. However, if you’re a beginner, or still starting out on your journey as a snooker player, there are practical ways that you can overcome your lack of experience in a logical and reliable way.
For instance, when you’re deciding on whether or not to select a shot you can do a simple calculation in your mind. Look carefully at the shot and then estimate how many times out of 10 you would successfully make the shot. Don’t forget to try to include the effects of pressure in your calculation because you’ll probably have a higher percentage of successful shots in practice sessions than during competitive games.
If you estimate that you have a 50% chance of making the shot you might want to consider a different approach. When you’re calculating your shot selection you should only take on a shot which you feel you have at least a 70% (7/10) chance of making.
When you’re faced with a situation on the table where you can’t see a shot that has a good chance of succeeding then you should adopt a defensive strategy and try to force your opponent to make a mistake which you can later capitalize on. If you do decide that you want to take on a shot which is unlikely to succeed, for example with a 25% chance of succeeding, then it’s vital to try to leave the cue ball in a difficult position for your opponent to deal with in case you miss the pot.
By using this simple principle you can significantly improve your shot selection and you’ll see your game results improving in no time. Sometimes, the easiest way to improve is to avoid potential mistakes and when it comes to shot selection this rule applies 100% of the time.
Don’t Be Overly Offensive In Shot Selection.
A common mistake amongst young and new players is a tendency to be too aggressive in the shot selection process. Hoping to make a tough shot which could turn the frame in your favor is a risky strategy that should usually be avoided! Instead, you should be thinking in a more long term way and if you don’t think that you can make the shot then you should generally be opting for a defensive approach instead.
Remember, that if you mess up an aggressive shot you could leave your opponent with an easy opportunity to make serious gains in the frame; gains which you might not be able to come back from. This means that you have to be realistic about your abilities and not try to overstretch yourself in the hope of making a spectacular shot at the risk of losing the frame.
Therefore you need to learn to be patient and wait for the right moment to take an aggressive shot. You should also be aware that if you take an extremely aggressive and unrealistic approach to the game in training you’ll struggle to change your strategy in competitive matches. So try to practice in a realistic way that you can translate onto the competitive game table.
You should always be calculating the potential costs and benefits of a shot when you’re deciding what to do. If the potential costs of taking a shot far outweigh the potential gains then you shouldn’t even consider taking it in a competitive game. This takes self discipline and the ability to look at the situation objectively but it’s vital to growing as a player and winning games in a consistent manner.
Don’t Be Too Defensive.
Everything in snooker requires a balanced and moderate perspective. Therefore, while you shouldn’t expose yourself to unnecessary risks or give your opponent free opportunities to rack up points in a frame you still need to be aggressive enough to put a decent score on the board yourself.
Fear and a lack of self belief can lead beginners to play an overly defensive game which might work some of the time but it’s a bad habit to get into and will make it hard to win overall. Therefore, you shouldn't be too defensive but still wait for the perfect moment to strike. Sometimes you will have to take risks to win a game but you need to be measured in your approach.
This works both ways so while you shouldn’t be overly defensive you should also be willing to take some risks to get ahead in a game. Learning when it’s worth striking to make an aggressive move and when it’s better to play strategically and defensively will take practice, experience and the ability to look at the situation from an objective point of view.
Not Properly Weighing Up Your Options.
All beginners make the mistake of not properly weighing up their options on the table. It does take experience to be able to recognise exactly what’s available to you, particularly in the midst of a tense match. However, the truth is, that until you learn to properly assess what options are available on the table you’ll never be able to make the best shot selection because some shots won’t be even seen by you.
There’s no way to improve on this aspect of your game without a lot of practice but you can also spend time watching professional matches to get inspiration for your own play.
One thing that you can do in the immediate moment is to just give yourself a few extra seconds to reconsider a shot before you commit to taking it on the table. Take the time to examine the balls on the table from multiple angles to consider how you could make the best use of what is actually available to you. This is a great habit to get into and will serve you well throughout the entirety of your snooker playing career.
Think Ahead - Think In Terms Of Future Positioning.
When you’re making a selection on a shot you need to keep the future position of the cue ball at the forefront of your mind at all times. If, for example, you shoot a great pot which leaves the cue ball in an awkward position you can actually do yourself more harm than good at the end of the day! So it’s essential to keep the positioning of the cue ball in mind when you’re selecting what shot to play.
In your calculations when making a shot you should always try to leave the cue ball in position which gives you at least one option to continue your break with. This means that if you slightly misjudge the positioning of the cue ball you’ll still have a few options available to you.
In the worst case, even if you pot the first ball and ruin the positioning, you can always use your position to make a defensive shot that leaves your opponent no options. Of course, you should be trying to build up a good score on every break but when things go wrong, as they inevitably will sometimes, having a backup defensive shot open to you can stop your mistake becoming a game losing moment and keep your opponent on the back foot.
Don’t Routinely Avoid Certain Types Of Shot.
It’s tempting, and many players fall into this trap, to avoid certain types of shots. All snooker players have certain shots which they prefer to avoid but in reality this can become a major hurdle to your progress in the game. Maybe it’s cushion shots or long straight shots but there is no way to improve in the long term unless you learn to manage the shots that you prefer not to take!
The only way to overcome this problem is to practice, practice and practice some more. Once you recognise that you’re deliberately avoiding certain types of shots you should put that at the top of your list of things to do in training until you are comfortable and confident to take them. This does take self discipline but it will have a huge impact on your success in competitive games.
Not Learning From Your Past Experience And Mistakes.
Taking a super high risk shot and failing to hit the mark can cost you the frame, or even the entire game! As a snooker player you need to have the self awareness to learn from your mistakes and whatsmore, correct the things you’ve been repeatedly getting wrong.
All snooker players who are able to learn from their past mistakes make much faster progress in their overall journey to mastering the game. This is partly why keeping a snooker diary is such a valuable tool for all players; whether you’re highly experienced or just a newcomer to the game.
It takes a certain amount of humility to learn from your past mistakes. It requires you to put aside your ego and really focus on the ways that you can improve your game without feeling ashamed or guilty about not being all you could be. It’s very important when you’re analyzing your past play not to be too negative about mistakes and instead to see your mistakes as great opportunities to learn and improve.
Once you can get into this type of mindset you can start to take pleasure in noticing a mistake because you realize that you use these as teaching moments which will ultimately make you a better overall player.
Improving Your Snooker Game Is A LifeLong Project.
Snooker is one of the most technical sports in the world which requires dedication, patience and a ‘can do’ attitude to achieve your full potential. It can be hard to analyze your own play and make the necessary changes to take your snooker to the next level.
The most important thing to keep in mind when you’re trying to improve your snooker is to take your training and practice time seriously. Not only should you be scheduling your practice time but you should also be carefully dividing your practice time up into sections where you work on different aspects of your game.
Keeping a snooker diary will help you to organize your time in the most efficient way but so will taking a mindful approach to your practice time. Many snooker players have found that using techniques such as meditation can significantly boost their concentration and progress but so can easy things such as taking short breaks, eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of sleep before competitive matches.
Snooker Is A Fulfilling Way To Live Your Best Life.
Playing snooker is a great way to make new friends, sharpen your concentration and develop a whole range of skills including mental acuity, physical dexterity and strategic thinking. It can feel like a tough sport to get into but once you realize that everything you have learnt will feed into every future game you’ll ever play you’ll quickly see the importance of your training routine!
As you begin to invest the time, energy and strategic thinking into your practice sessions your snooker will drastically improve and your inner sense of well earned satisfaction will more than outweigh the hard work that you put into your improvement.
Essentially, the more you can practice and play the quicker your rise will be through the competitive ranks and leagues. Purchasing your own table, a high quality cue and putting aside the time to train are all vital to achieving your full potential as a snooker player.